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Wednesday, February 20, 2013
NFL scouting combine preview: AFC West

By Bill Williamson

» NFC combine preview: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

NFL Nation previews the 2013 scouting combine by identifying the most important thing for each team to learn about its greatest area of need.

Denver: The Denver Post reported that the Broncos plan to let Nate Irving and Steve Johnson battle for the middle linebacker job. But this is a strong class and I think Denver will closely be watching the movement of the middle linebackers at the combine. It could start with Manti Te’o. He clearly has a lot of damage control to do after the fake girlfriend fiasco. If Te’o falls down the board at the combine, Denver could have a decision to make at No. 28. Football-wise, Te’o would be a great value at that spot. Also, Denver will be watching fellow Mike linebackers Alec Ogletree of Georgia and Kevin Minter of LSU. Both are rising stars. Ogletree, though, was recently arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, and that will be a major topic at the combine. It will be interesting to see if the performances of the middle linebackers at the combine sways Denver from committing to the competition between Irving and Johnson.

Kansas City: It’s the biggest question of the combine. Will a quarterback impress the Chiefs enough to tempt them to use the No. 1 pick on him? Right now, the odds are against it. Top quarterback prospect Geno Smith of West Virginia plans to throw at the combine. If he excels, Smith could put himself in the conversation for the top pick. If not, the Chiefs will likely find their new quarterback on the veteran trade or free agency market.  Another top prospect, Matt Barkley of USC, is still not healthy enough to throw at the combine because of a shoudler injury. Still, the Chiefs will likely talk to him with the idea of possibly using a second-round pick on him.

Oakland: The Raiders are in a position of strength in the draft. They are simply going to let the draft board come to them with the No. 3 pick. Oakland has massive defensive needs across the board. It will very likely take the best defensive player available at No. 3. Fortunately for the Raiders, this draft is loaded with defensive talent at the top of the draft. So Oakland is just going to watch the combine and stack its defensive board. It's a good place to be for Oakland.

San Diego: The Chargers need a left tackle badly. The problem is, the position isn’t deep at the top of the draft. The top left tackles are Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher and Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson. Joeckel will surely be a top-five pick, and Fisher and Johnson were stars at the Senior Bowl. If both players shine at the combine, the Chargers may have to worry that both will be gone by the time they pick at No. 11. So it’s almost as if they’ll hope Fisher and Johnson don’t have mind-blowing performances at the combine.