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What They're Saying: A look around the AFC West at the NFL Combine

The Silver and Black's three divisional adversaries – the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers and the Denver Broncos – are among the teams at the NFL Combine scouting the 2024 draft class this week.

The AFC West boasts the defending two-time Super Bowl champion Chiefs as the rest of the division, and league, are looking to knock them off the top this upcoming season. The Raiders finished second in the division in 2024, while going 3-1 against the division under Antonio Pierce.

During Tuesday's media availability, Chargers GM Joe Hortiz, Chiefs GM Brett Veach and Broncos Head Coach Sean Payton all shared their thoughts on the Raiders and their plan to combat the rest of the AFC West.

Joe Hortiz is in what he considers "a unique situation" as a first-time general manager. He has a quarterback already set in place with Justin Herbert along with a proven head coach in Jim Harbaugh, fresh off a 2023 National Championship with Michigan.

The last time the Raiders faced the Chargers in Week 15 last season, the Silver and Black scored a franchise-record 63 points against them in Allegiant Stadium. As Hortiz looks at his roster and what pieces he needs, he's keeping the divisional opponents in mind.

"Denver and Las Vegas are both on the come up, and Kanas City has shown us what they are," Hortiz said."I think they're talented teams, certainly the two-time Super Bowl champions, that's who we're all chasing in the division. They're well run organizations, great leaders. I know Tom [Telesco] over there, and Antonio [Pierce] did a great job at the end of the year."

As for the Denver Broncos, both Payton and General Manager George Patton were vocal about finding another quarterback either through the draft or free agency to contend in the AFC West.

It's also worth noting Payton's praise for his former longtime assistant Ronald Curry, who was named quarterbacks coach of the Buffalo Bills this offseason. Curry played for the Raiders from 2002-08, compiling 193 career receptions and 13 touchdowns.

"When the great Al Davis drafted him, that's all you need to know about him as a receiver," Payton said of Curry.

Lastly, the Kansas City Chiefs arrived to the Combine with their third Super Bowl crown in the last five years. 

As the defending champions approach the draft, avoiding complacency is their main goal for the roster. They realize the rest of AFC West will be coming for them, especially the Raiders, who were the last team to defeat them in the 2023 season.

"I think our division has tremendous coaching. I think the first thing you think of is the outstanding coaching," said Brett Veach. "Two more great coaches hired in LA and in [Las Vegas], so I think the task with these organizations is that they're smart organizations, tough organizations and they're led by great coaches.

"They're going to have different ways to attack us, and we all saw it last year with Vegas, what they did to us on Christmas Day."

Take a look back at the best touchdown photos from the Raiders' 2023 season.

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