They say defense wins championships. Their are many areas of strength when it comes to the AFC West. I would consider the hallmark of this division as far as defense is concerned being the pass rushers. Their are a number of elite young pass rushers in this division I didn’t include a lot of them on this list because it’s such a deep group. Imagine a list where you leave off the likes of Melvin Ingram, Maxx Crosby, Bradley Chubb. As far as versatility on several fronts this division has that so let’s dive into the list of the AFC’s best defenders.
Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers
The older Bosa Brother has the potential of being the best pass rusher in the whole entire league. Unfortunately, for him playing in a market where fans don’t want the team and injuries it’s easy for him to fly under the radar. However, from a production standpoint he has 40 career sacks and 200 tackles including 54 pressures and 11.5 sacks alone in 2019, Bosa is basically a lock to get double-digit sacks if he plays a full season.
Frank Clark, Kansas City Chiefs
The postseason run showcased by Frank Clark was simply phenomenal. It provided proof as to why general manager Brett Veach gave a kings ransom in order to bring in the former Seattle Seahawk to anchor the defensive line. In Clark’s career he has a total of 43 sacks and 173 tackles. In his inaugural season with the Chiefs Clark had 8 sacks. Since 2018, Clark and his teammate Chris Jones have put offensive lines on notice, ranking sixth and tied for 11th, respectively, in sacks. The two pass-rushers registered 27 quarterback pressures apiece last year.
Defensive Tackle 1
Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs
Chris Jones is a unit with rare size and athleticism for the position at 6’6 and over 315lbs, Jones has catlike quickness and strength that makes him too much of a task for most guards. Since entering the league Jones has put up incredible numbers for a pass rusher, much less an interior defensive tackle. In 2018 Jones put up 15.5 sacks and in 2019 Jones had 9 sacks. That type of production is insane for an interior pass rusher. The fact that the Chiefs were able to get him under contract for 2020 is bad news for the rest of the division.
Defensive Tackle 2
Maliek Collins, Las Vegas Raiders
Collins was one of the more underrated signings in all the off-season he isn’t a household name like other players on this list. However, Collins is well respected he has an innate ability to command and defeat double teams.
Coming over from Dallas, the four-year NFL vet has improved every year under defensive line coach Rod Marinelli. With Marinelli being added as a DL coach for the Raiders. Collins has some familiarity with the scheme Raiders are looking to run. This was one of the key gets for the Raiders in free agency, as he joins a young and talented defensive line ready to take their game to the next level in 2020.
Von Miller, Denver Broncos
Von Miller is one of the best sack experts in all of football. Miller has totaled 106 sacks in his career and coming off his second highest sack total in 2018, there hasn’t been much that can stop the sack master. A former defensive player of the year and SB MVP. Miller has a Canton worthy resume but he is far from done wreaking havoc on the AFC West signal callers.
Cory Littleton, Las Vegas Raiders
This may have been the best free agent acquisition of any team this off-season. Raiders greatest need for years has been LB. If you watch Raiders games it is evident that they cannot figure out how to guard tight ends, well insert Littleton. He’s elite in coverage, while being just okay against the run, his skillset will be put to use early and often going up against the passing attacks in the AFC West. In four seasons, Littleton has 290 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 6 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles and 4 fumble recoveries. He also has blocked four kicks on special teams.
Todd Davis, Denver Broncos
Inside linebacker Todd Davis has been a solid player for the Denver Broncos since being acquired off waivers from the New Orleans Saints in 2014. Over the last two seasons, Davis has recorded an efficient 250 total tackles. That sort of stat line is so hard to ignore. It is not often you get a player that has that much production in his first two seasons as a starter. Davis strength is playing the run. He’s a see ball hit ball kind of linebacker and he has earned those stripes. Davis became 6th on the Broncos’ all-time list in single-season tackles a year ago.
Tyrann Mathieu, Kansas City Chiefs
The “Honey Badger” got his nickname for being a pesky and rangy safety. Mathieu’s ability to play man or deep zones, nickel corner or safety make him among the most dangerous versatile players in all of football. The way he sparked the Chiefs in the second half of the super bowl was arguably the turning point in that game. The All-Pro is probably the best defensive back in the AFC West.
Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers
A player who could push Mathieu for the title of best overall defensive back in the coming years. Equally as versatile, but more box oriented, James can be a linebacker, edge rusher, or strong safety for the Chargers. He he had his coming out party his rookie year in 2018, but a 2019 injury limited his ability and effectiveness. That being said, every team wants a Derwin James, I expect him to be an all-pro for years to come.
Casey Hayward, Los Angeles Chargers
In life there are three things that are certain death, taxes and no one will throw on Casey Hayward. Hayward was targeted on average three times per game last season. Heyward has forced the highest incomplete pass percentage in the NFL over the last ten years (2x Pro Bowl). He has been rated by various sports outlets as one of the best cornerbacks in football since his breakout season in 2016. The Chargers have talent on all three levels of their defense, and I think they have the best secondary in all of football.
AJ Bouye, Denver Broncos
Bouye was traded to the Denver Broncos by the Jacksonville Jaguars back in March, and he is certain to take now Charger Chris Harris Jr’s spot. Bouye has notched an interception in each of the last six seasons. He has a reputation in league circles as being one of the better press man to man corners in the game.
- Chiefs – 3
- Chargers – 3
- Broncos – 3
- Raiders – 2