AFC West: Jimmy Clausen

Chat Wrap: Trade Richard Seymour?

February, 16, 2012
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Here are some highlights from our AFC West chat, which was held Thursday:

DENVER

Randy from Denver: Is it a possibility the Broncos trade their 1st rd pick to stock pile some 2nd rounders?

Bill Williamson: I think the Broncos would make that decision on the clock. That No. 25 range is a good trading spot for a team that is flexible.

KANSAS CITY

Steve from Kansas City: Would going for a player like Jimmy Clausen (via a trade or free agent add if cut) be a better than a veteran that the chiefs are reportedly interested in like Orton, Campbell, Garrard or Manning.

BW: Nah, not a big Clausen guy. Maybe if Weis was still there. I'd go for someone like Campbell or Orton over Clausen. He's young, but that may be one of his few values.

OAKLAND

Johnny from R.I.: Do you think the Raiders should deal Seymour for a 3rd round pick and to free cap space?

BW: I'm not sure who would pick up a $15 million deal for a guy who can leave in free agency. Plus, is a third-rounder better than Seymour right now?

SAN DIEGO

Rob from Pittsburgh: Same type of year for P Rivers if the O-Line doesn’t improve, agree or disagree? The WR corp. is only getting weaker.

BW: The WR group will only get weaker if Jackson leaves. And Rivers does need better protection. The Chargers know it and will address it. The key is also health. San Diego has really been banged up by injuries at both the OL and WR.
Cam Newton, Tim Tebow & Blaine GabbertGetty ImagesMany scouts are saying they'd take Cam Newton, left, or Blaine Gabbert, right, over Tim Tebow.
The Tim Tebow debate rages on one year after he was the most dissected prospect in the 2010 NFL draft.

Last year, the Denver Broncos shocked the NFL by taking Tebow with the No. 25 overall pick. Now, it is the Broncos who are considering Tebow’s future.

The Broncos are working out or visiting with several of the top quarterback prospects in the draft. Legendary Denver quarterback and new Broncos vice president of football operations John Elway has said Denver’s interest in quarterbacks is not a smokescreen to confuse other teams. Yet Elway also said the team’s interest in quarterbacks doesn’t mean the team is not sold on Tebow. Elway insists the Broncos simply don’t want to bypass a franchise quarterback if he’s available.

Earlier this week, ESPN’s John Clayton said he thinks Elway might take a quarterback in the second round and admit that the Tebow pick -- which was made by former Denver coach Josh McDaniels -- was a mistake. With Tebow’s future perhaps unclear again, we polled several draft experts and experienced NFL scouts about what they think Denver should do and how Tebow stacks up against the better quarterback prospects of 2011.

[+] EnlargeJohn Elway
AP Photo/Barry GutierrezJohn Elway and the Broncos may be looking for Tim Tebow's replacement already.
Tebow remains a polarizing figure. The experts are divided. Some think Tebow is a born leader. Others wouldn’t touch him because of an unrefined throwing motion.

ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper still has a difficult time grading Tebow because he doesn’t think he can be a pro-style quarterback. Kiper thinks Tebow would likely be a fourth-round pick in 2011. Former NFL scout Gary Horton of Scouts Inc. thinks Tebow is the answer in Denver because he projects better to the NFL than Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, who could be the No. 1 overall pick by Carolina. Horton said it would be “ridiculous” and Denver would be “absolutely crazy” to draft Newton or Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert at No. 2 and ignore its massive defensive needs after drafting a quarterback in the first round last year.

The other quarterbacks who could be taken in the first three rounds are Washington’s Jake Locker, Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett, TCU’s Andy Dalton, Florida State’s Christian Ponder, Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick and Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi. Kiper and Scouts Inc.’s Matt Williamson and Steve Muench think most of them are better NFL quarterback prospects than Tebow.

“Tim Tebow is interesting because so many people have different opinions about him,” Muench said. “That’s what Denver is probably trying to figure out right now. In a lot of ways, I’d say there are a lot better options than Tebow, but then, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tim Tebow succeeds because of what kind of person and leader he is. … It’s not easy.”

Muench said Scouts Inc. had Tebow rated as a late second-round or an early third-round prospect last year. He was the fourth-rated quarterback on Scouts Inc.’s list behind Sam Bradford (who went to St. Louis at No. 1), Jimmy Clausen (No. 47, Carolina) and Colt McCoy (No. 85, Cleveland). Muench said this year’s quarterback class is much better than the 2010 class. Thus, he thinks Tebow would be a fourth-round prospect, and a similar prospect to Virginia Tech’s Tyrod Taylor. Some teams think Taylor is best-suited for another position. Last year, Kiper looked at Tebow as an H-back prospect (and perhaps some teams did, as well). Kiper’s thoughts haven’t changed.

“I don’t think many teams would look at him in the second or third rounds,” Kiper said. “He’s not up there with Newton and Gabbert, then he’d be behind second-level guys like Andy Dalton. Ponder is moving like crazy. … I think Tebow would certainly be the fourth or fifth, sixth or seventh quarterback on teams' boards.”

[+] EnlargeTim Tebow
Justin Edmonds/Getty ImagesSome scouts thought Tim Tebow would be better served as an H-back in the NFL.
Still, Horton would rather have Tebow than Newton, who’ll certainly be a top-12 pick.

“There are football questions about Tebow, but there’s also football questions about Newton,” Horton said. “There are no intangible questions about Tebow. But there are intangibles questions about Newton."

Horton thinks Denver should either let veteran quarterback Kyle Orton start the season and replace him with Tebow when the season goes south or go with Tebow to start the season. Horton reasons that quarterbacks emerge as top draft prospects every year and there will be plenty of options next year if Tebow fails, perhaps even Stanford gem Andrew Luck.

“If it doesn’t work with Tebow, well, then you move on, but you have to see what he can do,” Horton said. “Tebow was drafted as a developmental guy. Don’t run out of patience with him before he gets a chance to develop.”

Williamson said he never thought it was a good idea for Denver to draft Tebow and he would support Elway’s decision to pull the plug now. He thinks there are several second-round type prospects who would be better options than Tebow in Denver.

“I would certainly rather have Gabbert, Newton and Ponder over Tebow, in that order. And there could be an argument made for the others,” Williamson said. “I would take Mallett for sure over [Tebow]. Tebow and Locker are similar -- big, strong guys with suspect accuracy/passing skills, but Locker is further along coming out of school than Tebow.”

However, former Carolina and St. Louis draft executive Tony Softli said he had Tebow ranked as a low second-round pick last year when Softli was with the Rams. He said he wouldn’t draft a quarterback this year. He believes in Tebow. Softli raved about Tebow’s leadership ability, his history as a winner and his intelligence. Softli said Tebow, Matt Ryan, Bradford and Josh Freeman were the brightest quarterback prospects he’s seen in the past 10 years when it came to working on the grease board and breaking down the game.

“I understand why Denver is looking at quarterbacks -- they’re doing their homework and that’s smart -- but I think Tebow is going to be the guy,” Softli said. “I think the Broncos should forget about his throwing motion and just let him be who he is. His intangibles are off the charts. When it’s Tebow time, he’ll show he’s the answer.”

It’s clear. The Tebow debate is not over.

Draft Watch: AFC West

April, 7, 2011
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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.

AFC West combine primer

February, 24, 2011
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Da'Quan Bowers, Nick Fairley and Patrick PetersonGetty ImagesDenver is looking defense and that could mean Da'Quan Bowers, Nick Fairley or Patrick Peterson.

INDIANAPOLIS -- With the NFL combine kicking off, let’s take a look at several of the potential storylines involving the AFC West during the draft-preparation event:

It all starts at No. 2: The draft epicenter of the AFC West this year is in Denver. That’s the reward for going 4-12 and taking a major step backward. The Broncos will be looking for defensive help, and every move made by Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson and several others will be scrutinized by the defense-hungry Broncos in the next several days.

Scouting Wisniewski II: The Raiders don’t have a first-round draft pick (New England gets the No. 17 pick from the 2009 Richard Seymour trade). The Raiders don’t pick until No. 48. One player Oakland will likely look at closely is center/guard Stefen Wisniewski. He is the nephew of former Raiders offensive line great and new assistant line coach Steve Wisniewski. That combine player-coaching staff meeting would be fun to watch. Wisniewski, who followed his famous uncle to Penn State, would fill a need in Oakland. I can see the Raiders taking a long look at him.

Pass-rushers galore: This is a strong class for pass-rushers and that should benefit both the Chargers and Chiefs. San Diego picks No. 18 and the Chiefs pick No. 21. I could see both teams taking a pass-rusher with their top picks. The better the pass-rushers do in Indianapolis, the larger the range of prospects for the Chiefs and Chargers. That group should include Missouri’s Aldon Smith, UCLA’s Akeem Ayers and Cal’s Cameron Jordan.

[+] EnlargeJake Locker
Chris Morrison/US PresswireJake Locker could be a target for the Oakland Raiders.
Oakland and the second-tier QBs: The Raiders could look at a quarterback in the second round to groom beyond Jason Campbell. This might be the time to groom a young quarterback in Oakland. If Washington’s Jake Locker and Arkansas' Ryan Mallett tumble and TCU’s Andy Dalton, Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick and Florida State’s Christian Ponder impress, these prospects could all be possibilities in the middle of the second round. Last year, Carolina took Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen at No. 47. He was the third quarterback taken.

What about Julio? In addition to pass-rushers, I could see the Chiefs and Chargers considering a receiver early. One player who would fit both teams is Alabama’s Julio Jones. If Jones performs well, there is likely little chance either team will be able to snare him. It will be difficult to imagine Jones falling below the Rams at No. 14 if he stays the course. So, he could require moving up to get.

Will A.J. fall in love again? The Jones’ situation brings us to San Diego general manager A.J. Smith. Last year, he moved up 16 spots to take Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews at No. 12. Smith admitted that he fell for Mathews early and that moving up to get him was long his plan. Will it happen again at the combine this year? If so, Smith is prepared to move up. The Chargers have extra picks in the second and third rounds. So, he is prepared for anything.

Williamson High feeding the AFC West? If Denver takes Fairley, it will mark the second time a player from Mobile, Alabama’s Williamson High School will be taken with a high pick in four years. In 2007, Oakland took Williamson product JaMarcus Russell with the No. 1 pick.

Does Bowers have a dash of Peppers? Bowers will be very popular with teams. He is a top pass-rusher and he has been compared to Julius Peppers. I’m sure new Denver coach John Fox can’t wait to spend some time with Bowers to further examine the Peppers’ comparison. Fox drafted Peppers with the No. 2 overall pick in 2002. It was Fox’s first year in Carolina. If Fox takes Bowers with the No. 2 overall pick in his first season in Denver, the Peppers’ comparison will only heighten.

Will Newton help Denver? If Auburn quarterback Cam Newton impresses the Carolina Panthers, he could be the No. 1 overall pick. The Broncos are hoping for Newton to wow the Panthers. If so, that means every defensive player in the draft will be on the board for Denver at No. 2. Denver is looking defense all the way after being last in the NFL in total defense and points allowed in 2010.

The Chiefs and the SEC: Who are the Chiefs going to take? Well, I think we have to look at the SEC first. Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli has a history of taking players from the SEC early. Both of the players the Chiefs have taken in the first round under Pioli, Tyson Jackson and Eric Berry, are SEC alums. Overall, the Chiefs have taken SEC players in the first round in the past four years.

[+] EnlargeTexas A&M's Von Miller
Thomas Campbell/US PRESSWIRETexas A&M's Von Miller could be a good fit in Denver, San Diego or Kansas City.
All eyes on Von Miller: The physically impressive Miller is the type of player who could fit in Denver, San Diego and Kansas City. The question is whether or not he is a realistic target for any of those teams. If Miller has a great combine, he could move into the conversation for Denver at No. 2, but that might be a tad high. Denver could try to move down a few spots to get him, but trading down from No. 2 will be difficult. The No. 2 pick hasn’t been traded in 11 years. San Diego and Kansas City could potentially try to move up for Miller. I think San Diego would be a better bet. It has more trading ammunition than the Chiefs have and the Chiefs will likely be happy to stick at No. 21 and see what falls to them.

Casey Matthews' time? The Oregon middle linebacker could be popular. He is the younger brother of Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews, who blossomed into one of the NFL’s better defenders in his second season. Teams could be swayed by Mathews’ potential and look at him as high as the second round. I could see Denver, San Diego and Kansas City all taking a look at him.

The Robert Quinn factor: The former North Carolina defensive end could be an X factor. He didn’t play in 2010 because he made contact with an agent. He was considered a top prospect. If he has a great combine, he could work his way into the conversation for Denver.

Oakland and the stop watch: Whoever posts the fastest 40-yard dash at the combine has to be considered an Oakland prospect. The Raiders covet speed as much as any team in the league. Last year’s fastest man at the combine was Jacoby Ford. Oakland grabbed him in the fourth round and he looks like a future star.

Will the Chiefs find a backup QB? I would be surprised if the Chiefs brought back backup Brodie Croyle in 2011. So, the team could be interested in looking for a young backup. I could see Kansas City studying prospects in the third and fourth rounds.

The Duke works the combine: New Denver VP of football operations John Elway will be at the combine. This is his first season as a football personnel man and he will be a big part of Denver’s process at the combine.

Tim Tebow deserves more work

December, 19, 2010
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Tim TebowJason O. Watson/US PresswireDenver rookie quarterback Tim Tebow played well in his debut as a starter.
Tim Tebow has already made NFL history with his arms and legs.

In his first NFL start, Tebow became the third player in NFL history to throw a touchdown pass of 30 or more yards and run for a touchdown of 40 or more yards. The other quarterbacks were Kordell Stewart in 2000 and Michael Vick in 2002.

The accomplishment isn’t to suggest that Tebow is going to have a brilliant NFL career or be a consistent run-pass threat. But it’s an indication that Tebow can make a mark in the NFL.

Tebow started because starter Kyle Orton had a rib injury and the Broncos were 3-10 entering the game. There was no downside to playing Tebow. After his performance Sunday, there probably will be no downside in letting him play in the final two games of the season.

For the most part, you have to consider Tebow’s starting debut a success. It is irrelevant that Denver lost in Tebow’s debut as a starter 39-23. Denver was expected to be blown out in this game. He kept the undermanned Broncos in the game until the second half on the road. The game didn’t seem too big to Tebow. He wasn’t a wide-eyed rookie; he looked like he belonged.

Tebow certainly wasn’t polished or refined, but we knew he wouldn’t be. But he moved Denver’s offense. He made plays with his arms and his feet. Tebow completed 8 of 16 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown. His passer rating of 100.5 was the highest ever by a Denver quarterback in his starting debut. Yes, even higher than John Elway’s.

Tebow ran for 78 yards, including an impressive 40-yard touchdown run, on eight carries. Tebow’s first extensive NFL action showed that he has potential and that he can have an impact. And he will only get better. I’m not saying Tebow is going to be a superstar soon. But there weren’t any immediate reasons to think he’s going to be a bust.

He showed he has a chance to be a solid NFL player.

I expect him to get more chances in the Broncos’ final two games in Denver. Why would Denver go back to Orton for the final two games? Denver fans will need a reason to brave the cold in the next two weeks. Watching Tebow is a perfect excuse. If Tebow makes strides in the next two games, it's not out of the question to think the new Denver coach will seriously consider making him the starter next season.

The Tebow Era started Sunday and there were enough good things shown to think it should continue indefinitely.
With Denver starting quarterback Kyle Orton listed as questionable to play Sunday at Oakland, rookie Tim Tebow has a chance to start against the Raiders. It will likely be a game-time decision.

If Tebow starts he will be the seventh rookie quarterback to start a game this season. Minnesota sixth-round pick Joe Webb may be in line to start Monday night.

Tebow was the No. 25 overall pick in the draft. He has only played in special package. Here is a look at the other rookie quarterbacks who have started this season:

Chiefs stand by Matt Cassel

April, 26, 2010
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There was speculation for months before the draft that the Chiefs might be tempted to reunite quarterback Jimmy Clausen with Charlie Weis, his former coach at Notre Dame and the new offensive coordinator in Kansas City.

However, the Chiefs bypassed Clausen twice (at No. 5 and No. 36 overall). It was a clear vote of confidence for quarterback Matt Cassel.

Because Cassel signed a $40 million contract last year, the idea of acquiring Clausen sounded a little farfetched. But the Chiefs can get out of the Cassel contract after this year.

By not taking Clausen, Kansas City indicated they still believe Cassel will succeed as their quarterback.

They gave Cassel additional help this offseason by signing running back Thomas Jones, bringing back receiver Chris Chambers, upgrading their offensive line and adding a speedy slot receiver/running back in second-round draft pick Dexter McCluster. Cassel struggled last season at least in part due to a lack of weapons and a porous offensive line. It will be interesting to see what he can do now with a better supporting cast.

The fact that the Chiefs didn’t take Clausen means they think Cassel will succeed.

Raiders now have legitimate QB

April, 24, 2010
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OK, it’s official: The Oakland Raiders found the quarterback they were looking for this offseason.

[+] EnlargeJason Campbell
Icon SMIJason Campbell passed for 3,618 yards and 20 touchdowns last season.
In their latest attempt to upgrade a large but unimpressive quarterback group, the Raiders are trying to salvage the starting career of disposed Washington starter Jason Campbell. Oakland gave up a fourth-round pick in 2012. That’s a bargain price for a starting quarterback. Ironically, Oakland owner Al Davis finally got his new quarterback by dealing with former charges Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen.

Campbell was given a contract extension through the 2011 season. It is clear Oakland is putting its offense in the hands of Campbell.

This is a good move for the short term. Campbell, a former first-round pick, is average. That means he’s much better than JaMarcus Russell, Bruce Gradkowski, Kyle Boller and Charlie Frye.

Campbell won’t lose games for Oakland. He will keep the Raiders competitive. He should account for two or three more wins. So, Oakland should be out of that 11-loss danger zone. The Raiders have lost 11 or more games for the past seven years, which is an NFL record.

Campbell is the big move Oakland has been toying with all offseason. They were linked to Donovan McNabb (who was traded to Washington and who replaced Campbell), Ben Roethlisberger and Sage Rosenfels.

Campbell, 28, is not necessarily a long-term answer. But he has started 45 games in the past three seasons and he is steady. He has improved each season. He threw for 3,618 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. Compare those with Russell’s numbers and Campbell looks like a Pro Bowl player.

Campbell has the big arm Oakland covets and he is a smart player. He should help Oakland’s young receiving corps of Chaz Schilens, Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey. Provided the receivers hold onto the ball better, Oakland’s passing game should be improved.

The Raiders also have running backs Michael Bush and Darren McFadden. If these two runners can become more consistent, Oakland’s offense should be much improved. Or at least, it should be competitive, which wasn’t the case much of last year. Oakland upgraded its defense with Rolando McClain and Lamarr Houston in the first and second round.

Saturday, Oakland addressed another big need. I was critical of the Raiders on Friday night for bypassing falling quarterbacks Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy. The Raiders needed to address the future at the position. Saturday, in the form of Campbell, the team addressed the immediate future and that’s good enough.

I applaud Oakland for realizing it needed to do something at quarterback. Even if Campbell just helps for the next two years, it can get Oakland out of the abyss. The quarterback position was holding Oakland back.

It’s time for Russell to be cut. Gradkowski is a nice backup option, but he has limitations. Oakland broadened its quarterback horizons with the Campbell deal. Now, it can finally become a legitimate NFL franchise.

video

Getty ImagesThe Oakland Raiders had the opportunity to draft quarterbacks Colt McCoy and Jimmy Clausen, but passed on both.

Keep getting in shape, JaMarcus Russell. It appears you will be getting another chance.

Unless Jason Campbell ends up in Oakland -- and is he really a long-term answer? -- it appears the Raiders are comfortable moving ahead with their current group of quarterbacks for the time being.

To me, the lack of attention the Raiders gave two big-time quarterback prospects Friday night is the story of the second and third rounds in the AFC West.

The Raiders saw both Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy fall into their laps. And they swatted the two youngsters away, ignoring a huge issue. The Raiders have other needs and it wouldn’t have bothered me if they entered the draft with the idea of not taking a quarterback early.

But when two potential starters like Clausen and McCoy fall, you have to adjust. Oakland didn’t.

The Raiders did a terrific job of landing star-in-waiting middle linebacker Rolando McClain at No. 8 on Thursday night. They then traded down from No. 39 to No. 42 to No. 44 in the second round to compile a couple of late-round choices. The Raiders took Texas defensive tackle Lamarr Houston at No. 44. No complaints. He is a run-stuffer and he fills a need. He’ll team nicely with McClain as Oakland tries to stop being a sieve against the run.

But Clausen was sitting there at No. 44. It could have been a nice gift for Oakland to take the Notre Dame product, who appears to be pro-ready. He went later in the second round to Carolina.

In the third round, Oakland addressed its biggest need with tackle Jared Veldheer from tiny Hillsdale College. He is an interesting prospect. He could be good, but he is not going to help right away.

A play for McCoy at No. 69 could have been worth the risk.

Yes, I get that McCoy is small and he doesn’t have a cannon arm. But guess what? That’s exactly the book on Bruce Gradkowski, who is currently Oakland’s most exciting option.

I know Al Davis loves rocket-armed quarterbacks, but that's what got him this mess with Russell. Winning quarterbacks don’t have to have big arms.

The Raiders need to do something. Why didn’t they take a shot at Clausen or McCoy? Both players would have been freebies because they weren’t expected to be on the board.

Oakland looked into quarterbacks this offseason. They have been linked to Donovan McNabb, Ben Roethlisberger, Campbell and even Sage Rosenfels. Perhaps Oakland will make a play for Campbell, whether he is traded for a late draft pick or if he is released by Washington. But he doesn’t create excitement for the future.

You can’t blame Oakland for looking. Russell has been a disaster. Gradkowski is a short-term answer at best. Charlie Frye and Kyle Boller don’t exactly stir confidence either.

As of now, it looks like Oakland will actually go to camp with Russell and Gradkowski fighting for the starting job. The Raiders are ready to give Russell one more chance. We all know what is going to happen. Gradkowski will outplay Russell in the preseason and the offense will perform better with Gradkowski than Russell, as was the case last year. Russell will prove he is a failure and the Raiders will have to look for a franchise quarterback in next year’s draft. By the way, the Raiders don’t have a first-round pick in next year’s draft.

They could have given themselves a crack at one this year for a cheap price in the form of Clausen or McCoy, who went late in the third round to Cleveland.

Oakland could very well take a quarterback with one of its six picks in the final four rounds. The team likes players such as Mike Kafka of Northwestern and Jonathan Crompton of Tennessee. Both are long-term projects.

There are no easy answers. That’s why Clausen and McCoy should have been looked at.

Second-round possibilities

April, 23, 2010
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Because this is such a deep class, there are several terrific players available in the second round.

The following are some of the players I think could be interesting to each AFC West team.

Denver, No. 45

Donald Butler, LB, Washington

Eric Decker, WR, Minnesota

Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona

Linval Joseph, DL, East Carolina

Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas

Brian Price, DT, UCLA

Kansas City, No. 36, No. 50

Jon Asamoah, G, Illinois

Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois

Charles Brown, OT, USC

Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland

Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame

Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama

Brian Price, DT, UCLA

Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana

Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame

Oakland, No. 39

Charles Brown, OT, USC

Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland

Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame

Vladimir Ducasse, OL, Massachusetts

Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida

Colt McCoy, QB, Texas

Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana

Cam Thomas, DT, North Carolina

San Diego does not have a have a second-round pick. It does have three third-round picks next year, so it could move up to make a run at a player such as Cody or Price.
Adam Schefter is reporting Kansas City offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is trying to talk the team’s brass into taking Jimmy Clausen at No. 36.

He better be.

If the Chiefs can finagle Clausen at No. 36, it could a great steal and a no-brainer. There was speculation the Chiefs would take Clausen at No. 5 because he was coached at Notre Dame by Weis. That would have been silly considering how much money the Chiefs have invested in Matt Cassel.

However, in the second round, it would be a great value pick. Clausen could be groomed behind Cassel and if he failed in a couple of years, Clausen would be a get a backup plan.

The problem is, the Chiefs will have wait three long picks to get a chance to grab Clausen. Expect the Rams, who have the No. 33 pick, to get several great offers from teams looking to steal Clausen.

Perhaps Oakland will be one of them? Mel Kiper had the Raiders taking Clausen at No. 8 on his mock draft. The Raiders have the No. 39 pick. Friday, perhaps the Raiders will move up to take him.

Then there’s Texas’ Colt McCoy. He could be there at No. 39 if the Raiders are interested.
Eric BerryAndy Lyons/Getty ImagesThe draft could take a turn toward the unexpected at No. 5, where the Chiefs may take Eric Berry.
There are several juicy AFC West story lines to watch for as the draft unfolds April 22-24. Let’s examine some of the more intriguing questions:

Will the draft change at No. 5? There are expectations that the drama of the draft will begin when Kansas City picks at No. 5. With Sam Bradford, Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy and Russell Okung expected to be the first four picks; the Chiefs represent the first question mark. Kansas City could take safety Eric Berry or a tackle such as Bryan Bulaga, Trent Williams or Anthony Davis. A trade down is also possible assuming Okung is off the board. No matter what the choice is, it will be fun when Kansas City is on the clock.

What will the Chargers do? There will be almost as much drama when the Chargers’ turn arrives. I expect them to be big draft-day players. They have the No. 28 and No. 40 picks. San Diego has big needs at nose tackle and running back. There are several solid running backs available and the Chargers will likely make one of them their new primary tailback. It will be interesting to see if the Chargers take a nose tackle or a running back first. They could also trade up (San Diego has two third-round picks in 2011 to use as bait) in the first round and get a premier player at either position. No matter what happens, expect San Diego general manager A.J. Smith to be in wheeling-and-dealing mode.

[+] EnlargeJimmy Clausen
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesCould new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and quarterback Jimmy Clausen be reunited in Kansas City?
Will the Chiefs look at a Golden Domer? Kansas City has hired former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis to be the offensive coordinator. Could he talk the Chiefs into taking quarterback Jimmy Clausen at No. 5 or receiver Golden Tate with one of the team’s second-round picks? The Clausen selection would be stunning, considering Kansas City paid Matt Cassel so much money last summer. However, if Tate is available at No. 36, Kansas City may jump on him. He would fill a big need and he would have advantage because he knows the offense so well.

Will Bryant replace Marshall in Denver? The Broncos visited with Oklahoma State standout receiver Dez Bryant this week. Now that Brandon Marshall has been traded, Bryant could be the team’s choice at No. 11. Bryant is very talented, but the Broncos would be adding a new set off off-field issues after trading Marshall. This would be a big story if he ends up in Denver. The Broncos could trade down from No. 11 and still get Bryant, who could tumble because of his issues.

Will Mt. Cody rise in the AFC West? The Broncos, Chargers and the Chiefs have all shown interest in Terrence Cody, the huge nose tackle from Alabama. He is considered a prototype 3-4 nose tackle, and all three of those teams use that scheme. San Diego has the most pressing need for a nose tackle of the three. It wouldn’t be a shock if the Chargers used the No. 28 pick on Cody. The Chiefs could potentially look at him in the second round, and -- if he lasts -- so could Denver. Fellow defensive tackles Brian Price and Dan Williams could attract interest from AFC West teams. However, Williams may be taken in the first 15 picks.

Will the Raiders address their quarterback needs? The Raiders are clearly looking to upgrade their quarterback situation this offseason. It could happen in the draft. Clausen has been linked to Oakland with the No. 8 pick. But he does not have the huge arm coveted by Oakland owner Al Davis. Tim Tebow has talked to the Raiders. He’d likely require a second-round pick. Oakland has worked out Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka, a likely mid-round pick. It would not be a surprise at all if Oakland drafts a quarterback to develop.

Will there be veteran trades? The Marshall trade may not stop the veteran action in the division, Denver is also shopping tight end Tony Scheffler. He could be had for a mid-round pick. There is also the possibility Oakland could pursue Washington quarterback Jason Campbell on draft day. Campbell could likely be acquired for a mid-round pick and Oakland has reportedly shown interest. Baltimore tackle Jared Gaither is reportedly on the block. Both Oakland and Kansas City could add a tackle. Gaither would likely cost a second-round pick. There is also the possibility of San Diego acquiring a veteran running back such as Marshawn Lynch or Marion Barber if they become available. Still, the odds are San Diego looks to the rookie class for its new tailback.

[+] EnlargeRolando McClain
Marvin Gentry/US PresswireThe Raiders may have their eyes on Alabama's Rolando McClain.
Will the Raiders go defense first? The Raiders’ greatest need is at left tackle. But it wouldn’t be a stunner if the Raiders used the No. 8 pick on a defensive player. The Raiders are said to have been snooping around Alabama middle linebacker Rolando McClain (who Denver could take at No. 11). Florida cornerback Joe Haden said he has received a lot of interest from Oakland. A Haden-Nnamdi Asomugha cornerback combination would be intriguing for the next few years.

Will the Tebow project continue in the AFC West? Tebow visited with Denver this week. The Broncos have two picks in the second round and could pull the trigger on the project then. Tebow has met with Oakland officials. It would be wild to see the pristine Tebow in the Silver and Black. He wouldn’t be ready to contribute right away, but he could be an interesting project. While I don’t think the Chargers would address a quarterback before the third round, Tebow could be a possibility if he fell. The Chargers need to develop a young quarterback and Norv Turner can do wonders with quarterback prospects. It would be an interesting pairing.

Will the Raiders add a receiver? The Raiders have studied the likes of Bryant, Tate and Mardy Gilyard. It’s not out of the question that the Raiders will look at receivers early in the draft. It would be intriguing. The Raiders have a lot of young, promising players at the position. What they need is a veteran presence. If a top receiver is taken in Oakland, what does it mean for the development of existing youngsters Chaz Schilens, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy?

Will Toby Gerhart pound his way through the AFC West? The rough-and-tumble Stanford tailback is on the radar in San Diego and in Denver. The Chargers make more sense because they have more of a pressing need. However, the Broncos also like the Heisman Trophy runner-up. The Broncos need a big back. I could see Gerhart, who is rising up draft boards, ending up in this division.

Will the Broncos find their new center? If the season started today, the Broncos would not have a starting center. They are looking for one in the draft. The Broncos love Florida’s Maurkice Pouncey. But taking him at No. 11 may be too high. The Broncos may have to move -- possibly up, perhaps down -- to get Pouncey. He is on their wish list, though. Boston College’s Mark Tennant and Baylor’s J.D. Walton are other possibilities.
Now, this is a quarterback Oakland should look into.

NFL.com is reporting that the Pittsburgh Steelers are fed up with Ben Roethlisberger’s off-field life and they are willing to listen to offers. The report said the Steelers have not talked to any teams yet, but have had internal discussions about it.

[+] EnlargeBen Roethlisberger
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhAt age 28, Ben Roethlisberger is very much in his prime.
If the Steelers truly want to trade Roethlisberger, this is a sweepstakes that is worth the Raiders’ time.

The Raiders were interested in Donovan McNabb and have reportedly shown interest in Jason Campbell and Sage Rosenfels. They’ve been linked to Jimmy Clausen and Tim Tebow in the draft. All of these options have flaws for Oakland, which is clearly not totally content with their current quarterback crew consisting of JaMarcus Russell, Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye.

While most of the above options would be risky and not solve long-term issues, the Roethlisberger addition would be a perfect solution to Oakland. He’d help both in the short and long term. Roethlisberger is 28 and he has a good 7-8 years remaining in his career. He’s in his prime.

With Roethlisberger behind center, the Raiders’ streak of seven straight years with 11 or more losses would become a memory right away.

He’d make Oakland’s young receivers better and the running game would be better because of his presence. The guy is crafty and he knows how to lead an offense. Say what you want about Roethlisberger, but the guy is a winner. He is an elite quarterback.

If he is available, the Raiders have to take advantage of this unusual opportunity. Instead of floundering along at the position and looking at lackluster ways of improving, the Raiders should try to grab Roethlisberger if the Steelers are serious about listening to offers.

ESPN.com reported that Oakland would be open to making superstar cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha available in a McNabb package. I didn’t like that idea. In this deal, it could be worth thinking about. I love Asomugha’s ability, but if dealing him brought a top-flight quarterback in return, Oakland would have to think about it.

Yes, Roethlisberger has to be considered a risk because of his recent history. But it’s worth the risk because of his ability and being traded could be a wake-up call. If the Raiders really want a new quarterback, and if Roethlisberger is really available, this is the player the Raiders need to pursue.

Sound-off responses

April, 15, 2010
4/15/10
4:00
PM ET
The Raider Nation had many ideas for our sound-off question this week.

We wanted to know who Oakland Raiders fans want to be their team’s quarterback in 2010. Here were their options: Trade for Washington Redskins' backupJason Campbell, play JaMarcus Russell, play Bruce Gradkowski, draft a rookie like Jimmy Clausen or Tim Tebow, or an option of their choice.

Few fans wanted to see Russell with the ball, but many of them wanted the Raiders to stick with Gradkowski or trade for Campbell. I think those are the two best options. If Campbell can be had cheaply, he may be worth considering. If not, Gradkowski could be the quick fix while Oakland seeks a long-term solution.

Below are some of your responses. Thanks to everyone who participated:

Salo from San Jose, Calif.: I think the Raiders should go with Grad. He is a fiery, hard working guy. He brought life to a dead, frustrated team. Trade 2nd rounder for Baltimore LT Gaither and use 1st round pick on either DT Dan Williams or ILB Rolando McCain. All the talk about the Raiders looking at QB's has never been confirmed and only been speculation by the so-called experts .

Sam from Henderson, Nevada: The Raiders should focus in on Bruce Gradkowski to be the quarterback, at least for the upcoming year. I was really impressed with his mobility out of the pocket and being able to throw on the run...and with deficiency at O-line, they will need a QB that can do just that. They should look to get a solid back up quarterback, maybe in the later rounds of the draft...perhaps a Tim Tebow in the second or third round that would be thrown into the mix right away if things go south for Bruce...what do we have to lose? Oh, I almost forgot...dump Jamarcus (release him outright if possible), another minute trying to work him would be a waste where we can spend that time on other personnel issues. Keep it simple Raiders!

Sean Anderson from Santa Cruz, Calif.: The Raiders need to consider Troy Smith. At the low cost of a fifth-round pick, he would add some competition to the mix, and it would give Smith a viable chance to land a starting job in the NFL. Smith was the choice for Baltimore before getting ill, which then he was replaced by Joe Flacco who went on to become the franchise QB. He obviously has tremendous talent and has never been given a chance to show it. Also, new Raiders OC Hue Jackson has worked with Smith, so they would not be starting from square one. The reason I am hesitant towards obtaining Campbell is he would likely come at the cost a second or third round pick, and Oakland needs to hold on to its early picks in order to develop it's offensive and defensive lines more. However, I must say there should be an OPEN competition, and I would not be surprised even if the Raiders made a trade, Bruce Gradkowski could still win the job. He played well in his three games and shows great energy. The man wants to be a Raider and lead this team.

Joey from Fremont, Calif.: We need tim tebow in rd 2. watch jon grudens qb camp tebow will do whatever it takes to win great for the locker room we need winners. ..........And i bet we wont find tebow at the craps table every chance he gets , then we can draft dan williams in rd 1.

Abdullah from San Diego: I think the Raiders should push hard for Jason Campbell. With an arguably worse line in Washington and a high amount of sacks, he didn't miss a start while having a solid completion percentage and low turnover rate last season. This will give Oakland a lot of wiggle room with Russell who's high on raw talent and low on, well, everything else. Rusell won't have many options but Oakland when his contract is up or if the Raiders ask him to restructure so this move can allow Oakland to turn him into a back up. With Campbell locked up, this would give Russell 3 to 4 years to mature. Best case scenario, Russell lives up to his potential while Campbell fills a need. Worst case scenario, Russell doesn't live up to his hype but they still have a solid starting QB.

Sam Mancuso from Erie, Pa.: If I had the reigns to my favorite team The Oakland Raiders, I would draft Clausen at #8 trade our secound round pick to the Ravens for Gathier, and then draft defense the rest of the way. The Raiders should select Jimmy Clausen, Let Gradkowski start, and cut Russell. That would instantly upgrade the QB position, but the reality is Al Davis will reach on Bruce Cambell and hand they keys to the offense to Russell, yet again. Hello 4-12. Bill when will this misery end?

Brian from Cleveland: Bill, here's what needs to be done in Oakland. Let Grad's be the man behind center next year with Frye backing him up. Draft a mid-round QB this year. Then you let Russell eat til his heart's content and move him to either offensive or defensive tackle. Why waste a big body like that at QB? Or who knows, maybe he can make a decent DE.

Phillip Stuart from Colton, Calif.: I feel that the Raiders need to get a mid to long term quarterback in Jason Campbell, I think he would be a great addtion to the team with our young and fast recievers who have the ability to get open and make big plays we just havent had someone to get the ball to them. and even with Grad in he's only short term and we need something better and Jamarcus is a bust. But i think we need to get a OT with our first pick to give whoever is gonna be our QB some protection and use our second round pick to pick up a young quarterback that can sit back and wait and learn and potentially be a future big name such as... TIM TEBOW... that is if he is still available. but Al need to do some thinking and make a GOOD decision this year because passing on Crabtree last year made me sick to my stomach... but anyways Bill do you think that would work out well? thats my opinion anyways.

Ax from San Diego: I think the Raiders will be best served to start Gradkowski, the team seems to respond to him and just completely forget about Russell, he sucks. I would love to see them draft Tebow. Not that he is NFL ready, but the kid is a winner, no matter what you say about his mechanics or anything else about him. Plus, his enthusiasm can be contagious and its what the Raiders need right now, really bad. That kid would play on special teams if that is what the coaches asked of him. With 10 more guys like him on offense, the Raiders would be unstoppable!!

Warin from Englewood, N.J.:I would think it would be best to trade for Jason Campbell at this point. He is a proven quarterback (maybe not great, but at least we know he can play) and he wants to be the starter. If Campbell can be had for a third round pick or lower, Oakland has got to make that trade simply because we don't know if Gradkowski will hold up and Jamarcus Russell just seems to have no pride or desire whatsoever as a player. Sign Campbell, cut J-Russ and draft Jevean Snead out of Ole Miss with the 4th rounder.

Rick Lebarron from Millersville, Md.: The Raiders HAVE to start Gradkowski! He has the desire to win..he motivates the team...he gets the most out of his teammates...If we saw anything last year was that the Raiders played with passion with Gradkowski in the game...so that means the players believe in him...I think he should be given the chance. He has EARNED the chance to prove what he can do unlike some other unnamed QB on the Raider roster.

Emanuel Hernandez from Sacramento, Calif.: Just give gradkowski the job. He gave this offense a boost and the team fed off his energy. Draft for a offensive linemen or defensive tackle. Campbell will not be protected in the pocket if we trade for him. At least bruce is mobile like gannon was. Gradkowski gives us the best chance to win even if he's only here for this upcoming season.

Brian from Los Angeles: The Raiders should trade for Jason Campbell for a mid round pick. He's a former 1st round pick, only 28 years old and could turn his career around with Oakland with a new system and new confidence. If you want to find out if Russell is your guy, you put him to the real test, not just against Gradkowski, but another guy who has been a starter for over 3 years. Then we'll see what Russell is made of, and may the best qb win and move us forward now and into the future!

Jair from Manassas Va.: The Raiders should trade for Michael Vick it will be good for him the team and the city of Oakland. This will cover the QB position and enable them to go with another position in the draft. To me this is a no brainer getting Vick in the silver & black.

Josh Montero from Orlando: BW, Bruce Gradkowski has to be the starter going into the season. I would like to see the Raiders trade down, and draft Tim Tebow late in the First Round. Say what you will about Tebow's throwing mechanics, but he is a proven winner, a hard worker and a leader. His work ethic and attitude would immediately perpetuate itself throughout the Oakland lockerroom.Oakland needs to trade it's second round pick for Gaither from the Ravens and attempt to grab a Defensive Tackle in the 3rd and a workman WR like Riley Cooper from the University of Florida in the 4th. For the record, I am an avid Tennessee Volunteer fan and cannot stand the Gators...but I think this would be the correct route back to the playoffs. Jamarcus Russell needs to be cut, and pursue a career in the UFL or Arena league.

Sound-off: Raiders QB

April, 13, 2010
4/13/10
11:00
AM ET
The Raiders’ quarterback situation has been a focal point all offseason.

Whether it’s JaMarcus Russell weight struggle, the team’s flirtation with Donovan McNabb, the reported interest in Jason Campbell and the pre-draft connection to Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen and Tim Tebow, Oakland’s quarterback position is a fluid situation.

Our sound-off question is to the Raider Nation: What do you want Oakland to do at quarterback? Do you want the team to trade for Campbell, play Russell, play Bruce Gradkowski, draft a rookie like Clausen or Tebow (choose one) or do you have another idea?

Hit my mailbag with your thoughts. I will post some of your responses later in the week.

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