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NFL draft grades, AFC West: Chargers ace test; Broncos, Chiefs nail biggest needs

Why provide instant grades on the selections of prospects who have yet to take an NFL snap? Well, you're reading this, aren't you? Considering the makeup of every roster and the factors surrounding each pick, Gennaro Filice and Nick Shook attempt a division-by-division assessment of the 2024 NFL Draft. Keep in mind that these grades are based on draft hauls alone -- picks traded for veteran players were not taken into account. Below is Nick's AFC West report card.

Los Angeles Chargers
Draft picks: 9

Round 1: Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame (No. 5 overall)

Round 2: Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia (34)

Round 3: Junior Colson, LB, Michigan (69)

Round 4: Justin Eboigbe, DL, Alabama (105)

Round 5: Tarheeb Still, DB, Maryland (137) | Cam Hart, DB, Notre Dame (140)

Round 6: Kimani Vidal, RB, Troy (181)

Round 7: Brenden Rice, WR, USC (225) | Cornelius Johnson, WR, Michigan (253)

It sure is nice to already have quarterback solved entering a draft. The Chargers were in the catbird’s seat in the first round, allowing three of the four teams in front of them to scramble to snag signal-callers while they were able to sit back and wait for Joe Alt to fall to them at fifth overall. The pick left just one question: With Rashawn Slater already on the roster, will Alt play on the left or right side? Regardless, he was the best tackle prospect and should give Justin Herbert two stellar bookend protectors for years to come. By the time the second round arrived, I was stunned Ladd McConkey was still available. He’s going to be an absolute stud at the NFL level and will team up with Herbert for many big plays. The choice of Junior Colson gives the Chargers a replacement for Kenneth Murray in a player with a solid foundation and room to elevate his play in the NFL. Justin Eboigbe provides quality depth along the defensive interior, and both Tarheeb Still and Cam Hart give the Chargers more options in the secondary. Call me crazy, but I loved the selection of an NFL Scouting Combine favorite of mine, Kimani Vidal, whose best years are ahead of him, in my opinion. Picking up two receivers in Brenden Rice and Cornelius Johnson made plenty of sense in the seventh round, given the Chargers’ offseason exodus at the position. We’ll see if they can contribute much in 2024.

Las Vegas Raiders
Draft picks: 8

Round 1: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia (No. 13 overall)

Round 2: Jackson Powers-Johnson, OG, Oregon (44)

Round 3: DJ Glaze, OT, Maryland (77)

Round 4: Decamerion Richardson, CB, Mississippi State (112)

Round 5: Tommy Eichenberg, LB, Ohio State (148)

Round 6: Dylan Laube, RB, New Hampshire (208)

Round 7: Trey Taylor, S, Air Force (223) | MJ Devonshire, CB, Pittsburgh (229)

Well, the Raiders didn’t land a quarterback. That’s what happens when all six of the top signal-callers are selected before Las Vegas' turn on the clock. That was a missed opportunity to me, dropping their grade slightly, but when it comes to consolation prizes, Brock Bowers might be the best possible outcome. As arguably the best player in college football in 2023, Bowers would have been a top-six pick in most other draft classes, but because of the run on quarterbacks, he was still available at 13, giving the Raiders an immediate playmaker for whichever quarterback they roll with in 2024. Jackson Powers-Johnson was a projected first-round pick for much of the pre-draft process, so landing him in the second round was a good get. The addition of DJ Glaze was wise, too, because it gives head coach Antonio Pierce options at right tackle following the departure of Jermaine Eluemunor. GM Tom Telesco also addressed the Raiders’ need for supplemental help at corner, snagged a running back to compete with Ameer Abdullah for a roster spot, and even added a safety for good measure. Despite not getting a quarterback, this is a pretty darn good class.

Kansas City Chiefs
Draft picks: 7

Round 1: Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas (No. 28 overall)

Round 2: Kingsley Suamataia, OT, BYU (63)

Round 4: Jared Wiley, TE, TCU (131) | Washington State DB Jaden Hicks (133)

Round 5: Hunter Nourzad, OL, Penn State (159)

Round 6: Kamal Hadden, DB, Tennessee (211)

Round 7: C.J. Hanson, OL, Holy Cross (248)

A decent amount of this grade is built on Kansas City’s trade at the back end of the first round. The Chiefs managed to convince Buffalo(!) to trade with them, which allowed them to go after Xavier Worthy, a speedster who broke the 40-yard dash record at the NFL Scouting Combine and gives Kansas City the legitimate deep threat it has lacked since Tyreek Hill was traded to Miami. There’s no guarantee Worthy will be good at the next level, but the mere fact the Chiefs addressed their greatest need with aggression is commendable. Kingsley Suamataia is a mountain of an offensive lineman who certainly isn’t guaranteed to receive a starting job but should challenge Wanya Morris at left tackle. It was nice to see GM Brett Veach go back to the well to address a few positions, of both immediate and future need, selecting Jared Wiley to provide some competitive depth at tight end and then adding two defensive backs to bolster a group that lost L’Jarius Sneed in the offseason. This is how the Chiefs do it, letting a select few walk and replacing them via the draft. After losing Nick Allegretti to free agency, Veach also earns positive marks from me for spending three picks on offensive linemen, with a personal favorite of mine, Holy Cross’ C.J. Hanson, landing with the defending champs in the seventh round. I think that kid can play, and if the Chiefs find themselves needing a replacement (like they did when Joe Thuney couldn’t play in Super Bowl LVIII), I’d love to see Hanson get the chance to prove himself.

Denver Broncos
Draft picks: 7

Round 1: Bo Nix, QB, Oregon (No. 12 overall)

Round 3: Jonah Elliss, OLB, Utah (76)

Round 4: Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon (102)

Round 5: Kris Abrams-Draine, CB, Missouri (145) | Audric Estimé, RB, Notre Dame (147)

Round 7: Devaughn Vele, WR, Utah (235) | Nick Gargiulo, OG, South Carolina (256)

Bo Nix’s selection at 12th overall was indeed surprising, but when you peel back the layers of pre-draft projections and supposed value, it makes sense. Sean Payton loves Nix, seeing him as his quarterback of the future, and GM George Paton acted accordingly in selecting him. I’m on board; Nix is very experienced and fully equipped between the ears to get the job done, which is often more than half the battle in the NFL. We’ll see if it works out. Adding Troy Franklin was a wise move following the departure of Jerry Jeudy, giving Nix a familiar face to work with and a field-stretcher the Broncos could use opposite Courtland Sutton. Jonah Elliss should give Denver some much-needed rotational depth along the edge, while Audric Estime is a hulking power back who can fill such a role behind Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine. The remaining selections, typical of late Day 3 picks, are about competitive depth. We’ll see if Devaughn Vele can work his way into a rotational job in a receiving corps that could use some fresh talent in the two-deep.

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