AFC West: Harrison Smith

Chat wrap: Draft, here we come

April, 26, 2012
4/26/12
4:10
PM ET
Here are some of the highlights form our draft-crazed AFC West chat, which was held earlier Thursday:

Denver

Jesse Bliss from Boise, Idaho: Wouldn't it make more sense for Denver to address the future quarterback next year. Peyton has three really good years left. I believe the quarterback should sit two years behind Peyton, and then be the starter.

Bill Williamson: I can see the argument for either move. If the Broncos love someone like Cousins, Osweiler or Foles, they should take him. But they can certainly wait if they are not sold on any of these prospects.

Kansas City

Travis from Missouri: What AFC West teams are most interested in Brandon Weeden? Me as a Chiefs fan really likes this guy. Seems he has what it takes to propel us to the next level. How do you think he fits in the Chiefs plans today or tomorrow?

BW: The only possibility is Kansas City. I think the only way he ends up there is if the Chiefs trade up and take him before the Browns do in the second round. For what it's worth, I'm a believer in Weeden.

Oakland

Dan A. from Rochester, NY: Bill, in the past comp picks were not (allowed to be traded). With the new CBA, is that still the case? I know people want the Raiders to trade up from 95, but I don't think that is an option.

BW: Comp picks cannot be traded. The only picks the Raiders can trade in this draft are the fifth and sixth-round picks. Thus, if the Raiders want to move up in second or the third, they will likely have to deal future picks. I think Reggie McKenzie wants to keep his future picks, so any major trade up could be unlikely.

San Diego

Robert from Bloomington: Any feel for Chargers opinion on the USC pass-rusher

BW: I think Nick Perry could be available in the No. 26-35 range. Trade down possibility. If somehow, the Chargers got Perry and Smith, it'd be a good early part of the draft.
A lot has been made of Archie Manning saying he thinks Peyton Manning is taking his career “year to year.”

In my opinion, way too much has been made by it. I think it would be wrong to translate Archie Manning’s words as saying his son is going to retire at the end of the 2012 season. Basically, Archie Manning was saying there are no guarantees and you have to take it one season at a time. That’s fair.

The Broncos expect Manning, 36, to be their quarterback for at least three more seasons, and they’d love for him to play for the life of his five-year contract. And let’s be real: Manning is not working so hard to come back from a neck injury to play just one more season. He wants to stick around a while.

In other AFC West news:
  • ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting the Broncos are no longer expected to deal for Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel. Denver tired to work out a new deal with Samuel last week, but was unable to do so.
  • Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith wants to play with San Diego safety Eric Weddle. The Chargers wouldn’t mind accommodating him. The Chargers are looking for a safety. They could trade up to get Alabama’s Mark Barron or trade down for Smith.
  • New Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie is looking for students of the game. That is likely one of the reasons Oakland visited with so many draft prospects.
  • Oakland middle linebacker Rolando McClain reportedly underwent experimental stem cell therapy on his knee and an ankle. He has been dealing with pain in the leg.
  • The Broncos’ brass had a nice moment with newly retired Brian Dawkins.

AFC West draft primer

April, 20, 2012
4/20/12
12:00
PM ET
With the NFL draft starting in six days, there are many interesting storylines involving the AFC West. Let’s take a look:

Will the Chiefs make a big move up? The Kansas City Chiefs could become the story of the division with a move up for Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. There has been recent buzz that the Chiefs may be one of the teams interested in moving up for Tannehill. If he is available at No. 7 (Miami may take Tannehill at No. 8), I could see the Chiefs jumping in the mix. Jacksonville, which has the No. 7 pick, probably would be willing to part with the pick or the Chiefs could take a risk and hope he falls to No. 11. Tannehill is the only attainable quarterback who could immediately press Matt Cassel.

Will a second-day quarterback be on the way? I think a Friday storyline could be the addition of a second-tier quarterback in the division. If the Chiefs don’t take Tannehill, they could take a quarterback in the second or third round, and Denver could take one on the second day as well. The quarterbacks available on the second day probably will be Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden, Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins, Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler and Arizona’s Nick Foles. Kansas City could look at any of the four and Denver is probably in the mix for all but Weeden. He will soon turn 29, and with Peyton Manning in Denver, I don’t think the Broncos will take an older quarterback.

[+] EnlargePeyton Manning
AP Photo/Eric BakkeWill AFC West teams draft differently now that Peyton Manning is in the division?
Will there be a Manning factor? The Chiefs and Chargers could both opt to use their first-round picks on defensive players. With Manning entering the division, focusing on defense may be the right call in Kansas City and San Diego.

Will there be a changing of the guard? Stanford’s David DeCastro is considered one of the best guard prospects in the past several years and he is considered a sure thing. Both the Chiefs and Chargers are considered teams that could land DeCastro.

Will the Raiders make a move up? The Raiders don’t pick until No. 95, the final pick of the third round. Oakland could move up to get a better prospect, but I wouldn’t think Oakland would move too far up the draft. Sooner or later, the team must stop mortgaging future picks, and I think new Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie gets that. I’d expect him to suck it up and deal with what he has this year for the most part.

Will the Chiefs add a running back? There was early talk Kansas City could make a play for Alabama’s Trent Richardson, which could require a move up to No. 5. That may not be a likely scenario. However, the Chiefs could still take a running back in the early rounds. Jamaal Charles is coming off a torn ACL and Peyton Hillis signed a one-year deal. The Chiefs have been visiting with running backs, so I could see them taking one at some point.

Will the Chargers and Broncos take a running back early? There have been projections that both Denver and San Diego could take a running back as early as the second round. I’d think Denver is the more likely of the two teams to take a running back early. Boise State’s Doug Martin, Virginia Tech’s David Wilson, Miami’s Lamar Miller and Oregon’s LaMichael James are all possibilities.

Will A.J. Smith make a splash? The Chargers probably will have to make the playoffs for San Diego general manager A.J. Smith and coach Norv Turner to keep their jobs. The Chargers have been aggressive in free agency and they have always been aggressive in the draft. I could see the Chargers taking a chance and moving up for the right impact player.

Will Denver take a defensive tackle? The Broncos haven’t taken a defensive tackle since 1997 when they took Trevor Pryce. It is the team’s greatest need. However, if players such as LSU’s Michael Brockers and Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox are gone by No. 25, Denver may opt for another position or trade down rather than reach for another defensive tackle prospect.

Will the Raiders be a draft factor? The Raiders only have five picks, but I think they can still get a couple of developmental players. It may be too much to ask for the Raiders to find instant impact players, but I think McKenzie will salvage this class.

Will the Chargers reach for their top need? The Chargers badly need an impact pass-rusher, but it isn’t a deep class. By the time the No. 18 picks rolls around, the top pass-rushing prospects -- South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram, North Carolina’s Quinton Coples and Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw -- all may be gone. The next level of players include Syracuse’s Chandler Jones, USC’s Nick Perry and Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus. Many scouts think taking those players at No. 18 may be too high. So, the Chargers could be on the move down if that scenario develops.

Will the Chiefs be swayed by Poe’s beauty? Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe is a high-risk, high-reward player. He has all the measurables and he has big potential. But he has unimpressive game tape against second-level competition. Many teams are leery of taking him. The Chiefs could use him, but with a recent history of taking under-achieving defensive linemen, can Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli take the risk?

Another Georgia Tech receiver in Denver? If the Broncos bypass a defensive tackle at No. 25, they could look to give Manning another weapon. A name to keep an eye on is Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill. The Broncos have been scouting him and they wouldn’t mind adding another former Georgia Tech receiver. Denver took Demaryius Thomas out of the school with the No. 22 pick in 2010.

Will Golden Domers head to the beach? Two players Smith likes a lot are Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd and safety Harrison Smith. Floyd could require a trade up and Smith could be a candidate via a trade down. Don’t be surprised if one of the two ends up a Charger.

Is Josh Chapman AFC West bound? One of the underrated players on a strong Alabama defense is versatile defensive tackle Josh Chapman, a fit for both 4-3 and 3-4 defenses. He has visited both the Raiders and the Chiefs and could be a target of any team in the division in the third round.
Weekend mail call:

Evan from San Diego wants to know if I think the Chargers could move down from the No. 18 pick in the first round of the draft.

Bill Williamson: Yes, I can see it. I think the Chargers might be able to get a pass-rusher like Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus or Syracuse’s Chandler Jones in the 23-to-28 range and maybe grab another quality pick by trading down, which could help them move up on the second round or even late in the first round to address another need area and take a player like Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith. The Chargers are pretty creative and aggressive on draft day. I could see a move being made.

Dakota from Philadelphia wants to know if I think the Raiders could move up to draft Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick in the first round.

BW: I don’t think the Raiders need to or should move up. They would likely have to give up a future first-round pick to get in the 17-to-20 range to take Kirkpatrick. Oakland must start keeping its picks. I think that will be the plan of the new regime. Yes, Kirkpatrick would help Oakland, but I just don’t think it is feasible.

Nick from Bella Vista, Ark., wants to know if I think the Chiefs could take Washington nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu with the No. 44 pick in the draft.

BW: If the Chiefs don’t take someone such as Dontari Poe or don’t trade down in the first round to take another defensive tackle, I could see it. Boston College inside linebacker Luke Kuechly at No. 11 and Ta'amu in the second round would be terrific additions to an already-strong defense.
Let take a look at some players who could be available in the second round and beyond and might interest teams in the AFC West:

QUARTERBACKS

Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State

Round range: 2

Possible interested teams: Kansas City

Kirk Cousins, Michigan State

Round range: 2

Possible interested teams: Kansas City

Brock Osweiler, Arizona State

Round range: 2-3

Possible interested teams: Kansas City, Denver

Nick Foles, Arizona

Round range: 3-4

Possible interested teams: Denver

RUNNING BACK

Lamar Miller, Miami

Round range: 2

Possible interested teams: Denver

Doug Martin, Boise State

Round range: 2-3

Possible interested teams: Denver

David Wilson, Virginia Tech

Round range: 2

Possible interested teams: Denver

LaMichael James, Oregon

Round range: 3

Possible interested teams: San Diego

Chris Polk, Washington

Round range: 3-4

Possible interested teams: Denver

Robert Turbin, Utah State

Round range: 4-6

Possible interested teams: Oakland

Dan Herron, Ohio State

Round range: 5-6

Possible interested teams: Oakland

WIDE RECEIVER

A.J. Jenkins, Illinois

Round range: 3-5

Possible interested teams: Kansas City

Juron Criner, Arizona

Round range: 3-4

Possible interested teams: Kansas City

Danny Coale, Virginia Tech

Round range: 4-5

Possible interested teams: Denver, Kansas City

Devin Goda, Slippery Rock

Round range: 6-7

Possible interested teams: Oakland

TIGHT ENDS

Michael Egnew, Missouri

Round range: 4-5

Possible interested teams: Oakland, San Diego

Deangelo Peterson, LSU

Round range : 4-5

Possible interested teams: Oakland, San Diego

OFFENSIVE LINE

Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin

Round range: 2

Possible interested teams: Kansas City

Mitchell Schwartz, California

Round range: 3-4

Possible interested teams: Kansas City

Senio Kelemete, Washington

Round range: 3-4

Possible interested teams: San Diego

Steven Baker, East Carolina

Round range: 4-6

Possible interested teams: Oakland

DEFENSIVE LINE

Alameda Ta'amu, Washington

Round range: 2

Possible interested teams: Kansas City, San Diego

Brandon Thompson, Clemson

Round range: 2

Possible interested teams : Denver

Josh Chapman, Alabama

Round range: 3

Possible interested teams: Kansas City, Oakland

Billy Winn, Boise State

Round range: 3-4

Possible interested teams: Oakland, Denver, Kansas City, San Diego

Mike Martin, Michigan

Round range: 3-4

Possible interested teams: Kansas City, San Diego

Drew Nowak, Western Michigan

Round range: 5-7

Possible interested teams: Kansas City

Ronnie Cameron, Old Dominion

Round range: 5-7

Possible interested teams: San Diego

Donavan Robinson, Jackson State

Round range: 5-7

Possible interested teams: San Diego

LINEBACKER

Chandler Jones, Syracuse

Round range: 2-3

Possible interested teams: San Diego

Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma

Round range: 2-3

Possible interested teams: San Diego

Bruce Irvin, West Virginia

Round range: 3-5

Possible interested teams: Kansas City

Nigel Bradham, Florida State

Round range: 3-4

Possible interested teams: Oakland

Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State

Round range: 3-5

Possible interested teams: Denver, Kansas City, Oakland

Jonathan Massaquoi, Troy

Round range: 3-4

Possible interested teams: Oakland, San Diego

Sean Spence, Miami

Round range: 3-4

Possible interested teams: Oakland, San Diego

Sammy Brown, Houston

Round range: 5-7

Possible interested teams: Oakland

Alex Hoffman-Ellis, Washington State

Round range: 5-7

Possible interested teams: Oakland

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Harrison Smith, Notre Dame

Round range: 2

Possible interested teams: San Diego, Kansas City

Trumaine Johnson, Montana

Round range: 2-3

Possible interested teams: Kansas City

Josh Norman, Coastal Carolina

Round range: 3-4

Possible interested teams: Denver, Oakland

George Iloka, Boise State

Round range: 4-5

Possible interested teams: Denver, Kansas City

Asa Jackson, Cal Poly-SLO

Round range: 4-5

Possible interested teams: Oakland

Brandon Taylor, LSU

Round range: 4-5

Possible interested teams: Kansas City

D.J. Campbell, California

Round range: 5-7

Possible interested teams: San Diego

Tavon Wilson, Illinois

Round range: 5-7

Possible interested teams: San Diego
Weekend mail call:

Marco from Lodi, Ca. wants to know if I think 2011 Oakland drafts picks Terrelle Pryor and David Ausberry have a chance to take the next step in 2012.

Bill Williamson: Both players will be closely watched in training camp. Currently, Pryor is Oakland’s backup quarterback. But the Raiders are expected to pursue a veteran at some point. Still, if Pryor makes strides, he could become Oakland’s backup, although I think he still may be a project. Ausberry was a seventh-round pick last season. He has great size and potential. The former Oakland coaching staff praised him. Because of the release of Kevin Boss, Ausberry may get a chance to, at least, be a top rotational player. If Ausberry has a good preseason, he should get a chance to play in 2012.


Jake Dunne from East Lansing, Mi. wants to know if I think Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins could be a target of the Broncos in the draft.

BW: I think Cousins could have been a target of the Broncos if they kept Tim Tebow as the starter. There is still a chance Denver could take a quarterback in the second round even with Peyton Manning. I tend to think Denver may wait a year to add a young quarterback and look to add at other positions in the early rounds this year.


Bill Davis from San Diego wants to know if I think Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith will be available to the Chargers want they in the second round.

BW: The Chargers really like Smith, but it may be a matter of timing. Smith has zoomed up a lot of team’s draft boards and he likely won’t be available when the Chargers pick at No. 47. If he is available, I think the Chargers would take him there. There is a chance, if other options aren’t available when the Chargers pick at No. 18, that they can move down in the first round and grab Smith in addition to more picks.
Weekend mail call:

Peter from NYC wants to know what I think the Chiefs think of quarterback Ricky Stanzi.

Bill Williamson: By signing Brady Quinn to be Matt Cassel’s backup, the Chiefs made it clear they don’t think Stanzi is ready to be the No. 2 quarterback; expect him to remain the No. 3 for the second consecutive season. That could change if the Chiefs pick a quarterback early in the draft. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Chiefs showed interest in Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden or Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins in the second round. If either of the players or drafted, Stanzi would be in trouble. But I do think he will get another year to develop.

Edward Moretti from Imperial Beach, Calif., wants to know which of these players -- Nick Perry, Harrison Smith, Luke Kuechly and David DeCastro – has the best chance of being the Chargers’ pick at No. 18?

BW: In my latest mock draft I have Illinois’ pass-rusher Whitney Mercilus going to the Chargers in the first; that area is San Diego's biggest need. If Mercilus, and the other top pass-rushers are off the board and Perry, Smith, Kuechly and DeCastro are still available, the Chargers would be in a great spot because all are terrific players. Kuechly and DeCastro would be the best value picks and Perry and Smith would fill the biggest holes. But, in that instance I think DeCastro could be the choice because of the combination of value and need.

William Denning from Atlanta wants to know if I think Denver could take Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick at No. 25.

BW: I think defensive tackle will be Denver’s biggest need and that’s where it will start. Kirkpatrick could be a backup plan and I think he will be considered. But the Broncos’ draft needs start on the defensive front.
The Broncos’ first foray into free agency wasn’t the big hit they were waiting for, but it does fill a hole in Denver.

The Broncos agreed to a two-year deal with Cleveland safety Mike Adams, who fills Denver’s need for a veteran safety.

Adams has a chance to start for Denver. He played 77 percent of the defensive snaps for the Browns last season. With Brian Dawkins likely not returning -- Denver isn't expected to bring him back if he doesn’t retire -- Adams gives the Broncos much-needed experience at safety.

The team drafted Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter last season. Moore began the season as a starter, but he regressed. By the end of the season, Carter was by far the better player. The team still has hopes for Moore, but Adams offers insurance if either youngster struggles.

In other AFC West safety news:

Steve Gregory, formerly of San Diego, agreed to terms with New England. Gregory was an injury replacement for Bob Sanders last year. Gregory is probably a bit underrated, and his departure will have the Chargers looking for a partner for Eric Weddle early in the upcoming NFL draft.

Alabama’s Mark Barron and Notre Dame’s Harrison Smith are possibilities for the Chargers in the draft.

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