The NFL 2020 Draft is a little over a month away, and team needs are coming into focus after a wild free-agency season.
We know Joe Burrow will be a Cincinnati Bengal, but everything is up in the air after that. Ohio State defensive end Chase Young is the top player in the draft, but the quarterback position will rule everything.
Teams certainly will try and move up to draft both Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon’s Justin Herbert, but who will it be?
CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy are elite wide receiver prospects, but with a loaded class, could they slide as teams pass on them hoping to get a Justin Jefferson or Denzel Mims later on?
And what will the Raiders do? Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock hit a home run with last year’s draft and look to do the same this year with five picks in the top 92. But Chucky always can be a wild card.
So it’s time to make some bold predictions that just might come true on draft day. (Probably not.)
NFL free agency: How Raiders stack up with Chiefs, AFC West rivals
NFL free agency hit like a tidal wave last week, as some of the league’s best players headed for news homes with better paychecks.
The AFC West was at the forefront of the dealing as the Raiders, Los Angles Chargers and Denver Broncos do whatever they can to close the gap between themselves and the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
So, as NBC Sports Bay Area Raiders insider Scott Bair and I discussed on the latest edition of The Raiders Talk Podcast, let’s grade how each AFC West team did and see where the Silver and Black now stack up against their rivals.
Additions: Marcus Mariota, Jason Witten, Cory Littleton, Eli Apple, Nick Kwiatkoski, Jeff Heath, Carl Nassib, Nelson Agholor, Maliek Collins, Daniel Ross and Nick O’Leary.
Subtractions: Tahir Whitehead, Karl Joseph, Daryl Worley
The Raiders’ defense got a lot better with the addition of Littleton and Kwiatkoski, two three-down, play-making linebackers who can cover tight ends. Littleton, 26, is a great athlete, a sure tackler and adept at rushing the passer. Those additions were made to help combat Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce who has been a nightmare in the pattern. The addition of Apple, should he become consistent, gives the Raiders a physical corner to put on the likes of Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins to try and slow down the track team in KC.
Grade: A-minus. The Raiders got loads better on defense. While they whiffed on Byron Jones and Chris Harris, they still made wholesale improvements and the additions at linebacker should allow them to better defend the Chiefs — in theory.
Additions: A.J. Bouye, Jurrell Casey, Graham Glasgow, Melvin Gordon, Nick Vannett, Sam Martin Jeff Driskel
Subtractions: Chris Harris, Joe Flacco, Conor McGovern, Will Parks
I really like what the Broncos did on defense. They traded for Bouye, giving them a No. 1 corner and a healthy Bryce Callahan should help them lessen the blow of losing Harris in the slot. They then somehow got the Titans to trade them Casey, who still is a productive player.
Adding Glasgow is a good addition to what was a suspect offensive line last year. There’s still no reason why they should have given Melvin Gordon $8 million a year, when they have Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. Gordon looked slow, unathletic and couldn’t hold onto the ball last season. Maybe I should try out for the Broncos?
Grade: B. I love the defensive additions and if Bradley Chubb returns healthy this will be one of the better defenses in the NFL. They didn’t get another receiver opposite Courtland Sutton and appear to be convinced Drew Lock is the guy. Best of luck.
Kansas City Chiefs
Additions: Mike Remmer, Antonio Hamilton
Subtractions: Kendall Fuller, Emmanuel Ogbah, Stefen Wisniewski
The Chiefs’ roster is stacked and they know the bill for Mahomes is coming due soon. They lost one corner in Fuller and the other starting corner Bashaud Breeland currently is a free agent. That’s a big issue for a defense that started to come on toward the end of the season.
But they franchise-tagged Chris Jones and were able to retain Mike Penne and Anthony Sherman. They’ll have a decision to make with Sammy Watkins, who currently is the highest-paid player on the roster, but the champs did well to keep most of the group together.
Grade: B-minus. Losing both starting cornerbacks hurts. But they still have Mahomes and the most dynamic offense in the league.