AFC West Weekly: Ranking the division’s offensive position groups

We’re back with another update for Kansas City Chiefs fans on AFC West rivals.

Normally, each week we highlight recent stories about the Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers. But with July being a slow news month, we’ve decided to rank each AFC West squad based on position groups.

This week we’ll rank the offense and next week we’ll rank defense and special teams. The players listed are based on current 53-man roster projections, although some fringe players who could make the team have been included as well.


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  1. Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne, Shane Buechele

  2. Chargers: Justin Herbert, Chase Daniel, Easton Stick

  3. Broncos: Russell Wilson, Josh Johnson, Brett Rypien

  4. Raiders: Derek Carr, Jarrett Stidham, Nick Mullens

No surprise, this ranking is mostly based on the starters. And this is a Chiefs blog so, um, of course, Mahomes will be ranked No. 1. While Wilson has been around longer and has a Super Bowl title under his belt, it’s clear that Herbert was a better QB in 2021 and will be moving forward. Herbert is a strong MVP candidate in 2022 along with Mahomes.

Carr, while not bad, takes the lowest QB spot in the AFC West. If he wants to prove otherwise, there’s no better opportunity than this season with all the weapons he has at his disposal.

Running backs

AP Photo/Jack Dempsey

  1. Broncos: Javonte Williams, Melvin Gordon, Mike Boone, Damarea Crockett

  2. Chargers: Austin Ekeler, Isaiah Spiller, Joshua Kelley, Larry Rountree

  3. Raiders: Josh Jacobs, Kenyan Drake, Zamir White, Brandon Bolden, Jakob Johnson

  4. Chiefs: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Ronald Jones, Jerick McKinnon, Derrick Gore, Isiah Pacheco

This was a tough group to rank. The Chargers may have the deepest bunch and have so much potential with a one-two-three punch of Ekeler-Spiller-Kelley. However, I gave the edge to Denver because of Javonte Williams, a guy who could end up being the best RB in the division in 2022. He and Gordon will be a dominant two-headed monster this season.

The Raiders come in third, although their RB situation is similar to the Chiefs’. Both squads have backs with varying success and disappointment, plus promising but raw rookies (White and Pacheco) who may need time to marinate. The Raiders get the edge over K.C. just based on the sheer uncertainty the Chiefs have within this group. I had to list five RBs for the Chiefs because Edwards-Helaire is the only lock to make the team.

Wide receivers

AP Photo/John Locher

  1. Raiders: Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow, Demarcus Robinson, Mack Hollins, Keelan Cole, Jordan Veasy, Tyron Johnson

  2. Chargers: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Joshua Palmer, Jalen Guyton, DeAndre Carter

  3. Broncos: Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, KJ Hamler, Montrell Washington, Tyrie Cleveland, Kendall Hinton, Seth Williams

  4. Chiefs: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Mecole Hardman, Skyy Moore, Justin Watson, Justyn Ross, Corey Coleman, Josh Gordon, Cornell Powell, Daurice Fountain

Also a difficult position to rank, the Raiders get the nod for the top squad based on having what might be the best receiving duo in the league with Adams and Renfrow. Their depth takes a hit after those two, but this is still a scary bunch even if it is top-heavy.

The Chargers have the deepest bench in the division. Allen and Williams are also a dynamic duo while Palmer and Guyton provide quality depth. The Broncos are deep as well but don’t exactly have any standout stars, although Sutton and Jeudy could light it up this year with Wilson at the helm.

It was tough to put the Chiefs last, but again there’s too much uncertainty. Their squad has the potential to be one of the division’s best, but it hinges on JuJu staying healthy, MVS and Hardman being used properly, and Moore showing promise as a rookie. That’s a lot of what-ifs.

Tight ends

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

  1. Chiefs: Travis Kelce, Blake Bell, Jody Fortson, Noah Gray

  2. Raiders: Darren Waller, Foster Moreau, Jacob Hollister, Nick Bowers

  3. Chargers: Gerald Everett, Donald Parham Jr., Tre’ McKitty

  4. Broncos: Albert Okwuegbunam, Eric Tomlinson, Greg Dulcich, Eric Saubert, Andrew Beck

I mean, of course, the Chiefs have the top tight end squad. They have Travis freakin’ Kelce, one of the best tight ends of all time (maybe the best when he hangs up his cleats). Bell, Fortson and Gray round out the position as quality depth pieces who can catch and block well.

The Raiders easily take second with Waller — one of the league’s best tight ends — atop their depth chart. Moreau provides nice depth, too, serving as a reliable backup when Waller missed time in 2021.

There’s a huge gap between the Chiefs and Raiders and the Chargers and Broncos. The latter two lost their top tight ends from last season — Jared Cook and Noah Fant, respectively. The remaining players on both squads would be backups at best in K.C. and Vegas. Needless to say, L.A. and Denver have a lot to figure out in this position.

Offensive line

AP Photo/John McCoy

  1. Chiefs: LT Orlando Brown Jr., LG Joe Thuney, C Creed Humphrey, RG Trey Smith, RT Darian Kinnard; Nick Allegretti, Lucas Niang, Austin Reiter, Andrew Wylie

  2. Chargers: LT Rashawn Slater, LG Matt Feiler, C Corey Linsley, RG Zion Johnson, RT Trey Pipkins; Will Clapp, Brenden Jaimes, Storm Norton, Jamaree Salyer

  3. Broncos: LT Garett Bolles, LG Graham Glasgow, C Lloyd Cushenberry, RG Quinn Meinerz, RT Billy Turner; Calvin Anderson, Tom Compton, Netane Muti, Dalton Risner, Luke Wattenberg

  4. Raiders: LT Kolton Miller, LG John Simpson, C Andre James, RG Denzelle Good, RT Alex Leatherwood; Lester Cotton Sr., Jermaine Eluemunor, Dylan Parham, Brandon Parker

It’s crazy how quickly the Chiefs fixed their offensive line and made it one of their biggest strengths last season and heading into 2022. They’re set at left tackle through right guard with several promising options at right tackle. My guess is the rookie Kinnard wins that job, but Wylie was solid in that spot as well.

The Chargers aren’t too far behind, but they still have questions. The above list is just a projection — their line could end up looking different, particularly at right tackle. The Broncos have a decent squad too, but their center and whole right side are questionable.

The Raiders’ offensive line is a mess. They probably should have done more to address the O-line during the offseason, but they were focused on signing big-name players to huge contracts. What’s left is a line that’s difficult to project, and could go either way in terms of performance.


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  1. Chiefs

  2. Chargers

  3. Broncos

  4. Raiders

Honestly, this whole division is stacked on offense and is ready to compete in 2022. It wouldn’t be surprising if all four teams finish in the top half of the league in offensive production and push for playoff spots.

That said, the Chiefs still take the cake as the best offense, for now. What the Chiefs lack in skill-position talent they make up for everywhere else. The league’s best QB, best TE and a potential top-five offensive line make it so that it doesn’t matter who K.C. has at RB and WR — this squad will still produce at a high level.

The Chargers are right there with the Chiefs, though. An MVP-caliber QB. Stacked at RB. Stacked at WR. A potential top-10 offensive line. Truth is, they’ll be neck-and-neck with K.C. every step of the way.

The Broncos and Raiders are in a tier just below the tier featuring the Chiefs and Chargers. It was tough to assign third place here, but I ultimately went with Denver. Sure, the Raiders have an amazing receiving trio of Adams-Renfrow-Waller, but does that matter when they have Carr throwing to them behind a sketchy O-line? In this scenario, I’ll take the better QB+OL combo every time.