Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 8/21/12

The AFC West didn’t have their best season in 2012 but still made noise in the playoffs thanks to Tim Tebow and the Broncos. Tebow has been jettisoned to the east in favor of some guy named Peyton Manning. It might not take much more than that to win a mediocre division, if he’s healthy.

Below is a look at the top players by position in the AFC West.

QB – Peyton Manning – Broncos – If he has truly recovered there is no reason why one of the best quarterbacks of all time would not pick up right where he left off. (Runner up – Philip Rivers – Chargers)

RB – Jamal Charles – Chiefs – When Charles is healthy he is one of the most dangerous running backs in the whole league and a threat to score anytime he touches the ball. (Runner up – Darren McFadden – Raiders)

FB – LeRon McClain – Chargers – McClain is one of the last true FB’s left in the NFL. A punishing blocker and an effective runner/receiver when called upon.

TE – Antonio Gates – Chargers – Antonio Gates is one of the best receiving TE’s of all-time.  Reports are he is healthier and faster than he has been in years. (Runner up – Tony Moeaki – Chiefs)

Offensive Line

Ryan Clady – Broncos – Clady is one of the best young tackles in the game.

Eric Winston – Chiefs – Winston is one of the top zone blocking RT’s in the NFL right now.

Ryan Lilja – Chiefs – an undersized but scrappy veteran who has only missed 2 games in the last 4 seasons.

Zane Beadles – Broncos – Great young guard who has started all but 2 games of his first two seasons in the NFL.

Nick Hardwick – Chargers – Hardwick has been the captain of the Chargers offensive line for almost a decade and is the king of the AFC West.

WR – Dwayne Bowe – Chiefs – Bowe is the only established #1 WR in the division.

WR     Malcolm Floyd – Chargers/Demaryius Thomas – Broncos – Thomas is on his way to being a #1 WR and Floyd produces like one when he is healthy

Defense

NT – Antonio Garay – Chargers – Only the Chargers and Chiefs run a 3-4 base defense in the AFC west and Garay is the best of the NTs.

DT – Desmond Bryant – Raiders – Bryant had 35 tackles and 5 sacks last year from the DT position making him best of the DT’s in the AFC west.

DE – Tamba Hali – Chiefs- Hali is one of the best DE’s in the NFL let alone the AFC West. He is a threat to sack the QB almost every game.

LB – Von Miller – Broncos – Miller broke onto the scene as the best defensive rookie in the NFL last year.  Miller is a game changing LB with off the charts athleticism

LB – Derrick Johnson – Chiefs – Johnson is a tackling machine who is also above average in pass defense over the middle and the QB of the Chiefs Defense

LB – Rolando McClain – Raiders – McClain has some off field issues but on the field he does everything you ask of a LB grabbing 99 tackles with 5 sacks and 14 passes defended last year.

LB – Takeo Spikes – Chargers – Spikes is an aging veteran, however with his high football IQ and solid athleticism he is still always around the ball as shown by his 106 tackles last year.

CB – Brandon Flowers – Chiefs – Flowers is the best CB in the division under 30 and one of the better CB’s in the league.

CB – Champ Bailey – Broncos – Champ is still one of the top CB’s in the league even though the is ‘over the hill’ by NFL standards.

S – Eric Berry – Chiefs – Berry is one of the top safeties in the League when he his healthy and can do everything asked of a safety.

S – Eric Weddle – Chargers – Weddle is also one of the best safeties in the NFL.  Not the most athletic but always in position to make a play.

Special Teams

K – Sebastian Janikowski – Raiders – Janikowski has one of the most powerful legs in the NFL and is not susceptible to pressure. (Runner up – Nate Kaeding – Chargers, most accurate regular season kicker in NFL history)

P – Shane Lechler –Raiders /Mike Scifres – Chargers – These two battle every year for who will represent the AFC in the pro bowl.

Related articles

Best of the NFC North

Best of the NFC South

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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