Thursday, March 17, 2011
Draft Watch: AFC West
By Bill Williamson
╗ 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: draft rewind -- examining the past five drafts.
Best choice: Elvis Dumervil, linebacker. The Broncos have had an uneven drafting history in the past five years. Many of Denver’s better picks are no longer with the team. Dumervil was a safe choice. He has been a very productive player since Denver took him the fourth round in 2006. Dumervil led the NFL with 17 sacks in 2009. He missed all of last season with a pectoral injury. Butáhe is considered a cornerstone of Denver’s defense as it begins the John Fox era.
Worst choice: Alphonso Smith, cornerback. There are a lot of candidates here, but I had to go with Smith. He edged out 2007 No. 17 overall pick Jarvis Moss, who was cut last season. Smith is the choice because he lasted one season in Denver and he cost the Broncos the No. 14 overall pick in 2010. Former Denver coach Josh McDaniels fell for Smith when he dropped to the second round in 2009. McDaniels, running his first NFL draft, traded the team’s first-round pick in 2010 to take Smith. He was replaced four times as a rookie, including by an undrafted rookie. Denver finally dumped him off to Detroit on the final cut-down day last year.
On the bubble: Knowshon Moreno, running back. There are a few choices here, but Moreno has to make immediate strides. The No. 12 overall pick in 2009 has had a slow start to his career. He’s had his moments, but he’s been plagued by injuries and an overall lack of productivity. If he doesn’t progress in 2011, the Broncos may have to make other plans at tailback.
Kansas City Chiefs
Best choice: Jamaal Charles, running back. Charles was a wonderful parting gift from the Carl Peterson era. He was part of Peterson’s final draft in Kansas City and was he a doozy. He was taken in the third round, with the No. 73 overall pick in 2008. The pick was acquired from Minnesota in the Jared Allen trade. Charles has developed into one of the best running backs in the NFL. He is a big reason why the Chiefs were a worst-to-first story in 2010.
Worst choice: Turk McBride, defensive lineman. The Chiefs haven’t had many overtly horrible picks in the past five years. I’m going with McBride because he was a second-round pick, No. 54 overall, in 2007. The defensive lineman spent his second season on the injured reserve and was cut in 2009.
On the bubble: Tyson Jackson. Jackson had potential to make Kansas City fans forget about McBride. The defensive end was the No. 3 overall pick in 2009. He hasn’t done much in two seasons. Still, the Chiefs are hopeful that the earnest Jackson will develop into a good player. He will have time to prove himself, but he will be watched closely.
Best choice: Zach Miller, tight end. The Raiders’ 2007 draft will always be remembered for the colossal JaMarcus Russell mistake. But the Raiders did find a gem with their very next pick. They took Miller in the second round with the No. 38 overall choice. Miller has developed into one of the better young tight ends in the NFL. He is a top offensive weapon.
Worst choice: JaMarcus Russell, quarterback. I didn’t have to do much debating on this one. Russell is considered by many league observers to be the worst draft pick of all time. He never improved and the Raiders gave up on him last spring at the age of 24. Russell is still out of the league.
On the bubble: Darrius Heyward-Bey, wide receiver. The No. 7 overall pick in 2009 needs to start producing on a consistent basis and he needs to show he can catch the ball. If not, Heyward-Bey will fall further behind Oakland’s other, more productive young receivers. Heyward-Bey has only 35 catches in 26 NFL games.
San Diego Chargers
Best choice: Marcus McNeill, left tackle. The Chargers have some solid picks in the past five years, but I’m going to go with McNeill. He is not an elite left tackle, but he is a very solid player who is a strong anchor to the offensive line. He is the long-term answer for San Diego at a key spot. San Diego is getting a lot of value for the No. 50 overall pick in 2006.
Worst choice: Buster Davis, wide receiver. The Chargers haven’t whiffed badly on a lot of picks in the past five years. But it looks as if Davis may not ever pan out as a Charger. He was the team’s first-round pick in 2007, No. 30 overall. His biggest issue has been staying healthy. He finally showed some promise last year, but he missed the final nine games with an injury. He has played only 26 games in four seasons.
On the bubble: Larry English, linebacker. English is the fourth 2009 first-round pick to make this list. Like the other three players, it’s time for English to show he can help his team. The Chargers took the Northern Illinois linebacker at No. 16 because of his high motor and ability to rush the passer. English, who already is 25, has only five sacks in two NFL seasons. He missed eight games because of injury in 2010. The Chargers probably will draft a pass-rusher in the first round, so English will have to fight for playing time in 2011.