The 2016 season had two distinct story lines. One was the resurrection of the Oakland Raiders, who returned for the first time since 2002 with a 12-4 record. However, there Super Bowl dreams were dashed when quarterback David Carr went down with a broken leg near the end of the regular season.
The second was that the San Diego Chargers played their final game in San Diego as they decided the best move of the organization would be the second Los Angeles team and move into the LA Rams new stadium in 2020. It was a crushing move for the San Diego natives and it didn’t help that the team showcased Defensive Rookie of the Year Joey Bosa on their way out.
It was the Kansas City Chiefs who took the division crown, but just as in Philadelphia, coach Andy Reid proved consistently making the playoffs rarely turns into a Super Bowl appearance. While Denver rolled up to the finish line with a modest 9-7 record as Trevor Siemian took the reigns from the retired future hall-of-famer Peyton Manning.
For such a competitive division in 2016 the most striking aspect of it was the amount of turnover that occurred in the postseason.
The Oakland Raiders also agreed to relocate in 2020, with a move to Las Vegas finalized. Now, with an end date in Oakland, hometown hero Marshawn Lynch was coaxed out of retirement in an attempt to help send off the Raiders with a Super Bowl trophy while still in the bay area.
Elsewhere in the division, Broncos coach Gary Kubiak decided to retire which led to the hiring of first-time coach Vance Joseph. In San Diego, Mike McCoy was let go and returned to Denver as offensive coordinator, a position he already held from 2009-2012. Anthony Lynn was tasked as the man to replace McCoy and lead the Chargers into their new turn as the LA Chargers.
With such turnover, how did things transpire on draft day? Look no further. Here is the complete breakdown…
Denver Broncos: B+
1.) Garrett Bolles, OT, Utah
2.) DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida St.
3.) Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech
3b.) Brendan Langley, CB, Lamar
5.) Jake Butt, TE, Michigan
5b.) Isaiah McKenzie, WR, Georgia
6.) De’Angelo Henderson, RB, Coastal Carolina
7.) Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss
The Broncos and GM John Elway continue their impressive build up. Addressing the trenches to start was a tremendous approach. Bolles, will be a 25-year-old rookie and is still a bit raw, but he should start Day One on the left side. Walker, fits seamlessly into the Broncos 3-4 scheme. He had 26.5 sacks over the past two seasons. Henderson, gives Denver a slot option with the hands and quickness to be dynamic. With the final pick in the draft the Broncos tagged Chad Kelly. A very intriguing move. The nephew of hall-of-famer Jim Kelly, Chad has shown an impressive ability at the position, but has considerable off-field questions. With fellow hall-of-famer Elway in the building, it will be interesting to see how Kelly develops.
Best pick: Jake Butt
Butt, would have been a lock second-round pick, if not a first-round choice, had he been healthy. Butt, tore his ACL in the Orange Bowl and will take awhile to yield results from him, but he is a classic tight end who can block and be a reliable receiving option.
Kansas City Chiefs: C
1.) Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
2.) Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova
3.) Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo
4.) Jehu Chesson, WR, Michigan
5.) Ukeme Eligwe, LB, Georgia Southern
6.) Leon McQuay, S, USC
The Chiefs were very aggressive during the draft. First moving up 17 spots to take Mahomes and handing over their first-round pick in the 2018 draft to do so. Mahomes, threw for over 5,000 yards and 40 scores in his final season at Texas Tech, but he is still raw in respect to the NFL level. The Chiefs again moved up for Hunt. With long time back Jamaal Charles now in Denver, Hunt adds to the committee to replace him. Chesson, was expected to breakout in 2016 after a promising 2015, but injuries slowed him down. The Chiefs are hoping he can get back to his 2015 self.
Best pick: Tanoh Kpassagnon
The man is an athletic freak. That simple. Kpassagnon, has the explosiveness and length to excel in the NFL, but needs to develop. Voted a team captain, Kpassagnon put up 17.5 sacks and 31 tackles-for-loss over his final two years.
LA Chargers: B+
1.) Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
2.) Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky
3.) Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana
4.) Rayshawn Jenkins, S, Miami
5.) Desmond King, S, Iowa
6.) Sam Tevi, OT, Utah
7.) Isaac Rochell, DT, Notre Dame
The Chargers did a tremendous job drafting for need. The Bolts still believe in Phillip Rivers, but his weapons have been few and injury prone. Williams, instantly upgrades the unit and provides the perfect compliment to Keenan Allen. Spending capital on linemen with their next two picks was smart as that was their weakest link for a few seasons now. Lamp, can play any position along the line and should be a Day One starter. Jenkins, can play either safety position and is a thumper. King, won the Thorpe Award in 2015 and will have his abilities maximized sliding over from cornerback to safety at the NFL level.
Best pick: Dan Feeney
When word gets out that the New England Patriots had to scramble after you selected a player one pick before them, you know you’re on to something. Feeney, will be a Day One starter and, like Lamp, offers versatility along the interior.
Oakland Raiders: C
1.) Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio St.
2.) Obi Melifonwu, S, UConn
3.) Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, UCLA
4.) David Sharpe, OT, Florida
5.) Marquel Lee, LB, Wake Forrest
7.) Shalom Luani, S, Washington St.
7b.) Jylan Ware, OT, Alabama St.
7c.) Elijah Hood, RB, North Carolina
7d.) Treyvon Hester, DT, Toledo
The Raiders surprised many with the selection of Conley. Just before the draft, Conley was accused of rape after an incident in Cleveland. Conley has maintained his innocence, the Ravens gave him a lie detector test previous to the draft, and Conley regularly has met with Cleveland police. That pick aside, the Raiders turned in a rather lackluster class. Majority of the prospects are depth pieces. Vanderdoes, in the third-round was surprising. He was on his way to developing into a considerable talent before a knee injury derailed his development and hasn’t seemed to be able to get on track. Lee, was a three-year starter and the anticipation and tackling ability to add quality depth and special teams play to the Raiders.
Best pick: Obi Melifonwu
Melifonwu, was a fringe first-round talent and is wildly athletic. He played all over the field at UConn showing ability at corner and safety. With his size and dependable tackling, Melifonwu could significantly improve the Raiders 24th ranked pass defense.