The key to any team's success is how well they can protect the quarterback. And when it comes to the AFC West, there isn't a lot to be excited about. I found myself picking the lesser of the evils. Therefore the results may surprise you.
1. Raiders - Donald Penn, Menelik Watson/Austin Howard
Even with the relative uncertainty at right tackle, the Raiders still have the best tackles in the division. Donald Penn leads the way, of course, as the former Pro Bowl left tackle returned to form last season and clearly still have something left in the tank. At right tackle, there is a good competition going on between Former second round pick Watson and last year's big free agent acquisition Howard. I expect that competition to yield a decent starter, whichever player ends up winning the job.
2. Chargers - King Dunlap, Joe Barksdale
Dunlap was a nice free agent find by the Chargers prior to the 2013 season. Though last season he was tied for 8th in the league with 35 QB hurries given up. Barksdale was originally drafted by the Raiders in 2011 and after one season in Oakland, he was released and signed with the Rams. He was a serviceable starting right tackle in St Louis in 2013 but last season had a league leading 40 QB hurries given up. He signed with the Chargers in the offseason but his starting job at right tackle isn't guaranteed. D.J. Fluker held that position last season and it he could be moving to right guard. Although it may not matter considering both gave up 7 sacks last season which was tied for fifth most in the NFL. And the trio of Dunlap (8), Fluker (5), and Barksdale (1) made up three of the top eight in most QB hurries given up in 2014. Much like the Raiders, left tackle is secure while right tackle is a bit uncertain.
3. Broncos - Ty Sambrailo, Chris Clark
Ryan Clady is the best left tackle in the division. But he tore his ACL in OTA's and was lost for the year. He will be replaced by rookie second round pick Ty Sambrailo. Not ideal. Chris Clark is a decent right tackle.
4. Chiefs - Eric Fisher, Donald Stephenson
Fisher has been an utter disappointment since the Chiefs drafted him with the number one overall pick two years ago. Much is expected from top overall picks, so the word bust gets mentioned a lot. I'm not ready to break it out, but thus far he at least hasn't looked like top pick material. He too was tited for the fifth most sacks given up in the NFL. Stephenson is not so great either. In three years since they made him their third round pick, he has never been a fulltime starter and barely saw the field last season.