AFC West: Mike Sando

Evening news and notes

June, 4, 2010
6/04/10
9:35
PM ET
Denver tackle Ryan Harris (foot) and top pick Demaryius Thomas (foot) practiced Friday. Both are expected to be able to participate in next week’s minicamp.

Matthew Berry ranks his top 150 fantasy players on ESPN.com.

NFC West blogger Mike Sando has an interesting look at the turnover rate of each NFL team. The Chiefs and Raiders are among the leaders in retention. A big reason is because both teams are fairly young.

Denver signed veteran fullback Kyle Eckel and cut offensive lineman Maurice Williams. Eckel is likely a long shot to make the team.

Kansas City signed undrafted rookie tight end Cody Slate. He is from Marshall.

The Madden 11 team ratings are out. The Chiefs are the only team in the AFC West to have a higher rating than last year.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

As part of our Ultimate Building Block feature this week, below is a look at the 10 AFC West players I would draft if I were building a team to try to win the Super Bowl after the 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons. The reasoning is based mostly on age and production.

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There is some good, young talent in this division. The top five may be as good as any in the NFL. I originally had a list of about 40 players I had to whittle down from.

I have multiple players from the same position, in some cases, because this is a wish list. It's my draft big board. If I wasn't able to draft Philip Rivers, then Matt Cassel was my next quarterback on the list.

You may notice that there are only two defensive players on this list. That's a not a surprise, to me at least, since offense is the strength of the division heading into the 2009 season. Offense dominates this division and it dominates this list.

1 . Philip Rivers, quarterback, San Diego: Quarterbacks are the glue to the team, and Rivers has a chance to be one of the league's best for the next decade.

2. Nnamdi Asomugha, cornerback, Oakland: Shutdown cornerbacks are franchise-type players. Asomugha is an elite cornerback and a special talent.

 
  G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images
  Nnamdi Asomugha is the highest-paid CB in the league.

3. Ryan Clady, offensive tackle, Denver: If Clady were available in the 2009 draft, he may have been the top pick. He was brilliant as a rookie last season and has the makings of being one of the game's best left tackles for the next 12 years.

4. Shawne Merriman, linebacker, San Diego: Merriman could be listed higher next year if he bounces back from a knee injury. He is a premier pass-rusher.

5. Brandon Marshall, wide receiver, Denver: I'm not thrilled with Marshall's injury and off-field history, but he is a dominant receiver. He is already a consistent 100-catch talent.

6. Vincent Jackson, wide receiver, San Diego: Jackson is not quite at Marshall's level, but he's becoming a fine No. 1 receiver. He and Rivers have a special connection.

7. Matt Cassel, quarterback, Kansas City: Cassel likely will not be at this spot next year. The Chiefs quarterback will likely either shoot up the board or fall off it. We're going to see what he can do without the New England system and supporting cast.

8. Antonio Gates, tight end, San Diego: Gates has been dealing with injuries, but he is still a productive player and is a huge weapon for San Diego.

9. Dwayne Bowe, wide receiver, Kansas City: For all of the problems in the AFC West, it does boast some nice receivers and Bowe is one of them.

10. Knowshon Moreno, running back, Denver: I took the rookie over LaDainian Tomlinson and Larry Johnson strictly based on age. Banking on 30-plus running backs (both Tomlinson and Johnson turn 30 this year) is not a prudent way of building a team. I took Moreno over fellow youngster Darren McFadden because McFadden is not considered a three-down back.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Taking inspiration from NFC West blogger Mike Sando, here are 10 AFC West players I would  draft if I were building a team to try to win the Super Bowl after the 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons. The reasoning is based mostly on age and production.

1. Philip Rivers, quarterback, San Diego: Quarterbacks are the glue to the team, and Rivers has a chance to be one of the league's best for the next decade.

2. Nnamdi Asomugha, cornerback, Oakland: Shutdown cornerbacks are franchise-type players. Asomugha is an elite cornerback and special talent.

3. Ryan Clady, offensive tackle, Denver: If Clady were available in the 2009 draft, he may have been the top pick. He was brilliant as a rookie last season and has the makings of being one of the game's best left tackles for the next 12 years.

4. Shawne Merriman, linebacker, San Diego: Merriman could be listed higher next year if he bounces back from a knee injury. He is a premier pass-rusher.

5. Brandon Marshall, wide receiver, Denver: I'm not thrilled with Marshall's injury and off-field history, but he is a dominant receiver. He is already a consistent 100-catch talent.

6. Vincent Jackson, wide receiver, San Diego: Jackson is not quite at Marshall's level, but he's becoming a fine No. 1 receiver. He and Rivers have a special connection.

7. Matt Cassel, quarterback, Kansas City: Cassel likely will not be at this spot next year. The Chiefs' quarterback will likely either shoot up the board or fall off it. We're going to see what he can do without the New England system and supporting cast.

8. Antonio Gates, tight end, San Diego: Gates has been dealing with injuries, but he is still a productive player and is a huge weapon for San Diego.

9. Dwayne Bowe, wide receiver, Kansas City: For all of the problems in the AFC West, it does boast some nice receivers and Bowe is one of them.

10. Knowshon Moreno, running back, Denver: I took the rookie over LaDainian Tomlinson and Larry Johnson strictly based on age. Banking on 30-plus running backs (both Tomlinson and Johnson turn 30 this year) is not a prudent way of building a team. I took Moreno over fellow youngster Darren McFadden because McFadden is not considered a three-down back.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

It appears we may learn the fate of star running back LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego shortly.

 Tomlinson

ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting that the talks between Tomlinson and the team are in the final stages concerning a restructured deal that will keep the longtime star in San Diego. If Tomlinson and the team can't figure out a way to restructure down from his nearly $7 million salary due this season, Tomlinson will likely be cut and end up elsewhere. There is also a chance Tomlinson could be traded.

Still, Mortensen reports that the Chargers and Tomlinson are still trying. Mortensen said that the latest offer isn't a take-it-or-leave from San Diego and that the two sides are trying to come up with ways of giving Tomlinson a solid deal.

This is another indication that the two sides want to make it work. No one in this situation wants Tomlinson to leave. That's one of the reasons why this tough negotiation has taken so long. The two sides are doing everything they can to make sure they've exhausted every avenue before parting ways, if that is the case.

While there is no hard deadline, both sides want a resolution. If he is cut, Tomlinson will need to find a new job (New Orleans seems to be a strong possibility) and the Chargers will have to begin plans to replace him.

Meanwhile, in Mike Sando's NFC West blog, Scouts Inc. scout Matt Williamson suggests that Tomlinson is near the end. Tomlinson, who will be 30 in June, had his least productive season in 2008 and he has been bothered by injuries in the past two postseasons.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Inspired by a similar post by NFC West blogger Mike Sando, we are going to look at the 10 most important assistant coaching positions in the AFC West early in the offseason, heading into the 2009 season:

Ron Rivera, defensive coordinator, San Diego Chargers: Rivera's promotion to defensive coordinator from inside linebackers coach last season sparked the Chargers. Many players attributed Rivera's promotion, after the firing of Ted Cottrell, to the team's turnaround and playoff run. With Rivera in charge of the San Diego defense all season, the Chargers have a chance to avoid an early-season stumble that affected them the past two seasons. If San Diego's defense is in high gear all season, it will be difficult to beat in the division.

Mike Nolan, defensive coordinator, Denver Broncos: The Broncos are San Diego's closest competition at this point. But the only way Denver will challenge for the division is if its defense improves dramatically. Nolan, the former San Francisco head coach, is in charge of that task. The Broncos want to run a 3-4 defense, but they will have to find the personnel to do so. If Nolan can change this defense around, Denver has a chance.

Rick Dennison, run offense coordinator; Bobby Turner, running backs coach, Denver Broncos: Dennison and Turner are a package deal. They perfected former Denver coach Mike Shanahan's vaunted run offense. It was critical that new Denver coach Josh McDaniels keep Dennison and Turner. Now, Denver doesn't have to change its run offense and its usual success on the ground should continue.

Ted Tollner, offensive coordinator, Oakland Raiders: The longtime college and NFL veteran coach needs to establish the running game better than the Raiders did last season. The Raiders have excellent running backs. The run game has to be more of a focus under Tollner.

Unnamed, defensive coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs haven't announced who will be the defensive coordinator under new coach Todd Haley, but this unit needs a new direction. It has to be much more aggressive. Kansas City set a record for the fewest sacks in NFL history with 10 in 2008. If the Chiefs are going to improve, the Chiefs need a quick turnaround on defense.

Paul Hackett, quarterbacks coach, Oakland Raiders: Hackett needs to develop quarterback JaMarcus Russell. He is entering his second season a starter and has been slow to develop. Hackett is a respected quarterback coach. Russell needs to make strides now and it is up to Hackett to make it happen.

Unnamed, offensive coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs: Haley may call the plays, but the Chiefs need a strong offensive coordinator. The Chiefs aren't bad on offense, but it needs to score a lot of points to make up for a porous defense.

Rob Chudzinski: assistant head coach/tight ends coach, San Diego Chargers: The former Cleveland offensive coordinator returns to San Diego where he will be coach Norv Turner's right-hand man. Chudzinski will be an in-game sounding board for Turner and should be very valuable.

John Marshall, defensive coordinator, Oakland Raiders: The Raiders' defense has some talent, but it also gave up a lot of points and was blown out often in 2008. Marshall, an NFL veteran, needs to bring balance and consistency to this group if Oakland is going to improve.

Unnamed, quarterbacks coach, Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs will likely have a good quarterback and whoever is Haley's quarterbacks coach will have a task of bringing the youngster along quickly.

AFC West news and notes

December, 28, 2008
12/28/08
2:26
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

-- The NFL hiring season is just about to commence and there are two intriguing stories already floating around involving leadership positions in the AFC West.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting that Bill Parcells could leave Miami. Even more interesting is that Mortensen lists the Raiders as one of the teams that could interest Parcells.

That would be wild, but it does make sense. Parcells long has had a relationship with Oakland owner Al Davis. Davis has said he would consider bringing in a personnel man in 2009.

Parcells has a track record of turning around teams and he'd be just what Oakland needs.
Still, there are many obstacles that would need to be maneuvered for this to happen. For a person of Parcells' stature to even consider Oakland is a big step for the team.

-- In Kansas City, Fox television reported that Chiefs owner Clark Hunt met with former Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer last week about the open leadership role in Kansas City.

The Chiefs are going to talk to many people in the next few weeks and it makes perfect sense that it starts with Schottenheimer. He is still very popular in Kansas City and his return would excite fans. I get the feeling the Chiefs are going to have a few tricks up their sleeves in the coming weeks.

-- The word in San Diego is that tickets for tonight's winner-take-all game are selling for in the $400-$500 range. Who says the economy is bad?

-- The latest game-time weather forecast for tonight's game in San Diego is for clear skies but it will be cold. The temperature is supposed to hover around 40 degrees during the game.

-- Davis is missing his first Raiders game in 29 years. Davis, 79, is dealing with knee and ankle issues.

-- NFC West blogger Mike Sando gives an interesting breakdown why John Parry may be officiating tonight's showdown in San Diego.

-- The Raiders are expected to act quickly in determining their next head coach.

-- Here's a heart-tugging story on the health of Chargers' owner Alex Spanos.

-- According to ESPN's Stats & Information, the Broncos have a minus-47 points differential and are on pace to have the worst points differential of any division winner if they win tonight in San Diego.

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