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

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
3 of 5

3. Denver Broncos

Round 1, No. 12: Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

Round 3, No. 76: Jonah Elliss, LB, Utah

Round 4, No. 102: Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon

Round 5, No. 145: Kris Abrams-Draine, CB, Missouri

Round 5, No. 147: Audric Estimé, RB, Notre Dame

Round 7, No. 235: Devaughn Vele, WR, Utah

Round 7, No. 256: Nick Gargiulo, C, South Carolina

If you believe the Broncos' trust in quarterback Bo Nix, then this is the AFC West's best class. I am not a believer, and that margin pushes them to third. Denver is clearly trusting Nix as their guy. Head coach Sean Payton even admitted to pretending to trade up for a quarterback to ensure Nix would be available at the 12th overall pick. They doubled down on the Oregon alum, trading up for former teammate Troy Franklin in the fourth round. That is a productive tandem, but their NFL connection remains to be seen.

Kris Abrams-Draine is the Missouri cornerback too many analysts overlooked, and he has a clear path to playing time. Out of all college cornerbacks, he forced the most incompletions in off-coverage from 2021 to 2023, with a total of 34 incompletions. Gargiulo is an interesting seventh-round addition, with an exceptionally productive career at Yale and then South Carolina.

Biggest gamble: Jonah Elliss

Raw physical traits are often the difference between great collegiate players and great NFL players. Elliss seems more like the former than the latter. Elliss racked up 16 tackles for loss and 12 sacks last season, winning 17.7% of his pass-rushing snaps. However, he has a limited athletic profile and missed the combine and pro day due to a shoulder injury he sustained late in the 2023 campaign. Denver could have waited until later to address pass rusher, a defensive role already filled with Baron Browning, Nik Bonitto, and Jonathon Cooper.

Biggest steal: Audric Estimé

Estime is another player who doesn't seem athletic on the surface but has the game tape to prove his combine numbers wrong. The Notre Dame product was one of the best Power Five backs last season, averaging 6.4 yards per carry for the Fighting Irish. He has a stout build, breaking tackles and shrugging off weak defenders left and right last year. Estimé will serve as a valuable complement to Javonte Williams, who continues to be the primary back in Denver. Estimé also has the tools to be a blocking back, protecting Nix on passing downs.