Kansas City Chiefs on top? Ranking the AFC West NFL Draft classes

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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In Kansas City, the summer is long and hot, as evidenced by a sweltering weekend. This increasing heat is not just in the weather but also within the AFC West division.

The Chiefs' monopoly on the division is under threat from their rivals, who are all making significant changes to their rosters and coaching staffs. While buying talent via free agency hasn't proven successful for all three teams, adopting Kansas City's draft-and-develop approach could help them compete with the Chiefs.

Not saying they challenge Kansas City this season, but any given Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, right?

Under the leadership of general manager Brett Veach, the team has significantly enhanced its talent drafting abilities. After a disastrous 2018 class, Kansas City has transformed into a perennial top-10 drafting team. That success translates directly to the field, helping Kansas City manage the payroll and have a championship-caliber roster year in and year out. Center Creed Humphrey and linebacker Nick Bolton, both on rookie contracts, have emerged as top players in their respective positions.

The Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders, and Denver Broncos all tried to bypass this part of player development, signing some of the league's premier free agents in recent offseasons. Moves like extending quarterback Russell Wilson and signing JC Jackson only blew up in their respective faces, once again proving the value of Kansas City's approach.

All three AFC West opponents finished below .500 in 2023, forcing some new faces on their coaching staffs and into their front offices. After former Chargers general manager Tom Telesco joined the Raiders, Los Angeles brought in Joe Hortiz as his replacement. Jim Harbaugh and Antonio Pierce entered their first draft with their new teams, while Sean Payton continues to rebuild Denver's roster.

For all three franchises to bounce back and surpass their 2023 performances, they need to have strong draft classes. Let's look at which divisional draft classes rank the best, with the biggest gamble and the biggest steal in each.