AFC West: Draft Watch 2011

Draft Watch: AFC West

April, 21, 2011
4/21/11
12:00
PM ET
» NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

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: Dream scenario/Plan B.

Denver Broncos

Dream scenario: The Broncos’ dream scenario begins with the Carolina Panthers taking a quarterback with the No. 1 pick. That would mean the entire defensive draft board is available. The Broncos' primary needs are on defense. Denver would likely choose between Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller and LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson. The general consensus is Denver will most likely take Dareus.

Plan B: If Carolina takes Dareus, Denver could take Miller or Peterson or trade down to the No. 5-8 range and compile other high-round picks. I could see Miller and Peterson being available at No. 5. If Denver goes down to No. 8, it could look at Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn or Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers.

Kansas City Chiefs

Dream scenario: The Chiefs are in a great position. They pick No. 21 and need pass-rushers and an offense tackle. Several of those prospects should be available at No. 21. But if the Chiefs had a dream, I’d think it would be to see Alabama receiver Julio Jones tumble to them. But that is a pipedream. He likely won’t fall past St. Louis at No. 14. I think the Chiefs would like to see a pass-rusher like Missouri’s Aldon Smith, Cal’s Cameron Jordan, Purdue’s’ Ryan Kerrigan or Temple’s Muhammad Wilkerson available at No. 21. If not, the Chiefs could go for a pass-rusher like UCLA’s Akeem Ayers or Georgia’s Justin Houston.

Plan B: If all the pass-rushers are gone, that’d probably mean some tackles would fall. Among those players who could interest the Chiefs are Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo, Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi or Colorado’s Nate Solder. Kansas City will have options and it could prompt it to trade down a few spots to gain another quality pick and grab a player high on its list.

Oakland Raiders

Dream scenario: The Raiders are the only team currently without a first-round pick. Their first pick is at No. 48. Oakland’s dream scenario would to see a first-round talent slide to them without having to trade up. If a quarterback such as Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett or Washington’s Jake Locker is there, Oakland could easily grab them. The Raiders like veteran Jason Campbell, but getting an eventual replacement at the bargain price of No. 48 is worth it. Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith would also be a dream scenario for Oakland if he was available at No. 48. The team may lose Nnamdi Asomugha in free agency. Smith is considered a top-15 talent; he may fall because of character issues. He’d be a steal at No. 48.

Plan B: If these players don’t fall, Oakland will likely look at offensive linemen (its biggest need), cornerbacks and quarterbacks in the second round. If the Raiders could get a player like Penn State guard Stefen Wisniewski and Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick on the second day of the draft, they would be thrilled.

San Diego Chargers

Dream scenario: The Chargers are in an even better position than the Chiefs. San Diego, which has the No. 18 pick, could use a pass-rusher or an offensive lineman. Plenty should be available when they choose. Plus, San Diego has extra picks in both the second and third rounds. The Chargers can do basically whatever they want to do. Thus, the Chargers can make up their own dream scenario. If they want to move up to No. 5 and take Miller, they probably can. If they want to move up to No. 11-12 and take Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt or Jones to help at receiver, they can.

Plan B: If they stay put, the Chargers can wait for players like Jordan, Smith or Kerrigan at No. 18. They could also move down to take a pass-rusher like Houston or Ayers or an offensive lineman in the No. 20-25 range. The Chargers are truly in charge of their own draft destiny.

Draft Watch: AFC West

April, 14, 2011
4/14/11
12:00
PM ET
» NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

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: Draft philosophy.

Denver Broncos

This is the one mystery team in the division. There is a new regime in Denver, led by the Broncos’ legendary quarterback John Elway, who is the team’s vice president of football operations. In his first year in an NFL front office, Elway has the final say. Yet, he does work closely with general manager Brian Xanders, who is a holdover from the last regime, and new coach John Fox. Xanders is expected to have more of a say now, and Fox has been in draft rooms as a head coach for the past nine years in Carolina. They all said Denver will be open minded in the draft. The brass has been at several pro-day workouts and has brought in several players for pre-draft visits. Denver needs defense, but it won’t shy away from taking the best player available. I expect this group to be willing to trade and do what it takes to bring as much talent as possible to Denver as it begins the rebuilding process.

Kansas City Chiefs

One of the reasons Scott Pioli is effective as a general manager is that he is a careful drafter. He was part of a strong drafting team in New England, and his second effort in Kansas City was one of the league’s best. Pioli believes in taking low-risk players. He usually doesn’t pursue players with character issues. He’d rather get a solid player who is a good citizen than a terrific player who is an off-field risk. The Chiefs haven’t been aggressive in draft trades in the Pioli era. I get the feeling he’d rather trade down than up. Pioli is fond of players from the SEC. Both of his first-round picks are from the SEC, and the Chiefs’ first three picks from last year’s draft are from the conference. The reasoning is that if players can excel at the highest level of collegiate play, they have a chance to succeed in the NFL.

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders have one of the most famous draft philosophies in the history the NFL. It’s All Al Davis. And right now, that’s not such a bad thing. After whiffing on several first-round picks, Davis put together one of the most complete drafts in the NFL in 2010. Davis had a draft resurgence by sticking to the basics. He drafted good college players who also tested well at the combine in the offseason. In recent years, Davis seemed more fixated on combine scores and measurables than college production. He took several chances on players who looked the part but didn’t necessarily have the college résumé to back it up. Last year, he drafted proven college players. If Davis can continue that trend, the Raiders will be in good shape. Davis has never worried about the size of the school the player has come from, so he is willing to draft anyone. That worked in the third round last year, when he drafted tackle Jared Veldheer from tiny Hillsdale College. As far as trades go, Davis has been known for trading picks for veteran players such as Randy Moss, DeAngelo Hall, Richard Seymour, Kamerion Wimbley and Jason Campbell in recent years. If the lockout continues, trading picks for veterans won’t be an option. It will be interesting to see whether Davis tries to deal to trade up and recoup the first-round pick that was surrendered in the Seymour deal.

San Diego Chargers

A.J. Smith’s philosophy is to be ready for anything. Smith prepares for any scenario. The San Diego general manager is feeling particularly powerful this year because he has an extra pick in the second and third rounds thanks to the 2010 trades of cornerback Antonio Cromartie and third-string quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. Smith is looking for the best scenario, whether that means keeping the five picks in the first three rounds, trading up for a big score or trading down for several picks. In recent years, Smith has traded up to get players such as running backs Ryan Mathews and Jacob Hester. I can see that being the case this year. The key to Smith’s philosophy is college production. He goes for high-effort, high-production players. He doesn’t go for many projects in the early rounds.

Draft Watch: AFC West

April, 7, 2011
4/07/11
12:00
PM ET
» NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

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.

Denver Broncos

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.

Oakland Raiders

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.

Draft Watch: AFC West

March, 31, 2011
3/31/11
12:00
PM ET
» NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

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: decision-makers.

Denver

This is the only place in the AFC West where there is major change in the decision-making process this year. Denver will be closely watched during this draft for reasons that extend beyond the fact that it owns the No. 2 pick. This will be the first draft since legendary former Broncos quarterback John Elway took over as the team’s vice president of football operations. He was hired in January.

The Broncos have a three-way leadership format, with Elway, general manager Brian Xanders and coach John Fox. Elway has the final say on all decisions. However, Elway will rely on Xanders and Fox. Fox is the key. This is his 10th straight draft as a head coach. But this is an opportunity for Xanders to spread his wings too. He was the general manager the past two years with former coach Josh McDaniels. But McDaniels had final say and he used it. The Broncos had several questionable draft decisions the past two years and have privately made it clear it was McDaniels who was driving the draft ship. This new crew has been busy this offseason preparing for the draft. The Broncos’ brass has been at several pro days and the team has scheduled many workouts and visits with players at many positions. Elway has preached the importance of preparation as the Broncos try to rebuild.

Kansas City

This is Scott Pioli’s show. Pioli is in his third season as Kansas City's general manager. He has final say in all draft decisions. Pioli was part of many successful drafts in New England prior to joining the Chiefs in 2009. Pioli has fit this role well in Kansas City. He is a strong, confident leader. After a so-so first draft in Kansas City, Pioli struck gold in 2010. Several rookies made instant impacts and the class was a big reason the Chiefs went from four wins to a 10-6 team that won the AFC West. Pioli works well with coach Todd Haley, whom Pioli hired. They seem to have the same draft vision and it seems to be working well.

Oakland

There is no doubt here -- this is Al Davis’ show. No owner in the NFL is as involved in his team’s day-to-day operations as Davis. That includes the draft. Davis, 81, enters this draft with a hot hand. Oakland had one of the best drafts in the NFL last year and if the Raiders become a playoff team soon, the success of the 2010 class will play a major role. Davis bragged about the class in January and he deserves to boast. Suddenly, the calls from fans for Davis to hire a general manager have quieted. One of the biggest reasons Oakland floundered from 2003-09 was poor drafting, especially in the first round. But Davis proved he can still be effective in the draft room. He still watches countless hours of film and keeps in close contact with the team’s scouts.

San Diego

As in Kansas City, this is a classic leadership arrangement. A.J. Smith is the general manger in San Diego. He has been responsible for making all football-related decisions since he took over in San Diego in 2003. He prides himself in his film study and has been immersed in draft preparation for months. Smith is a strong leader who is known around the league for his willingness to strike a draft-day deal. He’ll move up or down. There’s no insecurity here. He’s in charge and he’s not afraid to use his power.

Draft Watch: AFC West

March, 24, 2011
3/24/11
12:00
PM ET
» NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

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: schemes and themes.

Denver Broncos

Expect the Broncos to spend much of the draft addressing its defense. Denver was last in the NFL in total defense and points allowed in 2010. New head coach John Fox was selected to be the Broncos’ coach partly because of his experience in turning around defenses.

The first order of business for Fox and new defensive coordinator Dennis Allen was to change the defense from a 3-4 to a 4-3 front. The Broncos ran a 3-4 defense the past two years. So, Denver will likely concentrate on its draft for traditional 4-3 defensive linemen at both end and tackle. It will also likely look for traditional 4-3 linebackers, likely middle and strongside linebackers.

Offensively, Fox believes in a power attack that’s based on running the ball and controlling the clock. Expect Denver to look at big running backs and more help on the offensive line. A blocking tight end could also be part of the mix to replace the aging Daniel Graham, who was released earlier in the offseason.

Kansas City Chiefs

This is the third year of the Scott Pioli draft plan. Defensively, the Chiefs look for 3-4 front-seven players.

This is a good year for a 3-4 team in the draft. The Chiefs will likely look for pass-rushers and big defensive tackles early in the draft. It is an excellent draft for pass-rushers (both at defensive end and at linebacker) and stout defensive tackles.

The Chiefs believe bright, athletic players will flourish in Romeo Crennel’s defense. Last year’s draft was a good indication of that approach. The Chiefs had success by playing rookies on a defense that helped key an unexpected AFC West title. Offensively, the Chiefs will likely look for a backup for quarterback Matt Cassel. Coach Todd Haley is a quarterback specialist. He likes intelligent, tough quarterbacks. The Chiefs are working out quarterbacks this spring. The quarterback they are looking at, including TCU’s Andy Dalton, fit that mold.

Oakland Raiders

Now that Hue Jackson has been promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach, expect him to use the offense he fully wants. That will start on the offensive line.

Gone is former head coach Tom Cable, who was a proponent of the zone-blocking scheme. Jackson is a believer in the power-blocking scheme. Jackson said at the NFL combine in February that he wants to incorporate the power-scheme more into the offense.

The offensive line is one of Oakland’s greatest needs. Oakland will be looking at bigger, stronger offensive lineman. The zone-blocking scheme utilizes smaller, faster more athletic lineman. Jackson wants 300-pound tough guys.

Also, of course, expect the Raiders to look for speed. The Raiders value speed as much as any team in the NFL. They recently drafted the fastest man at the combine in the form of cornerback Stanford Routt and receiver Jacoby Ford. With cornerback a potential draft need, expect the Raiders to scour 40 times as part of their draft evaluation process.

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers’ defensive needs are based on their 3-4 system. That will come into play this year. The Chargers will look for pass-rushers at defensive end and at linebacker. The team will also look for 3-4 inside linebackers.

Drafting athletic players who can help right away on the special teams has been an emphasis for general manager A.J. Smith’s teams. Because of an exodus of talent and injuries, San Diego had perhaps the worst special teams in the NFL last season. Expect the Chargers to look at linebackers and defensive backs who have a chance to start down the line, but who can help on special teams immediately.

Expect San Diego to try to add to its stable of tall, fast receivers. That’s the basis of Norv Turner’s passing game. The Chargers don’t add many little guys to this crew.

Draft Watch: AFC West

March, 17, 2011
3/17/11
12:00
PM ET
» NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

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: draft rewind -- examining the past five drafts.

Denver Broncos

Best choice: Elvis Dumervil, defensive end/linebacker.The Broncos have had an uneven drafting history in the past five years. Many of Denver’s better picks are no longer with the team. Dumervil was a safe choice. He has been a very productive player since Denver took him the fourth round in 2006. Dumervil led the NFL with 17 sacks in 2009. He missed all of last season with a pectoral injury. But he is considered a cornerstone of Denver’s defense as it begins the John Fox era.

Worst choice: Alphonso Smith, cornerback. There are a lot of candidates here, but I had to go with Smith. He edged out 2007 No. 17 overall pick Jarvis Moss, who was cut last season. Smith is the choice because he lasted one season in Denver and he cost the Broncos the No. 14 overall pick in 2010. Former Denver coach Josh McDaniels fell for Smith when he dropped to the second round in 2009. McDaniels, running his first NFL draft, traded the team’s first-round pick in 2010 to take Smith. He was replaced four times as a rookie, including by an undrafted rookie. Denver finally dumped him off to Detroit on the final cut-down day last year.

On the bubble: Knowshon Moreno, running back. There are a few choices here, but Moreno has to make immediate strides. The No. 12 overall pick in 2009 has had a slow start to his career. He’s had his moments, but he’s been plagued by injuries and an overall lack of productivity. If he doesn’t progress in 2011, the Broncos may have to make other plans at tailback.

Kansas City Chiefs

Best choice: Jamaal Charles, running back. Charles was a wonderful parting gift from the Carl Peterson era. He was part of Peterson’s final draft in Kansas City and was he a doozy. He was taken in the third round, with the No. 73 overall pick in 2008. The pick was acquired from Minnesota in the Jared Allen trade. Charles has developed into one of the best running backs in the NFL. He is a big reason why the Chiefs were a worst-to-first story in 2010.

Worst choice: Turk McBride, defensive lineman. The Chiefs haven’t had many overtly horrible picks in the past five years. I’m going with McBride because he was a second-round pick, No. 54 overall, in 2007. The defensive lineman spent his second season on the injured reserve and was cut in 2009.

On the bubble: Tyson Jackson, defensive end. Jackson had potential to make Kansas City fans forget about McBride. The defensive end was the No. 3 overall pick in 2009. He hasn’t done much in two seasons. Still, the Chiefs are hopeful that the earnest Jackson will develop into a good player. He will have time to prove himself, but he will be watched closely.

Oakland Raiders

Best choice: Zach Miller, tight end. The Raiders’ 2007 draft will always be remembered for the colossal JaMarcus Russell mistake. But the Raiders did find a gem with their very next pick. They took Miller in the second round with the No. 38 overall choice. Miller has developed into one of the better young tight ends in the NFL. He is a top offensive weapon.

Worst choice: JaMarcus Russell, quarterback. I didn’t have to do much debating on this one. Russell is considered by many league observers to be the worst draft pick of all time. He never improved and the Raiders gave up on him last spring at the age of 24. Russell is still out of the league.

On the bubble: Darrius Heyward-Bey, wide receiver. The No. 7 overall pick in 2009 needs to start producing on a consistent basis and he needs to show he can catch the ball. If not, Heyward-Bey will fall further behind Oakland’s other, more productive young receivers. Heyward-Bey has only 35 catches in 26 NFL games.

San Diego Chargers

Best choice: Marcus McNeill, left tackle. The Chargers have some solid picks in the past five years, but I’m going to go with McNeill. He is not an elite left tackle, but he is a very solid player who is a strong anchor to the offensive line. He is the long-term answer for San Diego at a key spot. San Diego is getting a lot of value for the No. 50 overall pick in 2006.

Worst choice: Buster Davis, wide receiver. The Chargers haven’t whiffed badly on a lot of picks in the past five years. But it looks as if Davis may not ever pan out as a Charger. He was the team’s first-round pick in 2007, No. 30 overall. His biggest issue has been staying healthy. He finally showed some promise last year, but he missed the final nine games with an injury. He has played only 26 games in four seasons.

On the bubble: Larry English, linebacker. English is the fourth 2009 first-round pick to make this list. Like the other three players, it’s time for English to show he can help his team. The Chargers took the Northern Illinois linebacker at No. 16 because of his high motor and ability to rush the passer. English, who already is 25, has only five sacks in two NFL seasons. He missed eight games because of injury in 2010. The Chargers probably will draft a pass-rusher in the first round, so English will have to fight for playing time in 2011.

Draft Watch: AFC West

March, 10, 2011
3/10/11
12:00
PM ET
» NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Each Thursday leading up to the NFL draft (April 28-30), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: Biggest team needs.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos, who have the No. 2 overall pick, currently have six draft picks (four in the top 67 picks). Nearly all of Denver's picks will likely dedicated to defense. Denver was last in total defense and points allowed in 2010. New head coach John Fox is a defensive specialist, and he will look to upgrade this unit in the draft.

Although Denver has needs throughout the defense, its biggest needs are on front seven. Denver is moving from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 look under Fox. Denver needs a lot of help on the defensive line. It is looking for a pass-rusher and for multiple defensive tackles. I bet it will also look for a middle linebacker and a strongside linebacker. D.J. Williams probably will play weakside if he doesn’t play in the middle. Denver probably will look at the defensive line first with the No. 2 pick.

It could also use a safety and it probably will consider LSU’s Patrick Peterson at No. 2 pick because he is so special. Once Denver addresses its defensive needs, it probably will consider a right tackle and a tight end. Running backs will also be considered.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs have one of the more exciting young rosters in the NFL. But Kansas City, which went 10-6 and was a surprise AFC West winner in 2010, has some needs. If the Chiefs get the right front seven players for their intriguing 3-4 defense, this unit could be top notch soon.

Kansas City could use a pass-rusher to team with Tamba Hali. Hali, who was given the franchise tag last month, led the AFC with 14.5 sacks in 2010. This is a very strong draft for pass-rushers, so the Chiefs should have a lot of options at No. 21.

The Chiefs, who lost out to New Orleans for Shaun Rogers, also are looking for some help at defensive tackle. I think the Chiefs are looking for two defensive tackles through the draft and free agency this offseason. A huge run stuffer will be a top priority.

Offensively, I can see the Chiefs looking for a receiver and a perhaps a right tackle. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Chiefs used a very high pick on a receiver. Kansas City is looking for a legitimate No. 2 receiver to pair with Dwayne Bowe. If an upgrade from Barry Richardson can be found, I think Kansas City would consider it. I also wouldn’t be shocked if Kansas City looked for a developmental quarterback in the middle rounds.

Oakland Raiders

One of the interesting aspects of this improving team is that it really doesn’t have a ton of pressing needs. It has young players penciled in through the lineup on both sides of the ball. The only question is whether these young players are ready.

But the Raiders do have some needs, starting on the offensive line. They could have multiple openings in the starting lineup. I’d think the Raiders would seriously consider using the No. 48 pick -- Oakland’s first-round pick was sent to New England for Richard Seymour in 2009 -- on an offensive lineman, probably a guard.

Oakland may need to take a cornerback early if Nnamdi Asomugha leaves in free agency. Other areas that may need to be upgraded because of free agency include safety and tight end.

Oakland also could look for a developmental quarterback in the middle rounds and could consider a linebacker and receiver at some point in the draft.

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers have one of the better rosters in the NFL, but it could use some sprucing up at several spots. San Diego has extra picks in the second and third rounds, and its five picks in the top three rounds are the second most in the NFL behind New England, which has six.

So, the Chargers have the draft power to get better. Like Kansas City, San Diego will look at the strong class of pass-rushers first. The Chargers could use a defensive end or a pass-rushing linebacker. I would expect San Diego, which has the No. 18 pick, to seriously look to fill this need first.

The Chargers could look for multiple defensive linemen and will surely try to grab an inside linebacker early as well. If Eric Weddle leaves through free agency, safety will also have to be addressed.

San Diego could also look for a receiver early in the draft, depending on free agency. The same thing goes at right tackle. A change-of-pace running back and return man may be needed in the middle rounds if Darren Sproles leaves in free agency. I could also see San Diego looking for a blocking tight end in the middle rounds.

SPONSORED HEADLINES