AFC rivals haven’t closed the gap on the Chiefs, despite giving their best shot this offseason – fr

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AFC rivals haven’t closed the gap on the Chiefs, despite giving their best shot this offseason – fr


In case you haven’t heard enough about it over the past three months, let alone last weekend, I had a little reminder for you regarding the NFL Draft: Everyone takes the best player available almost everything. time, the guy he coveted tends to fall between them, and you can’t really judge the winners and losers of a draft for years.

This is how it works. Or they would like you to believe.

The reality is, especially among the best teams in the league, and the dregs of the league (i.e. those without a competent quarterback), there is a great need involved with the Most of the best picks and trades calculated before and during the draft. And there seemed to be an obvious theme among the top AFC teams in the way they doubled down in certain areas and approached this project. A sort of unspoken arms race is underway, largely a reaction to the Kansas City Chiefs’ season ending last year.

The Chiefs were going to do whatever they could – through trades, free will, and the draft – to bolster their offensive line like never before. And the rest of the conference, especially those who might feel closest to toppling the Chiefs (the Bills, Ravens and Browns, who were the last four in the conference in January) are trying to charge up to stop them. Not exactly rocket science, I know. But the fact that Baltimore and KC made a major trade involving an offensive Pro Bowl lineman (at a time when they both needed major help there), then Bills doubled down on the number of passing throwers with their top two picks, has given another take on how these Super Bowl contenders are trying to maximize their last chance to harness talent en masse before the start of the 2021 season.

If the Ravens can get past the Chiefs, it’ll take a sweat on Patrick Mahomes, and the top players at the top of their pre-draft depth chart (Tyus Bowser, Jaylon Ferguson and Pernell McPhee) have combined for 52 career sacks, including 37. Coming from McPhee, 32, a rotary player at this point. So it’s no surprise that they picked whoever they considered to be the best possible passer (Odafe Oweh) with the 31st pick they received as part of Orlando Brown’s trade with the Chiefs. They were always going to use at least one of their top two picks on a board rusher, no matter how the board fell; they don’t have the luxury of catching a player in any position with the way the roster is put together after once again escaping big free agent signings. The bias inherent in the need for position is integrated into the board.

And the Chiefs, although they’ve already signed guard Joe Thuney for a record-breaking deal and dropped the capital project for Brown, with just two picks in the top 143 picks, still took an offensive lineman with the one of those selections, Center Creed Humphrey with the 63rd pick. They are clearly as serious as they can get about protecting their QB franchise as he recovers from an off-season operation. The lack of a draft pick made no difference, as Baltimore took the offensive line with the 94th pick they got from KC (based on core needs) and then traded for the 136th overall pick. from KC to finally take over the Shaune Wade defense (you need all corners and safeties to try and stop the Chiefs).

In the meantime, all the Bills have been tasked with rushing the passes, knowing that veterans Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison will only add a lot at this point, and everyone sees just how much Tampa’s ability to harass Mahomes with just four rushers made an impact on the Super Bowl. result. They caught Gregory Rousseau with the penultimate selection of the first round, someone who might be able to push himself in and out, and caught Carlos Basham at the end of the second round, a player that some reviewers, I believe, will provide value in the first round. to the next level.

Baltimore preferred Oweh over Rousseau – something to watch out for in the years to come – and it will be fascinating to see how Baltimore got the progression from Brown, and how well Brown performs as a left tackle in a much less attacking attack. focused on racing in Kansas City. .

As for the Browns, having assembled a powerful offense, they attacked by improving their defense even after making boosting secondary and quick passing a major theme of their free agent process. Corner Gregory Newsome wasn’t that high on advice from another team I spoke to, but it’s a pretty safe choice, as the Notre Dame linebacker / security / whatever it was Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, was considered theft among those I spoke to. They added quick receivers on days two and three – Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham won’t be around forever – and perhaps had one of the best drafts overall.

“I didn’t want to believe the Browns were for real, but I really like their draft,” a senior AFC executive told me. “The wedge wasn’t that high for us, but it’s hard to argue what they did and the kid from Notre Dame could be a star if you use it right. They had an impressive offseason. “

I tend to agree. At this point, with some veteran free agents like Justin Houston, Melvin Ingram and Alejandro Villanueva still out there, I see the Browns and Bills as the best built to really test the Chiefs for AFC supremacy. I love what they did and how they did it… But if Brown is as good as I think he will be, next to Thuney and with Kyle Long on guard, I still don’t think that this will be enough to knock off their perch, barring serious injuries.

The Chiefs dramatically improved both the quality and amount of options along their offensive line, clearly had a limited number of first-round tackles scores (like most of the league as there weren’t any wave over them in the last eight of the opening. and thought Brown was far superior to anything available to them there. And now they have seven legitimate options to sort out the starting three linemen to Brown and Thuney’s right, which is bad news for the rest of the AFC.

Disregard draft notes that tear them apart for lack of selections. They went out of their way to fix their one crying need, and the property showed a willingness to dig much deeper into their pockets than many rivals (you know who you are), including nearly landing Trent Williams, the left tackle on the highest paid in the game. These draft scores don’t include the 24-year-old tackle they just landed who already went to the Pro Bowl at two different positions, and if you don’t give Andy Reid an “A” for all of its off-season transactions. , you don’t pay much attention.

But believe me, AFC CEOs are. None of this escapes them. And good luck continuing.

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