AFC West: Star Lotulelei

As the NFL draft approaches, there has been growing speculation that both the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers could be involved in trades early in the process.

The Raiders have been receiving calls for the No. 3 pick and the pick is expected to be a pivot point in the draft. Oakland may get plenty of calls while on the clock. It is interested in trading down to help stock a depleted roster. It has been heavily speculated that Cleveland could move up from No. 6 to No. 3.

That would be a gift to Oakland.

The Raiders would then slide to No. 6 and get solid compensation and then still be able to grab a top defensive talent such as Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd or Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei.

Meanwhile, there has been growing speculation that the Chargers could move way up from No. 11 to grab a top left tackle. That is the team’s most glaring need and there is no way a top left tackle will be available at No. 11.

Still, I think it would be difficult for the Chargers to pull the trigger on one big move up. This is a team that is rebuilding. It needs help at a lot of positions. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said he thinks the Chargers could even trade their 2014 first-round pick to get in a position to get Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel. A potential trade partner could even be Oakland.

Giving a division rival a first-round pick would be difficult to swallow. I understand the Chargers’ need for a blindside protector for Philip Rivers, but at what price?

These potential big trades add to the drama of the first round in the AFC West.
The first round of the NFL draft is 24 hours away and the suspense over who the Kansas City Chiefs will take with the first pick is growing rapidly.

There has been a groundswell of national media speculation that Central Michigan left tackle Eric Fisher will be the Chiefs’ first pick. For weeks, the consensus was that Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel would be the choice.

Both players are considered similar talents. Joeckel may have an edge because of the level of competition he faced in college, but Fisher is considered nastier with perhaps more physical gifts.

I am not surprised by this guessing game. It is rare that the No. 1 pick has yet to be destined at this point. So, all the last-minute second-guessing is to be expected.

I think both players are still on the table and I wouldn’t be shocked if either player was the pick. Kansas City general manager John Dorsey said four unnamed players are being considered, which could mean they're also looking at Oregon pass-rusher Dion Jordan or Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. The Chiefs, though unlikely, could even trade the pick.

We will know the answer soon enough, but the guessing game will likely continue until the Chiefs’ pick hits the podium.
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

What’s the ideal first-round scenario for each team?


The Broncos are in a decent position sitting at No. 28. Yes, all of the elite players will be long gone. But the Broncos can get better at this spot. Denver doesn’t have many pressing needs, but it can surely upgrade at a few positions. Among the spots Denver could use some help at are on the defensive line, running back, cornerback and middle linebacker. This is a deep class on the defensive line and at cornerback, and the better running backs and inside linebackers may be available late in the first round. Denver would love to see these players available at No. 28: Alabama running back Eddie Lacy, Florida State pass-rushers Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant and Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden. I think, at least, one of these players will be available. Thus, Denver should get a player it covets.

Kansas City

Since the Chiefs will start the draft with the No. 1 pick, they dictate the show. But we’ve long talked about this being a bad year for the Chiefs to have the top pick. After a tremendous quarterback class last year, this year’s crop is devoid of top talent. The Chiefs could still find talent at the top of the draft, but they would prefer to trade out of the top spot to collect more picks and get out of paying the highest rookie contract. For that to happen, some team will have to come out of the woodwork. Thus far, there aren’t many indications there will be a market for the top pick. But if some team falls in love with a specific player, the Chiefs would accommodate them.


The Raiders are in a similar spot as the Chiefs -- they want to trade down. In fact, Oakland likely wants to deal the No. 3 pick more than the Chiefs want to get rid of the No. 1 pick. Oakland badly needs to stock its roster. Trading the No. 3 pick may be easier than dealing the No. 1 pick. The price will be less and teams may be intrigued by the way the first two picks fall. So, I could see Oakland getting a suitable trade offer while on the clock. Oakland would love to still get a top-15 pick to get a top defensive talent and recoup its second-round pick lost in the Carson Palmer debacle. Now, if the Raiders don’t make a trade, they will be in good shape at No. 3. The Raiders badly need defensive talent. Among the top defensive prospects are Oregon pass-rusher Dion Jordan, Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner. At least two of those players will be available at No. 3, so Oakland will be sitting pretty.

San Diego

This is pretty simple: The Chargers want to see Oklahoma left tackle Lane Johnson still on the board at No. 11. But it may be iffy. The Chargers have a lot of needs, but no need is greater than at left tackle. The Chargers do not have a blindside protector for quarterback Philip Rivers. That’s scary. But there is no sure thing San Diego will find its left tackle in the draft. Top prospects Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher will both be gone by the time the Chargers pick. Johnson has been a fast riser and there is a good chance he will be gone. Arizona at No. 7 is considered a strong landing spot for the super-athletic Johnson. The Chargers need quarterback Geno Smith to go in the top seven picks. If the Eagles take him at No. 4, it could push Fisher to No. 7 and Johnson to No. 11. If the Cardinals take Smith, Johnson could fall to the Chargers.
Here are some highlights from our AFC West chat, which was held earlier Thursday:


Michael Murphy from Thornton, Colo.: Why does everybody think Denver is going to take a Cornerback? They are 5 deep. Bailey, DRC, Harris, Bolden, and Carter. All but Bailey are under the age of 26 I believe.

Bill Williamson: [Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie] is on a one-year deal. If Denver sees a CB it loves, it could very well take him.

Kansas City

Mike from Temecula, Calif.: Bill, don’t you feel the chiefs should go ahead and sign Albert long term and draft Defense.sounds like just swapping left tackles is a waste when they could add Jorden or Star L. to an already good defense.

BW: Yes, I think [that] would be a strong option. I'd really think about taking Star Lotulelei with the top pick.


Joseph Hill from St. George, Utah: Bill, how do you think Jenkins/Porter duo will compare to Bartell/Spencer from last year? Better or worse?

BW: Better. Much better. This combo isn't great. But those guys last year were cooked.

San Diego

Ben K. from Santa Barbara, Calif.: If the top three tackles are gone, do you think there are teams that would be willing to trade up for the chargers pick at 11? They just have so many holes to fill and in a deep draft class like this any extra picks could be a huge help.

BW: Yeah, No. 11 is a good trade spot. The board starts to take shape and some players start to fall. I think the Chargers may be able to trade down if they want.
Earlier in the draft process, I pegged Utah defensive lineman Star Lotulelei as the player I thought the Kansas City Chiefs should take with the No.1 overall pick.

Many scouts I talked to believed he was the best overall player available in the draft and I thought he would help the Chiefs immediately.

As the draft process has evolved, the focus has moved away from Lotulelei. The Chiefs have closely studied him and he could theoretically still be the No. 1 overall pick in the April 25 draft. But the focus has been on tackles Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher in recent weeks.

I understand the Joeckel and Fisher talk. Joeckel is probably the favorite to be the choice because of their potential need at left tackle depending on how the Branden Albert situation works out.

But I also think Lotulelei would be a strong choice. Now that his heart issue at the combine has been resolved, I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be a candidate to be the top pick.

He is versatile and he could shine as a 3-4 defensive end. He would be yet another young talent on defense. Lotulelei is polished and productive and while I doubt he’ll be the choice, I think he’d be as good as any other choice in this year’s draft for the Chiefs.
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay conducted a conference call with several members of our blog network last week while I was on vacation. Even though I was not on the call, NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert was gracious enough to ask a question for me.

I had Seifert ask McShay if he thought Florida defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd or Utah defensive lineman Star Lotulelei would be a better fit for the Raiders. Both players are considered potential choices of Oakland with the No. 3 pick. Floyd has been most connected to Oakland, but Lotulelei could be a nice fit as well.

When McShay began to answer the question, he said Floyd probably would be a better fit for Oakland than Lotulelei, but McShay said he thinks Lotulelei is a better overall player and could fit the Raiders as well.

Floyd is considered a more natural 4-3 defensive tackle. However, McShay said he thinks Lotulelei can play the spot as well.

“Floyd probably makes more sense for Oakland, but not necessarily,” McShay said. “I think Floyd has a chance to be highly disruptive. But the lack of sack production is concerning considering how quick he is. Lotulelei is a much more dominant run-defender and he might, when it is all said and done, have greater sack production [than Floyd] although he does it in a different way.”

If Oakland agrees with McShay, Lotulelei may get a long look. Oakland has to score with this pick. And because the defense is being totally reconstructed, I think Oakland can be flexible and not worry as much about specific fit, but focus on overall impact.
Let’s take a look at some possible targets of the San Diego Chargers, who have the No. 11 pick in the April 25-27 draft:


Why is he a top prospect? He is ultra-fast and a big-time playmaker. Great film and great workouts.

How would he help? He could give some much-needed life to San Diego's offense -- a nice fit for a group that needs a smallish-type receiver.

What are the risks? He is tiny at 5-foot-8, 173 pounds. Teams always worry whether little guys can make the transition to the rigorous NFL.

How he could be the choice: I think he’d be a backup plan. But Austin would fill a need, and San Diego could be tempted to add an explosive piece.


Why is he a top prospect? A player with few holes. Alabama guard Chance Warmack is one of the highest-rated guards to come into the NFL in years. Some scouts think Cooper is just as good.

How would he help? The Chargers have big needs on the offensive line. Cooper would be an instant starter.

What are the risks? Do you want to take a guard that high? Top guards are typically available later in the draft.

How he could be the choice: If the Chargers think he is better than Warmack or if Warmack is taken in the top 10, Cooper could be the pick if the left-tackle options are gone.


Why is he a top prospect? Huge target who has everything you look for in a tight end -- speed, hands and the ability to block.

How would he help? Antonio Gates is getting older and has long dealt with health issues. Eifert could help as an immediate weapon and as a long-term answer.

What are the risks? Taking a tight end at No. 11 might be a bit high.

How he could be the choice: Another backup option. Could be a target if the Chargers trade down.


Why is he a top prospect? He is a massive man at 6-4, 335 pounds. You need to buy a passport to complete the trip around him.

How would he help? He projects as a right tackle in the NFL. He’d start right away.

What are the risks? The Chargers need a left tackle and a guard more than a right tackle. Fluker might be too clunky for a unit that wants to get sleeker.

How he could be the choice: If the Chargers love him more than some other linemen, he could be the selection.


Why is he a top prospect? The former quarterback is super athletic, strong and fast. A sky-is-the-limit type.

How would he help? He would step in and be the Chargers’ left tackle.

What are the risks? There is real concern the Cardinals could take him at No. 7. Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher are expected to be taken among the top five picks.

How he could be the choice: If Johnson is there, he very likely will be the choice.


Why is he a top prospect? Stellar anchor to a defensive line. He is versatile and productive.

How would he help? He would be a great nose tackle on what would be a great, young front three with ends Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes. A potentially awesome trio.

What are the risks? There were major health concerns when tests at the NFL combine in February showed Lotulelei had heart issues. He has been cleared; still, there would be worries in the back of some teams’ minds.

How he could be the choice: If Johnson is gone, I think the Chargers would have a hard time passing on this Star if he is on the board at No. 11.


Why is he a top prospect? Fast, polished, NFL-ready cover cornerback who has succeeded at the highest level.

How would he help? Milliner could step in and start along free-agent pickup Derek Cox, giving the Chargers a nice cornerback tandem.

What are the risks? He very well could be taken in the first six picks -- perhaps as high as No. 3 to Oakland.

How he could be the choice: If he is available, I think the Chargers will think long and hard about Milliner.


Why is he a top prospect? He is a freakish athlete who makes big plays. Top middle linebacker in the draft.

How would he help? He would be an inside linebacker in the 3-4 and be yet another excellent young front-seven player in San Diego.

What are the risks? He has a recent drunken driving arrest and other off-field concerns.

How he could be the choice: A backup plan. He could be intriguing if the Chargers drop back a few spots.


Why is he a top prospect? He can hit, run and cover.

How would he help? An Eric Weddle-Vaccaro safety tandem would be strong. It would give a nice identity to San Diego’s defense.

What are the risks? The 11th pick might be too high for a safety this year, considering it is a deep class.

How he could be the choice: Again, he might be an option if the Chargers slide back a few picks.


Why is he a top prospect? A classic guard who has a chance to be dominant.

How would he help? He’d be the Chargers' best offensive lineman.

What are the risks? He might be off the board.

How he could be the choice: I think the Chargers will go into draft day envisioning Warmack as a real possibility to wear a lightning bolt on his helmet.

Oakland Raiders draft options

March, 30, 2013
We have discussed extensively what the Kansas City Chiefs might do with the No. 1 pick. Now, leading up to the NFL draft (April 25-27), we will take deeper looks at possibilities for the three other teams in the AFC West. We start with the Oakland Raiders, who have the No. 3 overall selection:


Why is he a top prospect? He has a great combination of size, speed and athleticism and is a hard worker.

How would he help? The Raiders have a need at defensive end and he could be an immediate contributor.

What are the risks? Ansah will turn 24 in May and is still pretty raw. There are worries that the NFL game would be too big for him.

How he could be the choice: He’d probably be considered a surprise. He is looked at more as a top-10 selection, not a top-three choice. But if the Raiders think he is the best defensive end, he could be the pick.


Why is he a top prospect? He is a huge, athletic tackle who appears to be NFL-ready.

How would he help? He could be moved to right tackle and, along with left tackle Jared Veldheer, give Oakland a monstrous pair of bookend tackles.

What are the risks? Fisher comes from a small school and there is concern that NFL defensive ends could be too strong for him.

How he could be the choice: If the Raiders are bent on working on the offensive line, he could be the pick.


Why is he a top prospect? Great athlete. He has all the tools. Scouts think he can be a dominant player.

How would he help? He would slide right into the middle of Oakland’s defensive line and become an anchor on a unit that is being rebuilt.

What are the risks? His game film didn’t always live up to the billing. He might look better than he plays.

How he could be the choice: If the Raiders believe his ability is too much to pass up, and if he gets past the first two picks, I think Floyd can easily be the choice.


Why is he a top prospect? Ideal NFL left tackle. Hard worker, wants to be great.

How would he help? See Fisher.

What are the risks? Some worry that he might not be stout or mean enough to be a great NFL player.

How he could be the choice: Many think Joeckel is the best player available. If the Raiders agree and think he is too good to pass up at No. 3, he could be the choice.


Why is he a top prospect? Many people think he is the most productive and dynamic pass-rusher available.

How would he help? The Raiders are begging for a pass-rusher. They badly need one.

What are the risks? There are medical concerns (Jones has suffered from a narrowing of the spine), and he doesn’t have ideal speed.

How he could be the choice: He will probably drop, so he could be an ideal choice if Oakland trades down.


Why is he a top prospect? Great size and work ethic. Teams think he has a huge ceiling.

How would he help? Oakland needs great defensive players. Jordan could be one of the best players on this defense when he steps onto the field.

What are the risks? He might never reach his ceiling.

How he could be the choice: He is like Ansah -- a draft riser. But will he go as high as the third pick?


Why is he a top prospect? Great numbers across the board and he produces on the field. Very disruptive.

How would he help? Like Floyd, he’d fill a huge void on a rebuilding defense.

What are the risks? Medical evaluations at the combine discovered a heart issue, but Lotulelei has since been cleared. Still, teams will worry about his long-term health.

How he could be the choice: If Oakland feels good about his health and thinks Lotulelei is a better fit than Floyd, he could be the pick.


Why is he a top prospect? Many scouts think he is the best cornerback available. He has great speed.

How would he help? The Raiders are desperate for help at cornerback and Milliner could be a long-term solution.

What are the risks? Some scouts think that Milliner is not worth the No. 3 pick and that he might never become a great player.

How he could be the choice: If the Raiders believe they must get a young player at this pivotal spot, they could look to Milliner.


Why is he a top prospect? Classic pass-rusher. Long body, great athlete.

How would he help? Again, this team needs an impact pass-rusher.

What are the risks? He is raw and there is concern his great ability won’t translate to the NFL game.

How he could be the choice: If the Raiders believe Mingo has greater upside than most of the players on this board, I can see the fit. But right now, taking him with the No. 3 pick might be high.


Why is he a top prospect? He is the best quarterback available in a weak class. He has a good skill set.

How would he help? If Carson Palmer is cut and if the Raiders don’t trade for Matt Flynn and if they don't believe Terrelle Pryor is a long-term answer.

What are the risks? Scouts worry he will never be exceptional. There are a lot of question marks.

How he could be the choice: If the Raiders fall in love, Smith will be a Raider. There is no more important position on the field -- even if it means Oakland takes Smith instead of filling other needs.
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has offered another mock draftInsider in an Insider piece. This time, McShay is going two rounds deep. Let’s take a look at his choices for the AFC West teams:

First round

1. Kansas City: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M,

My take: This looks like the most official pick at this point. Things can change, but it looks like Joeckel.

3. Oakland: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

My take: This is very interesting. But with the Carson Palmer situation percolating, Smith may be the choice. Still, Oakland has great needs on defense.

11. San Diego: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

My take: This would be awesome value and the Chargers would have a nasty front three. But where is the left tackle? It’s the Chargers’ greatest need. But Lane Johnson is off the board, so I like the Star choice.

28. Denver: Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame

My take: It could happen, but the Broncos also need a running back and a pass-rusher. But if Te’o is the best player on the board, he should be the choice.

Second round

45. San Diego: Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

My take: There’s the tackle for San Diego. Is he ready to start? We’ll see, but he was a combine star. Great athlete.

55. Denver: Sio Moore, LB, Connecticut

My take: He’s an athletic weakside linebacker.

Note: Kansas City and Oakland do not have picks in the second round.

AFC West mock draft: Take IV

March, 21, 2013
With the first phase of free agency over, here is my fourth mock draft for AFC West teams' first-round picks. We will periodically update as we move closer to the April draft.

1. Kansas City Chiefs: OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M. It still looks like Joeckel is going to be the pick, even if he has to play right tackle for the time being. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Chiefs seriously consider Utah defensive lineman Star Lotulelei now that he is healthy. But for now, we’re sticking with Joeckel.

Previous pick: Joeckel

3. Oakland Raiders: DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida. Yes, Oakland has signed two defensive tackles in Pat Sims and Vance Walker. But they combined for 10 starts last season. There is room for Floyd. I am tempted to go with Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner because of the lack of cornerbacks in Oakland, but we’re sticking with Floyd for the moment. He is a more highly rated player.

Previous pick: Floyd

11. San Diego Chargers: OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma. At this point, the Chargers better hope Johnson is still on the board. He should be, but there aren’t many other great left tackle options for this team and for Philip Rivers’ blind side.

Previous pick: Johnson.

28. Denver Broncos: RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama. The Broncos don’t have many holes and they were productive in free agency. Adding a player like Lacy would add another dimension to a strong offense.

Previous pick: LB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame.

Video: Lotulelei's Utah pro day

March, 20, 2013
Star Lotulelei, who could be a draft target of either the Chiefs or Raiders, works out at Utah's pro day less than a month after an abnomal test result forced him to miss the NFL combine.
The Denver Broncos are making plans that indicate they are considering moving away from pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil

ESPN’s Ed Werder reports the Broncos will host Colts’ pass-rusher Dwight Freeney tonight and have a visit planed with former Atlanta pass-rusher John Abraham.

Denver reportedly has an offer out to Dumervil, who became a free agent last week after the now infamous fax machine fiasco. Denver may be trying to put pressure on Dumervil, who also has interest from Baltimore and Pittsburgh, to make up his mind.

The Denver Post reports Dumervil is not thrilled with Denver’s offer and he will make some visits. The risk is that the other offers may not be as large as Denver’s.

Dumervil is a better player than Freeney, 33, and Abraham, 35, at this point. Abraham had a better year than Freeney last season. Regardless Denver is exploring other options. Unless Dumervil and the Broncos come back together, a new pass-rusher will be in Denver.

In other AFC West-related notes:
  • Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei had a terrific pro day workout Wednesday. It was vital for Lotulelei to have a strong performance. He couldn’t workout at the combine last month because of a heart issue. However, he has since been cleared medically. Lotulelei is considered one of the best prospects available in next months’ draft. He could be considered by both Kansas City, which has the No. 1 pick, and Oakland, which has the No. 3 pick.
Predictably, Oakland coach Dennis Allen didn’t come out and directly answer the question whether the Oakland Raiders will move to a 3-4 defense.

He said Tuesday that the team will be "multiple" in its alignments. But by the sound of his answer it seems like Allen is not going to shed his beliefs and adopt a new system. Oakland ran a 4-3 base defense last season.

“When I took the job, not only in Denver but when I took the job in Oakland, I believed in the ability to be multiple,” Allen said. “I like to be multiple but yet simple, and that's again, easier said than done sometimes. So I think now the fact that we have four starting-caliber linebackers, that's going to give us the ability to be more multiple. ... We spent a whole year putting in a defense and putting in a system of what we believe in. That core of what we believe in is not going to change. Now, we've got more ability and more flexibility in some of the things we can do, and we can add some things that we feel like can present some problems for the offense.”

It will be interesting to see how it develops in training camp and early in the season. There is no question that Oakland has pieces for both defenses. The versatility starts at linebacker.

The Raiders signed linebackers Nick Roach, Kevin Burnett and Kaluka Maiava. Plus, they have promising second-year linebacker Miles Burris. Allen said Tuesday that Roach is a 4-3 middle linebacker, not a 3-4 linebacker. However, Burnett is a 3-4 linebacker. So, Oakland has options.

There is a risk here in having some players to fit some schemes and some who fit others. The key will be to build depth and get enough quality players for each set.

But by reading into Allen’s words Tuesday, it would be a surprise if the Raiders stray from their current system.

Major tip to NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert for asking this question for me Tuesday at the NFL owners meeting.

The Raiders’ website has more of Allen’s comments from Tuesday’s owners meeting.

In other AFC West notes:

NFL Network reported the agent for Rolando McClain asked the Raiders to try to trade McClain. There won’t be a huge market for a slow, first-round bust with off-field issues. At some point, a decision is going to have to be made.

Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei has been cleared to work out after a heart issue kept him out of the NFL combine. He could potentially be a target of Kansas City with the No. 1 pick.

Please check out our free-agent tracker for updated free-agency movement.
It’s a big draft day at Along with Todd McShay’s latest mock draft , Mel Kiper offers his newest big board .

There is a new name atop the board. Kiper has Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd at No. 1. Floyd is a great athlete who has been rising up the board.

He is considered a perfect fit for a 4-3 defense and a bit of a forced fit for a 3-4 at defensive end. So, I’m not sure if he will be in play for the Chiefs with the No. 1 pick. But he’d be a great fit for Oakland at No. 3 and a great value. McShay has him tabbed for the Raiders.

Kiper’s second player on the board, Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner, may be a better fit for the Chiefs. He’d fill a need (if, of course, the Chiefs don’t address it in free agency).

Utah defensive lineman Star Lotulelei is McShay’s choice for the Chiefs at No. 1. Kiper, though, has him at No. 12 on his big board.

In other AFC West news:

Football Outsiders believe the Chiefs’ decision to give left tackle Branden Albert the franchise tag was right on the money.
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has offered another mock draftInsider in an Insider piece. Let’s take a look at his choices for the AFC West teams:

1. Kansas City: Star Lotulelei, DE, Utah

My take: If Lotulelei’s heart issues are cleared, I love this pick. I’ve long had Lotulelei tabbed here before his medical issue at the combine. I love the fit and I think he’s the best prospect for the Chiefs if he is healthy.

3. Oakland: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

My take: He was the choice for me in my latest mock draft. He’d fill a need and he is a fast riser. I think it makes perfect sense.

11. San Diego: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

My take: Johnson was my choice here in my last two mock drafts. He has been a draft-season star and he’d fill the Chargers’ greatest need. It fits.

28. Denver: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

My take: I still think Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te’o could be in play, but I have no problem with the Rhodes choice. He is a value player at a position Denver can use help. In fact, I had Rhodes at this spot before the Te’o hunch.