Over the next week, the Last Word on Sports NFL department will be selecting the best players in each division by position. Here we will be discussing the AFC West All-Division Team, which has no shortage of talent. This division gave us the AFC’s two best records of the season from the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers (12-4 each). Let’s look at who makes the cut from all four teams at the offense positions for the AFC West All-Division Team.
2019 AFC West All-Division Team: The Offense
Quarterback: Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs)
This is a much tougher call than you might think. This division also has Philip Rivers, who is arguably an elite quarterback himself. And sometimes it’s not the best idea to crown a young quarterback in his first few years as one of the best at his position. But on the other hand, Patrick Mahomes in his first year has an MVP award and 50 touchdown passes. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Those numbers are reminiscent of Kurt Warner in his first year. He’s probably not going to exceed those numbers in 2019, or even put up the same ones. But he’s still going to be very dangerous.
Running Back: Melvin Gordon (Chargers)
At this point, Melvin Gordon is really the only proven top-tier running back in the entire division. And he’s only been getting better over time. Last year he set career highs in yards per carry (5.1), receiving yards (490), and touchdowns (14). And that was despite missing four games. He’s getting better as an all-purpose back as well as a runner. He’s only 26, so he’s still in his prime and if he avoids another injury, he ought to be setting some more career highs.
Wide Receiver: Antonio Brown (Oakland Raiders)
It’s hard to say for sure whether we’ll see the same Antonio Brown that dominated for the Pittsburgh Steelers the last six years. In the past, the Raiders have often been a place where once-good football careers go to die. But on the other hand, Brown has been a top-five receiver for years and it’s not like he’s stuck with a bad quarterback either in Oakland. While he may not have 100+ receptions again, he still belongs on this list.
Wide Receiver: Keenan Allen (Chargers)
Keenan Allen has to be one of the more fun receivers to watch. He runs routes much better than most, and he’s surprisingly elusive after the catch too. Speaking of catches, he has 199 of them over the last two years. And after only playing nine games from 2015 to 2016, he hasn’t missed a game since. Allen is in the prime of his career right now, and while he may not quite be a top-five receiver yet like Brown, he’s not too far off either.
Wide Receiver: Emmanuel Sanders (Denver Broncos)
Emmanuel Sanders is coming off a torn Achilles, so it remains to be seen how that will affect his play this year – especially since he looks unlikely to start Week One. However, prior to his Achilles tear, he was actually in the middle of a bit of a bounce-back season and well on his way to another 1,000-yard season. He’s probably going to fall short of that again this year just because of the games he’ll miss, but when he does return, he’ll likely be the top target on the Broncos offense and rightfully so.
Tight End: Travis Kelce (Chiefs)
Travis Kelce has already been a dangerous weapon for the Chiefs and is coming off a career year. He’s coming off a season with 103 receptions and 1,336 yards. At this point, he may well be the best tight end in the NFL, especially with Rob Gronkowski gone. Depending upon how the Tyreek Hill situation plays out, he might get even more opportunities (even if only temporarily).
Left Tackle: Russell Okung (Chargers)
As of this writing, Russell Okung is currently dealing with an undisclosed injury that we do not know the extent of or how long it will keep him out. However, there hasn’t been any reason given to assume he’ll miss the whole season (if any regular season games at all), so he remains in this spot for now. He was ranked #11 at the left tackle position by Pro Football Focus, the best among the four starters in the division. He was certainly a factor in the strong Chargers rushing offense.
Left Guard: Dan Feeney (Chargers)
This might be the worst position for the AFC West. Two of the teams (Broncos and Raiders) don’t have a clear-cut starter at left guard right now. The remaining two – Cameron Erving and Dan Feeney – could probably be interchanged pretty easily. But Feeney seems more likely to hold onto his job in 2019, at least to start out – while Erving could lose his to Andrew Wylie. But let’s face it, left guard is just not a strong spot for the AFC West.
Center: Mike Pouncey (Chargers)
This is one of the few offensive linemen in the division who was in a Pro Bowl last year. Mike Pouncey has been a good pickup for the Chargers, finally bringing some stability to the center position and arguably being the best member of the Chargers o-line. More of the same should be expected in 2019.
Right Guard: Gabe Jackson (Raiders)
Gabe Jackson is currently one of the stronger points of the Raiders o-line. He actually started out at left guard when he came into the league, but he’s since moved to right guard. Regardless, the AFC West looks certainly better at this position than at the other guard position.
Right Tackle: Mitchell Schwartz (Chiefs)
Mitchell Schwartz had quite a strong season for the Chiefs in 2018. For one, he finished 4th at the position with Pro Football Focus. Also, he was a First-Team All-Pro. He’s also been a Second-Team All-Pro twice. This leaves him as easily the best at his position in the West, and possibly even the best offensive lineman in the entire AFC West.
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