AFC West: Gabe Carimi

Early Friday thoughts

April, 29, 2011
Some early Friday thoughts as we prepare for Friday night’s action:

The Kansas City Chiefs were the inspiration for the bungled mess between the Baltimore Ravens and the Chicago Bears. The Ravens were on the clock at No. 26, Kansas City was at No. 27 and Chicago was at No. 29. The Ravens and Bears were trying to finalize a trade, but time expired on the Ravens. The Bears admitted that it was their fault.

The Chiefs jumped on the rare pass and took Pitt receiver Jonathan Baldwin. The Bears had to be relieved. They were trying to move ahead of the Chiefs because they wanted Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi and they thought Kansas City would take him. The Bears ended up with Carimi at No. 29.

Some were surprised that the Chiefs took Baldwin because he was considered by many as a second-round pick. But the Chiefs coveted Baldwin who will be the team’s No. 2 receiver. The Pitt product is 6-foot-4, 230 pounds and is a polished receiver.

Kansas City coach Todd Haley has enjoyed success with another big receiver from Pitt in Arizona star Larry Fitzgerald. Haley can only hope Baldwin will develop into that type of weapon.

The Chargers’ selection of Illinois’ defensive end Corey Liuget at No. 18 very much means the end of the starting career of Jacques Cesaire in San Diego. Expect Liuget to be an instant starter.

Oakland coach Hue Jackson said the Raiders fielded plenty of calls in the first round but they didn’t see a trade that made sense. Jackson also took time to defend his habit of calling Oakland owner Al Davis, “Coach Davis.” He was recently criticized by a Bay Area columnist for using the term. My thoughts: Let Jackson call his boss whatever he wants.

Don’t be surprised if you start hearing rumors of New Orleans’ running back Reggie Bush going to his hometown of San Diego as a replacement for Darren Sproles. But like Sproles, Bush will be pricey.
It was a good night for the Kansas City Chiefs. First, they added a third-round pick by moving down six spots.

Then, the Chiefs benefited when the Baltimore Ravens made a rare pass and the Chiefs were able to move ahead of the Ravens at No. 26. Once the Chiefs moved ahead of the Ravens, they made a bit of a surprise by taking Pittsburgh receiver Jonathan Baldwin.

It is a surprise in the sense because there have been questions about Baldwin's desire. Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli usually stays away from players with question marks. Also, there were some pass-rushing options (Muhammad Wilkerson and Da'Quan Bowers) and tackle Gabe Carimi available.

But with those points made, I see why the Chiefs made the choice.

Baldwin has tremendous upside. He is huge at 6-foot-4, 229 pounds. He is a very polished receiver and he is known for making spectacular catches.

Somewhere, Matt Cassel is very happy. He now has all kinds of weapons to complement the NFL’s best rushing offense.

The presence of No. 1 receiver Dwayne Bowe should give Baldwin the opportunity to make a lot of plays right away. One of the biggest things the Chiefs were missing when they made their improbable playoff run last season was a strong No. 2 receiving option. But because of the great running game, they survived it. Consider that the Chiefs have a great receiving tight end in second-year player Tony Moeaki and this offense should be dangerous under the guidance of free-wheeling offensive coach Todd Haley.

And it all points to Baldwin being able to ease into the No. 2 job. He won’t have to be great right away. But I see many jump balls in his immediate future. Once again, the Pioli-Haley tandem appears to have made a strong move.

Kiper: Von Miller to Denver

April, 27, 2011
Mel Kiper released his latest mock draft Insider Wednesday night. With less than 24 hours before the first round, Kiper offers a bomb-shell change for Denver at No. 2.

Let’s take a look:

Denver, No. 2

Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M

My take: There has been a lot of talk of this in league circles Wednesday and now Kiper is saying Miller will be the choice. The general consensus had been Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. If Miller is the choice Denver may take a defensive tackle in the second round. This is definitely something to monitor.

San Diego, No. 18

J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin

My take: I think the Chargers would be pleased with this development. There is a heavy run on defensive linemen on Kiper’s board. But if the talented Watts fell to San Diego, it would be a good value choice.

Kansas City, No. 21

Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

My take: The Chiefs lose out on the top pass-rushers on this board. So, Carimi would be a fine option. He’d upgrade the offensive line.

Oakland doesn’t have a first-round pick. It was traded to New England for defensive lineman Richard Seymour in 2009. Oakland’s first pick is No. 48.
Let’s look at who the readers believe each AFC West team should take with their first pick. We took polls for each team Tuesday.

Denver, No. 2

There’s no doubt, Denver fans want the team to take Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus in a landslide over Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson and Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller. I think Dareus will be the call, but Denver has also been considering the other three players.

San Diego, No. 18

In a battle of four pass-rushers, fans slightly want Wisconsin’s J.J. Watt over Cal’s Cam Jordan, Missouri’s Aldon Smith and Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan. This is how real-life may go, too. Teams picking above the Chargers may covet Watt and Jordan, too.

Kansas City, No. 21

UCLA pass-rusher Akeem Ayers was a fairly easy winner over Temple defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson and offensive tackles Gabe Carimi and Anthony Castonzo. I’m a bit surprised by this result because Ayers may be the last of these four players off the board. Still, he does fit in Kansas City.

Oakland, No. 58

In a runaway, Oakland fans want the Raiders to take Penn State guard/center Stefen Wisniewski over cornerbacks Ras-I Dowling, Brandon Harris and quarterback Colin Kaepernick. I think Wisniewski was the easy choice for a couple of reasons. The offensive line needs an upgrade and Wisniewski is already part of the Raider family. His uncle, Steve Wisniewski, was a star offensive lineman for the Raiders and is now the team’s assistant offensive line coach.

Poll: Kansas City's top pick

April, 26, 2011
Here are your options for the Kansas City Chiefs with the No. 21 pick.

Please give your reason why you are making the pick in the comment section below.

Bloggers' AFC West mock

April, 25, 2011
Our blogger mock draft fell very favorably for the three AFC West teams with a first-round pick.

Each blogger made the pick for teams in the division they cover. I didn’t have to do a lot of deliberating. Top choices were available at all three spots. Let’s take a look:

No. 2, Denver

Marcell Dareus, Alabama, defensive tackle

Why: Denver could take Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller or Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, but the Broncos should take the sure thing in Dareus.

No. 18, San Diego

Cam Jordan, DE, California

Why: Our mock has a big run in the middle of the round on pass-rushers. San Diego would be thrilled if Jordan fell to No. 18. He’d fill a need and is a good value here.

No. 21, Kansas City

Muhammad Wilkerson, DL, Temple

Why: I thought Tampa Bay could get Wilkerson and I would have then given the Chiefs Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi. But I think Wilkerson is a better immediate fit. This is a good value pick.

Oakland doesn’t have a first-round pick. It traded its choice to New England for defensive lineman Richard Seymour in Sept. 2009.

Draft Watch: AFC West

April, 21, 2011
NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Each Thursday leading up to the NFL draft (April 28-30), the 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.

AFC West mailbag

April, 16, 2011
Weekend mail call:

Michael from Long Beach wants to know what offensive linemen San Diego could look at with the No. 18 overall pick.

Bill Williamson: I think the Chargers will look at pass-rushers first, but there could be some offensive lineman who interest the Chargers, who would grab a tackle. Among the tackles that could be available at No. 18 include Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo, Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi, Colorado’s Nate Solder and Mississippi State’s Derek Sherrod. Castonzo and Carimi could be intriguing to the Chargers if they are available at No. 18.

Kolby from Kansas wants to know which of these three players -- Baylor nose tackle Phil Taylor, Florida guard/center Mike Pouncey or UCLA pass-rusher Akeem Ayers -- would best fit in with the Chiefs.

BW: Well, Kolby, I think Pouncey is the best prospect and he would be the best value at No. 21, where the Chiefs pick. He wouldn’t fill an immediate hole, although he’d eventually look good in a Kansas City uniform. Ayers may be a slightly better prospect than Taylor and a better value at No. 21. I think Kansas City could trade down to the No. 25-30 range and take either Ayers or Taylor. Both players would likely be contributors right away in Kansas City.

Bryce from Fayetteville, Ark., wants to know if I think the Chargers could take Arkansas tight end D.J. Williams.

BW: San Diego could look at a young tight end to groom behind Antonio Gates. Williams has good hands and he could be a good prospect. I don’t think he’ll be a high-priority pick for the Chargers. But if they address some needs early and get a chance to take Williams in 3-5 rounds, it could be a fit.

More McShay mock madness

April, 13, 2011
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has compiled a mock draft Insider with the help of two NFL scouts. Let’s take a look at what they came up with for the AFC West:

No. 2, Denver

Marcell Dareus, defensive tackle, Alabama

My take: It’s starting to look unanimous that Denver will take Dareus if he doesn’t go No. 1 to Carolina. He looks like the safest pick and he’d be an immediate contributor in Denver.

No. 18, San Diego

Aldon Smith, DE/LB, Missouri

My take: He’s going to be in the conversation. He’s the fourth-straight pass-rusher to go off the board in this mock. I think the Chargers would be pleased to take Smith.

No. 21, Kansas City

Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

My take: This may be the first mock I’ve seen that has Kansas City taking Solder. I think the Chiefs will look for pass-rushers first. Temple pass-rusher Muhammad Wilkerson is still available on this mock. I think the Chiefs would take him before Solder. Also, if the Chiefs take a tackle, they could look at Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi or Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo before Solder. This mock has Solder going before Carimi and Castonzo. I think the tackle run may begin earlier.

Oakland doesn’t have a first-round pick. It sent its 2011 first-round pick to New England in Sept. 2009 for defensive lineman Richard Seymour. The Raiders’ first pick is No. 48.

What do you think of this mock? Fill up the comment section below with your thoughts.
Todd McShay has presented his latest mock NFL draft. Insider

Let’s take a look at his AFC West choices:

No. 2, Denver

Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M

My thoughts: Miller has been doing all the right things in his workouts to move up the draft board. I think Denver has a greater needs on the defensive line, but Miller would make this defense better. I could see it happening. On McShay’s board, Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus goes to Carolina with the No. 1 pick. He will be a serious option for Denver at No. 2 if he’s available. Mel Kiper just released his newest big board in an Insider piece. He has Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley as the No. 2 player on his board behind LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson. Dareus is No. 3 and Miller is No. 4. All of these players would make sense for Denver. I think Denver would also be interested in trading down a few spots and hope to get one of these players or Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers. He is now No. 6 on Kiper’s list.

No. 18, San Diego

Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple

My thoughts: This is interesting. McShay was raving about Wilkerson when I talked to him at the combine last month. He thinks Wilkerson is a big-time player. He would fill a need for San Diego. But I’d be tempted to take a more established player like Cal pass-rusher Cameron Jordan if he is on the board. Two years ago, San Diego took Larry English from a small school and is still waiting for him to develop. That may be a bit unfair to Wilkerson, but it is something to consider.

No. 21, Kansas City

Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

My thoughts: I think Kansas City will first look at pass-rushers. Guys like UCLA’s Akeem Ayers and Georgia’s Justin Houston will be of interest. But Carimi is also a pick that makes sense. He’d be an upgrade over Barry Richardson at right tackle and give the offensive line an infusion of youth. It’s not a terrible idea.

UPDATE: McShay also mocked the second round. Here are his AFC West choices:

36. Denver Broncos: DT Jurrell Casey, USC

46. Denver Broncos: DS Rahim Moore, UCLA

48. Oakland Raiders: CB Curtis Brown, Texas

50. San Diego Chargers: OLB Martez Wilson, Illinois

55. Kansas City Chiefs: WR Tandon Doss, Indiana

61. San Diego Chargers: ILB Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina

Weigh in on McShay’s AFC West choices in the comments section below.
The player Mel Kiper believes will end up being the San Diego Chargers’ first-round pick has reportedly withdrawn from the combine. reports that USC tackle Tyron Smith has dropped out of the combine suddenly Saturday with a lingering knee issue. He is going to save himself for his pro day workout in late March. He reportedly was injured eight weeks ago.

In Kiper’s latest mock draft, he penciled Smith in for San Diego at No. 18.

If Smith is the Chargers’ top target, this could change things some. The fact that Smith is going to work out before the draft still allows him to salvage his draft status. But this is a deep tackle group, and the Chargers could look at other tackle prospects Anthony Castonzo of Boston College, Nate Solder of Colorado and Gabe Carimi of Wisconsin.

San Diego will also look at several other positions in the first round, including linebacker, defensive end and receiver.

AFC West mailbag

February, 2, 2011
Mid-week mail call:

David from San Diego wants to know I think the Chargers should draft an offensive lineman in the first round.

Bill Williamson: I think it is a possibility. The only place where immediate competition could occur is at right tackle. Jeromey Clary is decent, but if there was a stud right tackle available, such as Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi or Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo, I could see it. Other areas San Diego could look at is receiver, defensive end and linebacker.

Kevin from San Jose wants to know I think the Oakland Raiders will get a Monday Night Football game in 2011.

BW: I would think so. I know the league always likes giving Oakland the Monday night spotlight. Now that the Raiders are competitive again, I could imagine seeing them on Monday night this season -- maybe an Oakland-Kansas City. Remember, there are double headers on the first Monday night of the season. An Oakland approach for the West Coast showing has happened three times since 2006 and it could conceivably happen again.

Tyler from Hamilton, Ontario wants to know if I think Denver can trade Kyle Orton to Washington for defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.

BW: Very interesting Tyler. Washington may need a quarterback and Denver is likely going back to a 4-3 defense, so it would be a fit for Haynesworth, who is likely out of Washington. This might be another one of those trade proposals that makes too much sense for it to happen. But I like it. Orton would help the Redskins and Haynesworth would be great in the middle of Denver’s defensive front. There might have to be some conditions written into the deal, but it looks good to me.

Draft first take: Chargers

January, 11, 2011
This is the second in a series looking at the potential draft direction of the teams in the AFC West:

Drafting: 18

Needs: Receiver, defensive line, linebacker, safety, offensive line.

Possible first-round picks

Julio Jones, WR, Alabama: If the Chargers don’t sign Vincent Jackson to long-term contract, Jones could be the choice here. He is a big receiver, which fits the Chargers’ style. San Diego has a lot of talent, but could use a young receiver. Jones would make this offense even more dangerous.

Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA: The Chargers could use some youth at linebacker. Ayers is a solid player who looks like he could immediately help an NFL team.

Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin: The big, strong, rough Carimi projects as a very good right tackle in the NFL. He was a left tackle in college. The Chargers could use some youth on the offensive line.

Wild card: The Chargers have extra picks in the second and third rounds. They have plenty of ammunition to move up from No. 18 or compile another first-round pick. This is a talented roster. They don’t need much, but if the Chargers can come out of this draft with a couple of dandies, they’ll be in terrific shape.