AFC West: Jerel Worthy
After the first round, Denver czar John Elway basically said the team's top targets at defensive tackle were not available, so the Broncos went down to a spot where they thought they could good value for a player they wanted.
Bypassing the better-known Jerel Worthy of Michigan State and Kendall Reyes of Connecticut, Denver went with Wolfe out of Cincinnati.
I think the pick works. Defensive tackle was Denver’s greatest need and he should step right into the rotation.
ESPN analyst Mel Kiper has been beating the drum for Wolfe to Denver for weeks; Friday he said he thought Wolfe is one of the more underrated players in the draft. He is a high-motor player who has outstanding pass-rushing skills as an interior player. He can also stop the run. Kiper called him the most productive defensive tackle in the draft.
He will be well coached in Denver by John Fox and Jack Del Rio; I expect him to be a nice player. The Broncos have another pick in the second round and a pick in the third. They have three picks in the fourth round and I could see them trying to get another third-rounder.
They didn’t think anybody was worthy of a first-round pick where they were picking and they wanted to add picks. Denver now has the No. 36 pick in the second round and added No. 101, in the fourth round. Denver has two picks in the second round, one in the third round and three in the fourth round. I would be surprised if the Broncos don’t try to add another third-round pick and get four picks on Friday.
I think Denver decided to trade down once defensive tackles Dontari Poe, Fletcher Cox and Michael Brockers were off the board by the 14th pick. Denver originally had the No. 25 pick, then traded to No. 31 before going to No. 36.
“Everyone else saw the talent that we saw too,” said Elway, Denver’s top decision-maker. “When those guys started going like that, they went in a hurry. We thought we were going to have to get a little bit lucky for them to fall to us anyways. They’re good football players and when they didn’t get to us that gave us the opportunity to start moving back a little bit.”
Elway made it clear that the Broncos would rather stockpile picks than make a reach, thus the trades with the Patriots and the Buccaneers.
“When we looked at where we were, obviously we had some guys targeted that didn’t quite make it to us in 25, so we had some opportunities to move back with New England to pick up a fourth. We liked that, thought that was great,” Elway said. "Then, when we had a chance to move back from 31 to 36 with Tampa again, our board looked the same. We thought we’d be able to get the same people at 36 that we could at 31 -- or have the same pool of players there at 36 as we did at 31. By doing that we moved up 25 spots to the top of the fourth, which we really believe this is a deep draft. It’s not real thick at the top, but it’s pretty deep through the middle rounds. We thought by adding another good pick it gives us more options going into tomorrow. Plus, we’ll still be able to get the same people that we had targeted that made it to us at 25 at 36. We’re excited about the day. Obviously it’s a little bit of a downer when you don’t have a new player. But, we’re excited about where we sit and the next two days are going to be exciting.”
Among the players Denver could target at No. 36 with their top pick Friday are Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, Connecticut defensive tackle Kendall Reyes, Georgia Tech receiver Stephen Hill, LSU receiver Rueben Randle, North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins, Cincinnati defensive tackle Derek Wolfe and Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David. I think we could see Denver try to get a quarterback Friday as well.
The Broncos know have six picks in the next three rounds. I think we will see Denver try to get a defensive tackle, running back and quarterback on Friday. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Broncos make more trades in the second or third rounds.
I think Denver decided to move down after all the top defensive tackles were taken. It's difficult to argue with that tact.
Among the players Denver could target at No. 36 with their top pick Friday are Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, Connecticut defensive tackle Kendall Reyes, Georgia Tech receiver Stephen Hill, Cincinnati defensive tackle Derek Wolfe and Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David..
The Broncos probably were not thrilled to see running backs Doug Martin and David Wilson go in the final two picks of the first round. Among the running backs Denver could look in the second round at include Oregon’s LaMichael James and Miami’s Lamar Miller.
Denver’s new draft order after Thursday night is in the chart above. Here are the trades they made:
Broncos get: 1st-round pick (No. 31), 4th-round pick (No. 126)
Patriots get: 1st-round pick (No. 25)
Broncos get: 2nd-round pick (No. 36), 4th-round pick (No. 101)
Bucs get: 1st-round pick (No. 31), 4th-round pick (No. 126)
In my individual team mock drafts, posted earlier Thursday, DeCastro and Hightower remained the picks for Kansas City and San Diego. But my pick for Denver was not Worthy. It was LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers.
Brockers wasn’t available in our Monday mock. However, in the mock I did for Thursday’s post, I had Dallas (who was slotted for Brockers in Monday’s mock) passing on Brockers. If that is the case, I could see him falling to Denver.
If not, I think Worthy could easily be the pick. I just wanted to clarify the reasoning between the changes in the Denver choice from Monday.
No. 11, Kansas City
Kiper pick: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
McShay pick: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
My take: In our bloggers live mock draft Monday, I went with DeCastro. I think the Chiefs will believe he is a safer pick than Poe. He has scared some teams off because of a lack of college production.
No. 18, San Diego
Kiper pick: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
McShay pick: DeCastro
My take: These are two interesting picks. I think, in Kiper’s scenario, Poe may be a more needed pick team Reiff, although Reiff would be a good value pick. I love DeCastro as a choice, but in McShay’s scenario, I might take North Carolina pass-rusher Quinton Coples because of need. Either way, these drafts fall pretty well for San Diego.
No. 25, Denver
Kiper pick: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
McShay pick: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
My take: I think both of these mocks are on par. If Brockers is available, he will likely be the choice. If not, Worthy is a smart pick. Denver would be happy either way.
Oakland traded the No. 17 pick to Cincinnati in a package for quarterback Carson Palmer.
At about the same time, Denver football czar John Elway was telling reporters that the Broncos are not necessarily going to take a defensive tackle. It has been widely considered that it will be the team’s first target area. Not so fast, says Elway.
“We don’t feel as bad about our tackles as everybody else does,” Elway said in a pre-daft news conference. “I think that we feel OK there and Ty Warren will be back coming off an injury and (Kevin) Vickerson is coming back and then we have some young guys in there where we feel like we’ll be OK. It’s not nearly the need in our minds that people think it is.”
Still, at some point early in the draft I think Denver will, at least, consider talking a player at the spot. Elway said Denver will take the best player available when they chose and they are wide open at this point.
“We’re going to go in and continue as we get closer if we hear some things about going up or down, we’ll look at everything” Elway said. “We’ll continue to work on our board, set our board, do our mock drafts, see how things might fall. Again, we don’t have a mindset of exactly what we’re going to do. We’re going to have to wait and see until we get close to that pick at No. 25 and see how the board falls, we’ll never know. It’s a mindset that we want to find the guy that is going to come in and have an impact when it is offensively or defensively.”
These were not the results I was expecting in our Blogger Mock Draft Live held Monday.
However, I feel pretty good about the players we pegged to come to the AFC West. Each divisional blogger was in charge of picking for each team in their division in the first round. I based my decisions on value of the picks and what I thought the decision makers on each team would do in that situation.
Let’s review the film:
Kansas City: I was tempted to try to move up to No. 7 to take Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. I could see the Chiefs doing it, but I’m just not sure they want to spend what it takes to get him, so I stayed at No. 11. I would have taken Boston College middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, but he went two spots earlier. In the end, I chose Stanford guard David DeCastro. I think he was the best value player at the spot and he would be an instant impact player on the offense. Many scouts believe DeCastro will be a perennial Pro Bowl player. It’s time to make that Kansas City O-line special again.
San Diego: I think San Diego general manager A.J. Smith will be willing to do anything. When South Carolina pass-rusher Melvin Ingram dropped, I started to work on a trade up. I was talking to NFC West blogger Mike Sando about a deal for Ingram at No. 12 with Seattle in case he fell. But in an intra-division deal, James Walker had the Jets give a load to Buffalo to take Ingram at No. 10. Then, when North Carolina pass-rusher Quinton Coples fell, I hit the phones again. I was close to a deal with AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky at No. 15, but he wanted more and he wanted to make a decision, so talks stalled. When the No. 18 pick came around, I went with Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower over pass-rushers such as Syracuse’s Chandler Jones or Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus. I picked Hightower because Smith values talent regardless of need and Hightower was the best player on the board. Todd McShay has him ranked as the No. 13 available player. He is an impact player and he’d be the Chargers’ best inside linebacker. Plus, he is a solid pass-rusher from the inside. It all came down to value.
Denver: In our previous blogger mock draft, LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers fell to Denver at No. 25. He was taken at No. 14 by Dallas this time. There was a chance Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe was going to be there, but, predictably, Pittsburgh took him at No. 24. I then considered trading the pick or taking Georgia Tech receiver Stephen Hill. In the end, I went for need and value and took Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy. He is a good player who will start right away and McShay has him ranked as the No. 22 player available. If this is the way the draft falls on Thursday, I can see the Broncos trading down a few spots and still getting Worthy.
Oakland does not have its pick (No. 17). It was sent to Cincinnati in a package for quarterback Carson Palmer.
1. Defensive line: The Broncos could use a stout defensive tackle even if Brodrick Bunkley returns. They need a tone setter. Denver hasn’t taken a defensive tackle in the first round since 1997 when it selected Trevor Pryce. Perhaps this is the time that streak ends.
Possible fits: The Dolphins' Paul Soliai, Memphis’ Dontari Poe, Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox, Michigan State's Jerel Worthy.
2. Secondary: Denver is too old at cornerback and too young at safety, especially with Brian Dawkins likely not returning. I think the Broncos will look to add to their secondary.
Possible fits: The Redskins' LaRon Landry, Boise State’s George Iloka, Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick.
3. Running back: The Broncos want to add a running back to pair with Willis McGahee and will address this need either in free agency or early in the draft.
Possible fits: The Raiders' Michael Bush, the Chargers' Mike Tolbert, University of Miami's Lamar Miller, Virginia Tech's David Wilson, Boise State's Doug Martin.
Scouts Inc. take: "I also think that they need a lot of secondary help overall. I also think they really need a QB, but that is probably a discussion for a different day."
-- Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc.
Kansas City Chiefs
1. Offensive line: The Chiefs need a tackle. If they go for a left tackle, they can move Branden Albert to right tackle or they can get one. They might also be interested in a guard.
Possible fits: The Saints’ Carl Nicks, the Dolphins' Vernon Carey, the Eagles' King Dunlap, Stanford's Jonathan Martin, Iowa's Riley Reiff.
2. Nose tackle: The Chiefs have the makings of a strong defense, but they are missing a nasty nose tackle. They need to find one this offseason.
Possible fits: The Dolphins' Kendall Langford, the Ravens' Cory Redding, Soliai, Cox or Poe
3. Inside linebacker: The Chiefs could use one more standout linebacker to flourish in Romeo Crennel’s 3-4 defense.
Possible fits: Boston College's Luke Kuechly, Alabama's Dont'a Hightower
Scouts Inc. take: "Right tackle is far and away their biggest need. I would say nose tackle is second."
-- Matt Williamson
1. Cornerback: The Raiders currently don’t have any starting-quality cornerbacks on the roster.
Possible fits: The Saints' Tracy Porter, the 49ers' Carlos Rogers, the Cardinals' Richard Marshall, the Jaguars' William Middleton, Vanderbilt's Casey Hayward.
2. Linebacker: I get the sense that the new Oakland regime would like to find at least one new starter. I think they can get a cornerstone linebacker who can set the tone for the defense.
Possible fits: The Vikings' Erin Henderson, the Seahawks' Leroy Hill, the Bengals' Manny Lawson, West Virginia's Bruce Irvin.
3. Offensive line: The Raiders' offensive line is a work in progress and they may be looking for at least one new
Possible fits: Texans' center Chris Myers, Texans' guard Mike Brisiel, Miami of Ohio's Brandon Brooks.
Scouts Inc. take: "Cornerback is far and away their biggest need. I would put right tackle and interior offensive line second."
-- Matt Williamson.
San Diego Chargers
1. Linebacker: The Chargers desperately need a game-changing linebacker. It will be a top priority in the first round of the draft and in free agency.
Possible fits: The Texans' Mario Williams, Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw, USC's Nick Perry, Illinois' Whitney Mercilus.
2. Defensive line: The Chargers like youngsters Corey Liuget, Vaughn Martin and Cam Thomas, but could use a stud veteran in the middle.
Possible fits: The Seahawks' Red Bryant, Redding, Soliai, Washington’s Alameda Ta'amu.
3. Offensive line: The Chargers may have to make wholesale changes on the line because of Kris Dielman's retirement, and because center Nick Hardwick and left tackle Jared Gaither will be free agents.
Possible fits: Nicks, Carey, Stanford’s Martin, Stanford's David DeCastro, Wisconsin's Peter Konz.
Scouts Inc. take: "To me, the Chargers need a lot. Offensive line is a massive need. Some receivers would be nice if Vincent Jackson leaves. On defense, I think they could use a little something at every level, but their biggest two spots would be at outside linebacker and strong safety."
-- Matt Williamson.
11. Kansas City:
Kiper: Luke Kuechly, MLB, Boston College
McShay: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
My take: This is interesting. Kiper has Richardson being off the board when the Chiefs pick and McShay having them taking advantage of him falling down the board. Richardson would be a luxury pick for the Chiefs, but he would give them a nasty offense and a great backfield partner for Jamaal Charles. Kuechly is a safe pick, who should be there for the Chiefs at No. 11. I think he could be the pick.
18. San Diego
Kiper: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
McShay: Cordy Glenn, OL, Georgia
My take: I like the Mercilus pick. The Chargers need a pass-rusher badly. He led the NCAA in sacks last season. However, the presence of Stanford guard David DeCastro may be tempting because of the retirement of Kris Dielman. I know the Chargers are planning on Tyronne Green taking over for Dielman, but DeCastro is a special talent. I think we’ll learn more about the Chargers’ direction with this pick after the first wave of free agency.
Kiper: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St.
McShay: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
My take: I think both Kiper and McShay are on the right track here. I think defensive tackle will be the position Denver looks at first. If Cox is on the board, I think he will be the first choice unless Memphis’ Dontari Poe unexpectedly falls.
Oakland traded its first-round pick (No. 17) to Cincinnati as part of the trade for quarterback Carson Palmer.
Will the Raiders still love speed? It became a combine ritual. The Raiders would draft the fastest, or one of the fastest players, at the combine. It happened several times in recent years: Stanford Routt, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford and DeMarcus Van Dyke. No team in the NFL valued speed more than Al Davis’ Raiders. Davis died in October. Will the Raiders be married to speed now that Reggie McKenzie is the general manager? I’m sure the Raiders will stick to Davis’ values somewhat, but I think it will no longer be automatic to connect the fastest combine runners to the Raiders.
Will the Chargers get their pass-rusher? The Chargers took defensive end Corey Liuget at No. 18 last year and bypassed several pass-rushers in a deep class. This year’s class is not nearly as deep, but the Chargers still need a pass-rusher. Once again, San Diego has the No. 18 pick.
Will the Broncos look at quarterbacks? Yes, I believe they will, but it remains to be seen whether Denver makes a play for a quarterback in the early rounds. Denver looked at all the top quarterbacks last year, and I think John Elway and his group will do the same this year. In his last mock draft, Todd McShay of Scouts Inc. has Denver taking Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill at No. 25. I’m not sure Denver -- which has committed to Tim Tebow going to training camp as the No. 1 quarterback -- will take a quarterback that high, but there will be interest in the position.
Is Trent Richardson on the Chiefs’ radar? The Alabama star running back won’t compete at the combine because of a minor knee surgery. However, he will be able to run at his pro day next month. Still, perhaps the Chiefs will meet with Richardson. He has been connected to Kansas City in several mock drafts. I’d be surprised if Kansas City ended up with him because of other needs and because the Chiefs have running back Jamaal Charles coming back from a torn ACL. But it is an intriguing scenario.
Chiefs, Chargers looking at the O-line: Both Kansas City and San Diego could use their top pick on an offensive lineman. There are several players who could help their standing with a strong combine. I think Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin will be closely watched by both teams. San Diego could also look at Wisconsin’s Peter Konz if it doesn’t want to re-sign free agent Nick Hardwick.
Watch out for Luke Kuechly: The Boston College inside linebacker has a chance to be a hot name in the top half of the first round if he has a big combine. He was productive in college and his game translates well to the NFL. Kansas City will surely be interested in him and could have competition if Kuechly lights it up in Indy.
Broncos will be watching running backs: The Broncos probably will add a running back early in the draft or in free agency. Denver could use its top pick on the position. It will be closely watching Miami’s Lamar Miller, Washington’s Chris Polk, Virginia Tech’s David Wilson and Boise State’s Doug Martin, among other tailbacks, this week
Is this the time for a tight end in San Diego? I expect the Chargers to look at tight ends this week. This isn’t considered a great class, but the Chargers need to consider getting younger at the position. Antonio Gates will turn 32 in June and has been dealing with injuries the past few years. The Chargers probably would have to commit a second-round pick for the top tight ends, which include Stanford’s Coby Fleener, Clemson’s Dwayne Allen (though, they could both be late first-round choices) and Georgia’s Orson Charles.
Nick Foles needs to show Denver some accuracy: There was talk that the Arizona quarterback could be on Denver’s radar last season. But he had some trouble with interceptions, which may have cooled the team on him. If he can show better accuracy at the combine. Foles could be a mid-round target of the Broncos again.
The Raiders need to pay big attention: The Raiders currently have the smallest draft class in the NFL this season. They have just a fifth- and a sixth-round pick. They will, though, probably get two or three compensatory picks next month. The earliest will be at the end of the third round. But don’t think for a moment that the combine won’t matter to Oakland. The Raiders will have to dig deep and find great value in the mid-to-late rounds to get some something positive from this class. Closely scouting the combine will be essential.
Is Brandon Weeden too old? The Oklahoma State quarterback is one of the more interesting players in the draft. He has skills that translate to the NFL, and some people think he could be a future starter. But Weeden turns 29 in October. There really isn’t much time to groom him. Is it worth spending a premium pick on a player who could be over the hill in five years? I think both Denver and Kansas City could look at him, but they would have to be comfortable with his age.
Will the coin flip the Chiefs’ way? The Chiefs will have a coin flip with Seattle to determine the No. 11 and No. 12 picks in the draft. It is set to take place Friday. If the Chiefs lose and get the No. 12 pick, it will not be the end of the world, but there’s no denying there is more value in having the No. 11 pick.
Will Mercilus impress the Chargers? One player to keep an eye on for the Chargers is Illinois pass-rusher Whitney Mercilus. He came on strong in 2011, but there are consistency questions. If he answers all the right questions on and off the field this week, I could see his being a target at No. 18.
Will Chiefs look at suspect character players? Kansas City has a reputation for taking players with sterling off-field reputations. However, last year, genearl manager Scott Pioli took Pitt receiver Jon Baldwin in the first round and Georgia pass-rusher Justin Houston in the third round. Both had character questions. Baldwin ended up missing a chunk of his rookie season because of a reported training camp fight with veteran Thomas Jones. It hurt his development. However, Houston was outstanding as a rookie. Let’s see whether Pioli takes more risks this year.
Will Broncos add players to aid Tebow? If Denver takes a running back early, adds to the offensive line and beefs up the defense, that means it is doing what it can to build around Tebow. The best way Denver can win with Tebow is with a good running game and strong defense.
Will the Broncos finally draft a defensive tackle in the first round? Denver could take a defensive tackle at No. 25. Among the players it may consider are Penn State’s Devon Still, Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox and Michigan State’s Jerel Worthy. Denver hasn’t taken a defensive tackle in the first round since Trevor Pryce in 1997.
Will Arizona State linebacker impress the Chiefs or Chargers? Arizona State’s middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict was considered a top-10 pick before the season. But after his production fell off and he had some character issues, Burfict is no longer considered a sure first rounder. I think he could help both the Chiefs and Chargers. His progress this week will be watched by these two teams.
It’s a difficult task because the prospect list could change dramatically in the next year. Plus, the projected selection order will likely change dramatically.
But it’s a fun exercise in early May and it does give fans a taste of what to expect. Here is a look at McShay’s choices for the AFC West:
No. 5, Denver
Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
My take: The position is Denver’s greatest need heading into the 2011 season.
No. 9, Oakland
Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
My take: I think Oakland will pick later than No. 9. But adding to the offensive line would be a smart idea.
No. 17, Kansas City
Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
My take: This inside linebacker would be a smart pick by the Chiefs.
No. 22, San Diego
Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
My take: Burfict seems like a boon-or-bust type player.