Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: biggest team needs.
The Broncos have needs across the board -- on both sides of the ball. As Denver switches from the zone-blocking schemes of the Mike Shanahan era to a traditional power-blocking model, the team has to get better in the trenches.
Although the Broncos are happy with their offensive tackles, they want upgrades at guard and center. This will likely be addressed early. Denver is also looking for a big, stout defensive tackle to anchor the 3-4 defense, which the team adopted last year in Josh McDaniels' first season as coach. Denver is also likely to draft a receiver and linebacker early. If the Broncos trade Brandon Marshall, they could take a receiver in the first round.
Although the Chiefs could use an upgrade at several positions, their biggest need is on the offensive line. Kansas City needs up to three new starters and it could take a left tackle with the No. 5 pick. Watch for the Chiefs to try to add to all three positions on the line.
This is a rebuilding team and Kansas City will consider reloading at several positions -- safety, linebacker and wide receiver. If Tennessee safety Eric Berry is on the board at No. 5, the Chiefs could grab him. They also need to find a young, explosive wide receiver to give quarterback Matt Cassel more help.
Oakland has to finally address its need at tackle this year. It has been holding off and Oakland’s line play has suffered. There are several top-level prospects at left tackle and Oakland should get a quality player with the eighth pick.
Of course, Oakland needs to find a quarterback. But the team may opt to pursue a veteran instead of drafting a quarterback early. The Raiders have depth at defensive end, but it will serve the franchise well to get younger and better at defensive tackle and linebacker.
The Chargers have big needs to fill if they want to stay way ahead of the division. Their most pressing demand is at running back , where San Diego will need to replace LaDainian Tomlinson, who is expected to be released soon. If the Chargers don’t sign a veteran to be their primary back, they will probably fill the position with their No. 28 pick.
I can see San Diego using its second-round pick to add depth and youth at defensive tackle. The Chargers could also use a young linebacker. One final factor in the Chargers' draft will be the role of their several free agents. If it loses some, San Diego may have to use some picks to replace them.