The Kansas City Chiefs are clearly the class of the AFC West. The Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders will all need to take strides forward to compete with the Chiefs. But where can they improve? Sports Illustrated's Conor Orr took a look at where all 16 AFC teams should be looking to get better. We already assessed his view of the Chiefs' biggest concern, but what about the rest of the AFC West?
WIDE RECEIVER: Until we know, we don’t know. The investment in Jerry Jeudy (the 15th overall pick) was massive and warranted, but remember that wideout is one of the hardest positions in which to transfer directly to the NFL. A Beckham-like season his rookie year changes the calculus significantly. Anything else still leaves this a unit that needs time to grow with a quarterback we don’t know much about.
I'd probably nitpick about the difference between a "weakness" and something that's still to be determined, but I understand the logic here. However, Jeudy is such an outlandish talent that a breakout performance from him could turn this weakness into the one thing teams have to gameplan for. If we're looking for TBD unknown quantities and the overall impact that they'll have on the season, quarterback should be the answer for all three of these teams — and the vast majority of NFL franchises. But since that would be a bit redundant, this is fine.
Las Vegas Raiders
CORNERBACK: Jon Gruden doesn’t care what the rest of the world thinks of Damon Arnette, the Ohio State corner they drafted 19th overall. We’ll get a chance to see early on why he thinks we’re all wrong. The Raiders sat heavily in their nickel defense last year and in those sets were one of the four worst pass defending teams in football. They struggled to play man defense well. They struggled to play zone defense well. They’ll be arming themselves with Arnette, Prince Amukamara and Trayvon Mullen.
When the Raiders took Arnette at 19, we were surprised here at Arrowhead Report. However, he does improve a position group that needed addressing. Again, there's an argument to be made that Arnette went before five more promising cornerback prospects, but as was the pattern for the Broncos as well, the "weakest" position was addressed in the first round. If the quarterbacking Cerberus of Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota and Nathan Peterman (seriously) can't produce one top dog, the Raiders are in trouble regardless of their CB group.
Los Angeles Chargers
OFFENSIVE LINE: A deal for Trai Turner and the signing of Bryan Bulaga should help mitigate the damage done by a unit that struggled a year ago despite not seeing a significant number of blitzes (Sports Info Solutions had the Chargers seeing the lowest percentage of blitzes in football).
...I know what I said about redundancy, but the Chargers' season completely hinges on how good Tyrod Taylor can be or how quickly Justin Herbert is ushered into the lineup. If there's a place to pull the quarterback card, it's here. The Chargers have a perenially-talented roster and are always undercut by injuries and quarterback play. This year will be no different.
Click here to see Orr's full look at the AFC.