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Who are the scariest rookies around the AFC West?

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Rookie Minicamps mean it’s time to analyze who hit big and who screwed up.

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NFL: Oakland Raiders-Rookie Minicamp
Josh Jacobs will be a bell cow early in his NFL career.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie mini-camps are the first chance for everyone to overreact. It’s kind of a big sign that real football is a long way away as everyone runs to crown the next Hall of Famers. D.K. Metcalf seems to be the most recent beneficiary, while guys like Greedy Williams are obviously busts.

I kid, of course, but one of the more interesting tweets I ran into over this past weekend came on Saturday from the Senior Bowl (and longtime NFL Scout) Director Jim Nagy.

His tweet started a lot of fun conversations over the weekend from around the league about different guys that teams knew couldn’t hack it immediately. It got me thinking about what rookies around the Division that already look like they’ll be scary, good or bad.

Kansas City Chiefs

Scary good: Juan Thornhill

I had Thornhill in a similar tier as Darnell Savage, who went at 21 overall to the Green Bay Packers. They come to the league with different skill sets (Savage profiles as a strong safety, while Thornhill is a free), but both offer the kind of ball hawking ability that will make passes in their vicinity an intimidating proposition for opposing quarterbacks. What makes the former Virginia Cavalier even more terrifying is how he perfectly compliments Tyrann Mathieu to give the Chiefs a versatile duo who can match up with receivers, cover a deep third, or provide help in run support. It’s no surprise ESPN’s Louis Riddick is a big fan.

Scary bad: Rashad Fenton

Steve Nelson moved on to the Pittsburgh Steelers this off-season because Steve Spagnuolo’s new defense doesn’t really value man coverage corners. Kendall Fuller and Charvarius Ward will play significant time in 2019 and were better than the national media would lead you to believe, but Fuller is an unrestricted free agent after the year. As highly as the team thought of Mecole Hardman, it’s worth wondering if Kansas City would have been wise to take a corner higher than the 6th round.

Los Angeles Chargers

Scary good: Nasir Adderly

I mentioned as it happened that I thought a lot of Tom Telesco’s draft. Jerry Tillery and Drue Tranquill will both help them out of the gate, barring any health issues. Adderley is likely to have the biggest opportunity to make a difference in 2019, though.

The needle continues to point upwards in Los Angeles as the team secures a solid draft haul | NFL Analysis | Pro Football Focus

At safety, the Chargers struggled to replace Tre Boston on the back end last season. Adrian Phillips allowed the most yards of any player on the Chargers (564) and the third-most of any safety in the NFL. Adderley should be an upgrade out the gate, as he combines the coverage skills of a former cornerback with absurd range and ball skills – the Delaware safety notched four picks and six pass breakups last season.

Scary bad: Trey Pipkins

This isn’t meant as an indictment of Pipkins, but he’s making a huge jump from Sioux Falls to the NFL. Telesco has already stated that he sees the rookie as the apparent heir to Russell Okung once the former Bronco has moved on, which may come as soon as 2020. I loved his traits coming out, it’s just that there’s some very real expectations placed on him due to his 3rd round pedigree.

Oakland Raiders

Scary good: Josh Jacobs

I didn’t think much of the Raiders first round of the draft, mostly because Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden did a poor job of maximizing the value of their three first round picks. I do fully expect Clelin Ferrell, Johnathan Abram, and Josh Jacobs to earn significant playing time in camp, even if only because the Raiders’ depth chart is sort of a tire fire.

Jacobs has the best chance to make a big difference for Oakland this season. As a running back who brings a versatile skill set, he’s likely to play on all 3 downs and have every chance to turn into a workhorse. If he does, that will make Gruden’s offense a lot more scary, as he’ll have a player who can punish defenses for devoting too much attention to Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams.

Scary bad: Travyon Mullen

To be fair, no prospect seemed to split NFL Draft analysts as much as the former Clemson Tiger did the past 3 months. He’s the guy who seemed to spark a days-long Twitter beef between The Draft Network and Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller.

Others saw him as a third or even fourth round value.

Overall, Mullen has an above-average combination of athleticism and length, but he is more of an athlete than technically-refined cover man and must improve his understanding of play indicators to take the next step in his development, projecting as a high-ceiling developmental corner.

GRADE: 3rd Round (#90 overall)

-Dane Brugler

If Miller and Mayock are right, the Raiders will have a boundary corner locked up for the next four years, as he’s all but certain to start in 2019. If they aren’t, opposing quarterbacks will know where to throw against the Raiders defense this year.

Trayvon Mullen CB Clemson - Draft Player Profile | The Draft Network

Mullen capped his Clemson career with Defensive MVP honors in the Tigers’ National Championship win over Alabama. Mullen’s best fit at the next level comes as an outside corner, used in press coverage where his size, physicality, play strength and recovery speed are accentuated. With that said, there are notable concerns with his footwork and lack of fluidity that present challenges for him in off-man coverage. Mullen will need to develop his coverage awareness to become less of a reactionary defender to succeed in zone and become a more consistent pattern matcher. In addition, Mullen was rarely targeted and his ability to make game-changing plays on the ball is unknown. Mullen should be able to provide depth early in his career and evolve into an eventual starter with development.

Round Grade - Fourth Round Value

Your Broncos Links

What NFL insiders said about the Denver Broncos draft strategy - Mile High Report

John Elway and the Denver Broncos put on a show in the first two rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft by being both patient and aggressive at the right times.

The Broncos need a superstar at QB - Mile High Report

Will that be Joe Flacco, Drew Lock or one of the studs in the 2020 draft?

Denver Broncos: Best remaining free agents who would fit in Denver - Mile High Report

There’s talent out there. Should John Elway chase it to help fill the remaining holes on the Denver Broncos roster?

Ducks blogger likes what Justin Hollins brings to the Denver Broncos - Mile High Report

What’s not to love?

Film Breakdown: Is Malik Reed the next good UDFA for Denver Broncos? - Mile High Report

Could the rookie edge rusher break into Vic Fangio’s rotation on the Denver Broncos defense?

NFL experts predict - Answering the 2019 draft’s biggest questions

Kevin Seifert, national NFL writer: QB Drew Lock to the Denver Broncos (No. 42). Whether or not he was overrated in mock drafts is irrelevant at this point. The Broncos grabbed a quarterback who has nearly 50 games experience at the SEC level, with perhaps the strongest arm in the entire draft, at a point in the second round where there is no pressure to get him on the field. He is easily John Elway’s best pick at the position.

Rankings: NFL Draft Grades Using Analytics - Fantasy Columns

The Broncos selected my model’s top tight end prospect in Noah Fant. In fact, his early-age production and insane athleticism made Fant the highest-projected tight end in my 15-year database. … Drew Lock isn’t a great quarterback prospect, but he’s certainly a worthwhile pick in the middle of Round 2. Like I keep mentioning, drafting quarterbacks is a smart strategy regardless because of positional value, but Lock has at least some upside on top of just drafting for positional value. … Justin Hollins was a phenomenal pick. Hollins has elite athleticism -- 4.50 speed with a 36.5 vertical -- and was pretty productive for three seasons at Oregon. … Juwann Winfree was drafted ahead of a lot of decent wide receivers (Kelvin Harmon, Scott Miller, John Ursua, and Dillon Mitchell) and there’s nothing in his production profile that indicates he was a better prospect.

Best & Worst Of Denver Broncos Draft Class | The Draft Network

I don’t love Drew Lock as a player, though I appreciate the logic and strategy of the pick. I don’t love Dre’Mont Jones the player, and there’s less of a redemptive reasoning there. That said, Fant and Risner is a great Day 1, and Hollins and Winfree are fine picks on Day 3, so the Broncos grade out as a good, if unspectacular class.

Mike Mayock explains his first draft as Raiders GM | SI.com

What I love about how Denver has approached the quarterback position this offseason is that it hasn’t given up much future flexibility whatsoever, while taking two swings at getting it right. Joe Flacco is on a middling non-guaranteed quarterback contract for the next three years (at $21 million per), from which the Broncos can bail at any point. And they took Lock in the second round this year, which doesn’t really preclude them from taking a QB in the first round in the next year or two. So maybe Flacco or Lock hits big. If not, Denver can still be in the Tua Tagovialoa or Justin Herbert business next year, or the Trevor Lawrence business the year after that.

FMIA: New Team, Same Chuckstrong – ProFootballTalk

Monday, Sept. 9. Denver at Oakland. Talk about two new teams. Joe Flacco throwing to Noah Fant. Kareem Jackson covering Antonio Brown, Bryce Callahan trying to blanket Tyrell Williams. Josh Jacobs getting 20 touches (at least) against the rebuilding Denver D in Vic Fangio’s head-coaching debut. What a fun game this should be.

a. Sunday night, Denver at Portland. Not only did Jamal Murray of the Nuggets hit six of six free throws to clinch the game at the end. But consider this: Murray made all six free throws in the last 14 seconds, and none even hit the rim. All six, nothing but net, with a playoff game on the line. I want that guy on my team.

b. Jamal Murray: 18 for 18 on free throws in the series.

NFL Power Rankings: Patriots 1, Browns 11 after draft and free agency | SI.com

Is Joe Flacco the answer? We dropped the Broncos three spots since the move was made.

Rankings: UDFA class rankings - Fantasy Columns

Wouldn’t surprise me at all if Rypien had a longer career than second-round pick Drew Lock. I wish a book would offer me juicy odds on Rypien starting more career games. Shoutout to my Jayhawk brother Joe Dineen, who was an absolute tackle machine behind Daniel Wise on the otherwise dreary KU defense with 220 over the past two years.

NFL Links

The 2020 NFL draft QB class - Five names to know plus potential landing spots

Tank for Tua? The 2020 NFL draft might be almost a year away, but it’s not too early to look at a loaded QB class and where they might all end up.

Studs & Duds - Early Impressions of 2020 | The Draft Network

If you remember, draft season may be over for many of you but here at The Draft Network it is always #DraftSZN. Always.

NFL stays silent on Tyreek Hill – ProFootballTalk

It this were a Sunday during the regular season, the pregame shows would be rife with reports regarding the status of Tyreek Hill. Then again, if this were a Sunday during the regular season, there would be nothing to report because Tyreek Hill already would be on the Commissioner Exempt list.

It’s time for the NFL to take draft picks from teams whose players get in trouble – ProFootballTalk

“Nothing else will work, because there always will be an owner, a G.M., or a coach who won’t be able to resist the upside,”

Mecole Hardman’s game will fit what Chiefs want to do - Kansas City Chiefs Blog- ESPN

After seeing second-round pick Mecole Hardman during rookie minicamp, it’s clear why the Chiefs valued the receiver out of Georgia.

49ers asked Nick Bosa about his tweets, say it didn’t affect decision to draft him – ProFootballTalk

“Not at all,” Guido said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. “It doesn’t mean we didn’t do background on the kid, doesn’t mean we didn’t bring it up and ask him the question, but look — if we’re going to get in a world where we’re not drafting Republicans or not drafting Democrats. . . . The way that I think about it is, ‘he’s a young kid, he had a perspective.’ That perspective is fine, some of other stuff he did I think was a little insensitive and needs to learn from.”

Chad O’Shea, Jim Caldwell hold keys to unlock a Josh Rosen revival - Miami Dolphins Blog- ESPN

The Dolphins’ O-coordinator and quarterbacks coach plan to surround their new acquisition with key tools and sage expertise to set him up for success.

Seahawks WR DK Metcalf is a better route-runner than you think

The Seahawks may have the steal of the draft in DK Metcalf, because the things he can’t do, he actually can.

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Imagine thinking Draft Szn is over. Could not be me. It’s always draft season at TDN.That said, we’ll spend the next few weeks recapping the 2019 NFL ...

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As the Bears desperately attempt to upgrade at kicker, they’re paring down the roster. After wrapping up a rookie minicamp at which the kicking competition was the most-watched event, the Bears released two kickers, Redford Jones and John Baron.

Gerald McCoy: Crazy to ask if I love football – ProFootballTalk

Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has not been with the team during their offseason program and his future with the organization has been in doubt since comments from head coach Bruce Arians in March.

Cam Newton: Shoulder’s feeling great, still no timetable to start throwing – ProFootballTalk

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton provided an update on his right shoulder’s recovery from arthroscopic surgery and said that he feels positive about where things are right now.

Dre Greenlaw receives praise for saving man’s daughter in college | SI.com

Greenlaw protected this man’s daughter at a fraternity party in 2015.

Tom Brady: My wife makes a lot of money, winning is a priority | SI.com

Tom Brady explains why he is not one of the NFL’s highest paid players: ‘My wife makes a lot of money.’

No excuses for Marcus Mariota heading into make-or-break season - Tennessee Titans Blog- ESPN

It wouldn’t be surprising if Marcus Mariota is available in 2020.

Steelers 1st-round LB Devin Bush: Built for today’s NFL | SI.com

It will be interesting to look back on Elway’s decision to pass on Bush in a couple of years.

Gruden emphasizes not picking up Karl Joseph’s fifth-year option doesn’t mean he isn’t part of Raiders future - Silver And Black Pride

Last week the Raiders decided not to exercise their fifth-year option on safety Karl Joseph, meaning he will be a free agent after the year is over.