The AFC West is probably the most exciting division in football at this point. While not as consistent as something like the AFC North when it comes to top-tier battles, it sure was fun to see it play out last season.
The Kansas City Chiefs have one of the most complete rosters in the league, while the Oakland Raiders have one of the strongest groups of young high-level players in the league. If I could pick a single roster in the NFL to build off of, it would be Oakland’s.
Below, we’re going to take a look at the four teams in the division and their biggest needs going into the free agency period. Figuring out the needs of every other team is crucial in figuring out the landscape of the entire NFL and what it means for the 49ers. We’ll cover the rest of the divisions over the next several days.
Kansas City Chiefs
Needs: Nose tackle, wide receiver, linebacker
The Chiefs don’t actually have many big needs at this point. They have a very complete team overall and don’t need to spend huge in free agency. At nose tackle, Dontari Poe is set to become a free agent and the position will need to be addressed if they cannot retain him.
At receiver, neither Chris Conley nor Albert Wilson have looked very good and the Chiefs could use another young body to see what they can do. At linebacker, Derrick Johnson is 34 years old and tore his Achilles in December. They need someone else to play alongside Ramik Wilson. But other than that, the Chiefs are fairly well off on the roster front.
Needs: Linebacker, running back, defensive tackle
Latavius Murray really shouldn’t be a starting running back in the NFL by any stretch of the imagination. He wasn’t particularly good and the Raiders don’t have any backups who look like they could be feature-back material. It’s one of their biggest needs.
Perry Riley needs to be signed at linebacker, but even then they still need at least one but ideally two new linebackers. The whole group has been awful and it’s easily the biggest weakness on the team. At defensive tackle, they have Dan Williams and Jihad Ward but the interior of the line has consistently been weak against the run and against the pass.
Needs: Offensive tackle, defensive end, quarterback, linebacker
It’s looking like Russell Okung won’t be back with the Broncos, but they needed two offensive tackles to begin with. They need two of them at this point but they also need help at the position that most benefits from a strong offensive tackle: quarterback.
Paxton Lynch may or may not be the answer at the position, but they probably need a better veteran regardless just in case. On the defensive side of the ball, they are still hurting from the departures of Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan and really need help at both defensive end and linebacker, accordingly.
San Diego Chargers
Needs: Offensive line, outside linebacker, safety, cornerback
The Chargers have more holes than the rest of the division by far. Not only do they need not one but two offensive tackles, but they need two offensive guards as well. Their tackles were terrible last season and the guards have needed upgrading for a couple seasons now.
On defense, they needed two outside linebackers but they franchised Melvin Ingram, so now they just need to fill the position opposite of him. They also haven’t recovered from the loss of Eric Weddle just yet and still need to find a safety. Jahleel Addae is also set to hit free agency, so they need to fix that. Brandon Flowers is due a whole lot of money at cornerback and they need an upgrade anyway.