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Wednesday, January 26, 2011
AFC West draft chatter

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

The Carolina Panthers may be down to choosing between a quarterback and a defensive tackle with the No.1 pick. Carolina general manager Marty Hurney said quarterback is the team’s top need and defensive tackle is the team’s next greatest need. Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley is considered a better prospect than any of the quarterbacks at this point in the draft evaluation process.

This is relative to the AFC West because Denver has the No. 2 pick. The Broncos need defensive help badly. Fairley would likely be at the top of Denver’s list. Other players Denver could look at include Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers and LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson. Predictably, Denver is talking to Peterson, as are several other teams.

Meanwhile, new Denver football leader John Elway is with his troops at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

San Diego general manager A.J. Smith is also at the Senior Bowl. The Chargers are in an enviable draft position. They have five picks in the first three rounds with extra picks in the second and third round. Smith knows this gives him great drafting power. The Chargers could take a big move up from No. 18 if they choose. San Diego moved up from No. 28 to No. 12 last year to take running back Ryan Mathews.

In other AFC West news on a busy Wednesday afternoon, Fox’s Jay Glazer reports Oakland asked permission to talk to Jets defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman but it was denied. Interestingly, Glazer previously reported that he was hearing Oakland wanted to find a defensive coordinator who would teach the Jets’ aggressive 3-4 defense. Maybe now that Thurman is out of the picture, I wonder if Oakland will look at other 3-4 coaches. Other names connected to the Oakland defensive coordinator job are Chuck Bresnahan and Jacksonville defensive line coach Joe Cullen.

Kansas City coach Todd Haley told Sirius Radio that he likely will not be the team’s offensive coordinator in 2011 like he was in 2009. Still, Haley didn’t give any information about who will replace Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator.

New Denver defensive coordinator Dennis Allen said he thinks the Denver defense can improve quickly and that he chose the Denver job over the Philadelphia job because it was a better fit. That’s interesting considering Denver was last in the NFL in total defense and points allowed in 2010.

The AFC West is represented on USA Today’s 2010 All-Joe team, which celebrates hard-hat type players.