The AFC West is loaded with talent on the offensive side of the ball in 2020. How do the Denver Broncos stack up at each position group?
The Denver Broncos have made a variety of moves they hope will catapult them into the playoff picture. The rest of AFC West has also made a significant number of moves to bring in talent this offseason to compete with the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Cheifs.
I broke down each position group in the AFC West and provided scores from 1 (Cannot Compete) to 10 (Elite). Most average units rank between 6 and 7.
The first of two articles will look at the offensive positional groups.
Denver: HC Vic Fangio, OC Pat Shurmur, DC Ed Donatell
The team rallied around Vic Fangio after an 0-4 start. Fangio got the team's defense to play over their head after injuries took several of the team's best players.
Pat Shurmer is tasked with the development of Drew Lock and may be the perfect guy to do it. 7.5
Kansas City: HC Andy Reid, OC Eric Bieniemy, DC Steve Spagnuolo
Andy Reid showed why he is one of the best coaches ever to head up an NFL sideline, winning his first Super Bowl. OC Eric Bieniemy took over playcalling and the team did not miss a beat.
Spagnuolo was able to get his defense to rally over the last half of the season, helping the team roll through the division and playoffs.
Los Angeles: HC Anthony Lynn, OC Shane Steichen, DC Gus Bradley
Anthony Lynn was able to get the team to overachieve in 2018 but underperform in 2019. This year will be telling on his ability to get his team over the hump.
Shane Steichen took over midseason in 2019 and seemed to gain the favor of Lynn, earning the job for 2019. He still has a lot to prove and a new QB to break in. Gus Bradley remains one of the game's better defensive coordinators.
Las Vegas: HC Jon Gruden, OC Greg Olson, DC Paul Guenther
Jon Gruden has seemed to adapt well to the new NFL after a long hiatus in the booth. He continues to get offensive production with minimal talent. Greg Olsen supports Gruden, who is the real OC.
DC Paul Guenther got his group to play over their head and will be challenged to do so again.
Denver: QB Drew Lock
Last year the Broncos selected Drew Lock with the 42nd pick in the 2019 draft. The original plan was to sit Lock for the year and ride out veteran Joe Flacco to a playoff run. Injuries and ineffectiveness created a window for Lock to play, and he played well. In a limited sample size, Lock's DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) ranked ahead of all rookies in the 2019 class and grouped along with Phillip Rivers, Tom Brady, and Jared Goff.
This was without the key offseason additions including Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler. Drew Lock has the makings of a franchise quarterback, now he the support around him to flourish. 7.5
Kansas City: Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes suffered an injury in the middle of last season, reducing his output to a measly 4,300 yards and a 26/5 TD to INT ratio.
Oh yeah, and he dazzled in the playoffs to a Super Bowl win and the game's MVP. There isn't a throw Mahomes can't make and has a variety of weapons around him. Mahomes is most likely is the game's top QB for the foreseeable future. 10.0
Las Vegas: QB Derek Carr
Despite the calls for a new man at the helm, Derek Carr played well the majority of the season.
With limited targets, Carr posted a 4,300-yard campaign while ranking 9th in the league in DVOA. Now Carr has the addition of three WR's in the 2020 draft, headlined by Henry Ruggs, along with a second receiving threat at tight end in Jason Witten. The criticism of Carr is aimed at his play in big moments.
Currently, he has not played his best in big games and needs to this season or it may be his last in Las Vegas as the Raiders QB. 7.0
Los Angeles: Tyrod Taylor (Justin Herbert)
Tyrod Taylor is a steady placeholder for 6th overall pick Justin Herbert. Taylor keeps a team on schedule and rarely turns the ball over. However, with the offensive firepower coming into the AFC West, simply making the safe play won't be enough and the team will eventually turn the offense over to Herbert.
The Chargers hope that day does not come too soon as Herbert has to adjust to game speed along to a more complex playbook. 6.5
Denver: RB Melvin Gordon, Phillip Lindsay
Phillip Lindsay is a Pro-Bowl, two-time 1,000-yard rusher. Melvin Gordon is also a former Pro-Bowl running back eclipsing 1,000 yards rushing two years ago. The tandem was brought together to provide a variety of skill sets available for Pat Shurmur.
When looking at a variety of metrics, Gordon (15) and Lindsay (19) both ranked in the top 20 in overall effectiveness per Football Outsider. Overall, the Broncos have quite a one-two punch. 8.0
Kansas City: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB Damien Williams
Damien Williams came on strong last season, culminating in a performance in the Super Bowl worthy of the game's MVP consideration. There may not have been a better fit for a team than the Chiefs selecting Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round of this year's draft. Both backs can provide a spark in the run and pass game. 7.5
Los Angeles: RB Austin Ekeler, RB Josh Jackson
Austin Ekeler performed above expectations throughout the year catching over 90 passes. His performance made Melvin Gordon expendable as the team would not pay both backs.
Josh Jackson performed admirably when he was given a chance. The team may struggle a bit to establish a rhythm as both backs are not a traditional bell-cow. 7.0
Las Vegas: RB Josh Jacobs, RB Jalen Richard
Josh Jabobs showed why he deserved to be a first-round pick in 2019. Jacobs is a true 3 down back, impacting the game as a receiver and rusher. Jalen Richard showed a to be an effective receiver out of the backfield, but should not take many carries from Jacobs if possible. 7.5
Denver: WR Courtland Sutton, WR Jerry Jeudy, WR KJ Hamler, TE Noah Fant
Courtland Sutton's ascension to WR1 status has been meteoric. Sutton earned a Pro-Bowl nod in 2019 after marrying his length and jumping ability with a tireless work ethic.
Tight end Noah Fant shined as the year progressed, putting up historic numbers for a rookie at his position. The Broncos then went out and drafted Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler with their first two selections.
There may not be a more ready-made WR in this year's draft than Jeudy while Hamler brings the blazing speed the offense has lacked for some time. 7.5
Kansas City: WR Tyreek Hill, WR Mecole Hardman, WR Sammy Watkins, TE Travis Kelce
On the field, Tyreek Hill has performed at an All-Pro level. His speed causes the defenses to dictate coverages early and opens things up for others.
Tight end Travis Kelce has taken the mantle from the newly unretired Rob Gronkowski as the game's best tight end. Sammy Watkins provides speed but disappears at times.
The team was over the moon about the impact second-round pick Mecole Hardman had on the team last year. This group is dangerous and can score from anywhere on the field. 9.0
Las Vegas: WR Tyrell Williams, WR Henry Ruggs III, WR Hunter Renfrow; TE Darren Waller
Tight end Darren Waller was a revelation for the Raiders in 2019 and should have an even bigger role in 2020. Hunter Renfrow provided clutch 3rd down grabs all year.
Tyrell Williams's impact was minimal as he struggled to stay healthy. The drafting of three receivers in the team's first four picks provides this group an influx of talent. Anticipate a slow development from this year, but this is primed to challenge the AFC West for years to come. 7.0
Los Angeles: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, WR Joe Reed, TE Hunter Henry
Keenan Allen is an unreal route-runner who seems to always be open. Mike Williams showed to be an incredible threat in the red-zone and posted his first 1,000-yard season. Tight end Hunter Henry is a threat in the middle of- the field. The third wide receiver role is up for grabs with a variety of young players competing for that role including rookie Joe Reed. 8.0
Denver: LT Garett Bolles, LG Dalton Risner, C Lloyd Cushenberry III, RG Graham Glasgow, RT Ja'Wuan James
The Broncos have invested heavily in their offensive line over the past two seasons with the additions of Dalton Risner (2nd Round 2019) and Lloyd Cushenberry III (3rd Round 2020) along with pricey free-agent additions in Ju'Wuan James and Graham Glasgow.
The interior should be stout in both the run and pass game. The questions for this team surround their tackles as James looks to stay healthy and Bolles tries to eliminate penalties. This group has the potential to be a top or bottom 3rd line depending on the play outside. 7.0
Kansas City: LT Eric Fisher, LG Martinas Rankin, C Austin Reiter, RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, RT Mitchell Schwartz
Fisher has come into his own as the former 1st overall pick while Schwartz continues to be one of the better right tackles in the game. Inside, Reiter stepped in nicely for the departed Mitch Morse.
This group was able to provide Mahomes with adequate time. Mahomes only needs so much based on his improvisation skills. This group can look to improve the in the run game as they ranked 28th in run blocking. 7.5
Las Vegas: LT Kolton Miller, LG Richie Incognito, C Rodney Hudson, RG Gabe Jackson, RT Trent Brown
The Raiders ranked in the top 6 in both the run blocking and pass blocking in 2019. Richard Incognito, Rodney Hudson, and Gabe Jackson form a stout interior line that ranks amongst the leagues best. Incognito came back from a hiatus and performed at an All-Pro level.
Trent Brown came over from New England as the highest-paid right tackle in NFL history and performed well most of the season when healthy. Miller is still learning the ropes but has performed respectably. This unit will be amongst the leagues best in 2020. 8.0
Los Angeles: LT Sam Tevi, LG Dan Feeney, C Mike Pouncey, RG Trai Turner, RT Bryan Bulaga
The Chargers have been riddled with poor offensive line play for the past several years, but are hopeful this group has ended that trend. The team traded former Pro-Bowl tackle Russel Okung for perennial Pro-Bowl guard Trai Turner from Carolina.
The team also went and signed veteran Bryan Bulaga to solve one of the right tackle position. Mike Pouncy and Dan Feeney sure up the interior, leaving Sam Tevi as the lone question mark upfront.
The team believes in Tevi enough to pass on a tackle rich 2020 draft class. However, Tevi will be tested early and often as teams attack him until he proves worthy of the starting role. The Chargers will also have to weather the injury bug that has plagued this group throughout their recent history, as many of their projected starters have missed chunks of time over the past several seasons. 7.0
See this story to see how the Broncos defense and special teams stack up with the AFC West.