AFC West: 2014 NFL draft

Nobody could catch De'Anthony Thomas from behind with the ball in his hand when he played at Oregon. He's not planning for it to happen in the NFL, either.

"Not at all," said Thomas, the fourth-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs. "Once I get out of the gates, I feel like I'm going to score that touchdown."

[+] EnlargeThomas
Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY SportsThe Chiefs selected Oregon RB De'Anthony Thomas with the 124th overall pick in the fourth round.
Thomas is fast enough to back up that claim. He is world-class fast and for that reason, Thomas could wind up having the biggest immediate impact among any of the six players the Chiefs drafted this year.

The Chiefs would be smart to unleash Thomas immediately as their kickoff and punt-return specialist. He returned four kickoffs and a punt for touchdowns in his three seasons at Oregon. He'll be coached on special teams by Dave Toub, who has had a nice touch working with skilled return specialists before.

"Let's don't underestimate what (Toub has) been able to do in his career with unique talents at returner," Chiefs director of player personnel Chris Ballard said. "He did it in Chicago, I was with him. I watched him take four guys and all were very good players and then he came in here and what he did with Dexter McCluster and our kickoff returners. So we've got some unique staff here to take advantage of his unique skill set."

On offense, Thomas played a lot of running back at Oregon. The Chiefs' backfield is already crowded with Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis, so he may not get much work there in Kansas City.

But the Chiefs are looking for a slot receiver to replace McCluster and Thomas immediately becomes the most intriguing candidate for that job. At 5-9 and 174, he is of similar size to McCluster. His skills are similar as well, though Thomas is faster.

"He offers a lot of the same traits in terms of being both a very good receiver out of the backfield and as a runner," said Trey Koziol, the Chiefs' west coast scout. "I think you see similar traits in the open field, guys who can make people miss, guys who are a threat to take it to the house.

"I think when you've got a guy that's got kind of a Swiss Army Knifetype versatility, you can move him all over the place. Just look for the best mismatch. I'll leave that up to coach and the offensive staff. But from the scouting perspective, I think that he has all the physical tools you could look for in the receiving game as well. He's a guy that catches the ball very, very well for them there and has had a lot of production in the pass game for Oregon."

Chiefs coaches and officials said many of the same things over the years about McCluster. Though McCluster had decent numbers in terms of catches and yards, he delivered few big plays on offense.

While the speed and ability are there for Thomas, the Chiefs need to find a way to get more from him. If the Chiefs can just get from Thomas what they got from McCluster, he is worth the pick. And if they can get Thomas to achieve his full potential, he is worth so much more.
The Kansas City Chiefs didn't select quarterback Aaron Murray of Georgia in the fifth round of the NFL draft because they fear losing starter Alex Smith to free agency next year. The sides still have 10 months left to reach a deal and if Smith winds up hitting the free-agent market his successor is probably going to be someone else and not Murray.

That doesn't make the drafting of Murray, the first of a quarterback by the Chiefs with John Dorsey as their general manager and Andy Reid as their coach, any less intriguing. That Murray doesn't have classic size (the Chiefs list him at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds) and a huge arm suggests Dorsey and Reid believe Murray can succeed in the NFL without those qualities.

[+] EnlargeAaron Murray
AP Photo/Mike StewartFor Chiefs GM John Dorsey, there's one trait about former Georgia QB Aaron Murray that stands out. "He's a winner," Dorsey said.
Dorsey and Reid have a history of drafting and developing quarterbacks in previous jobs, Dorsey with the Green Bay Packers and Reid with the Philadelphia Eagles. When they like a quarterback, it's probably wise to listen. That alone makes Murray worth a fifth-round draft pick.

“He’s a winner," Dorsey said. "He’s been a winner at every stage that he’s played between high school and college. [He’s] ultracompetitive and smart. What I like about him is when there are big drives to be made late in the game, this guy made those drives. He didn’t always win them, but he made those big drives at the end when it really counted. If you want to put some statistics in there, he’s got multiple records in the SEC, which is as good a conference as there is in today’s football. He performed at a very high level.”

If winning was all the Chiefs wanted from their quarterback, they would have drafted Alabama's AJ McCarron instead. McCarron was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals the pick after Murray.

Murray has a little more to him.

“His accuracy is the No. 1 thing,'' Chiefs assistant scouting director Dom Green said. "I want to say he’s [completed] 67 percent on all of his throws throughout his whole career.’’

Murray actually completed slightly better than 62 percent of his passes at Georgia. But Murray's ball finds its target far more frequently than it does for a lot of quarterbacks of his size.

“Most of the shorter quarterbacks have a lot of batted balls and that type of thing but I didn’t see that with Aaron," Green said. "He did a nice job hitting the lanes and getting the ball to receivers."

In explaining the reasons for that, Murray already sounded like an NFL veteran.

“All quarterbacks, you have to be able to move around the pocket, you have to be able to find those throwing lanes," Murray said. "It’s just working drills, working footwork, being able to stay active in the pocket. It’s also knowing where you need to go [with the ball]. When you know where you need to go as a quarterback based on the coverage and what the defense is giving you, you will put your body in position to make an accurate throw and find those open receivers."

Murray tore his ACL late last season and is still in the rehab stage of his recovery. He said he's been cleared for full participation in two weeks when the Chiefs start offseason practice with a three-day rookie camp. Dorsey is more cautious and said it may not be until training camp until Murray is fully unleashed.

Either way, this is a player worth watching. The Chiefs and Murray could be the right mix, something even the rookie quarterback already understands.

“It’s a great fit," Murray said. "I’m not complaining one bit. It’s an incredible fit. They do a heck of a job preparing quarterbacks."
For those with ESPN Insider access, draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has handed out his annual post-draft grades to the 32 teamsInsider. The Chiefs received a "B-minus," which I'm thinking is a fair grade this soon after the draft.

If the first-round selection, outside linebacker Dee Ford, doesn't develop into a productive pass-rusher, he won't be a good pick for the Chiefs. But I like the Chiefs' thinking here and Kiper agrees. The selection of Ford gives the Chiefs some insurance for the aging and expensive Tamba Hali and for Justin Houston, who also will be expensive when his contract runs out at the end of next season. In the meantime, Ford also can provide some value.

The Chiefs' next three picks were cornerback Phillip Gaines (third round), slot receiver/kick returner De'Anthony Thomas (fourth) and quarterback Aaron Murray (fifth). They all play impact positions and if the Chiefs hit on even two of them, this should be a good draft. Kiper points out that the Chiefs' final pick of Laurent Duvernay-Tardif in the sixth round could wind up as a good one. Kiper believes Duvernay-Tardif, an offensive lineman, could be a sleeper.

The trouble with assessing a draft so quickly afterward is that higher grades are usually awarded to teams that selected players at positions of immediate need. Not counting Thomas, the Chiefs didn't draft a wide receiver and right now that looks like a mistake. But they obviously didn't like any receivers available at their turns to pick and it's a mistake to grade them down for not selecting someone they didn't like or feel comfortable with.

We'll know better in a couple of years whether this six-player haul for the Chiefs was good, bad or somewhere in the middle. For now, a B-minus looks about right.
The Denver Broncos were picking late in this year’s NFL draft – 31st in each round – and after all was said and done, with a trade here and a trade there, they turned their original seven picks into six selections.

They filled some needs with some athleticism, stuck to their board, but upon further review ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. tought their efforts were slightly above averageInsider.

While their first four picks each project to earn at least some playing time as rookies in the coming season, the immediate starters, because of the construction of the Broncos' current depth chart, could come from the middle rounds.

Tackle Michael Schofield, a witty young man who answered repeated questions about his inability to keep weight on his 6-foot-6 frame with “I make 300 [pounds] look good,’’ will get every opportunity to earn the starting job on the right side of the line.

It will be an interesting training camp since the Broncos have often leaned toward veterans in the offensive front with the current coaching staff. Orlando Franklin started at right tackle as a rookie in 2011, but has now been moved for a test drive at left guard in offseason workouts. But in the three previous drafts of the John Elway/John Fox regime the Broncos selected three offensive linemen, one in each of those draft classes. Of the three only Franklin played as a rookie and one – center Philip Blake – was cut last season.

But Schofield has the size and skill set to break through. He was a right tackle at Michigan but was athletic enough that he was told by the Wolverines’ coaching staff he would have been moved to left tackle had Taylor Lewan – a first-round pick in this year’s draft – not returned for his senior season in 2013.

And the other potential starter, at least if he can progress quickly, is fifth-round pick Lamin Barrow. Barrow, who can play the weakside spot as well as middle linebacker in the Broncos’ scheme, will at least get a look there during offseason work.

The Broncos like what Nate Irving has done already in this offseason, but the Broncos continue to want more speed and athleticism in the formation and Irving is seen as a two-down player. Lamin is seen as a potential three-down player in the Broncos' scheme, but he has a lot of ground to make up to make that happen.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Folks keep wanting to tell John Elway he’s all in for the Super Bowl this year, that he is in win-now mode as the clock ticks on what remains in Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning's career.

But Saturday, as he wrapped up his fourth draft as the Broncos’ top football executive, Elway stuck to his mantra. That he is always in win-now mode, as in this year, next year and all the years that follow in whatever becomes of his tenure on the job.

[+] EnlargeBradley Roby
David Dermer/Diamond Images/Getty ImagesThe Broncos are confident first-round pick Bradley Roby will help keep them atop the AFC West.
"There’s so much talk about us trying to win now, and I keep saying we’re trying to win from now on and that’s going to continue," Elway said. “And that’s why every draft you go to is very, very important, because if we’re successful in the draft that’s what creates depth and creates your players down the line … Our mentality is to win now and now on."

Over the draft’s three days, the Broncos moved around some as they surrendered one of their picks this year, one next year and then got one back in '15 to do it, and the six-player draft class, Elway said, accomplished three goals. It increased the team’s speed, increased the team’s physicality, and potentially, if they get what they hope for from the newest crop of rookies, they got a few more players to help win both now and in the post-Manning era.

"Everybody on here, we feel really good about," said Broncos head coach John Fox. “We really increased our team speed. Really if you go through every position, even (tackle) Michael Schofield ran very well. They’re athletic, we hope they develop, but for sure, right away, we increased our team speed."

The class provided at least some angst among fans in the Twitter-verse who wanted a linebacker somewhere in the first two days of the draft, or wished Elway wouldn’t have traded away three picks to move up to take wide receiver Cody Latimer. However, if the Broncos are right and the usual post-draft optimism turns out to be the reality, they see potential starters in the group.

They see first-rounder Bradley Roby as a future starter who will be in the mix to play in the nickel and dime packages as a rookie. They see Latimer, the second-rounder, in the rotation at wideout this season as a No. 4 with the ability for more if there is an injury among the top three at the position -- Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Emmanuel Sanders.

And they see Schofield, the third-round pick, as a potential starter at right tackle as a rookie, or at minimum a player who immediately makes the push for the job against fifth-year veteran Chris Clark. Then there’s linebacker Lamin Barrow, the fifth-round pick Saturday, who the Broncos see as a potential middle linebacker in their scheme.

As it turned out, it was the wait for Barrow on the draft board that turned out to be the most nerve-wracking. Some teams saw Barrow as a weakside linebacker in the NFL, but the Broncos see him as a potential option in the middle with the versatility to do a little more on third down in the team's specialty packages, perhaps paired with Danny Trevathan, a sixth-round pick in the 2012 draft.

"We were holding on a little bit after we moved back from the bottom of the fourth to the middle of the fifth, we were holding on a little bit there," Elway said. "Fortunately Lamin made it to use there, that was the one John did about 18 laps around the room, the most nervous time of the draft."

"(Playing in the middle) is definitely something I’m looking forward to," Barrow said. "... Whatever they need me to play, I’ll play it."

Among the three previous draft classes Elway has presided over, the team has gotten plenty of production from the ’11 and ’13 groups with the 2012 class still lagging behind. Even with Trevathan's development from the '12 class, Ronnie Hillman was unable to crack the lineup much last year, Derek Wolfe is coming back from injured reserve, and quarterback Brock Osweiler is still in watch-and-learn mode behind Manning.

This time around Roby and Latimer will make the Class of ’14 go in coming seasons, but if the Broncos are right about two or three of the others, it will help Elway keep the team right where he wants it.

In win-now mode. Always.

Denver Broncos draft wrap-up

May, 10, 2014
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A wrap-up of the Denver Broncos' draft. Click here for a full list of Broncos draftees.

[+] EnlargeCody Latimer
AP Photo/Alan PetersimeThe Broncos made an aggressive trade for Indiana receiver Cody Latimer.
Best move: It cost three draft picks for the Broncos to move up seven slots to Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer, and given the most commonly used draft charts, the Broncos surrendered too much value to do it, especially if the fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft is not at the bottom of the round. But if Latimer develops as you would expect a big, fast, physical wide receiver to develop in the Broncos offense, it won’t matter all that much. If Latimer rolls up his sleeves and gets to work, he should find a way into the team’s rotation as a rookie and develop into a starter.

Riskiest move: The Broncos saw a top-15 player in cornerback Bradley Roby on the board at No. 31 when they made their first-round pick, and they believed that presented the right risk-reward ratio with concerns about Roby’s maturity. The Broncos did their homework on Roby and believe he is ready to grow up and be a pro. So when all was said and done Saturday, the only hole that remained for the Broncos was improving the return game. The Broncos would rather not use wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders in the return game given the expectations for him in the offense but might have to make the risky move.

Most surprising move: The Broncos weren’t thrilled with this class of running backs, so it isn’t a shock they elected to pass on taking one. Though there were more big backs available than in years past, the Broncos did not use any of their picks on a back. Montee Ball is the clear starter, and the Broncos believe Ronnie Hillman can still offer some big-play ability in what is likely a make-or-break season for the 2012 second-rounder, but they are still a little thin at the position.

File it away: It might have been the move that got the least amount of attention, but it provided a big glimpse into how the Broncos go about the draft these days. John Elway has preached patience as things unfold, and when the Broncos traded out of the fourth round Saturday, it was, in large part, because they did not have a player still on the board with a grade worthy of that pick. It was a prudent move that got the team an extra pick in 2015 and kept it from reaching on a player. The good teams take the time to set the board right and stick to the board during the draft weekend. Don’t reach, don’t draft solely for need and things will go better. It was draft discipline that will serve them well if they maintain it moving forward.
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- A wrap-up of the Oakland Raiders' draft. Click here for a full list of Raiders' draftees.

[+] EnlargeDerek Carr
Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesDrafting Derek Carr could be a risky move for the Raiders, as the team sees the quarterback taking more of a back-seat role in 2014.
Best move: Sitting tight the first two rounds. OK, so, I’m cheating a little bit here but given general manager Reggie McKenzie’s proclivity for wheeling and dealing, no one would have been surprised had the Raiders traded down for more picks. But with the way the draft unfolded, they merely had to let linebacker Khalil Mack fall into their laps at No. 5 overall and quarterback Derek Carr at No. 36 overall. In Mack, the Raiders got an instant difference-maker on the defensive side of the ball, a player who many observers saw as being the potential No. 1 overall pick. In Carr, the Raiders made a gutsy move in taking a player who, if all goes well for them, will not see the field next year, but could be the team’s franchise quarterback.

Riskiest move: Let’s go with the Carr selection. No, not because it shoudn’t pan out; it should. But because as the Raiders embark upon Year 1 of their reconstruction, they needed as many immediate impact players as possible in this draft. And Carr, by the Raiders’ own plan and admission, will not contribute much -- if anything -- in 2014. From an immediate on-field impact standpoint, there were other players at other positions available. The risk here, then, is McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen drafting the QB of the future for a future that, if the bottom falls out this year, they will not be a part of in Oakland.

Most surprising move: Since taking over as Raiders GM, McKenzie has made a point to bring in what he terms high-character, low-maintenance players. Last year, he stuck his neck out for defensive tackle Stacy McGee, who had DUI and marijuana incidents, but he stayed out of trouble and began to make an on-field impact late in the season. This year, McKenzie used a fourth-rounder (No. 116 overall) to draft Utah defensive back Keith McGill, a huge cornerback at 6-feet-3, 213 pounds who has some personal baggage besides giving up 29 completions on 59 passes his way, per STATS, and getting just one interception in two years at Utah after being converted from free safety. In 2012, McGill was arrested for DUI and possession of stolen property and missed nearly the entire season with a shoulder injury. McGill, 25, was all-Pac 12 last season with 12 pass deflections. “I’ve been trying to stay clean and trying to show everybody that that was the past and that’s exactly what it was,” McGill said in a conference call Saturday. “All the teams that passed on me, they’re going to realize it was a big mistake and the Oakland Raiders are going to realize that it was a really good draft pick.”

File it away: McKenzie likes to keep things close to his vest, but judging by the size and power of the linemen he’s taken in this, his third draft, he showed his hand, especially with the selections of left guard Gabe Jackson (6-foot-3, 336 pounds) in the third round and defensive tackle Justin Ellis (6-2, 334) in the fourth. The Raiders are returning to a grind-it-out mantra on both sides of the ball. And keep this in mind -- rather than take defensive end Michael Sam, the SEC defensive player of the year, the Raiders used the second of their three seventh-round picks on a defensive end who did not play last season after being dismissed from his team for detrimental conduct in Illinois State’s Shelby Harris.
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

SAN DIEGO -- A wrap-up of the San Diego Chargers' draft. Click here for a full list of San Diego's draftees.

Best move: The Chargers moved up seven spots in the second round to grab Georgia Tech pass-rusher Jeremiah Attaochu at No. 50. A good athlete with natural pass-rush skills, Attaochu immediately upgrades San Diego’s defense at a position of need. He will get good mentoring and skill development from veterans like Dwight Freeney and Jarret Johnson. And similar to Bruce Irvin two years ago for Seattle, Attaochu can be successful early as a rookie situational pass-rusher in a limited role.

[+] EnlargeJason Verrett
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsCornerback Jason Verrett is still rehabbing from shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.
Riskiest move: The Chargers bucked the NFL trend of drafting bigger cornerbacks by selecting TCU's Jason Verrett in the first round. At 5-foot-9 and 189 pounds, Verrett checks all of the boxes in terms of toughness, speed, football awareness and ball hawking skills. But there will be questions about whether Verrett can play on the perimeter against bigger receivers in the NFL. Verrett is still rehabbing from shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum and could miss the beginning of training camp. So how much Verrett can contribute at the beginning of the regular season remains a question mark. However, he showed durability in college, playing in 37 games in three seasons for the Horned Frogs.

Most surprising move: One of the team’s most obvious needs heading into this year’s draft, the Chargers passed on more well-known defensive linemen like Notre Dame’s Louis Nix III and Penn State’s DaQuan Jones in earlier rounds to select Arkansas State product Ryan Carrethers. At 6-2 and 330 pounds, Carrethers is a workout warrior. He benched 225 pounds 36 times at his pro day, squats 700 pounds and can power clean 400 pounds. He finished second on the team in 2013 with an impressive 93 tackles, including eight tackles for a loss. Carrethers also totaled four sacks and two blocked kicks. He’ll compete with Sean Lissemore for the starting nose tackle job on San Diego’s defense. "He’s a powerful, stout player inside," Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said. "He also has some uncommon production for a nose tackle. He had a lot of tackles, TFL’s [tackles for loss] and sacks at Arkansas State. He really played well against the bigger schools."

File it away: The selection of Notre Dame offensive lineman Chris Watt in the third round fills a need for more depth at interior offensive line. A three-year starter at left guard, Watt is considered a versatile performer who could also be trained to play center by offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris. Watt provides some insurance for the Chargers in dealing with Jeromey Clary. The 30-year-old starting right guard is to make $4.55 million in nonguaranteed, total compensation in 2014. The Chargers have already asked receiver Eddie Royal, Johnson and Freeney to take pay cuts this year. Clary is highly thought of at Chargers Park, but if Telesco asks the Kansas State product to take a pay cut and he balks, the Chargers potentially could have an answer at right guard in Watt.
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A wrap-up of the Kansas City Chiefs' draft. Click here for a full list of Chiefs draftees.

[+] EnlargeDe'Anthony Thomas
AP Photo/Rick ScuteriThe addition of De'Anthony Thomas should help out the Chiefs offense, as well as special teams.
Best move: Though they had only six picks, the Chiefs covered a lot of ground. They selected a pass-rusher, a cornerback, a combination slot receiver/running back/kick returner, a quarterback and two developmental offensive linemen. Not all were immediate needs, but the potential is there for the Chiefs to get a lot from this class. Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas, a fourth-round pick, might represent the best value. The Chiefs will plug him into the spots on offense and special teams vacated by the free-agent departure of Dexter McCluster. Thomas has world-class speed and will be given opportunities to play as a slot receiver and kick-return specialist.

Riskiest move: Despite having one of the least productive groups of wide receivers in the NFL last season, the Chiefs added nobody at the position, Thomas excepted. The Chiefs will search for help in free agency before they get to training camp in late July, but they might not be able to find a receiver who gives them more than what they already have on the roster. The Chiefs might come to regret passing on the chance to get USC receiver Marqise Lee in the first round or Mississippi's Donte Moncrief in the third. Thomas could help as a slot receiver, but on the outside, the Chiefs need improvement from a group that includes Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery and A.J. Jenkins.

Most surprising move: The selection of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray in the fifth round qualifies, given the Chiefs already gave up their second-round choice for a quarterback, starter Alex Smith, in last year's trade with the San Francisco 49ers. The Chiefs also appeared set at quarterback with Smith, veteran backup Chase Daniel and developmental prospect Tyler Bray. But the Chiefs couldn't resist Murray, whose senior season was ended early by a torn ACL. At about 6-foot and 200 pounds, Murray doesn't have classic size for an NFL quarterback or a huge arm, but the Chiefs think he has the necessary skills to thrive in coach Andy Reid's offense. Murray does a nice job of finding available passing lanes despite his size. He has also been an accurate passer. Murray says he has been cleared to practice when the Chiefs get on the field later this month. That sets up an interesting battle for available roster spots at quarterback. Bray is the most likely candidate to be crowded off the roster, but if the Chiefs believe he or Murray is advanced enough to be their backup, a trade market could develop for Daniel.

File it away: First-round outside linebacker Dee Ford of Auburn will become the second-best pass-rusher to emerge from this year's draft behind only Jadeveon Clowney, the top overall pick. The Chiefs have Pro Bowlers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston to start at Ford's position, so he has time to develop his skills in pass coverage and against the run. He can focus immediately on his pass-rush skills, and the Chiefs need to find ways to get all three players on the field at the same time. Kansas City's pass rush was on pace at midseason to set an NFL record for sacks. It tailed off badly the second half of the season, but Ford's presence should help revive their pass rush.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Quarterback Aaron Murray tore his ACL in a game last November in his final season at the University of Georgia. But Murray, drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fifth round Saturday, said he has already been cleared to practice.

"I'm ready to go right now," Murray said. "I'm fully doing everything when it comes to running, jumping, all my dropbacks, all my rollouts right and left. So there's really absolutely no restrictions right now. The doctors have given me the green light to go out there and do everything. I'm excited to get out there and practice next week.

"I feel healthy. I feel great. There's no hesitation or second thought when I'm running or cutting. It's full speed ahead."

Draft picks can start participation in the Chiefs' offseason program on Monday. Formal practice begins May 24 with opening of a three-day rookie camp.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs drafted Georgia's Aaron Murray in the fifth round today, giving them a most interesting mix at quarterback. Behind starter Alex Smith, the Chiefs have veteran backup Chase Daniel, developmental prospect Tyler Bray and now Murray.

Murray tore his ACL last year in November, but said he is ready for full participation in practice.

Eventually the Chiefs have to make a decision on which quarterbacks to keep and which one to part with. But they didn't draft Murray to immediately release him. Though at 6-foot and 200 pounds he doesn't have the classic size for a quarterback, they obviously like his skills and the way he fits into Andy Reid's offense.
The Kansas City Chiefs selected Oregon running back De'Anthony Thomas with the No. 24 pick in the fourth round Saturday.

Thomas has electrifying ability and now it's up to the Chiefs to get it out of him. He is world-class fast, though he inexplicably ran a 4.5 40 at the combine in February. He is of similar size and has similar skills to the Dexter McCluster, who recently departed as a free agent to sign with the Tennessee Titans.

Though he is listed as a running back, the Chiefs may use Thomas in a variety of roles and he could spend most of his time as a slot receiver. Look for Andy Reid to have some fun figuring out ways to utilize Thomas. Thomas is also one of the best return specialists available in this year's draft. Look for him to claim the vacant punt returner's job left by McCluster's departure as well as become the main kickoff returner.
SAN DIEGO -- For general manager Tom Telesco and the San Diego Chargers, the final day of this year’s draft is about filling depth on the roster.

The Chargers have three picks left in the draft, and will not select until the fifth round at No. 165 -- unless they trade up -- because the team gave up a fourth-round pick to move up and select Georgia Tech pass rusher Jeremiah Attaochu.

“Day 3 is the fun day, because it’s the day you’ve got to mine through and try to find guys that have some traits that gives them a chance to come in and be a role player -- or if you get lucky maybe even a starter,” Telesco said. “There’s still a lot of good players on the board, and we’ll see what matches up. But this is a day that scouts really like.”

Defensive tackle, receiver and cornerback appear to be the top priorities for San Diego on Day 3.

Here’s a look at some potential targets for the Chargers:

Defensive tackle
Daquan Jones, 6-4, 322, Penn State
Eric’s rationale: Played in a 4-3, but has the ability to play nose tackle in a 3-4.

Justin Ellis, 6-2, 334, Louisiana Tech
Eric’s rationale: Can play a two-gap nose in a 3-4, but also has the versatility to play other positions along the defensive line.

Bruce Ellington, 5-9, 197 South Carolina
Eric’s rationale: The former basketball player has impressive return and run-after-catch ability.

Martavis Bryant, 6-4, 211, LSU
Eric’s rationale: Physical receiver that played in a big-time program.

Robert Herron, 5-9, 193, Wyoming
Eric’s rationale: Explosive playmaker with speed to burn.

Walt Aikens, 6-1, 203, Liberty
Eric’s rationale: Long, aggressive corner willing to come up and tackle in run support.

Pierre Desir, 6-1, 198, Lindenwood
Eric’s rationale: Had impressive production in college against lesser competition. He fits the trend of bigger corners in the NFL.

Jaylen Watkins, 6-0, 194, Florida
Eric’s rationale: The older brother of Sammy Watkins, he has the ability to play corner and safety.

Logan Thomas, 6-6, 248 Virginia Tech
Eric’s rationale: A developmental prospect, Thomas might have the most upside of any quarterback in the draft.

SAN DIEGO -- Led by one of the best passing offenses in the history of the game, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos thwarted the San Diego Chargers' effort to reach the Super Bowl for the first time under quarterback Philip Rivers.

[+] EnlargeJeremiah Attaochu
Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY SportsJeremiah Attaochu's selection at No. 50 signifies a clear effort by the Chargers to improve their pass defense.
After the season was over, Chargers general manager Tom Telesco and the rest of the team's personnel department made preparations to fix San Diego's deficiencies defending the pass. Through the first two days of the draft, the Chargers made an effort to close the gap with the AFC's favorite to return to the Super Bowl.

San Diego finished last season at No. 29 in passing defense, giving up 259 yards a contest. The Chargers also allowed 58 passing plays of 20 yards or more, tied for No. 24 in the NFL.

San Diego selected fiesty TCU cornerback Jason Verrett in the first round and moved up seven spots in the second in a trade with Miami -- giving up the No. 57 and No. 125 picks -- to grab Georgia Tech pass-rusher Jeremiah Attaochu at No. 50.

Those selections represent an effort for the Chargers to get better at defending the pass in 2014.

“As far as pass defense goes, it's rushing the passer and covering people,” Telesco said. “So it's not rocket science. We've got to get to the quarterback a little more, and we've got to cover people. Luckily we've got two guys that are high-energy players and high-motor players that also have really big-time athletic skills.”

At 5 feet 9 and 189 pounds, Verrett has the versatility to play on the perimeter or in the slot and the physicality to get to the quarterback as a blitzer.

Telesco said Attaochu, a quick-twitch pass rusher at 6-3 and 252 pounds, was the guy San Diego wanted on Day 2.

“He's a player that we had targeted early on,” Telesco said. “He'll get to the quarterback. That's his big thing. He's a relentless pass rusher with a huge motor. But then he combines that with an excellent first step, which is big for pass rushers.”

Telesco said Attaochu has played outside linebacker and defensive end, so he's a scheme fit for what defensive coordinator John Pagano wants to do.

Chargers coach Mike McCoy said Attaochu, a native of Nigeria who just started playing football his freshman year of high school, will have the benefit of learning from one of the best pass rushers in the game in Dwight Freeney.

“That's the first thing that I told him -- that you're very fortunate to be able to work with someone like Dwight Freeney,” McCoy said. “When Dwight came in here last year, from Day 1 up until the last game of the season, he was a true pro. Even before he got hurt, he was always out there trying to help the younger guys.”

Along with Freeney serving as mentor, McCoy said Attaochu can learn from the example fellow pass-rusher Jarret Johnson sets by the way he works.

Attaochu should be an attentive student.
videoENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The pick: Michael Schofield, OT, Michigan

My take: The Broncos, having already told Orlando Franklin he will move from right tackle to left guard, were on the hunt for a right tackle prospect in the draft’s first two days. The Broncos saw the prospect they wanted in Michigan’s Michael Schofield. He has the potential to play both guard and tackle, which is the kind of flexibility the Broncos hoped to find. Schofield started 10 games at left guard in 2011 to go with 26 starts at right tackle in 2012 and 2013 combined. He’s a gritty player who showed himself to already be proficient in the run game. Schofield is a good enough athlete to have run the 110 hurdles for his high school’s track team in suburban Chicago. He should get the chance to compete for the right tackle spot right away.

Spin the wheel: This pick adds another player to the mix as the Broncos work through the combinations in the offensive front. Coach John Fox said earlier this offseason the team would try “a million" groupings in the offensive line during offseason workouts. With Franklin’s move to guard, the Broncos probably will work Schofield and Chris Clark at right tackle. Newly-signed center Will Montgomery was signed in free agency with the idea he could be a starting center, where he will battle Manny Ramirez.

What’s next: The Broncos have picked as expected thus far with a cornerback, wide receiver and offensive lineman in their first three picks. That leaves them in a position to look at linebackers down the board, especially one who could compete for the middle linebacker job.