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AFC West Positional Power Rankings

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The second annual look at how the position groups in the AFC West stack up against each other.

Stan Liu-USA TODAY Sports

A couple of things to acknowledge before we begin:

  • Obviously, there is some speculation involved for new players.
  • Health will not be a factor. Some players are more injury-prone than others, but they are impossible to predict.

Quarterback

  1. Broncos
  2. Chargers
  3. Chiefs
  4. Raiders
Peyton Manning wore down in a major way at the end of 2014, but he remains atop the rankings at QB. I could certainly see a scenario where Philip Rivers overtakes him, but for now Manning stands on top. As unspectacular as Alex Smith is, Derek Carr has not shown enough to believe he is even the 3rd best quarterback in the division.

Running Back

  1. Chiefs
  2. Chargers
  3. Broncos
  4. Raiders
Despite crappy offensive lines and a lackluster QB, Jamaal Charles continues to produce. He has been the best skill position player in the AFC West for years and is good enough to put the Chiefs at #1 pretty much regardless of who is behind him. The Bolts may have invested a lot (too much?) to get there, but adding Melvin Gordon gives them the second best unit in the division. The Broncos have a strong group as well despite the disappointment of Montee Ball, mostly because of the emergence of C.J. Anderson. Denver likely would have been #2 had the Chargers not used their first round pick on a back. The Raiders signed Trent Richardson this offseason, and that's probably all I need to say about them.

Offensive Line

  1. Chargers
  2. Raiders
  3. Broncos
  4. Chiefs
The Chargers added some serious help to the offensive line this offseason. Joe Barksdale may be a slight upgrade at RT, but D.J. Fluker and Orlando Franklin at guard over the combo of Chad Rinehart and Johnnie Troutman is about as big of an upgrade as possible. The Raiders added Rodney Hudson to what was already a solid line in 2014, and the Broncos losing Franklin bumps them down to 3. The Chiefs had one offensive lineman who wasn't terrible in 2014, and he will be in Oakland next year.

Receivers/Tight Ends

  1. Broncos
  2. Chargers
  3. Chiefs
  4. Raiders
The Broncos did lose Julius Thomas this offseason but have the division's best receiver in Demaryius Thomas. They also have plenty of depth with players like Emmanuel Sanders and 2nd-year player Cody Latimer. The Chargers have a solid group after swapping out Eddie Royal for Stevie Johnson, and maybe we will finally see a productive season from Ladarius Green. The Chiefs don't have a whole lot of depth, but tight end Travis Kelce and new wideout Jeremy Maclin are both studs. The Raiders' group of pass-catchers is in better shape than a few years ago, especially after using a first round selection on Amari Cooper, but there is not much proven ability as of now.

Defensive Line

  1. Chiefs
  2. Raiders
  3. Broncos
  4. Chargers
Dontari Poe is a stud and the main reason the Chiefs are number 1 here, as the interior defensive lines for the AFC West are not the strongest. The Raiders' addition of Dan Williams puts them at number 2, as he could be a nice pairing with second-year DT Justin Ellis. Corey Liuget should be able to push San Diego to number 3 by himself, but his effectiveness is cancelled out by the fact that the coaching staff still wants Kendall Reyes to be a starter.

Edge Rushers

  1. Chiefs
  2. Broncos
  3. Raiders
  4. Chargers
This was by far the easiest group to rank. The Chiefs' duo of Justin Houston and Tamba Hali might be the best edge pairing in the NFL. Von Miller and Malik Jackson are another good pairing that most teams would love to have. The Raiders' Khalil Mack was an elite run defender as a rookie and has upside as a pass rusher, and old man Justin Tuck proved he can still be effective. That leaves San Diego, who could be happy with their OLB's if things go like they hope, but they lost over 1,100 snaps from last year now that Dwight Freeney and Jarret Johnson have moved on.

Linebackers

  1. Chiefs
  2. Broncos
  3. Chargers
  4. Raiders
A pretty ugly group overall here. Chiefs again get the nod for having the best player (Derrick Johnson) even though he is coming off of a torn Achilles. The only non-pass rushing LB that played a significant number of snaps last year in Denver was Brandon Marshall, but he was very good. The Raiders had every chance of leaping ahead of the Chargers on this list, but they signed 2 linebackers in Malcolm Smith and Curtis Lofton who are just plain bad. The drafting on Denzel Perryman may prove to be the first step in moving on from Donald Butler, as the improving Te'o could use a strong sidekick.

Secondary

  1. Chargers
  2. Broncos
  3. Chiefs
  4. Raiders
If you couldn't tell, Tom Telesco made the Chargers' secondary a priority this offseason. They signed Jimmy Wilson and Patrick Robinson and drafted corner Craig Mager in the 3rd round. The Chargers have a pair of potentially elite cornerbacks in Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett, and one of the best safeties in the league in Eric Weddle. Something they have now that they haven't had quite a while is depth. The Broncos' secondary come in a close second, as Chris Harris is about as good as it gets. Aqib Talib is a strong pairing at corner and they don't have a major weakness at safety. While the  Chiefs added Marcus Peters to an improving secondary, the Raiders will pray for the health of DJ Hayden.

Now the fun part, tell me why I'm wrong!