Across the NFL, offseason training activities are happening and teams are getting a good look at the players they’ve assembled to make a run in 2019. Like a few other teams, the Broncos have a bit of a head start on the competition since they have a new coaching staff.
The other teams in the AFC West are just getting started. While practices have kicked off for these teams, players are getting banged up, skipping workouts and getting added to the roster. That, plus a big story from within the division that has nothing to do with happens on the field occurred this week.
Let’s take a spin around the AFC West to see what the competition is up to.
Kansas City Chiefs
The news around the Chiefs has more to do with the city of Kansas City. On Tuesday, the NFL announced that the NFL Draft would be held in Kansas City in April 2023. Chiefs fans went wild on social media, for good reason. Getting the draft is huge for any town that is awarded what has now become one of the biggest events in the sports calendar.
I’ve been attending and covering the NFL Draft for a decade, starting with trip to Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Back then, the draft was kind of tucked away at one spot with little coverage outside the building. Sure, NFL fans (mostly Giants and Jets fans) would wrap around the building, but it was more of a “look at these dorks” type of vibe than a must-attend event.
The league decided to take their show on the road in 2015 and 2016, so then I had to travel to Chicago. The weather wasn’t great in Chicago either year, but the NFL did get to start “Draft Town.” That event, across the street from the venue the draft was being held in, likely sparked the NFL to action to make the draft bigger and better.
In 2017, the draft was held in Philadelphia to record crowds, with more than 250,000 people attending the event over the course of the weekend. It was held outside on the famous Philadelphia Art Museum steps that Sylvester Stallone ran up in the first “Rocky” movie.
Not to be outdone, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones held an even larger event when Dallas hosted the draft in 2018. Dallas had almost 200,000 people show up on the first day of the draft, with around 40,000 packing inside AT&T Stadium while the other 100,000-plus were outside the stadium at NFL festivities.
A month ago, Nashville said “hold my beer” to Dallas and had over 600,000 NFL fans in attendance for the three-day event, a new record. It was a game-changer for the event, as the NFL Draft is now becoming a vacation destination for NFL fans in the spring.
The Titans official website reported this week that the NFL and the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. announced this year’s NFL Draft generated a record $133 million in direct spending – a 79 percent increase over the $74 million at the 2018 Dallas event. So it’s no surprise that cities are clamoring for the event.
Kansas City beat out other cities, like Denver. to host the draft. It’s a shame that the Mile High City didn’t get selected, but I will enjoy eating some great barbecue when I go to Kansas City in a few years.
Los Angeles Chargers
Jeff Miller, from the L.A. Times, reported that Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman indicated he expects to be ready to go at 100 percent in time for training camp. He’s recovering from a knee injury that cut his 2018 season short and the team’s medical staff will make the final determination on when he can officially return.
A second-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Perryman is a talented player who has seen his career set back by injuries. He’s never played a full 16-game season and in fact has only played in 16 games across the last two years.
Perryman is your classic run-stuffing inside linebacker. He has a good nose for the ball and can get to the ball-carrier quickly and cleanly. Although a bit one-dimensional as a player, having Perryman out there for a full season would be a boost for an already strong Chargers defense.
It’s important to note for the Broncos as they want to run the ball as much as possible in 2019. That could be a problem when playing the Chargers if Perryman is healthy and playing up to his full potential.
The Raiders have begun OTAs and there have been a lot of stories about Antonio Brown not showing up to the first day of voluntary workouts (he showed up the second day). I don’t want to write about that.
Instead, I want to tell you about a new tight end for the Raiders that has a Broncos connection. Oakland signed Erik Swoope this week.
Swoope was a player the Broncos alerted the rest of the league about years ago when they worked him out at the University of Miami. He never played college football and instead was a basketball player for the Hurricanes. The Broncos were the first NFL team to work him out as a tight end, but he instead chose to sign with the Colts after going undrafted in 2014.
Since that time, Swoope has started a small handful of games for the Colts as he learned to play football at the highest level. He was released and signed briefly with Saints before failing his physical.
The Raiders decided to take a chance on him this week and Swoope could emerge in that tight end room. They let Jared Cook (Saints) walk in free agency this offseason and have a room full of blockers like Luke Willson, Derek Carrier and 2019 fourth-round pick Foster Moreau. Converted wide receiver Darren Waller is a receiving threat, so perhaps Swoope has a bit of competition there.
Swoope is your classic basketball-to-tight-end convert and perhaps a diamond on the rough – or perhaps he won’t make the 53-man roster. It’s an interesting move in my eyes nonetheless.
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