AFC West: Domenik Hixon

Left tackle Branden Albert's absence from the Kansas City Chiefs' voluntary offseason program may be another sign the team is moving to trade him.

New coach Andy Reid and his staff were at the program Monday. Albert was not, even though he signed his franchise tag tender last month. These programs are voluntary, but players are encouraged to participate.

The Chiefs are shopping Albert and they have had some talks with the Miami Dolphins, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Schefter has reported the Chiefs want a second-round pick this year and a conditional pick next year in return. The Dolphins have two second-round picks in this month’s draft and they have a need for a left tackle.

The Chiefs could use the No.1 overall pick in the draft on Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel whether Albert is kept or not.

With most key players there, Albert could be staying away because he thinks he is going to be traded. Either way, it won’t make the team happy that Albert is not participating.

In other AFC West notes:

Kevin Weidl looks at the first-round needs Insider of each AFC West team.

Matt Williamson grades the free agency of every AFC team. Insider The Broncos and Chiefs did very well, but not so much for the Raiders and Chargers, according to Williamson.

In a video, ESPN’s Adam Schefter discusses West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith's visit to Kansas City Monday. I agree with Schefter in that I think the Chiefs are trying to drum up interest to deal their pick.

Giants receiver Domenik Hixon visited Carolina. He has visited the Raiders.

The Chiefs have cut backup linebacker Andy Studebaker.

San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers talks about the team’s offseason in a radio interview.

Raiders' QB wait marches on

March, 31, 2013
3/31/13
11:55
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As the Raiders wait for the Matt Flynn-Carson Palmer saga to unfold, a backup plan is now off the table.

Former Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb agreed to terms with Buffalo. He was reportedly being considered by Oakland if the Flynn trade doesn’t go through and Palmer doesn’t take a pay cut. The options are very few now if that scenario doesn't unfold.

Likely options would be bypassing massive defensive needs and taking West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith with the No. 3 pick. The Raiders could perhaps pursue Cleveland’s Colt McCoy, although he's not considered a starter. Oakland could also commit to third-year player Terrelle Pryor as the starter, but it doesn’t seem like the team is quite ready to go that route.

Right now, the main possibilities are Flynn and Palmer. The Flynn trade could go through in the next couple of days if he and the Raiders come to a contractual accord.

The Arizona Republic is reporting the Cardinals are not willing to give up much in a trade for Palmer. He is expected to be cut if he doesn’t take a pay cut.

Meanwhile, Cleveland reportedly has small interest in Giants receiver/returner Domenik Hixon. The former Denver draft choice visited the Raiders a few days ago.
The Oakland Raiders are considering adding a receiver.

Hixon
CBS Sports reports that New York Giants receiver Domenik Hixon is visiting Oakland. The Broncos drafted Hixon in the fourth round in 2006; the Giants picked him up in 2007 after Denver released him. Hixon, 28, has been a good role receiver for the Giants and has been explosive when healthy.

He had 39 catches for 567 yards and two touchdowns last season. Hixon, who won two Super Bowl rings with the Giants, would likely have a chance to be a rotational player for the Raiders if signed. Oakland has several receivers with potential, but a rotation is far from set. With doubts remaining that receiver/returner Jacoby Ford can be the same explosive player he was before the lingering foot injury that cost him all of last season, Hixon could be solid insurance.

In other AFC West news:

Then there were none: There are no old-school or new-school AFC West candidates left in SportsNation voting for the "Madden NFL 25" video-game cover.
The Denver Broncos are examples of both the best and worst in the NFL at drafting during the 2000s, according to a study by Football Outsiders.

Bill Barnwell of Football Outsiders created a system that he has labeled GSAA -- Games Started Above Average.

Here’s Barnwell’s formula: He compiled the games started by a player over the first five seasons of his career for everyone drafted between 1993 and 2007 . Games started by players taken in 2006 and 2007 have been prorated. Barnwell compared a player's total games started to the total of everyone at the same position taken within 10 picks of that player, or within the first 10 overall picks for players taken in the top 10.

That formula (yes, Barnwell is one deep thinker) allowed Barnwell to find out which teams have been the best and worst in the last decade at picking players. He will reveal his full findings in an upcoming issue of ESPN the Magazine.

That brings us back to the Broncos.

Mike Shanahan was both brilliant and a disaster in the 2000s, according to Barnwell’s study. He was gracious enough to give me a sneak preview of his findings.

Barnwell’s study concludes that the 2006 Denver draft class was the best in the decade. That draft netted Jay Cutler, Tony Scheffler, Brandon Marshall, Elvis Dumervil, Domenik Hixon and Chris Kuper. All have been become solid NFL players. Cutler is now in Chicago after being traded for Kyle Orton and a bevy of picks last year. Hixon is with the Giants after he was cut during his second season in Denver. Yes, the class is strong, but it would look a lot better heading into the future if Cutler and Hixon were still in Denver and Marshall wasn’t being shopped.

The great bounty of 2006 came three years after Denver had one of the worst drafts of the decade, according to Barnwell’s formula. Denver had the 20th and 51st picks in 2003, along with three fourth-round picks and two fifth-rounders. The draft netted one starter, George Foster, who was marginal at best after being the team’s first-round pick.

Shanahan had his ups and downs during the draft, but this disparity is shocking. Thanks again to Barnwell for allowing us to preview his impressive system.
Occasionally, us blog networkers come together and have a brainstorming session.

This week, we pitched ideas about the best bets from our receptive divisions on the restricted free agent market. The following are some restricted free agents who could fit in the AFC West:

Denver

Rob Sims, guard, Seattle, fourth-round tender: He weighs 312 pounds. Denver wants to get bigger on the interior line.

Marcus Spears, defensive end, Dallas, second-round tender: He’d be a solid addition at end in Denver’s 3-4 scheme.

Kansas City

Atari Bigby, safety, Green Bay, second-round tender: Bigby is solid and the Chiefs, who have two second-round picks, need help at safety.

Domenik Hixon, receiver/returner, New York Giants, second-round tender: He could help Kansas City on offense and special teams.

Leon Washington, running back, returner, New York Jets, second-round tender: If healthy, he could be a nice fit.

Oakland

Barry Cofield, defensive tackle, New York Giants, second-round tender: He’d reunite former Giants line coach Mike Waufle in Oakland. I like this fit.

Troy Smith, quarterback, Baltimore, fifth-round tender: He is likely going to be on the move. Why not reunite him with Hue Jackson in Oakland and throw him in the quarterback competition?

San Diego

Jerious Norwood, running back, Atlanta, second-round tender: He has big talent. San Diego needs a running back badly. The only hitch is the Chargers may rather use their second-round pick on a player from a deep rookie running back class.

Posted by ESPN.com' s Bill Williamson

Hixon

Domenik Hixon is the perfect example for NFL teams to hold onto their young talent.

Hixon, who starred for the New York Giants Monday night by catching two touchdown passes and returning a kickoff for a score all in the first quarter against Cleveland, was claimed off waivers last Oct. 3 by the Giants a day after he was cut by Denver. The Broncos had hoped to re-sign Hixon to the practice squad but the Giants ruined those plans.

Hixon contributed to the Giants' Super Bowl season. He returned a kickoff against New England in the team's loss in the regular-season finale and played a role as a returner in the Giants' amazing postseason run.

Hixon was a fourth-round pick by Denver in 2006. He was taken in the same round as standouts Brandon Marshall and Elvis Dumervil. Hixon missed all of his rookie season with a pre-existing foot injury. Thus, 2007 was the former Akron standout's rookie season. He started the year as a returner and spot receiver. Because of injuries, Hixon actually stated Denver's first preseason game last season.

On opening day last season, Hixon was the player hit by Buffalo's Kevin Everett on the opening kickoff of the second half. Hixon was nearly in tears in the Denver locker room after the Broncos won the game on the final play of the game.

Hixon was hesitant in ensuing kick returns and the Broncos decided he wasn't ready to be on the 53-man roster. Denver still wanted him in the program but the Giants stepped in. During the Super Bowl week, Hixon admitted that the Everett injury affected him. Hixon and Everett have become friends and Hixon was as thrilled as anyone when Everett began to walk.

Hixon is flourishing in New York and could play in the Giants' rotation.

Denver clearly cut ties with Hixon too early. Denver is not alone. At some point, every NFL team has given up on a young player too early. Hixon is just the latest example that youngsters often need time to grow. In this win-now league, however, patience isn't always exercised.

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