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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Jeff Risdon

AFC West Rookie Impact: Each team has talented pass catchers that could play major roles

The start of the 2023-2024 NFL season is right around the corner and with it a batch of new rookies are ready to make their mark. Over the next couple of days, we will take a look at what rookies could make the most impact for each team. Let’s get started with the AFC West Division.

Denver Broncos: Marvin Mims

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Tim Patrick’s season-ending injury opened the door for Marvin Mims. He’s still going to be third-fiddle behind Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton, however, Mims has the big-play ability that will make it difficult for Sean Payton to keep him off the field. The former Oklahoma wide receiver showcased that ability in Denver’s preseason final when he hauled in a 50-yard reception. On top of what he brings to the offense, Mims figures to see work as a returner.

Think Tyler Lockett’s rookie season when he was catching passes from Russell Wilson. A stat line that reads something like 54 receptions for 700 yards and six touchdowns doesn’t sound too far-fetched, if Wilson can bounce back from his dreadful 2022-2023 campaign. 


Kansas City Chiefs: Rashee Rice

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Given the state of Kansas City’s wide receiver room, Rice has a clear path to develop into the go-to wide receiver for Patrick Mahomes. Despite ending the preseason on a sour note with three drops, Rice has the makeup to turn into one of Kansas City’s top weapons.

Rice’s YAC ability was on full display during the preseason when he racked up 109 yards after the catch (via PFF). It’s not out of the question that the SMU product leads all rookie wide receivers in receiving yards this season.

Los Angeles Chargers: Quentin Johnston

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Keenan Allen missed seven games due to injury last season and Mike Williams has only played one full season during his six-year career. Even if those two stay healthy all season, Johnston figures to see his fair share of targets from Justin Herbert. The TCU product has the size and speed to be a nightmare for opposing defenses to handle. Given the injury history of Allen and Williams, it’s possible that Johnston will be the top wide receiver for the Chargers at some point this season. 

Las Vegas Raiders: Michael Mayer

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Davante Adams is going to see the lion’s share of targets from Jimmy Garoppolo this season. It’s no secret that Garoppolo loved targeting George Kittle during his time in the Bay Area, and Mayer could quickly earn the trust of the veteran quarterback. The former Notre Dame tight end has good size, he’s strong and has no issue making catches in traffic. On top of all that he’s not a liability as a blocker.

Who will be the No. 2 target for the Raiders behind Adams? Mayer has a clear path to eat up targets in the Raiders’ offense and could be a dark horse to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. 

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