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The Jeff Falconio Blog

AFC West Draft Primer

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Denver Broncos

Picks: 1st R-11th, 2nd R-11th & 13th, 3rd R-16th, 4th R-16th, 6th R-14th, 7th R-13th

Needs: WR, C, LB

You sometimes have to wonder what it is exactly that the Broncos are trying to do.  Last spring the Broncos traded away quarterback Jay Cutler and then last week jettisoned wide receiver Brandon Marshall to Miami.  So an offense that ranked number two in the league in 2008 regressed to 15th last year.  The Broncos are so confident in Kyle Orton, who replaced Cutler, that Denver signed Brady Quinn to compete for the quarterback spot.  But after four years of playing .500 football the Broncos appear to be in rebuilding mode.

Lost in the offensive personnel shuffle was the incredible improvement made by the Broncos defensively in 2009.  Switching to the 3-4 defense the Broncos ended the year 12th in scoring and 7th in total defense.  Denver was able to re-sign a couple of free agent defensive linemen but to continue defensive success the Broncos will need better linebacker depth, especially on the inside.

The Marshall trade makes wide receiver a big priority in a year that is pretty thin at that position.  Still, the Broncos could take a shot at Dez Bryant, a player with incredible talent but maturity issues that may prevent him from being a great player.  At linebacker the Broncos could go for a need/best available pick in inside linebacker Rolando McClain.  Denver might also consider Maurkice Pouncey, the best interior offensive lineman in this year's draft


Kansas City Chiefs

Picks: 1st R-5th, 2nd R-4th & 18th, 3rd R-4th, 4th R-4th, 5th R-5th, 11th, & 13th

Needs: S, LB, OL, WR

The Chiefs have been rebuilding for a few years now but the last year suggests Kansas City is ready to compete again.  Last season the Chiefs acquired Matt Cassel in the hopes that the former New England understudy would be a franchise player.  It didn't quite turn out that way as Cassel struggled without the big name receivers he had with the Patriots.  However toward the end of the season the Chiefs showed signs of life with the numbers put up by running back Jamaal Charles.  In the offseason the Chiefs re-signed Chris Chambers and picked up running back Thomas Jones in an attempt to strengthen an offense that averaged a little over 18 points per game.

With solid running backs throughout the AFC West the Chiefs were gutted on the ground, giving up 156 rushing yards on average.  Kansas City's secondary wasn't much better as the Chiefs ended the year 22nd against the pass and finished the year 29th in scoring defense.  But as part of the rebuilding process the Chiefs have two young up-and-comers in outside linebacker Tamba Hali and cornerback Brandon Flowers.

Kansas City holds three of the first 50 picks in the draft and with the AFC West up for grabs the Chiefs must find impact players with all three picks.  The assumption is Sam Bradford, Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy and Russell Okung will be off the board so it gets interesting with that fifth pick.  Kansas City gave up 48 sacks last year so a tackle like Bryan Bulaga or Trent Williams makes sense.  Safety Eric Berry might be the best available at number five and would also fill a need.


Oakland Raiders

Picks: 1st R-8th, 2nd R-7th, 3rd R-5th, 4th R-8th, 5th R-7th & 27th, 7th R-8th & 44th

Needs: QB, OT, DL, LB

Oakland used the number one overall pick in 2007 on quarterback JaMarcus Russell but at what point do the Raiders write him off as a bust?  The Raiders were absolutely pathetic on offense last year, ranking 31st in scoring, 31st in yards and 29th in passing.  By the end of the year the Raiders were banking on Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye at quarterback.  However, there is a glimmer of hope in a young receiving corp led by Chaz Schilens and Louis Murphy and a decent running attack.  Clearly though, the Raiders need a quarterback they can count on.

By trading for Richard Seymour prior to the start of the 2009 season the Raiders were hoping the former Patriot would anchor a rather weak defensive line.  The acquisition didn't pay off however as the Raiders were routinely blasted by opposing running backs.  The lone bright spot was the ability to get to the quarterback as the Raiders tallied 37 sacks.  The failure to stop the run though overshadowed a young, athletic secondary that actually finished in the top ten in passing yards.

Jimmy Clausen will most likely be available for Oakland but will the Raiders use another first round pick on a potential franchise quarterback?  Along with Seymour the Raiders re-signed linebacker Thomas Howard but will need a complement on the other side of each position.  The Raiders seem to be perpetually in need of offensive line help as illustrated by the 49 sacks given up in '09.  A blue chip tackle like Anthony Davis or Trent Williams will be on the board.


San Diego Chargers

Picks: 1st R-28th, 2nd R-8th, 3rd R-27th, 4th R-28th, 5th R-28th & 37th, 7th R-28th

Needs: RB, NT, CB

The Super Bowl window might be closing on San Diego after winning the AFC West four years in a row.  Running back LaDanian Tomlinson finally showed signs of aging and was let go in free agency.  Cornerback Antonio Cromartie was traded away to the Jets.  In 2009 the Chargers transitioned from a run-first team that centered around LT to a pass-first unit led by Philip Rivers.  Despite having one of the game's most accurate passers the Chargers were unable to gain any traction in the playoffs and were one-and-done for the second time in four years.

It seemed like the Chargers also changed philosophy on defense as well.  San Diego featured a stout defense in '06 & '07 but by 2009 age began to creep up on San Diego.  Granted the Chargers finished 11th in scoring but the Chargers were soft against the run at times.  This was evident in late season performances by Tennessee's Chris Johnson and New York's Shonn Greene.

If San Diego is to keep the Super Bowl window open they'll need to address the defensive front three as well as a replacement for Cromartie.  Up front that could be done with either tackle Terrence Cody or ends Jared Odrick or Brian Price.  In the secondary the Chargers could hope a player like Kareem Jackson is still there.  With LT gone the Chargers could also focus on a complement back to Darren Sproles with Fresno State's Ryan Mathews.


In case you missed the other draft primers, check out the AFC East, North and South.

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