AFC West: Alex Mack
Each Thursday leading up to the NFL draft (April 28-30), the ESPN.com NFL blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: history in that spot.
The Broncos’ top pick is No. 2 overall. Here are the previous seven players taken in that spot, with their NFL team in parentheses:
2010: DT Ndamukong Suh (Lions)
2009: T Jason Smith (Rams)
2008: DE Chris Long (Rams)
2007: WR Calvin Johnson (Lions)
2006: RB Reggie Bush (Saints)
2005: RB Ronnie Brown (Dolphins)
2004: OL Robert Gallery (Raiders)
ANALYSIS: This is the Broncos’ first top-five pick since 1991, when they took linebacker Mike Croel at No. 4. The Broncos would love to have the success Detroit had last year with the pick. Suh looks like a unit changer, and Denver needs a similarly dominant defender. Detroit is the only team to have great success at No. 2 in the past seven years. Along with Suh, Johnson is a fabulous player. There are some good players on this list, though, with no flat-out duds. The Rams hope to see progress in Smith and Long, who made strides in 2010.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers’ top pick is No. 18 overall. Here are the previous seven players taken in that spot, with their NFL team in parentheses:
2010: C Maurkice Pouncey (Steelers)
2009: LB Robert Ayers (Broncos)
2008: QB Joe Flacco (Ravens)
2007: CB Leon Hall (Bengals)
2006: LB Bobby Carpenter (Cowboys)
2005: LB Erasmus James (Vikings)
2004: DE Will Smith (Saints)
ANALYSIS: This is an interesting group. It shows that teams can find franchise players at No. 18 but also that they can make a major mistake with the pick. Flacco was a tremendous value for Baltimore in 2008. Pouncey looks as if he’ll be at center in Pittsburgh for the next decade. Smith has also had a terrific career and was a solid pick at No. 18. James was a terrible pick; Carpenter wasn’t worth it; and the jury is still out on Ayers. The Chargers know they have to pick smart. They took linebacker Larry English at No. 16 in 2009 and are waiting for a payoff. It’s interesting that there are four defensive ends/linebackers on this list. That’s exactly the position the Chargers will be looking for with the No. 18 pick.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs’ top pick is No. 21 overall. Here are the previous seven players taken in that spot, with their NFL team in parentheses:
2010: TE Jermaine Gresham (Bengals)
2009: C Alex Mack (Browns)
2008: T Sam Baker (Falcons)
2007: S Reggie Nelson (Jaguars)
2006: RB Laurence Maroney (Patriots)
2005: WR Matt Jones (Jaguars)
2004: DT Vince Wilfork (Patriots)
ANALYSIS: The Chiefs are not used to drafting this low. Kansas City has picked in the top five the past three years. However, Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli is plenty familiar with having the No. 21 pick. He was with New England when it had the choice in 2004 and 2006. Pioli has seen teams score with this pick and seen teams whiff with it. Wilfork was a tremendous choice, but taking Maroney was a blunder. However, the pick has paid solid dividends in recent years. This doesn’t appear to be a bad spot to be in.
The Raiders’ top pick is No. 48 overall. Here are the previous seven players taken in that spot, with their NFL team in parentheses:
2010: QB Jimmy Clausen (Panthers)
2009: S Darcel McBath (Broncos)
2008: TE Fred Davis (Redskins)
2007: LB Justin Durant (Jagaurs)
2006: DB Cedric Griffin (Vikings)
2005: LB Odell Thurman (Bengals)
2004: LB Dontarrious Thomas (Vikings)
ANALYSIS: It’s interesting that a quarterback was taken at this spot in 2010. Clausen was the third quarterback taken last year. If a quarterback such as Washington’s Jake Locker or Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett takes a similar tumble, we could see a quarterback taken at No. 48 again. This pick has been hit-or-miss, so it could be worth taking a gamble. Oakland picked at No. 47 two years ago and is still waiting for safety Mike Mitchell to develop. Last year, Oakland took defensive lineman Lamarr Houston at No. 44, and he had a terrific rookie season. In 2007, Oakland took standout tight end Zach Miller at No. 38. The Raiders know they can find talent in the second round.
In Week 2, Cleveland center Alex Mack accused Smith of committing a similar act.
Meanwhile, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Chiefs worked out a couple of experienced linebackers during their bye week. The Chiefs looked at Larry Izzo and Mark Simoneau. Izzo, a special-teams ace, played for Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli in New England.
First of all, the Chargers are willing to trade Jackson for the right price. They are not willing to deal McNeill. Another reason there isn’t much chatter about McNeill is that his replacement, Brandyn Dombrowski, is playing at a high level.
Dombrowski looks like he belongs at left tackle after two games. The team is very confident in him.
While McNeill is an excellent player, the Chargers are moving forward without him. It will be interesting to see how McNeill responds. There has been talk that he is prepared to sit out the entire season. At this rate, the Chargers are fine with their Plan B.
In a radio interview, Bruce Gradkowski talked about the possibility of becoming Oakland’s starting quarterback and how much Oakland fans mean to him.
Cleveland offensive lineman Alex Mack said Kansas City defensive lineman Shaun Smith got way to close and personal with him in the Chiefs’ win over the Browns on Sunday. Smith denied the accusation.
The Broncos promoted running back Andre Brown from the practice squad and cut running back Lance Ball. Brown was claimed off waivers from the Giants earlier this month. He was cut and signed to the practice squad last week.
UPDATE: The Oakland Tribune reports Oakland has cut rookie safety Stevie Brown for the second time this month.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
Dave from Denver: With the lingering problem with B-Marsh, is it conceivable that Denver goes with a wide out in the first round? Maybe Crabtree if he is available? Thanks Bill
BW: I don't think Crabtree will be there when Denver drafts with the No. 12 pick. Plus, the Broncos have too many other pressing needs. Maybe next year, if Marshall continues to have problems, Denver will try to get a top receiver. But it can probably deal with playing without Marshall for a part of this season if it has to.
Paul: I really like Jackson (LSU) for the Chargers at 16. I saw you mentioned some teams don't like him. Does this opinion vary based on the scheme? I could see him being too slow to play the 9 tech in a 4-3, but as a 5 tech in the 3-4, he seems pretty good. What do you think?
BW: Yes, I don't think some teams like him because of the scheme. He is a 3-4 player. He'd fit San Diego's system pretty well. Denver is also considering Jackson.
Dan from San Diego: Hey Bill, what are the chances of Michael Jenkins falling to us @16 and if he is there, do u think the Chargers will draft him and move him to safety to replace Clinton Hart? I know we need help at ILB but judging from last season i think our secondary is the more pressing issue and Jenkins is the best available defensive back
BW: Some people think so. Antoine Cason, last year's top pick, could also be moved to safety if Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins was picked by San Diego. I've heard enough about this that it is possible. But I think this might be a Plan B for the Chargers.
Mario from San Jose: BW do you think the raiders will trade Justin Fargas during this year's draft to get some draft picks for him?
BW: They could. I know Michael Bush was available earlier in the offseason. Oakland has a glut at running back and if a trade of Fargas helps other positions, then why not?
Ryan from Modesto: hey bill, with the trade for satelle do you see the raiders taking mack or another center in the 2nd?
BW: Good question, Ryan. I don't think so. Satele is entering his third season so he is young. Oakland has plans for him, but I do know the Raiders like Mack. Still, the presence of Satele may prevent Oakland from taking the home-town kid.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
DANA POINT, Calif. -- The Raider Nation came through big time for this week's "sound off" question.
The question was should the Raiders take a receiver or a tackle with the No. 7 pick in the April draft. I received hundreds of responses and there were terrific points made in both cases. If the Raiders' brass reads these responses I'm sure it will be unsettled as ever because such fine points were made for both sides.
Here we go:
Chris from San Diego: When it comes to my raiders #7 pick in the draft, I think they should go with a tackle! I dont care how good the receiver is, you cant get the ball to him without having time to throw it to him! We had one of the best receivers in football with randy moss and look where that got us. Higgins is a good player and I think Schilens will get better. If Russel has the time to throw...you can make those guys look like true receivers. Crabtree is a stud but we need to address the line, and im hoping we can get Jason or Andre Smith. Love ur stuff Bill!....RAIDERS WILL BE BACK!!!!!!!!
Gabriel M: With the 7th pick in the draft the raiders should get. Michael C, Tom Cable made the raiders horried line of 07 into one of the better run blocking linesof 08.
Joe from Oakland: They need a #1 receiver NOW! With the running game they have they need to keep defenses honest. If they have a true playmaker at receiver, play action will make this offense one to fear.
Jason Radar: With their first pick the Raiders should take a tackle. defensive tackle that is. The Raiders have addressed their offensive line with three key signings already. A capable if unspectacular starter in Barnes, another tackle with starting experience in Pears, and another instant starter at C with Satele. While WR is a sexy pick, the Raiders have had an atrocious run defense for 6 years now. The Raiders desperately need help along the defensive line in general and DT/NT in particular. A quality WR can be had in round 2. So the Raiders definitely need to go with a DT if Raji is still there. If not, then it's time to look at WR or see if anyone is interested in moving up for a QB.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
Kansas City linebacker Pat Thomas agreed to terms with Buffalo on a one-year deal Wednesday night. Thomas started nine games for the Chiefs.
The new Chiefs' regime had no serious plans of re-signing Thomas.
Meanwhile, Denver owner Pat Bowlen and Jay Cutler's agent Bus Cook discussed the quarterback's saga some more. Once again, the Broncos' owner admits he doesn't know how the situation is going to play out.
The Raiders' brass, including head coach Tom Cable, studied Cal center Alex Mack on Wednesday at the Bears' pro day. The Raiders could use a center. Cable said the Raiders' No. 7 overall pick isn't too high to take a center.
Still, it would be a surprise if the Raiders chose a center over a receiver or a tackle with their top pick. Mack is considered the top center available in the draft and he will likely be taken late in the first round.
New Denver running back Correll Buchhalter denies buying drugs from a Philadelphia area drug dealer. It will be interesting to see if the league investigates the situation.