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Top 10 Players of the AFC West Heading Into 2020

With the hopeful start of the 2020 season getting closer and closer, let's take a look at the top 10 best players in the AFC West.
AFC West

As we get closer to hopefully playing the 2020 NFL season, the Last Word on Sports Pro Football department is taking a look at the ten best players in each division heading into the season. Here, we will be taking a look at the AFC West specifically.

Top Players in the AFC West Heading Into 2020

1. Patrick Mahomes

This one’s pretty much a no-brainer. The 2018 MVP and the 2019 Super Bowl Champion and Super Bowl MVP, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is pretty widely considered at least a top-five player in the entire league. And he’s the focal point of not only the Chiefs offense but the team in general. Hence why they gave him that massive contract extension and might as well have given him the keys to the city. While it’s uncertain just how well this will work out once the salary cap gets tighter thanks to both Covid-19 and this massive contract, the Chiefs are certainly in a good position for the moment – in general for the short term, and at quarterback for at least another decade.

2. Derwin James

One could go with Von Miller just as easily for the top defensive player in the AFC West, and Derwin James may certainly be out of the forefront of some viewer’s minds after he missed most of last season and didn’t seem quite 100 percent even when he did return. However, while Miller is definitely more of a leader for his defense, what gives James the nod here is his ability to play basically anywhere on the defensive backfield and still dominate.

His main position is safety, but we’ve also seen him play in essentially linebacker spots, even getting a few quarterback sacks. In his monster rookie year, he had 105 combined tackles with 3.5 sacks, three interceptions, and 13 pass deflections. It was a season performance that would’ve easily gotten him Defensive Rookie of the Year in almost any other year… except Darius Leonard was also a rookie that year. Regardless, James should be having a bounce-back season this year and should continue to be a problem for offensive coordinators.

3. Von Miller

Even after failing to post double-digit sacks for the first time since 2013, the former Super Bowl MVP Von Miller is still a top-tier linebacker and the unquestioned focal point and leader of the Denver Broncos defense. He reached the milestone of 100 career sacks last year and has posted 489 combined career tackles. While he didn’t stuff the stat sheet quite as much as usual, his presence could still be felt.

Miller’s in his early 30s now and thus it’s possible that his best days may be behind him. However, he’s still playing at a high level and remains one of the best players in the AFC West as a result.

4. Joey Bosa

Joey Bosa is easily the best defensive end in the entire AFC West, and quite arguably one of the better pass-rushers in the entire league. In four seasons (including an injury-shortened one), he has posted 40 sacks and 201 combined tackles. He’s a big problem for offensive lines and quarterbacks to deal with, and now the Los Angeles Chargers have locked him up for an additional five years. Suffice it to say that the other quarterbacks in the division probably aren’t too happy about that.

5. Keenan Allen

Ever since coming back from an ACL tear that occurred during the 2016 season, wide receiver Keenan Allen has been on another level and has proven himself to be a top-ten wide receiver in the league. He’s had two 100+ catch seasons in the last three years, 18 touchdowns in the same time span, and has made the Pro Bowl three straight years.

Allen’s not a circus-catch receiver like Odell Beckham or Julio Jones, but he’s one of the top route runners in the league and still has quite reliable hands. He’s also surprisingly elusive once he has the ball in his hands. Whether it’s Tyrod Taylor or Justin Herbert throwing him the ball, the Los Angeles Chargers quarterback is going to be glad to have Allen on his team.

6. Travis Kelce

Travis Kelce is dueling with George Kittle for the title of best tight end in the NFL, but he’s unquestionably the best in the AFC right now at the position and thus definitely should be on this list. He’s always been a talented tight end, but he’s only gotten better since Patrick Mahomes arrived. In the last two years, he’s had 200 catches for over 2,500 yards and 15 touchdowns. He’s up to 6,465 career receiving yards and 37 touchdowns. If he keeps it up, he’ll go down as one of the better tight ends to play the game.

7. Chris Jones

Defensive tackles might not make it on this list in all divisions, but Chris Jones is one of the best at the position. This became pretty clear in 2018 when he put up a monstrous 15.5 sacks. He just missed the double-digit sack mark in 2019, but missing three games might’ve had something to do with that. Jones played a role in the Super Bowl as well, forcing the first turnover of the game and having two pass deflections. With a new four-year deal, he should be the focal point of the Chiefs defensive line for a while.

8. Tyreek Hill

Tyreek Hill’s not entirely a traditional wide receiver, but he does have one very big thing in his favor: he’s fast. Really fast. So fast that if he gets the ball in his hands and has enough open field in front of him, it’s already too late. It’s no surprise that like Travis Kelce, his stats went upward with the arrival of Patrick Mahomes, who has a cannon of an arm.

While he’s not as much of a complete receiver as a couple of others in the division, he’s so good when he has the ball in his hands that he’s a very dangerous weapon and a big problem for defensive coordinators.

9. Chris Harris Jr.

Chris Harris Jr. left the Denver Broncos last season, but stayed in the division with the Los Angeles Chargers, and he is definitely a big pickup for them. Even if his final season with the Broncos wasn’t as flashy stats-wise, he still remains a shutdown corner (primarily a slot one at that). Let’s not forget that in his entire career, only eight players have gotten 50+ yards when matched up against him, and only 10 times has a receiver caught a touchdown on him. In nine years of play, that’s quite excellent.

10. Josh Jacobs

Easily the most exciting Oakland Raiders player right now has to be running back Josh Jacobs, who’s also easily the best at the position in the division. In only his rookie year with 13 games, he recorded 1,150 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. He should only get better in his second year, and this would make the Raiders one of the few teams where their best offensive weapon is their running back (barring a breakout from one of the young receivers).

Honorable Mentions: Tyrann Mathieu, Justin Simmons, Melvin Ingram, Courtland Sutton, Frank Clark, Rodney Hudson, and Mitchell Schwartz

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images


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