Rookie Recap: AFC West

PFF's Steve Palazzolo highlights the 2012 rookies from the AFC West -- a group largely in need of further seasoning.

| 4 years ago

Rookie Recap: AFC West

It’s time to top off our look at the AFC rookies from 2012 as we move to the AFC West. We’ve already covered every rookie from the AFC East, AFC North and AFC South.

The Denver Broncos ran away with the division this season, but it had much more to do with quarterback Peyton Manning’s arrival than any contributions from their rookie class. The Kansas City Chiefs got contributions from a number of rookies, but, much like the team’s entire 2012 season, the results weren’t very good. It appears the San Diego Chargers have found some defensive pieces on which to build, while the Oakland Raiders didn’t have a draft pick until the third round and it showed in their class’s output.

Be sure to check out our PFF Rookie of the Year and All-Rookie Team which are both good reference points for the best rookie performances of the season.

Let’s take a look at this year’s rookie class from the AFC West.

Denver Broncos

Derek Wolfe, DE
Draft: Second round, 36th overall
Snaps/Usage: 933 snaps, 480 at defensive end on a three-man line

Notes: Despite Wolfe’s six sacks, he graded at -24.5 as a pass rusher as he totaled only 25 total pressures on 530 pass rush attempts. Similar to Cameron Jordan with the New Orleans Saints, Wolfe may be miscast as a 4-3 defensive end as his pass rushing is sub-par compared to his peers, but he is effective against the run. He graded at +10.3 as a run stopper and ranked 14th at the position in Run Stop Percentage at 6.2.

Ronnie Hillman, RB
Draft: Third round, 67th overall
Snaps/Usage: 211 snaps as part of running back rotation

Notes: Hillman’s playing time varied throughout the season and he finished with 330 rushing yards on 85 carries (3.9 yards per carry). Though he was touted as an elusive running back coming out of San Diego State, he did not make a lot of defenders miss, as his 15.6 Elusive Rating would have ranked near the very bottom of the league if he had enough touches to qualify.

Other Broncos rookies:

The Broncos were thrilled that second-round quarterback Brock Osweiler saw the field for only 34 snaps, as it meant that Manning stayed healthy for the entire season. All four of his attempts came in Week 17 — he completed two of them for 12 yards. Fourth-round cornerback Omar Bolden played 39 of his 81 snaps in Week 16 and finished with a -1.9 coverage grade. Fifth-round DE Malik Jackson rushed the passer on 76 of his 120 snaps with three pressures and a -0.6 pass rush grade to show for it. Linebacker Danny Trevathan was used primarily in coverage, as the seventh-rounder dropped back on 147 of his 243 snaps. He allowed 17 of his 25 targets to be completed for 178 yards while adding two defensed passes. Though he played only six snaps on defense (all in Week 17), undrafted linebacker Steven Johnson tied for the team lead with nine special teams tackles.

Kansas City Chiefs

Dontari Poe, DT
Draft: First round, 11th overall
Snaps/Usage: 757 snaps, 429 at nose tackle in a three-man line

Notes: Poe started at nose tackle from Day 1, though he’s clearly a work in progress as the Chiefs’ zero-technique. He showed that he could make plays against the run, as he ranked third in Run Stop Percentage among defensive tackles (8.4), however, his -4.0 grade in run defense shows that he is still pushed around too often. Poe was also ineffective as a pass rusher as he picked up only 12 pressures on his 403 rush attempts, good for a pass rush grade of -6.8.

Jeff Allen, G
Draft: Second round, 44th overall
Snaps/Usage: 12 starts at left guard and one start at left tackle

Notes: Allen was thrust into the lineup at left guard in Week 3 due to an injury to center Rodney Hudson that caused some offensive line shuffling. Though Kansas City had one of the better offensive lines in the league, Allen was the weak link — his -19.1 grade ranked second-to-last among 54 qualifying guards and his Pass Blocking Efficiency (PBE) of 95.7 ranked 55th out of 72.

Donald Stephenson, T
Draft: Third round, 74th overall
Snaps/Usage: 380 snaps, 323 at left tackle

Notes: Stephenson saw his first extended action in Week 11 when he got the start at right tackle before taking over at left tackle for the majority of the remainder of the season. He graded at -6.5 overall, including -7.2 as a pass blocker, and gave up 21 pressures on just 180 pass blocks for a PBE of 89.9 that ranked near the very bottom of the league.

Other Chiefs rookies: 

Though projected as a slot receiver, fourth-rounder Devon Wylie played 67 of his 80 snaps on the outside. He caught six passes for 53 yards (8.8 yards per reception). Sixth-round running back Cyrus Gray played only 31 snaps that saw him pick up 44 yards on his seven carries (6.3 yards per carry). Undrafted free agent fullback Nate Eachus saw the field for 142 snaps and his season highlight was posting a +2.9 run block grade that helped spring RB Jamal Charles for 233 rushing yards in Week 3. Safety Tysyn Hartman saw the majority of his 243 snaps in the last five games of the season. He got his hands on two of the seven passes thrown into his coverage, good for a +1.0 coverage grade. Fellow undrafted free agent CB Neiko Thorpe missed one of his three tackle attempts on his 30 snaps.


Go to Page 2 for the Raiders and Chargers… 

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • Jesseekemp

    Despite this class not living up to the fan base’s lofty expectations, San Diego’s 2012 draft class looks like it’s on track to be the best in the division.

  • packfan

    Are you going to do this for the NFC?