NFL Draft 2015: Breaking down AFC West picks


In the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft on Thursday night, there was plenty to absorb. Around here, the Kansas City Chiefs selecting Marcus Peters from the University of Washington grabbed most of the headlines, but there is more that took place.

For Kansas City to make a Super Bowl run, the first step is winning the AFC West. The last the Chiefs were able to accomplish that feat was in 2010, when Matt Cassel and Todd Haley led the team to a 10-6 mark. In that vein, let’s go around the AFC West and see which players the other three teams took.

Oakland Raiders

Oakland picked fourth-overall and plucked Alabama Crimson Tide receiver Amari Cooper off the board. Cooper led the SEC in catches and yardage last year, becoming the all-time receiving yards leader in conference history. Cooper was rated by most as the best receiver available, and will immediately slot in as a starter for the Raiders.

Cooper gives Oakland an intriguing receiver core of himself, James Jones and Michael Crabtree. Factor in the speedy Andre Holmes as a fourth option, and the Raiders are becoming a much better offensive team.

Dec 6, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Amari Cooper (9) runs the ball against the defense of Missouri Tigers safety Braylon Webb (9) during the first quarter of the 2014 SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers traded up a pair of spots, giving their fourth-round pick and a 2016 fifth-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers in order to get Wisconsin Badgers running back Melvin Gordon. After allowed Ryan Mathews to hit free agency, San Diego general manager Tom Telesco was aggressive and landed Gordon, a prospect considered to be on par with another terrific back, Todd Gurley.

Gordon is similar to Jamaal Charles in that he has breakaway speed and can catch the ball. With Philip Rivers throwing downfield early and often, defenses will not be able to stack the box, allowing Gordon to face light fronts and nickel sets.

Jan 1, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Melvin Gordon (25) runs with the ball against the Auburn Tigers during the second half in the 2015 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Auburn Tigers 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Broncos

Denver also traded up to get a player they wanted, drafting Missouri Tigers outside linebacker Shane Ray with the 23rd-overall pick. Broncos general manager John Elway gave up a fifth-round pick in this year and next year’s draft, along with guard Manny Ramirez to get to No. 23.

Ray is an exceptional talent, although he put himself in tough position earlier this week when he was cited for possession of marijuana. The outside linebacker will likely sit for a majority of 2015 behind Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, a very similar position to Dee Ford with the Chiefs last season. The only puzzling part of this is Denver’s situation. Peyton Manning likely has a year left in the tank, and Ray won’t be a factor barring great surprise.

Sep 27, 2014; Columbia, SC, USA; Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Shane Ray (56) gives chase to South Carolina Gamecocks running back Mike Davis (28) during the first quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Missouri wins in the final minutes 21-20 over South Carolina. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports