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AFC West Draft Recap: Bolts Division Foes Focus on Defense


The AFC West still has Justin Herbert top of mind.

That was evident last week during the 2023 NFL Draft when the Chargers division foes mostly focused on defense over a three-day stretch.

Here's a look at the moves each AFC West team made in the draft, as well as other notable decisions around the AFC.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos were limited on picks due to the Russell Wilson trade, and Denver ended up making five total selections in the draft.

And while they traded up into the second round for Oklahoma wide receiver Marvin Mims, Jr., the Broncos then spent their next three picks (including a pair of third-round selections) on defense.

Iowa cornerback Riley Moss and Arkansas linebacker Drew Sanders went in the third round and both could impact Denver's defense sooner than later.

Denver then went with Boise State safety JL Skinner in the sixth round, as he was taken 17 spots ahead of college teammate Scott Matlock, who ended up with the Bolts.

The Broncos, who went 5-12 in 2022, ended their draft with Oregon offensive lineman Alex Forsyth. Denver's original first-round pick went to Seattle, which selected at No. 5 overall.

Kansas City Chiefs

The draft hosts kept it for their first-round pick by taking Kansas State edge rusher Felix Anudike-Uzomah, who grew up a Chiefs fan in the Kansas City suburb of Lee's Summit.

The Chiefs then went offense on Day 2 with SMU wide receiver Rashee Rice and Oklahoma offensive lineman Wanya Morris, but Kansas City used all four of its Day 3 picks on defensive players.

The Chiefs still have the tandem of Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce at their disposal and choose to help out the other side of the ball in the draft.

The Chargers partnered with LA Animal Services and L.A. Love & Leashes to host a Doggy Draft at the team's Draft Party at Westfield Century City. Three pups were drafted to their forever homes and went home with Chargers fans. As a special thank you, adopters received an exclusive adoption gift and had their fees covered.

Las Vegas Raiders

Forget the pre-draft speculation the Raiders could take a quarterback at No. 7 overall.

Las Vegas went defense all the way by taking Texas Tech edge rusher Tyree Wilson, who was one of the top prospects at his position this spring.

The Raiders then added to their offense on Day 2 with Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer and Cincinnati wide receiver Tre Tucker, while also taking Alabama defensive lineman Byron Young in the third round.

Much like the Chiefs, the Raiders went heavy on defense on day 3 as four of their five selections were on that side of the ball. The lone offensive player — Purdue quarterback Aidan O'Connell — was taken in the fourth round.

All in all, the AFC West sent 14 of 21 total picks on defense. Here are other moves that stood out around the conference.

A trio of young quarterbacks

Yes, Bryce Young went No. 1 overall to Carolina.

But the next three best quarterbacks in the draft all landed with AFC teams … and all in the AFC South.

Houston took C.J. Stroud at No. 2 while Indianapolis went with Anthony Richardson at No. 4. Tennessee circled back to Will Levis early in the second round at No. 33 overall.

The Chargers only play the Titans in 2023 so there's a chance they see Levis, but the other quarterbacks will have to wait.

The addition of three first-rounders adds even more recognition to an AFC QB group that features Herbert, Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Trevor Lawrence, Tua Tagovailoa and Aaaron Rodgers.

At least one of those quarterbacks (and maybe more) will miss the playoffs next season.

Here's what Herbert said last week about Rodgers joining the AFC.

"He's an awfully great quarterback. Obviously, really talented. Being a part of the AFC, it's always a great opportunity to play against those guys. We have so much respect for him as a quarterback, as a player and as a leader. The AFC is definitely a tough conference but looking forward to the challenges."

Trade updates

A year after only having 31 first-round picks (Miami forfeited its first pick), the 2024 NFL Draft is slated to have the usual 32 slots in the first round.

But a pair of teams — Cleveland and Carolina — aren't scheduled to have first-rounders at the moment.

Houston traded its 2024 first-rounder to Arizona on draft night to get Will Anderson, Jr., but the Texans still hold the Brown first-round pick from the DeShaun Watson deal.

Carolina sent its 2024 first-round pick to Chicago this spring when the Panthers traded for the 2023 No. 1 overall pick.

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