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Monday, June 1, 2009
Ten AFC West players to build around


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, cornerbacks, 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.