AFC West: Jonathan Martin

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- With the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin hazing scandal swirling in Miami, Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor believes the responsibility for putting an end to such bullying rests with team leaders.

Specifically, with the starting quarterback.

“You need to make sure you have your foot stepped forward, and I’m not trying to put down or say that the Dolphins quarterback isn’t doing that, I don’t know that,” Pryor said of Ryan Tannehill. “But in answering your question … I believe that the quarterback is very responsible for in-house and locker room things and deals and quieting situations down. I believe that people are going to listen to you if they respect you enough.

“I just think that we’re professionals, and I definitely hope we’ll see Martin playing again soon. I watched some film, he’s a good player. My hat’s off to him for standing up and being a man.”

Pryor is a first-year starter for the Raiders after being selected out of Ohio State in the third round of the 2011 supplemental draft as the late Al Davis’ last pick.

“You want to cut things off, you know?” Pryor said of stopping situations before they get out of hand.

Pryor referenced stopping teammates from drinking too much.

“Hey, maybe you should take a cab,” he recalled advising a teammate.

“Something small like that, you just get so much respect from your teammate that you stopped and helped him … that definitely comes in a leadership role.”
Weekend mail call:

Brad from Kansas City wants to know if I think the San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs could swing a deal for left tackle Branden Albert.

Bill Williamson: I think is a long shot, but perhaps it could develop if other opportunities continue to dry up. The Albert-to-Miami talks are not officially dead with Miami agreeing to terms with right tackle Tyson Clabo. The Dolphins will move Jonathan Martin to left tackle. As for the Chargers, they badly need a left tackle. I’m sure they’d love to get Albert. He’d solve a huge problem. But there are two issues in the way of a trade. I’m not sure these two AFC West rivals would want to deal with each other and I’m not sure the Chargers have the money right now to give Albert a long-term contract. So, while a fit is there on paper, there are some big obstacles.

Adam wants to know if I think Taiwan Jones could play safety for the Oakland Raiders.

BW: I doubt it. The team is planning to move Jones from running back to cornerback. He is a former cornerback and he has the skill set and speed to perhaps make it work. Safety is a different animal. I just don’t think Jones has the size to be a safety. If it is going to work for the former fourth-round pick in Oakland it appears it will be at cornerback.

Dan from Fort Collins, Co. wants to know if I think the Denver Broncos could pursue free-agent middle linebacker Brian Urlacher.

BW: I think if that happens it would be later in the summer. The Broncos have free-agent signee Bradley Stewart and youngsters Nate Irving and Steve Johnson. They think they are good there. But if these guys falter in training camp and the preseason, I think Denver could then be open to Urlacher. Remember, the Broncos signed middle linebacker Keith Brooking late in camp last year. A similar situation could potentially arise this year.

AFC West team needs

March, 9, 2012
Michael BushKelley L Cox/US PresswireRaiders running back Michael Bush could be a good fit for the rival Broncos.
Offseason movement starts Tuesday, when the free-agent signing period begins. Let’s take a look at the top needs of each team in the AFC West in free agency and in the draft:

Denver Broncos

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

Oakland Raiders

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.

Mailbag: Chiefs' draft targets

March, 8, 2012
Midweek mail call:

Vic Liao from San Diego wants to know which receiver -- Reggie Wayne or Hines Ward -- would be a better fit for the Chargers.

Bill Williamson: They are different receivers, Vic. I think Wayne can come into play if the Chargers lose Vincent Jackson. If Jackson leaves in free agency, I’d expect the Chargers to make a run at Wayne. Ward is a backup type, so I don’t think the Chargers would choose between them.

Kolby Vaughn from Kansas wants to who may be the best fit for the Chiefs at pick No. 11.

BW: It’s difficult to say what the Chiefs’ needs will be after free agency, but right now, I think the best bets are Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe, Boston College middle linebacker Luke Kuechly and Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin. Then there’s Alabama running back Trent Richardson if he slides to No. 11. But right now, I’d say the Chiefs will either take Poe or Kuechly. But that can change as needs are addressed in free agency.

Brian from Denver wants to know which RB I think is a better fit for the Broncos in free agency -- San Diego’s Mike Tolbert or Oakland’s Michael Bush.

BW: It’s an interesting question. I know some teams like Tolbert better while other teams prefer Bush. In Tolbert, you get a versatile player. He can rumble, he is good in short-yardage, he can catch and he is a monster on special teams. Bush is also very rugged, but he is not quite as versatile as Tolbert. However, he is probably a better pure running back and of the two, he is likely the one who can be a primary back. I think the Broncos would probably look at Bush first, but Tolbert would also be appealing. Both players are going to cash a large check soon.

AFC West mock draft: Take II

February, 29, 2012
After attending the NFL combine in Indianapolis, here is my second AFC West mock draft for the teams' first round picks. We will do this periodically after major events such as key free-agent signings and pro day workouts:

11. Kansas City Chiefs, MLB, Luke Kueckly, Boston College: Kueckly came into the combine on the Chiefs' radar. After a strong performance, he must still be a a strong possibility for Kansas City. He looks like a perfect fit for Romeo Crennel's 3-4 defense.

Previous pick: OT, Jonathan Martin, Stanford.

18. San Diego Chargers, OG, David DeCastro, Stanford: With Kris Dielman expected to retire, the Chargers have a gaping hole to fill. DeCastro is a major talent and if he is available at No. 18 I think San Diego has no other choice.

Previous pick: San Diego, LB, Courtney Upshaw, Alabama.

25. Denver Broncos, DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State: There are some high-quality defensive tackles in this draft and Cox is one of them. He had a strong combine and if he is available, Denver would jump to draft him. He’d be a strong addition to an improving defense.

Previous pick: Cox.

The Oakland Raiders do not have a first-round pick (No. 17) because it traded it to the Cincinnati Bengals in a package deal for quarterback Carson Palmer.

AFC West combine primer

February, 23, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS -- Let’s take a look at what AFC West each team may be seeking during the NFL combine, which starts Thursday:

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.

[+] EnlargeMark Barron
Randy Litzinger/Icon SMISafety Mark Barron is one of several Alabama defenders that AFC West teams may take a look at.
Will the Alabama defense roll into the AFC West? Alabama won the BCS championship last season on the strength of a dominant defense. There are several key Alabama defenders who will go early in the draft, starting with linebackers Courtney Upshaw, safety Mark Barron and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. I could see all three players drawing interest in the AFC West. I think San Diego would jump on Upshaw if he somehow fell to No. 18, and it could take Barron if it doesn’t address safety in free agency. If Kirkpatrick drops, Denver could take him at No. 25.

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.
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay offers his second mock draft in an Insider piece Insider.

Let’s take a look at McShay’s thoughts on where the AFC West teams may be headed:

*12. Kansas City: Boston College ILB Luke Kuechly

My take: Kuechly is a productive player who could be a great fit and who could be a key piece to a young defense. I think the Chiefs need help on the offensive line, but this choice would be intriguing.

18. San Diego: Jonathan Martin, Stanford tackle

My take: He would be a great value pick for San Diego. If Martin is on the board at No. 18, I think the Chargers should jump on him, especially if there are no high quality pass-rushers available.

25. Denver: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

My take: This is the shocker. If Denver uses its first pick on Tannehill, that means it will be turning to him soon. A team like this wouldn’t take a backup at this spot. It would mean Denver doesn’t believe in Tebow. The Broncos have other pressing needs. This choice would rock the draft.

The Oakland Raiders do not have a first-round pick because it traded it (No. 17) to the Cincinnati Bengals in a package for quarterback Carson Palmer.

*Kansas City will have either the No. 11 or No. 12 pick. It will have a coin flip with Seattle later this month to determine the draft order.

AFC West mock draft

January, 31, 2012
With the Senior Bowl complete, we are going to do our first mock draft of the offseason. We will do this periodically after major events such as the combine, key free-agent signings and pro day workouts:

*11. Kansas City, OT, Jonathan Martin, Stanford: The Kansas City Chiefs have considered taking a tackle for the past couple of drafts. Martin would be a terrific choice for them and he should be available.

18. San Diego, LB, Courtney Upshaw, Alabama: The San Diego Chargers must hope Upshaw is available. Pass-rushers are at a premium in this draft and Upshaw is a rising stock. The Chargers may have to trade up to get him.

25. Denver, DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State: The Denver Broncos' defense is still a work in progress and taking Cox would be another step in the right direction.

The Oakland Raiders do not have a first-round pick because it traded it (No. 17) to the Cincinnati Bengals in a package for quarterback Carson Palmer.

*Kansas City will have either the No. 11 or No. 12 pick. It will have a coin flip with Seattle next month to determine the draft order.

Breaking down Kiper's mock draft

January, 18, 2012
ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper is offering his first mock draft in an Insider piece. Insider Let’s check out his first-round picks for the AFC West teams:

11. Kansas City: Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still

My take: I wouldn’t have a huge problem with the Chiefs’ starting the Romeo Crennel head-coaching era with a dominant man up front. This defense is one or two players from being dominant. I’m just not convinced Still is going to be a game changer. I think the Chiefs would be tempted to take Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin at this spot. That’s a need area.

18. San Diego: Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia

My take: The offensive line may be an area of immediate need if guard Kris Dielman, tackle Marcus McNeill and center Nick Hardwick don’t come back. So, this selection makes sense. But there is also a chance the offensive line question will be answered by the draft. If so, the Chargers would look for defense help early.

25. Denver: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

My take: I could see this happening. I think Cox will be a player Denver looks at and the way Kiper’s first round falls, this pick makes sense. Denver has long been looking for help in the middle of the defensive line and this pick would further build an improving unit.

Oakland traded its first-round pick (No. 17) to Cincinnati as part of the trade for quarterback Carson Palmer.

Early draft look: Chiefs

December, 26, 2011
Now that the Kansas City Chiefs have been eliminated from playoff contention, it’s time to look ahead. Let’s take an early look at the Chiefs’ draft needs:

Likely drafting range: 10-15

Top draft needs: Offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, safety.

Possible first-round picks: Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin, Iowa tackle Riley Reiff, Boston college linebacker Luke Kuechly, Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.

Intangibles: Standout receiver Dwayne Bowe and cornerback Brandon Carr are free agents. The Chiefs have been aggressive in re-signing players under general manager Scott Pioli. The fact that these players aren’t signed may be a signal there will be issues. If they do leave, draft needs could change. Still, I doubt either player’s departure would change the Chiefs’ first-round needs. Kansas City drafted Jonathan Baldwin in the first round this year and Carr is the second cornerback. But their departures would add to the Chiefs’ need list.

Breaking down McShay's mock draft

December, 21, 2011
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay is talking an early stab, in an Insider piece, at projecting the first round of the April draft. McShay will update several mock drafts between now and the draft based on movement of teams and performances of prospects in bowl games and in the offseason process. The current draft order is based on projections. The exact order will be determined after the season.

Let’s take a look at McShay’s thoughts on where the AFC West teams may be headed:

12. Kansas City: Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin

My take: I like this pick a lot. I think Martin may end up being a top-eight pick. The Chiefs will likely look at improving the offensive and defensive lines. Taking Martin would be a smart move. He has a chance to be a longtime anchor.

15. San Diego: Alabama safety Mark Barron

My take: The Chargers will likely look at the offensive line and for pass-rushers, but if Barron makes the most sense, it would be a good pick. He is a top prospect and we’ve seen what the addition of top-flight safeties can do for a defense.

23. Denver: Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still

My take: The Broncos would probably like to add a running back, but getting a top-level defensive tackle would not be a bad move at all. The Broncos have been looking for a difference-maker at this spot for years.

Oakland does not have a first-round pick as part of the Carson Palmer trade with Cincinnati. McShay projects the Bengals will pick No. 19.
Todd McShay has the unenviable task of projecting his first 2012 mock draft in an Insider piece.

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.