Wednesday, May 7, 2014
AFC West's four-year draft review
By ESPN.com staff
With the NFL draft beginning Thursday, ESPN.com's team reporters Paul Gutierrez, Jeff Legwold, Adam Teicher and Eric D. Williams take a look at the past four drafts for the Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers.
Total picks: 34. Picks still on roster: 17 (50 percent). Picks who are currently projected starters: 5. Pro Bowl players drafted: 0.
Best player: Center Stefen Wisniewski (second round, 2011). Without a first-rounder that year due to the Richard Seymour trade, "Li’l Wiz," the nephew of former Raiders standout left guard Steve Wisniewski, was more than a legacy pick for the late Al Davis, even if the Raiders initially targeted Orlando Franklin. Wisniewski, though, has been a steadying influence on an O-line that's constantly been in flux. He has started 30 games at center and 15 games at left guard.
Best value: Receiver Denarius Moore (fifth round, 2011). He was the 18th receiver drafted that spring and has shown big-play ability for the Raiders, catching 17 touchdown passes in the process. He averaged 18.7 yards per catch as a rookie but his inconsistency is maddening. Still, he has shown the knack to be a playmaker, when not battling injury -- he has missed seven games. Moore, though, is probably trade bait if the Raiders somehow land Sammy Watkins in the draft.
Biggest disappointment: Linebacker Rolando McClain (first round, 2010). He was supposed to be Oakland’s middle linebacker for years to come but ended up having more off-the-field incidents, arrests and attitude problems than highlight reel plays. The Raiders' new regime had enough of McClain and cut him after one season and he has since retired … twice.
Total picks: 32. Picks still on roster: 20 (62.5 percent). Picks who are currently projected starters: 9. Pro Bowl players drafted: 3.
Best player: You could certainly make the argument for linebacker Von Miller (first round, 2011) with 30 sacks in his first two seasons combined, but in terms of consistency and performance it's wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (first round, 2010). Thomas has had back-to-back seasons of at least 92 catches and at least 1,340 yards receiving. He is the unquestioned No. 1 option in the league’s most high-powered passing attack.
Best value: Tight end Julius Thomas (fourth round, 2011) already has one Pro Bowl selection on his résumé and is poised to be a star if he can keep his eyes on the prize. But to this point linebacker Danny Trevathan (sixth round, 2012) is the highest-value pick over the past four drafts. Trevathan is an every-down player, led the team in tackles last season with 124 and has the look of a future captain.
Biggest disappointment: Quarterback Tim Tebow is certainly the most polarizing after going from first-round pick in 2010 to being without a roster spot last season, but if Miller can’t resurrect himself after a six-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy as he also returns from ACL surgery, it would be a significant hole in the team's blueprint after being the No. 2 pick of the 2011 draft.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Total picks: 32. Picks still on roster: 16 (50 percent). Picks who are currently projected starters: 8. Pro Bowl players drafted: 3.
Best player: Safety Eric Berry (first round, 2010). Berry has made the Pro Bowl in three of his four seasons, failing to make it only in 2011, when a knee injury in the first game ruined his season. He is an effective run defender, has improved greatly in pass coverage and last season had 3.5 sacks.
Best value: Linebacker Justin Houston (third round, 2011). Houston has developed into one of the NFL's best pass-rushers. He has 11 sacks last season despite missing five games because of a dislocated elbow. He is also a solid presence against the run.
Biggest disappointment: Wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin (first round, 2011). Baldwin broke his thumb in a locker room fight at training camp as a rookie and his stay in Kansas City never got much better. He caught 41 passes and scored two touchdowns in two seasons before the Chiefs unloaded him in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Total picks: 27. Picks still on roster: 20 (74 percent). Picks who are currently projected starters: 11. Pro Bowl players drafted: 1.
Best player: Running back Ryan Mathews (first round, 2010). The Fresno State product had his best season as a pro last year. Mathews, who played 16 games for the first time in four NFL seasons, finished with career highs in yards (1,255) and carries (285). Heading into a contract year, Mathews has to put up similar numbers to earn a big pay day in 2015. Defensive end Corey Liuget (first round, 2011) has developed into one of more disruptive interior defensive linemen in the league, and is a close second to Mathews.
Best value: Receiver Keenan Allen (third round, 2013). The eighth receiver drafted last year, Allen led all rookies in receiving yards (1,049), receptions (71) and touchdowns (8). The Cal product elevated his play in big games, and has a chance to develop into a true No. 1 receiver. He’ll make just $550,000 in total compensation in 2014, and is signed through the 2016 season.
Biggest disappointment: Linebacker Jonas Mouton (second round, 2011). The middle linebacker out of Michigan has had trouble staying on the field, playing just three games in three seasons with the Chargers. Mouton missed all of 2013 after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during training camp. He missed his entire rookie season with a shoulder injury.