Each offseason, NFL teams undergo a self-assessment. They identify the areas in which they are strong and weak, and for the most part, they plan their free-agent and draft strategies accordingly.
Filling needs, shoring up weaknesses, and accentuating strengths are all on the agenda, for everyone. But the coaches and players tabbed to fill those needs, shore up those weaknesses, and/or accentuate those strengths carry varying degrees of intrigue.
That's why we're here. Over the next several weeks, we are going to identify the most intriguing newcomer on every team in the NFL. For some teams it might be a coach. For others it might be a rookie or a free-agent signing or something else entirely.
We began with the NFC East and the AFC East, then moved on with the NFC North and AFC North. Last week with we went through the NFC South and AFC South. Earlier this week we looked at the NFC West and today we conclude the exercise with the AFC West, home of the reigning Super Bowl champions.
The Broncos have spent the past couple offseasons attempting to upgrade the infrastructure of their offense in order to put Drew Lock in position to succeed as a quarterback. This year, they used early-round draft picks on wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler, who will join Courtland Sutton and tight end Noah Fant in one of the NFL's youngest pass-catching corps. It'll be interesting to see if and how the Broncos are able to find success with so much youth all over their offense, especially given the hype surrounding these additions.
Jeudy has been drawing rave reviews from everyone in camp, and his skill as a route-runner should allow him to create separation from defensive backs from the day he steps on the field. Hamler brings a deep speed element to Denver's offense, which should open things up for Jeudy, Sutton, and Fant underneath and over the middle of the field.
We can talk all we want about how using a first-round pick on a running back was not the best way for the Chiefs to allocate their resources -- and honestly, it almost certainly wasn't. But that doesn't make Clyde Edwards-Helaire any less intriguing. Edwards-Helaire should be an absolute monster in 2020, one of the most productive backs in the entire league. He has the perfect skill set to succeed in the pass-heavy Chiefs offense, Andy Reid has already compared him to former Eagles star Brian Westbrook, and he is going to be the feature back from Day 1 after Damien Williams opted out of participating in the 2020 season.
The Chargers made some pretty dramatic changes to their offense this offseason, moving on from both Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon in favor of younger and cheaper options at both quarterback (Tyrod Taylor, Justin Herbert) and running back (Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson). But the most intriguing moves they made were along the offensive line, where they swung a trade with the Panthers to exchange Russell Okung for Trai Turner and signed Bryan Bulaga.
Bulaga's presence will also push tackle Sam Tevi across to the left side, where he will replace Okung. Together, Bulaga and Turner will comprise the all-new right side of LA's offensive line, which was badly in need of an upgrade. The Chargers will presumably lean a bit more heavily on the run this season than in years past, and being able to get the ball behind those two maulers should help in that regard.
Al Davis would be proud of a couple additions the Raiders made this offseason.
Henry Ruggs was the fastest player in the draft, and his ability to both stretch the field on deep routes and make plays himself in catch-and-run situations should bring a necessarily element to the team's offense. Especially in the wake of Tyrell Williams' injury, the Raiders are going to need Ruggs to play a major role right from the jump. Similarly, Lynn Bowden Jr. should provide a change of pace to Josh Jacobs in the backfield while also having the ability to work as a receiver in the slot or out wide, and as an occasional quarterback -- all of which he did at Kentucky. Jon Gruden can get a bit creative with Bowden, opening up portions of the playbook that weren't available in the past.