Saturday, April 28, 2012
Wrapping up AFC West's third round
By Bill Williamson
After a strong second round in the AFC West, I thought there were some interesting developments in the third round in the division as well.
Let’s take a look:
Denver will worry about getting a bigger back later, but it was clearly interested in getting a faster, smaller running back in the third round. The Broncos traded up 20 spots (it gave up one its three fourth rounders as well as No. 87) to take San Diego State's explosive Ronnie Hillman.
He has been compared to Darren Sproles and he should have a place in Peyton Manning's offense. Denver’s trade was made shortly after San Francisco took Oregon’s speedster LaMichael James, so I think the Broncos wanted either James or Hillman and decided to pounce on Hillman after James was taken.
Willis McGahee will remain the starter, but Hillman should be dangerous. I wonder where this leaves 2009 top pick Knowshon Moreno. He will either be a 5-8 carry option behind McGahee or he could be on the outside looking in.
Moreno blew out his knee last year and he has since gotten a DUI. Hillman is clearly more in Denver’s plans than Moreno. Again, Denver will need to find a young power back sometime, but Hillman has an immediate place in this offense.
While Denver traded up for Hillman, San Diego moved up to take LSU safety Brandon Taylor.
Folks, San Diego is killing this draft. It is just slaying it. A trio of pass-rusher Melvin Ingram (No. 18), defensive lineman Kendall Reyes (No. 49) and Taylor (No. 73) is a wicked group to bring into one defense. All three players were taken later than projected and could all make immediate impacts. Major kudos to San Diego for having a strong plan.
Kansas City took its second offensive lineman of the day at No. 74 in the form of Oklahoma tackle Donald Stephenson. He is a one-year starter who has a lot of potential. I think he is a developmental player who gives the Chiefs options if they don’t want to re-sign left tackle Branden Albert after next season.
This draft may give a hint into what the Chiefs think of Albert, the No. 15 overall pick in 2008. In the second round, the Chiefs took guard Jeff Allen. If Albert doesn’t have a good year or if he does prices himself out of the Chiefs’ plans, Kansas City has options.
Oakland made its 2012 draft debut with the final pick of the day when it took Utah tackle/guard Tony Bergstrom.
I know some Oakland fans were disappointed that the choice was a developmental lineman while there were some sexier names available. But the truth is, picking at the spot is difficult and the new Oakland regime has a plan. Bergstrom is a good player, who is tough. He is a fine zone-blocking player. He deepens the line and he could vie for a starting spot in a year or two.
Unless the Raiders get extremely lucky, getting solid developmental players in this draft has to be the goal.