AFC West: Jon Beason

AFC West mailbag

April, 13, 2011
Mid-week mail call:

Jason from Burbank, Calif., wants to know about new Denver coach John Fox’s draft history in Carolina, where he was the coach from 2002-2010.

Bill Williamson: It’s been solid. There wasn’t a ton of obvious horrible picks. Players like Julius Peppers, DeAngelo Williams, Thomas Davis and Jon Beason were all good first-round picks. The Panthers were aggressive and liked to trade for extra picks. The 2006-07 drafts were deep and resulted in some quality players who are still in Carolina. Fox’s teams took four quarterbacks during his tenure. Fox will not be making the final call in Denver -- that’s John Elway’s job -- but he will have a voice and his experience should help.

George Miley from St. Charles, Mo., wants to know if San Diego backup quarterback Billy Volek could leave as a free agent.

BW: Volek has expressed a desire to start. I think he’d jump at a chance to start elsewhere. There are several teams that could use a starting quarterback. Yet, the lockout put players like Volek in limbo. The Chargers love having Volek back up Philip Rivers and he is one of the best backups in the game. San Diego certainly wants Volek to return, but it wouldn’t be able to compete with another team offering Volek a starting job.

Nate from Portland wants to know if I think Denver could take a defensive tackle at both No. 2 and No. 36.

BW: Sure, I think it’s possible. I expect the Broncos to take Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus at No. 2 if he’s available. I think Denver could still look at a defensive tackle at No. 36. I don’t know if it will be a priority, but if someone like Phil Taylor, Marvin Austin or Stephen Paea available, Fox would be tempted. Getting two stud defensive tackles who could play right away wouldn’t be a terrible way to go.
The AFC West had one representative in the linebacker Power Rankings.

Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali was tied for ninth with Carolina’s Jon Beason. I had Hali ranked ninth. Seventeen linebackers received votes. Hali was the only AFC West linebacker to receive votes. Hali, who led the AFC with 14.5 sacks last season, was fifth in our pass-rusher Power Rankings earlier in the offseason.

I think the AFC West has some very good linebackers. I also considered Kansas City’s Derrick Johnson, San Diego’s Shaun Phillips and Denver’s D.J. Williams. I could see Oakland second-year player Rolando McClain soon getting recognition. If this were a top-20 ranking, there would be a bigger AFC West presence.

As for the overall Power Rankings, San Francisco’s Patrick Willis was ranked No. 1. I think this ranking was difficult because there are so many different things to consider about linebackers and there are multiple positions to consider. Pass-rush ability, tackle numbers, leadership, intelligence and intimidation factor all must be considered.

I know there will be plenty of opinions on this list. Fill up the comments section with your thoughts.

We rank the cornerbacks next week. I expect solid AFC West representation. Here’s a hint: I’m staying close for my vote for No. 1.
I caught up with NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas to discuss which players from Carolina could end up in Denver with new Denver coach John Fox.

Let’s talk a look:

Receiver Steve Smith: The Panthers could trade Smith and he is close with Fox and Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, who was with the Panthers before Denver. But Denver is in good shape at receiver, so the aging Smith may not be a priority.

Linebacker Thomas Davis: He is a free agent and Fox has long been a fan of this former first-round pick. I could easily see Davis sliding in as Denver’s weakside linebacker.

Running back DeAngelo Williams: This is an interesting situation. Williams is a free agent. If the Panthers opt to re-sign Williams, Jonathan Stewart or Mike Goodson could become available. I wouldn’t be surprised if Fox added one of them to his backfield.

Defensive end Tyler Brayton: If Brayton is salary-cap causality in Carolina, the former Colorado star could be decent depth in Denver.

Middle linebacker Jon Beason: A Fox favorite, the Panthers' longtime anchor of the defense is entering the final season of his contract. Perhaps Fox will try to deal for him.

Cornerback Richard Marshall: He is an underappreciated player. If Champ Bailey leaves as a free agent, Marshall could be an inexpensive option.

Linebacker James Anderson: He is a free agent and he could be an inexpensive option as Fox tries to bolster his front seven.

Defensive end Charles Johnson: He had 11.5 sacks and he could be an attractive free agent for Fox.