AFC West Q&A: Who are the division's best skill players, not including QBs?

The AFC West has three solid quarterbacks: Oakland's Derek Carr, Los Angeles' Philip Rivers and Kansas City's Alex Smith. But what about their supporting casts?

I would make an argument for the following as the best non-QB skill players in the division:

1. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs: Hill's versatility makes him the division's top threat. Of his 12 touchdowns last season, six came via the pass, three via the run and three off kick returns. Eight of those touchdowns came from 34 yards or longer, including rushes of 68 and 70 yards. The Chiefs had three such touchdowns from other players last season, one on a fake punt.

2. Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders: Cooper is the AFC West's true downfield threat. He had 12 catches at least 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Only one other AFC West receiver had more than seven. Cooper is only 23, so he isn't even in the prime of his career, though that could come as soon as this season.

3. Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers: Gordon is the division's primary threat among players who line up almost exclusively in the backfield. While Gordon needs to improve on the 3.9 yards per carry he had last season, his 10 rushing touchdowns are impressive. Gordon was also the division's runaway leader among backs with 41 pass receptions.

I have asked the rest of the AFC West reporters for their own list:

Jeff Legwold, Denver Broncos reporter:

1. Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas: Because Thomas doesn't thump his chest, speak in the third person or dance in the end zone after touchdowns, it can be easy to forget how gifted he is.

He has been targeted at least 141 times by a variety of Broncos quarterbacks in each of the past five seasons and finished all five with at least 90 catches. And he's on the front burner in this offense's plan with Mike McCoy's return as the coordinator; McCoy was with the team in 2010 when the Broncos selected Thomas in the first round of the draft and in 2012 when Thomas had 1,434 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns.

2. Chiefs TE Travis Kelce: Last season, Kelce had two of his six 100-yard games against the Broncos. And in the Chiefs' 30-27 win in Denver last November -- the game former Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said turned the season -- Kelce made the key plays down the stretch and in overtime as he finished with 101 yards on eight catches.

And then in Week 16, Kelce was a big part of the 33-10 rout of the Broncos when he had 11 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown.

Overall, he presents one of the most difficult matchups in the division, even for a Broncos defense that finished No. 1 in the league in pass defense in each of the past two seasons.

3. Cooper. He turned 23 on June 18, so he might be one of the youngest high-impact players on offense in the division.

He has topped 1,000 yards receiving in each of his first two seasons and, at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, is one of the most difficult size-speed matchups in the AFC West. With Carr at quarterback and the Raiders' attempt to pump up the run game by luring Marshawn Lynch out of retirement, Cooper could find a little more room to work down the field if Lynch has some football petrol left in the tank.

But anybody who saw Cooper's 12-catch, 173-yard day against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could see the potential. He still has to find a way to shake the league's best man-cover guys, but he has the goods.

Eric Williams, Los Angeles Chargers reporter:

1. Tyreek Hill was the most explosive player in the AFC West last season, finishing with 12 total touchdowns as a receiver, running back and returner. Word is the Chiefs want to get Hill even more involved on offense, which should mean more headaches for the rest of the defensive coordinators in the division.

2. After failing to get into the end zone his rookie season, Gordon recorded 12 total touchdowns in 2016, even though he missed the final three games of the year. With new coach Anthony Lynn leaning more toward running the football, Gordon should be in store for another productive year.

3. Cooper has ascended to the most dynamic pass-catcher in the division in just two seasons, totaling 2,223 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns during that stretch.

Paul Gutierrez, Oakland Raiders reporter:

1. Kelce. The first-team All-Pro has quietly become one of the best -- if not the best -- tight ends in the game, let alone the division, and that's with Smith as his quarterback. Kelce's 1,125 receiving yards led all NFL tight ends last year and his swagger -- who can forget his horse-riding taunting of punter Marquette King after Hill returned a punt for a TD against the Raiders? -- has many calling him Gronk West. Kelce, though, is more durable, having not missed a game the past three seasons, while Rob Gronkowski has missed 10 in that same time frame, including eight last year.

2. Gordon. With an asterisk, so to speak. Because while a case can be made that the Chargers playmaker is the best running back in the division -- even if he has yet to play a full season or crack 1,000 rushing yards in two years in the NFL -- Lynch is no doubt the more accomplished tailback in the division. With a couple of standout seasons in Oakland, he could be Canton bound. So would you rather have Lynch's past or Gordon's future? As easy as it is to go the Beast Mode route, he sat out all of last year and rust might be a factor. Let's go with Gordon, then, by default.

3. Cooper. Again, would you rather have Cooper's future, or five-time Pro Bowler Demaryius Thomas' past? Thomas' production has gone down in each of the past two years while Cooper's has gone up. If we're going to use the rationale for taking Gordon over Lynch at running back, we have to go with Cooper over Thomas. With no apologies, either. Cooper's numbers have dipped in the second halves of his first two seasons, but he is still Carr's favorite deep threat. And Cooper, who showed up at the offseason workout program looking bigger but with the same speed, is on the cusp of being one of the game's more feared deep threats. Pro Football Focus had Cooper leading the NFL with a 61.1 deep pass catch rate in 2016.