The Broncos have a new quarterback in Case Keenum, but can he do enough to get them back to the playoffs? Our roundtable takes a look at which fresh faces will make the biggest impact this season in the AFC West.
Jeff Legwold, Denver Broncos reporter: When it comes to impact, the Broncos might have the best newcomer to the division from free agency and also from the draft. While players such as Sammy Watkins in Kansas City and Mike Pouncey in Los Angeles will almost certainly make a difference, the Broncos have the biggest opportunity to improve if they are right about Keenum and Bradley Chubb. Keenum, coming off a 3,547-yard passing season for the Minnesota Vikings, was the Broncos' quarterback of choice in free agency, and general manager John Elway called him the "best fit" among the available passers. The Broncos have retooled the offense some, including some streamlining of their no-huddle work, and much of their potential success will hinge on whether Keenum's game is still ascending and if he can close out drives. Chubb, who was the best pass-rusher in the draft, will start from Week 1. If fellow pass-rusher Von Miller has as big a season as the Broncos expect, Chubb's presence in the defense will have had a significant hand in that.
Eric Williams, Los Angeles Chargers reporter: The Broncos believed they were an experienced quarterback away from competing for another AFC West crown last season. After they signied Keenum, we'll find out if those beliefs were correct. Keenum had a magical season for the Vikings in 2017, finishing with career highs in passing yards (3,547), passing touchdowns (22) and completion percentage (67.6) in leading Minnesota to the NFC Championship Game. Denver's zone-based run scheme and play-action game is a good fit for a mobile quarterback like Keenum. However, he still has to learn a new offense, along with opposing defensive personnel in a new division. Moreover, the Broncos have holes to patch in a leaky offensive line, so the jury is still out whether Keenum will improve the Broncos' playoff chances in 2018.
Adam Teicher, Kansas City Chiefs reporter: It's little wonder the Raiders turned their fortunes back over to Jon Gruden by hiring him as their head coach. The Raiders had just two winning years and made only two playoff appearances in the 16 seasons since Gruden's last go-round as Oakland's coach. The Raiders had nine coaches during his absence, so if nothing else Gruden will provide some much-needed stability. Gruden might struggle in his return to coaching after his lengthy break. Dick Vermeil took a similar hiatus from coaching before returning with the Rams in St. Louis, and his first two seasons were disasters. So Gruden might or might not be the best newcomer to the AFC West. But he'll definitely be the most interesting.
Paul Gutierrez, Oakland Raiders reporter: So, you're telling me I cannot choose new Raiders middle linebacker Derrick Johnson, simply because he has resided in the AFC West since 2005 and a move from Kansas City to Oakland means he is technically not a newcomer to the division? Agree to disagree, then, and I'll move on to Denver. Because while Keenum in 2018 is not Peyton Manning in 2012, Keenum is an upgrade for the Broncos under center and, well, it was also the biggest free-agency splash in the division at the most high-profile position in the game. The question, though, is this: Which Keenum is Denver getting? Is he the guy who played at a league-MVP level last season for the Vikings? Or the journeyman who was a combined 9-15 as a starter the previous five seasons for the Texans and Rams?