2012 NFL Draft: Grading the AFC West Draft Classes

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 29: Melvin Ingram #6 of the South Carolina Gamecocks celebrates during the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium on October 29, 2011 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)




The AFC West is widely considered one of the most mediocre divisions in football, and for good reason. Last year, three teams finished 8-8 and the fourth place team--Kansas City--finished 7-9. It seems like a division that no one wants to win, but someone's got to.

However, none of those teams or their fans really care whether or not they win 10 games or whatever, making the playoffs is all that matters, and winning matters, which the Broncos proved last year.

So how did the rest of the AFC West fare in the 2012 NFL Draft? Here are my grades for the three other teams in our division:

1. San Diego Chargers: A

  1. Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
  2. Kendall Reyes, DL, UConn
  3. Brandon Taylor, S, LSU
  4. Ladarius Green, TE, San Diego State
  5. Johnnie Troutman, OG, Penn State
  6. David Molk, C, Michigan
  7. Edwin Baker, RB, Michigan State

UDFA
-- Appalachian State defensive back De'Andre Presley
-- Arizona State wide receiver Mike Willie
-- Arkansas cornerback Greg Gatson
-- California safety Sean Cattouse
-- Fresno State defensive tackle Logan Harrell
-- Houston running back Mike Hayes
-- LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee
-- Mississippi State offensive lineman Cordell Bell
-- Mississippi Valley St. wide receiver Paul Cox
-- Montana offensive lineman Charles Burton
-- Oklahoma State wide receiver Hubert Anyiam
-- Rice punter Kyle Martens
-- South Carolina wide receiver Jason Barnes
-- Tennessee long snapper Nick Guess
-- Texas A&M defensive tackle Eddie Brown
-- UCF inside linebacker Josh Linam
-- UCLA offensive lineman Mike Harris
-- UCLA wide receiver Taylor Embree
-- UNLV wide receiver Phillip Payne
-- USC defensive tackle Christian Tupou

The San Diego Chargers got a major steal in the first round when they picked up South Carolina's Melvin Ingram, who was considered about two weeks ago to be a top 10 selection, and there were rumors that the Jets were going to swap with Jacksonville to get him.

However, due likely to the fact that he's a "Tweener" and has shorter arms, Ingram fell into the chargers laps. They also got a steal in the 2nd round in defensive lineman Kendall Reyes, who will also really upgrade their defensive front seven.

A really underrated pick was the Ladarius Green selection. He is a super-athletic tight end prospect who will be a mismatch. He's almost just like another big wide receiver. Antonio Gates is getting older so that was a solid pick.

In UDFA, the Chargers picked up an intriguing receiver in Phillip Payne, who was the best player on a terrible team, but he was still pretty productive.

2. Kansas City Chiefs: B+

  1. Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
  2. Jeff Allen, OL, Illinois
  3. Donald Stephenson, OL, Oklahoma
  4. Devon Wylie, WR, Fresno State
  5. DeQuan Menzie, DB, Alabama
  6. Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M
  7. Jerome Long, DT, San Diego State
  8. Junior Hemingway, WR, Michigan

UDFA
Louisville WR Josh Bellamy; California G Justin Cheadle; Colgate RB Nate Eachus; Bethune-Cookman S Jean Fanor; Kansas State S Tysyn Harman; Louisville LB Dexter Heyman; North Carolina C Cam Holland; Notre Dame DE Ethan Johnson; Nebraska WR Brandon Kinnie; Florida State S Terrance Parks; Auburn FS Neiko Thorpe

The Chiefs' grade will depend completely how some of these "boom or bust" guys turn out, but they got some really talented players.

Dontari Poe is an athletic freak and obviously the Chiefs saw more of Haloti Ngata in him than anything else, because many expected Poe to slip on draft day. He wasn't dominant at Memphis statistically but he was dominant in the trenches forcing other teams to double team him and he even dropped into coverage at times.

Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson add some much needed depth to the offensive line, specifically on the interior. The Chiefs signed Eric Winston to play right tackle, so their offensive line depth is pretty stellar right now if these guys turn out to be good.

Cyrus Gray is about as good as a late-round pick gets. He has solid size and really good speed, and is elusive in the open field. There were many who thought he was the best senior tailback in the country going into last season.

In UDFA, Neiko Thorpe is a pretty big name who will play safety in the NFL but also played corner in college for Auburn.

3. Oakland Raiders: C+

  1. Tony Bergstrom, OL, Utah
  2. Miles Burris, LB, San Diego State
  3. Jack Crawford, DE, Penn State
  4. Juron Criner, WR, Arizona
  5. Christo Bilukidi, DE, Georgia State
  6. Nathan Stupar, LB, Penn State

Undrafted FAs
Nevada DE Kaelin Burnett; Beloit WR Derek Carrier; Missouri DL Dominique Hamilton; Wisconsin S Aaron Henry; Fort Valley State P Marquette King; Arizona State OL Dan Knapp; Pittsburgh OL Lucas Nix; San Diego LB Mario Kurn; Temple WR Rod Streater

The Raiders capped off day two of the draft with their selection of Tony Bergstrom, who has value as an interior offensive lineman. This was a very defensive oriented draft but the most interesting pick to me is the selection of Juron Criner, who joins a pretty deep group of receivers in Oakland.

Oakland lost and at one point really liked big wide receiver Chaz Schilens, and while Criner doesn't have the same kind of speed, he was really productive at Arizona and has huge hands. The former regime in Oak-town may have passed on Criner because he ran a 4.6 but the new one may have gotten a steal.

The Raiders also have some really intriguing undrafted guys in WR/TE Derek Carrier who is a height, weight, speed marvel, and Aaron Henry who I really liked coming out of Wisconsin.

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