AFC West: Indispensable
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
Inspired by ESPN.com's Jeffri Chadiha's column on the most indispensable players in the NFL, I started to consider the most indispensable players in the AFC West.
The following is, in my opinion, the most indispensable player for every team in the division.
Denver, cornerback Champ Bailey: Bailey is one of the best players, regardless of position, in the NFL and he is the sparkplug of this team. If Denver loses Bailey, its defense will be in shambles. The unit struggled last year with Bailey and would have no chance without him. Teams rarely challenge Bailey and he essentially shuts down half the field.
Bailey is also an extremely underrated tackler. He is fantastic in run support. He is a constant presence on the field and Denver needs him on every play.
Kansas City, defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey: Tony Gonzalez is still the Chiefs' best player but it is Dorsey's time now. The Chiefs are clearly in the rebuilding mode and Dorsey is the key to it all. If the Chiefs are going to make a fast rebound it will because Dorsey becomes the centerpiece of the defense. That is why he was the No. 5 overall draft pick this April.The Chiefs are now Dorsey's team.
Oakland, cornerback DeAngelo Hall: Hall is not Oakland's most talented player but he is a huge key. He was the biggest pickup of a busy offseason in Oakland. Many skeptics believe Hall is an overrated player, but he is a quality cornerback who makes Oakland's defense legitimate. Hall teams with Nmandi Asomugha to make one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL. That is why he was brought in to Oakland from Atlanta in a trade this spring. That is why the Raiders need him so much.
San Diego, running back LaDainian Tomlinson: I do agree with Mr. Chadiha that Antonio Gates is a player the Chargers cannot afford to lose. However, Gates is not the most indispensable player in San Diego. It is Tomlinson. The guy is one of the greatest running backs ever. He is the catalyst of the Chargers' explosive offense. The passing game feeds off Tomlinson. Now that Tomlinson's super backup Michael Turner has struck it rich in Atlanta, the Chargers need Tomlinson even more. Darren Sproles and rookie Jacob Hester are nice pieces but if the Chargers were to lose Tomlinson, their Super Bowl chances would disappear.
Thoughts? Other suggestions?