What a wild and crazy year it has been.
Superstars got hurt, undrafted players shined, and there were plenty of unusual variables to contend with given COVID-19 and related issues that stemmed from that. In the end, however, we had a football season and that is something to be happy about in 2020. Let’s keep the positivity going.
I promise to be as unbiased in my writing as I possibly can. Everyone is well aware of how great the Chiefs are and if you’ve read any of my articles before, you know that I’m a huge Chiefs fan. However, I don’t want to inundate everyone with the KC love given there are other teams that deserve the same amount of attention in this division.
The other teams present here are a few steps away from competing. I mean, look at the Chargers defense. Decimated by injuries, but could have very well had the No. 1 unit had that not happened. Denver’s playmakers on the offensive side of the ball are terrifying (Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant), but again, injury marred campaigns coupled with poor quarterback play cost them another season. I don’t have much to say about the Raiders, but they know how to play the Chiefs on defense which counts for something.
This division has the chance to be the best and most difficult to win in all of football with a few changes to certain teams.
2020 Record: 5-11
Glaring need: Quarterback
You’d think that a team with John Elway as their general manager wouldn’t have to continue looking for a quarterback, but do we really expect anything else from Denver? Their QB development has been perpetually underwhelming since the days of Peyton Manning (I hated cheering for Manning to win a Super Bowl, but how can you not?) Since his retirement, Denver has spent first, seventh, and second round picks on Paxton Lynch, Chad Kelly, and Drew Lock respectively. None have worked out in the slightest.
Lock’s contract expires in 2023, which is horrendous if you’re a Denver fan because he’s looking like a wasted pick. He has completed 63-percent of his passes, which is good enough for No. 36 among eligible quarterbacks. Heck, his percentage with a clean pocket is 69-percent (No. 32), which explains why his passer rating is an abysmal 70.7 (No. 31). I don’t know what else the front office is waiting for, but an upgrade at quarterback has to be coming soon.
Lock is obviously not the answer, and with the pedigree of quarterbacks coming out of college this year, you’d have to think the Broncos can finally strike gold. Do your fans a favor Denver; listen to this couch GM and go get an actual franchise guy.
The Broncos could trade up to snag Zach Wilson. It all comes down to what veteran signal callers go where in free agency. However, if Wilson lands in Denver, you’d have to be ecstatic. He is an athletic anomaly and creates more time by extending plays with his ability to escape the pocket. He’s a threat to scramble and pick up big yards as well, which adds another depth to his already polished game. The passing has always been there; he has a huge arm and goes through progressions like a veteran NFL QB. Give him Denver’s weapons and it could get real fun in the mountains.
Kansas City Chiefs
2020 Record: 14-2
Glaring need: Wide Receiver
What do you give to the team that already has everything? Well, it may come as a surprise, but there are holes on the Kansas City offense. Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson are both free agents at the end of this year, which puts the receiver room at a bit of a disadvantage. Once you get past Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman, there are a lot of question marks among the pass catchers. While Patrick Mahomes can make most players look good, he can’t single-handedly carry an NFL offense. Getting some help from the NFL Draft is essential to helping this offense click on all cylinders.
The other issue here is that Brett Veach has spent a lot of money that the Chiefs don’t have on making a push to the Super Bowl perenially. Kansas City currently sits at just under $18 million in salary cap space for the 2021 season. This makes addressing other areas in free agency a must, leaving the draft as the best option to fill out the position. They have gotten good production from Hardman, but locking someone else down on a cheap contract for the next few years would go a long way towards fixing any lingering issues they may have.
How many of us have heard of Tamorrion Terry? For those savvy dynasty players, this is a guy that I’m seeing all over people’s boards. Terry is a monster of a man with incredible speed. He can create separation with crafty footwork and use his vision to turn up the field and get the coveted YAC. Being so physical and having a massive wingspan, most one-on-one contests are won by this young man. However, he has had his fair share of drops. This isn’t always due to poor catching capability, but also due in part to a lack of concentration and a lack of true body control technicals in his game. Terry would be the perfect complement to Hill as a physical perimiter receiver that can see a lot of looks when Hill is taking the top off the defense.
Las Vegas Raiders
2020 Record: 8-8
Glaring need: Quarterback
Whenever discussing the Raiders, the phrase “how to build a stagnant franchise 101” always comes to mind. It continually baffles me that Mike Mayock thinks that not only Jon Gruden is the answer, but Derek Carr is the savior. Do I think they blow it all up and start over in 2021? Not even slightly. But come on everyone, when are we going to admit that Carr is not a franchise quarterback and is just a very average,
Carr completed 75-percent of his passes (No. 14) in 2020. Even worse, his percentage of catchable passes was 78-percent (No. 17). He doesn’t push the ball down field, averaging just under 8.0 yards per attempt. You’re telling me that this guy is throwing just beyond the LOS and is No. 14 in the league in completion percentage? Come on now. The Raiders played themselves into a mid-round pick, so most of the best talents will be off the board.
If Trey Lance or other first-round caliber QBs fall, you’d have to think Raiders fans would jump at the opportunity to draft one. However, we have seen time and time again that this franchise loves reclamation projects, yet it always burns them in the end. I believe that Las Vegas gets a veteran quarterback looking for a second chance.
For giggles, let’s say Lance does fall to the Raiders. A lot of the criticisms of him are that he isn’t a refined enough passer to be a day one starter in the NFL. He is always a threat to take off and use his legs to rip off chunks of yards. His footwork in the pocket has improved, but there are slight miscues that keep him from unlocking his full potential. He can throw the ball with a good amount of velocity, but he does need to further develop as an all-around passer. He would sit behind Carr, or whatever veteran quarterback is brought in for a year, and learn. Come 2022, this guy could be setting the league on fire.
Los Angeles Chargers
2020 Record: 7-9
Glaring need: Wide Receiver
Where are all of my Justin Herbert stans at? This is a bad man with a big arm. Herbert has found his favorite target in Keenan Allen and rightfully so. However, there are a few question marks behind him. Before everyone gets upset, yes I am aware that Mike Williams is still under contract through 2022. There are players by the names of Joe Reed and K.J. Hill under contract through 2024, but if any of you can say you know those players, be my guest. The point is, wide receiver is scarce for this team.
Williams is the pinnacle of a boom or bust player. For his career, he is averaging nearly 17 yards per reception. That sounds pretty good, right? Consider this. He has a catch percentage of 56-percent and he has averages just under three receptions per game throughout his career. This man is the deep threat in this offense, but ultimately is not a stable WR2. Allen lines up in the slot nearly 51-percent of the time, meaning this team is lacking a true perimeter receiver. In a draft that includes a number of potential alpha dog receivers, this could be a fun team to watch.
Could you imagine Nico Collins catching passes from Herbert and getting to learn from a polished route runner like Allen? Unfortunately, Collins was severely limited by the atrocious Michigan offense and that was on full display in the Senior Bowl. He put on an absolute CLINIC and is reaping the benefits of it. Collins is a big target standing at 6-4 and he uses every bit of that, as well as his speed, to get open. He’s a physical receiver who can create a good amount of separation and will go up to get a top-shelf pass like it’s not a problem. His route running is average, but good enough to transition to the next level. This will have to improve since he won’t be able to bully all DBs off the ball in the NFL. Adding a technical side to his game will do him well. The definiton of a breakout candidate finds his home in LA.