AFC West 2022 NFL Draft Preview: Team needs, top draft targets, prospects to watch, and more

In our AFC West NFL Draft preview, we touch on team needs and prospects that may be available for the Chiefs, Chargers, Broncos, and Raiders.

The AFC West landscape is entirely different from a few short months ago. Three of the four teams have seen an influx of talent flown in from the NFC, while the division winner lost arguably the best receiver in the NFL. Ahead of the NFL Draft, we explore team needs and draft prospects that make sense in our AFC West draft preview.

AFC West 2022 NFL Draft Preview

The Broncos took a solid roster and added Russell Wilson. Las Vegas made splashes on both sides of the ball, while the Chargers had arguably the best March in recent memory. Could all four teams compete for the playoffs in 2022?

Kansas City Chiefs: Team needs, draft targets, salary cap, and prospects to watch

Cap Space (as of April 8)
$18.1 million

2022 NFL Draft Picks
1-29, 1-30, 2-50, 2-62, 3-94, 3-103, 4-121, 4-135, 7-233, 7-243, 7-251, 7-259

The once untouchable Chiefs now appear to have a few chinks in the armor. They let Tyrann Mathieu, the heart and soul of the defense, walk, and they traded Tyreek Hill to Miami. Kansas City also lost Charvarius Ward in free agency, and they don’t have much help remaining for Chris Jones on the defensive side of the ball.

The Chiefs created needs for themselves in free agency. However, signing Justin Reid quelled concerns about safety. They still need a starting cornerback, a wide receiver, an edge rusher, and a run-stuffing defensive tackle.

With five top-100 picks, Kansas City’s plan will be to inexpensively fill as many holes on the roster as possible. General manager Brett Veach dominated the 2021 NFL Draft and has the ammunition to do the same in 2022.

The Chiefs could have a lot of options in the back end of Round 1, including wide receivers Treylon Burks (Arkansas) and Jahan Dotson (Penn State); cornerbacks Andrew Booth Jr. (Clemson), Kaiir Elam (Florida), and Trent McDuffie (Washington); EDGEs David Ojabo (Michigan), Boye Mafe (Minnesota), and Arnold Ebiketie (Penn State); and defensive tackles Perrion Winfrey (Oklahoma), Devonte Wyatt (Georgia), and Travis Jones (Connecticut).

Their options on Day 2 of the draft will be even more vast. It’s not the most potent class at the top, but it is deep with talent at positions the Chiefs need, aside from cornerback.

Las Vegas Raiders: Team needs, draft targets, salary cap, and prospects to watch

Cap Space (as of April 8)
$6 million

2022 NFL Draft Picks
3-86, 4-126, 5-164, 5-165, 7-227

The Raiders spent the first few days of free agency sitting around. Then, like a built engine with a 200-shot of nitrous oxide, they took off like a rocket ship. They added Chandler Jones, traded for Rock Ya-Sin, and acquired arguably the best receiver in the NFL via a trade for Packers’ superstar Davante Adams.

The Raiders used the 22nd and 53rd picks in the 2022 NFL Draft to trade for Adams. They still have significant needs on the offensive line, and now they don’t have the draft capital to address those issues. Aside from Kolton Miller, the front five is a problem.

Many names could interest the Raiders when their third-round pick rolls around, including offensive tackles Abraham Lucas (Washington State), Daniel Faalele (Minnesota), Nicholas Petit-Frere (Ohio State), Rasheed Walker (Penn State), Dare Rosenthal (Kentucky); guards Luke Goedeke (Central Michigan), Marquis Hayes (Oklahoma), Sean Rhyan (UCLA), Ed Ingram (LSU), Lecitus Smith (Virginia Tech); and centers Dylan Parham (Memphis), Cole Strange (Chattanooga), Luke Fortner (Kentucky), and Zach Tom (Wake Forest).

Los Angeles Chargers: Team needs, draft targets, salary cap, and prospects to watch

Cap Space (as of April 8)
$18.9 million

2022 NFL Draft Picks
1-17, 3-79, 4-123, 5-160, 6-195, 6-214, 7-236 7-254, 7-255, 7-260

The Los Angeles Chargers were the darlings of free agency. They made a ton of moves and did so without making market-setting additions. They paid good money to J.C. Jackson, but it was less than most expected. Trading for Khalil Mack was also a massive upgrade, as were the additions the Chargers made on the defensive line.

LA addressed many of their needs in free agency, but they left right guard and right tackle off the list. If they want Justin Herbert to survive the onslaught of ridiculous pass rushers in the AFC West, they’ll have to attack the tackle position.

There are far fewer names for the Chargers to look at in Round 1 than the Raiders. Offensive tackle Trevor Penning is the prospect that jumps out most. The Chargers could also go with a guard like Zion Johnson or Kenyon Green, the latter of whom has the experience and the ability to play right tackle.

Denver Broncos: Team needs, draft targets, salary cap, and prospects to watch

Cap Space (as of April 8)
$14.6 million

2022 NFL Draft Picks
2-64, 3-75, 3-96, 4-115, 4-116, 5-152, 6-206

Denver hung around the playoff race for most of the season, but they didn’t have the QB play to take the next step. They boasted a strong roster overall, but they couldn’t pry Aaron Rodgers from Green Bay and decided not to draft Justin Fields or Mac Jones. Instead, the Broncos waited until 2022 to trade for Wilson, which should make them a contender in the AFC.

While glancing over the Broncos roster, it’s not easy to find any legitimate needs. While Denver doesn’t have a perfect squad, they have above-replacement-level players almost everywhere.

They could use a long-term right tackle, but the additions of Billy Turner and Tom Compton solidify the position for now. There is no such thing as too many pass rushers, so if the Broncos can find one with upside, that could be a place to go at the end of Round 2. They could also look at drafting a developmental cornerback.

Names to watch for with Denver include offensive tackles Bernhard Raimann (Central Michigan) and Lucas; EDGEs Myjai Sanders (Cincinnati), Kingsley Enagbare (South Carolina), and Nik Bonitto (Oklahoma); and cornerbacks Tariq Woolen (UTSA), Kyler Gordon (Washington), Martin Emerson (Mississippi State), and Coby Bryant (Cincinnati).

Dalton Miller is the Lead NFL Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can read more of his work here and follow him @daltonbmiller on Twitter and Twitch.

Dalton Miller is the Lead NFL Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can read more of his work here and follow him @daltonbmiller on Twitter and Twitch.

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