AFC West Draft Outlook

After taking a bit of a hiatus from our draft previews, we’re back with the AFC West preview. We got some help from a few folks on these previews, so they deserve some big shout-outs. Vid from the Draft Breakdown forums helped out with the Chiefs preview and former Pensblog jobber Raybin dropped some Raiders knowledge on us.
AFC West Draft Outlook
2009 Record: 13-3
Lost 17-14 to the New York Jets in AFC Divisional Round
Draft Picks: 28 (1-28), 40 (2-8), 91 (3-27), (4-28), (5-28), (5-37), (7-28)
Running back, running back, running back. San Diego let LT walk this offseason, seemingly opening the hole for the Chargers to draft a back. We really like Ryan Matthews from Fresno State, but he might get picked before San Diego drafts at the end of the first round. San Diego could also use some help along the defensive front. Their run defense was atrocious last year and was exposed against the Jets in the playoffs. They traded CB Antonio Cromartie to the Jets this offseason for a 3rd round pick in the 2011 draft. Cromartie had a few down years after his stand-out year. With only Darren Sproles at running back, adding one that can step in immediately is a huge priority. The Chargers also need help at RT and CB.
AFC West Draft Outlook
2009 Record: 8-8
Draft Picks: 11 (1-11), 45 (2-13), 80 (3-16), (4-16), (6-14), (7-13)
Denver is still living through the ramifications of the Jay Cutler trade. They are not in as precarious a position as Chicago, but they still have some holes that need filled. Denver was probably the most surprising team in the league last year running out to a 6-0 record, then dropping 8 of their last 10 games. On offense, they lack big-time playmakers besides Brandon Marshall (who has been doing his best to try to get out of town). Knowshon Moreno could become a playmaker at RB, but Kyle Orton will never be a big-time QB talent. However, as the Broncos showed, they don’t need a stellar QB to lead the team to victory. A guy like Orton is solid and just gets the job done.
Denver’s holes are on defense. During their winning streak, Denver was playing shut-down defense. However they were exposed in their losses: particularly their run defense. Guys like Dan Williams (NT-Tennessee) or Rolondo McClain (LB-Alabama) could step in right away and improve their run defense. Denver’s secondary is decent, but could use some added depth.
AFC West Draft Outlook
2009 Record: 5-11
Draft Picks: 8 (1-8), 39 (2-7), 68 (3-5), (4-8), (5-7), (5-27), (7-8), (7-44)
I got Retired Pensblog Jobber-in-Training Raybin to answer some questions via Twitter about the Raiders. For general sarcastic humor about everything, as well as hockey and football talk, follow him.
What do you see as the biggest need(s) for Oakland to address this offseason?
Offensive and defensive line. The game is won in the trenches and we’ve got major gaps in the wire. or something.
Who is on your draft wish list?
In my fantasy world, Davis finds a way to trade up and draft Ndamukong Suh. In reality, though, I’m hoping for Trent Williams, the offensive tackle from Oklahoma in the first round. Hopefully Al goes that way, because Williams is nearly as athletic as Bruce Campbell and has much MUCH more experience.

On the defensive side of the ball, I’d like Al to take a long, hard look at Cam Thomas, the nose tackle out of North Carolina. He’s big, bad run stuffer and unlike Gerard Warren he actually tries on every play. He’s also, from what I read, a great locker room presence. He could draw the double teams that can unleash Seymour.

I’d also like to see a guard drafted (John Jerry from Ole Miss or Mike Johnson from Alabama) and/or a center (JD Walton from Baylor or Eric Olsen from Notre Dame) in the mid rounds. A depth cornerback who can return some kicks would be pretty sweet as well.
Our Take: Oakland is one of those teams where you either know exactly what they’re going to do or have no idea what they’re going to do. Al Davis loves athletic freaks, which pretty much means that he’ll be targeting Bruce Campbell (OT-Maryland), Jason Pierre-Paul (DE-South Florida), or Taylor Mays (S-USC). None of those three are really top 10 talents, and Al Davis is known for wheeling and dealing during the draft. Don’t be shocked if the Raiders trade up or down just because Al Davis likes to be at the center of the action.

AFC West Draft Outlook
2009 Record: 4-12
Draft Picks: 5 (1-5), 36 (2-4), 50 (2-18), 68 (3-4), (4-4), (5-4), (5-10), (5-12)
Kansas City is loaded with draft picks, and they’re all in the first 5 rounds of the draft. For what it’s worth, they believe in Matt Cassel as their starting quarterback. Switching to a 3-4 defense last season enabled them to generate some more pressure on the quarterback, but they still lack some playmakers on the defensive side of the ball.
Our buddy Vid, an active member and resident Chiefs expert on the forums, was kind enough to drop some knowledge on us about Kansas City.
1. What do you see as the biggest need(s) for your team to address this offseason?
The biggest need(s) was to fill the offensive and defensive coordinator spots, which we did beautifully. Our offense struggled last year and a big reason for that was Haley firing Chan Gailey a week before the season. I firmly believed we’d get a big name OC or DC, but not both. Weis and Crennel will fit in here and they both instantly make this team better.
2. Which positions of need do you think would be better addressed in Free Agency? In the draft?
I really would have liked to see Dansby here in KC, because ILB is arguably our biggest need, but I don’t see Pioli paying what he’s getting in Miami.

Boldin would have been another great signing (KC led the league in drops), and the rumor was that we were in the mix there, but to a rebuilding team, giving up a 3rd and 4th was probably too steep. Not to mention the fact that he’s going to be 30 and is injured quite a bit.

As far as the draft goes, ILB and Safety are our two biggest needs. Our run defense, like the past few years, has been downright abysmal. When you give up 280 yards to Jerome Harrison, something is wrong. ILB absolutely has to be addressed through the draft this year as we don’t have anyone of starting quality on the roster.

Safety has been a trouble spot for a few seasons. I was a big fan of Pollard, but bad angles and missing tackles was a bit too much. I’m still extremely high on Page, but I see him more of a SS. When he was hurt we had Mike Brown and Jon McGraw starting. Yeah, not good.

After that, interior offensive line has been a problem for a few years. Right Guard and Center need to be upgraded before this team moves forward offensively. It’s that simple.
3. Who is on your draft wish list?
I absolutely love Rolando McClain, the LB from Alabama. Great instincts, great awareness, and he’d bring a real leader to a defense that clearly lacks one. That said, I seriously doubt we pull the trigger at 5th overall.

If Rolando McClain is 1a, Eric Berry is 1b. This kid is going to be a special player in this league. Quick, instinctive and intelligent. Many people liken him to Ed Reed, which might be a stretch, but if he’s half the player that Reed is, you’ve got a Pro-Bowler.

Dez Bryant is someone I’ve been keeping an eye on. As I previously mentioned, we led the league in drops, so anyone who can catch a pass would be a welcome addition. I’m not as worried about the character concerns as some and I could see him cracking the top 5. Outside of Bowe, who has had a case of the drops lately, and Chambers who might not re-sign (as I’m writing this he has not) we have little in the way of depth. Any offensive weapons that can help Cassel sounds good to me.

I’m in the minority of Chiefs fans thinking that OT is not a first round need, but after these guys I could see us taking Oklahoma State OT Russell Okung or Iowa OT Bryan Bulaga, though neither would be on my list.

Obviously if Suh or McCoy were to fall to 5 they’d get a long look. There has been some interest in Glenn Dorsey, and either of those guys look as if they could be elite 3-4 DEs.
Our Take:

Kansas City is starting to turn things around and the new ownership has done a pretty good job cleaning up the mess that Herm Edwards left behind. Kansas City needs playmakers on both offense and defense to take them to the next level to contend for the AFC West crown. With Philip Rivers in the division, I would put a play-making safety like Eric Berry at the top of my wish list. Don’t be shocked if Kansas City goes after a running back to compliment Jamaal Charles in the middle rounds of the draft. Charles showed last year that he can be a gamebreaker, and picking up a power back like Toby Gerhart would give the Chiefs offense some extra punch. If they don’t take McClain in the first round, there are a few linebackers like Sean Witherspoon (ILB-Mizzou) available at the top of the 2nd round. With their background seeped in Patriots staff, don’t be surprised if New England West is active on draft weekend. With the number of picks they have, I fully expect the Chiefs staff to be open to any trades that are thrown their way.
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