The AFC West has become highly-regarded as one of, if not, the toughest divisions in the National Football League. In 2016, between the Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, and the then-San Diego Chargers, combined for 38 wins; the foursome was second only to the NFC East's 39 total victories.
Out west, the competition level is high, no doubt about it, but what's intriguing is the fact it's only going to get better. During the offseason the Silver and Black added five-time Pro Bowler Marshawn Lynch to its running back corps, and the Broncos managed to lure veteran running back Jamaal Charles away from the Chiefs. Several players from last year's draft have shined as well, especially Bolts defensive end Joey Bosa.
With so much going on in the AFC West, let's take a look around the division.
In the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Broncos bolstered their offensive line with the selection of offensive lineman Garett Bolles. The former Utah Ute enters the NFL at 6'5" and 297 pounds, and ready to contribute for the team.
According to his draft profile, Bolles' size and athleticism jumped off the page, especially when meshed with his footwork. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock's biggest downside was his "football IQ," but according to members of the Broncos, he's already impressed them with his knowledge of the playbook.
While Bolles was only drafted less than three weeks ago, he's already taking the necessary steps to be game-ready when the time comes. For the franchise, this is clearly what you want to see out of your first round pick. It remains to be seen whether he'll impress the rest of the league under the bright lights.
Kansas City Chiefs
Before the rise of dual threat quarterbacks in the league, the NFL employed some of the best gunslingers to ever play the game. From quarterback Dan Marino, to three-time MVP Brett Favre, and many others, the league has seen many Hall of Famers pass through. Recently, Favre took the time to discuss the Chiefs 2017 NFL Draft first round selection of Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who has been dubbed a gunslinger himself.
Per Chiefs.com, Favre has gone on the record to attribute much of his success during his time in the NFL to Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid, and believes Mahomes is in good hands. While quarterback Alex Smith is currently the starter under center for the Chiefs, Mahomes could be the team's quarterback of the future. Grooming him into the role is an obvious objective for the team, and Favre believes Reid will be able to help simplify the game for the rookie.
Watching the 21-year-old develop for the foreseeable future will be something worth observing.
Los Angeles Chargers
While the Chiefs potentially have their next starting quarterback looming on the roster, the Chargers have had their guy for more than a decade. Over the course of his 15 seasons, Philip Rivers has appeared in six Pro Bowls, thrown for 45,833 yards, 314 touchdowns, and owns an overall record of 97-79—all while donning the electric blue and yellow uniform.
The NFL has been doing its annual breakdown of the Top 100 players in the league, and Rivers comes in on the list at No. 73. As mentioned previously, the Chargers signal-caller has been named to the Pro Bowl six times, and coincidentally this will be his sixth appearance within the NFL's Top 100. If anything about Rivers is true, the man is consistent.
Day-in and day-out, when playing the Chargers, defenses are always cognizant of his ability to sling the ball; he can go off at any given time. Rivers' arm strength is probably his most notable attribute, and it's for this reason – along with others – that he's been able to perform at a high level the majority of his career.