AFC West: Bjoern Werner

Reviewing mock draft choices

April, 23, 2013
4/23/13
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We held our NFL blog network mock draft earlier Tuesday. Each division blogger was in charge of choosing the first-round pick for every team in the division they cover. Let’s review my choices:

Kansas City: This was pretty cut-and-dry. I went with Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel with the No.1 pick. Joeckel is widely expected to be the choice. I made the pick available for trade but I didn’t get one bite. I see a similar scenario unfolding Thursday.

Oakland: This was the headline steal of our mock draft. I put the trade up for sale as the Raiders have. I got one bite and was able to close a deal with AFC East blogger James Walker who made the call for the Miami Dolphins. It was the only trade made in the entire mock draft. We went back and forth before Walker gave an offer I couldn’t refuse. I sent the No. 3 overall pick to Miami for the No. 12, No. 42, No. 77 and No. 82 picks. You’re welcome, Oakland. If the Raiders get that offer, I’m sure general manager Reggie McKenzie will be tickled. Oakland badly needs picks to restock the roster. This trade would be a great start. The only other pick Oakland has in the first three rounds is the No. 66 pick. This trade would give Oakland five picks in the first three rounds. Making the trade even more satisfying was the fact that BYU defensive end Ziggy Ansah was available at No. 12. He would be a great value at that spot and he’d fill a need for Oakland.

San Diego: I picked North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper for the Chargers at No. 11. While the team needs a left tackle, the top three prospects at the position went in the first five picks. Cooper fills a big need for the Chargers and he is a top prospect. I had an offer from Dallas to move down to No. 18, but I didn’t think the offer was good enough and I think the Chargers would love to see Cooper on the board.

Denver: I gave Denver Florida State pass-rusher Bjoern Werner at No. 28. He was the top rated of the several candidates I had on the board for Denver when the choice was made, so I think the Broncos got really nice value here. I turned down an offer from Philadelphia to go down to No. 35. I thought the offer was lacking and figured Denver might as well take the promising Werner and fill a need.

Denver Broncos draft options

April, 20, 2013
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Let's take a look at some possible targets of the Denver Broncos, who have the No. 28 pick in the April 25-27 draft:

Tank Carradine, defensive end, Florida State
  • Why is he a top prospect? He has tremendous pass-rush burst and great college film.
  • How would he help? He would help make up for the loss of Elvis Dumervil.
  • What are the risks? Carradine is coming off a major knee injury.
  • How he could be the choice? If Carradine had been healthy last year, he probably would have been a top-15 pick. But there is a strong chance he will be available. Denver could pull the trigger or perhaps even trade down a few spots to take him.
D.J. Hayden, Houston, cornerback
  • Why is he a top prospect? He is a big, strong competitor.
  • How would he help? The Broncos are looking to get younger at the position.
  • What are the risks? He is not an elite talent, and he may never become an elite player.
  • How he could be the choice? He should be available at No. 28 and perhaps even in a trade down. It could be a matter of choice compared to another cornerback.
Margus Hunt, defensive end, SMU
  • Why is he a top prospect? He is huge, and he has natural pass-rushing skills.
  • How would he help? He would add to the pass-rush mix.
  • What are the risks? He is raw, and he is 26. That is a tough combination for a top pick.
  • How he could be the choice? If Denver thinks all the pluses outweigh the risks, he could be the choice. He would be a possible target in a trade down.
Johnathan Jenkins, defensive tackle, Georgia
  • Why is he a top prospect? He is huge at 359 pounds, and he is athletic.
  • How would he help? Denver is solid at defensive tackle, but adding a young talent like Jenkins would be tempting.
  • What are the risks? He takes plays off, and he is far from a finished product.
  • How he could be the choice? If Denver thinks Jenkins is too good to pass up, his selection at No. 28 could easily be justified.
Eddie Lacy, running back, Alabama
  • Why is he a top prospect? He is the best running back available, and many scouts think he can be a top primary back.
  • How would he help? Denver wants to get younger at running back, and Lacy would be a terrific addition for an already strong offense.
  • What are the risks? Some scouts think he may just be average and may be benefiting from a weak overall class.
  • How he could be the choice? If he is available, I think Lacy has a strong possibility of being Denver's choice.
Xavier Rhodes, cornerback, Florida State
  • Why is he a top prospect? He is huge for a corner at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds and knows how to play the position.
  • How would he help? Who couldn't use a young, big corner?
  • What are the risks? Some scouts think he is just average at everything and will not be an impact player.
  • How he could be the choice? Some teams will be in love with Rhodes' size. Some teams would think he'd be worth taking at No. 28.
Jamar Taylor, cornerback, Boise State
  • Why is he a top prospect? He has impressed scouts with his solid, steady play. He seems NFL-ready.
  • How would he help? Again, with Champ Bailey nearing the end of his career, this is a position where Denver could use some youth.
  • What are the risks? He has had injury concerns, and he may have not have a high ceiling.
  • How he could be the choice? The word is, Denver likes Taylor more than some other cornerbacks.
Manti Te'o, linebacker, Notre Dame
  • Why is he a top prospect? He has great film. He was highly productive, and there were few flaws in his college playing career.
  • How would he help? Denver needs a strong inside linebacker, and he'd be another talent to a solid defense.
  • What are the risks? There's concern about the hoax he was involved in, and his combine performance was weak coming off a poor performance in the title game against Alabama.
  • How he could be the choice? If Te'o falls to No. 28, I'm sure Denver will be tempted to take him. Production like his is rare.
Desmond Trufant, cornerback, Washington
  • Why is he a top prospect? There are few flaws with this player, who has the ability to get better.
  • How would he help? See above.
  • What are the risks? He is not overly big or physical.
  • How he could be the choice? The cornerback position at the bottom of the first round will be a matter of taste. If Trufant is there, Denver could be forced into making a tough decision.
Bjoern Werner, defensive end, Florida State
  • Why is he a top prospect? He has everything a team would want in a pass-rusher.
  • How would he help? A Werner-Von Miller pairing could quickly make folks forget about Dumervil's ugly departure.
  • What are the risks? Some scouts think the NFL may be too big for Werner, and his skill set may not be exceptional at the next level.
  • How he could be the choice? Earlier in the draft process, Werner was considered a potential top-five pick. If he falls all the way down to No. 28, Denver would have a difficult time bypassing him.
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

What’s the ideal first-round scenario for each team?

Denver

The Broncos are in a decent position sitting at No. 28. Yes, all of the elite players will be long gone. But the Broncos can get better at this spot. Denver doesn’t have many pressing needs, but it can surely upgrade at a few positions. Among the spots Denver could use some help at are on the defensive line, running back, cornerback and middle linebacker. This is a deep class on the defensive line and at cornerback, and the better running backs and inside linebackers may be available late in the first round. Denver would love to see these players available at No. 28: Alabama running back Eddie Lacy, Florida State pass-rushers Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant and Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden. I think, at least, one of these players will be available. Thus, Denver should get a player it covets.

Kansas City

Since the Chiefs will start the draft with the No. 1 pick, they dictate the show. But we’ve long talked about this being a bad year for the Chiefs to have the top pick. After a tremendous quarterback class last year, this year’s crop is devoid of top talent. The Chiefs could still find talent at the top of the draft, but they would prefer to trade out of the top spot to collect more picks and get out of paying the highest rookie contract. For that to happen, some team will have to come out of the woodwork. Thus far, there aren’t many indications there will be a market for the top pick. But if some team falls in love with a specific player, the Chiefs would accommodate them.

Oakland

The Raiders are in a similar spot as the Chiefs -- they want to trade down. In fact, Oakland likely wants to deal the No. 3 pick more than the Chiefs want to get rid of the No. 1 pick. Oakland badly needs to stock its roster. Trading the No. 3 pick may be easier than dealing the No. 1 pick. The price will be less and teams may be intrigued by the way the first two picks fall. So, I could see Oakland getting a suitable trade offer while on the clock. Oakland would love to still get a top-15 pick to get a top defensive talent and recoup its second-round pick lost in the Carson Palmer debacle. Now, if the Raiders don’t make a trade, they will be in good shape at No. 3. The Raiders badly need defensive talent. Among the top defensive prospects are Oregon pass-rusher Dion Jordan, Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner. At least two of those players will be available at No. 3, so Oakland will be sitting pretty.

San Diego

This is pretty simple: The Chargers want to see Oklahoma left tackle Lane Johnson still on the board at No. 11. But it may be iffy. The Chargers have a lot of needs, but no need is greater than at left tackle. The Chargers do not have a blindside protector for quarterback Philip Rivers. That’s scary. But there is no sure thing San Diego will find its left tackle in the draft. Top prospects Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher will both be gone by the time the Chargers pick. Johnson has been a fast riser and there is a good chance he will be gone. Arizona at No. 7 is considered a strong landing spot for the super-athletic Johnson. The Chargers need quarterback Geno Smith to go in the top seven picks. If the Eagles take him at No. 4, it could push Fisher to No. 7 and Johnson to No. 11. If the Cardinals take Smith, Johnson could fall to the Chargers.
The Kansas City Chiefs' situation with the No. 1 pick remains one of the most fascinating questions of the NFL offseason.

Thursday, longtime draft guru Gil Brandt tweeted he thought they are five players worthy of being the No. 1 pick by the Chiefs -- left tackles Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher, pass-rushers Barkevious Mingo and Bjoern Werner and cornerback Dee Milliner.

That got me thinking. Out of that group, Milliner may be the most interesting choice for Kansas City. Yes, in our latest AFC West mock draft, I tabbed Joeckel for the Chiefs at No. 1. But that’s because I think that’s where the team would lean.

But I would re-sign free agent Branden Albert, and the Chiefs are set at the pass-rusher position. That leaves Milliner.

I think a combination of standout Brandon Flowers and Milliner could be a great fit. This is a passing division and the Chiefs would be well prepared. Also combining a cornerback tandem of Flowers and Milliner would be both help and benefit from the Chiefs’ strong pass-rushers.

Defense starts with pass-rushers and coverage, and the Chiefs would be in terrific shape. That’s one of the reasons why I suggested a Darrelle Revis trade involving the No. 1 pick.

I realize Milliner -- who ran a blazing 4.37 at the combine -- may not be worthy of the top pick, but you can say that about any of the top prospects.

The Chiefs need to get creative and need to get immediate value. So, taking Milliner could be something the team may consider in a year without any clear-cut answers for the No. 1 pick.
For the second straight year, as the new brass tries to rebuild, the Oakland Raiders will likely undergo major change this offseason.

A place where serious change could occur is on the defensive line as the team tries to get younger and cheaper all the while trying to get better. A couple of years ago, the Raiders had one of the most physical, fiercest defensive lines in the NFL. But in 2012, the unit got old, and it its overall production waned.

Thus, change is in store.

Defensive tackle Richard Seymour is a free agent and very likely will not return. Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly’s production fell as well in 2012, and he is a top candidate to be cut, because Oakland is currently over the salary cap for 2013. Kelly, 32, reportedly has a salary cap number of more than 11 million in 2013. He has two years remaining on his contract. The Raiders reportedly could save more than $7 million if they cut Kelly.

So, at this point, it would be surprised if he is kept.

The change on the line doesn’t just affect the inside players. Defensive end Matt Shaughnessy is a free agent. He was once considered a potential standout, but his play slipped in 2012 and he lost playing time to fellow free-agent Andre Carter, who was signed during the season.

Desmond Bryant is also a free agent. At times, he was one of Oakland’s best defensive linemen last season. Bryant could get interest on the open market.

Thus, Oakland might have to find a way to replenish a lot of positions on the line. Its anchor is Lamarr Houston, who, at times, looks like an upper-echelon lineman. Houston is versatile and can play across the line.

The Raiders will give 2012 draft choices Christo Bilukidi (defensive tackle) and Jack Crawford (defensive end) a chance to develop in 2013. They showed nice promise as rookies.

There is a strong chance Oakland will use the No. 3 overall pick on a defensive lineman. The top candidates are ends Damontre Moore (Texas A&M), Barkevious Mingo (LSU) and Bjoern Werner (Florida State), and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (Utah).

Change is a theme in Oakland again, and it might start on the defensive line.

Early draft look: Raiders

January, 3, 2013
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With the Oakland Raiders’ season over, let’s take an early look at where the team might be heading in the draft.

First pick: No. 3

Top draft needs: Cornerback, linebacker, defensive line, safety, offensive line.

Possible first-round picks: Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore, Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones, LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo, Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner.

Intangibles: While the Chiefs are in a bad spot because of the lack of draft talent compared to their needs, the Raiders are in a great spot. This is a defense-rich top end of the draft and the Raiders badly need help at every layer. At worst, they will get the third-highest-rated defensive player on their board. They just have to stack their board and pick the best fit. At least three of the above players should be available to Oakland -- a can’t-lose situation. The one wrinkle is that Oakland could decide to trade down because it has a lot of needs and doesn’t currently have a second- or a fifth-round pick. That said, the opportunity to get an impact defender could be enough to sway Oakland to keep its top choice.

Breaking down McShay's mock

December, 12, 2012
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The draft is going to be a big deal in the AFC West with three teams on pace to pick in the top 10.

Yes, it is very early, but I do think Todd McShay’s mock first-round draft is definitely worth looking at. Yes, the drafting order is very far from being determined and the players are far from being solidified as first-round prospects, but this is a good taste of how things may look as the draft talk develops:

1. Kansas City: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

My take: We all know the Chiefs need a quarterback badly and we all know there are no great quarterback choices available at the top of the draft. So, this pick works. He would be another fine player on a potentially good defense. Perhaps the Chiefs could find a bridge veteran quarterback and take someone like North Carolina State’s Mike Glennon in the second round.

3. Oakland: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

My take: The Raiders can’t go wrong here. They need defensive help badly. It will come down to who the Raiders think is the best defensive player available. There are a lot of fine choices and Werner is one of them.

9. San Diego: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

My take: The offensive line is the Chargers’ greatest need area, so it could come down to the best tackle available. But if the board falls as McShay has it, San Diego could look for value and take Alabama guard Chance Warmack or Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o here.

28. Denver: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue

My take: This is a good starting point. But the Broncos believe in taking the best player available, so I could see them taking a receiver, tight end or even an offensive lineman if they think they are getting a bargain.

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