Hey guys. The draft is right around the corner, which means it's time to start talking football again. Whenever it's time to talk football, I invite j-man (SBNation's resident good-guy and AFC West fanatic) to toss in his two cents on what's going on around our division.
After the jump, j-man breaks down the draft needs of each AFC West team, offers who he thinks each team may be targeting and even does a mock draft of the first round of the upcoming draft.
Hello San Diego fans, j-man here. I will start my NFL Draft overview with SD's biggest needs:
Chargers team needs: RB DT NICKEL CB
Yes that would give the Bolts 3 nickel CBs. SD signed Nathan Vasher for the nickel spot, but his skills have fallen off the last 2 years due mostly to injury. What the Chargers need is a CB to push Vasher and Antoine Cason, someone who could start in 2011-12 would be ideal.
San Diego needs a young DT to replace the talent (and girth) of Jamal Williams as the Nose Tackle of their 3-4 defense. I think getting Terrence Cody with one of their first two picks would be a wise move for the Chargers to make.
While Darren Sproles is the prototypical "change of pace" RB, he is only half of the answer at the RB position. Due to the Bolts' extreme lack of RB depth, I think it would make the most sense for them to draft a RB in the 1st round and another one in the 4th or 5th. Getting Ryan Matthews in the 1st and LeGarrette Blount later on in the draft would make for a very versatile group of runners.
BOTTOM LINE: This is a 11-13 win team unless something very bad happens, like a major injury to a major player on the Chargers roster.
Broncos team needs: G-C ILB NICKEL CB P WR
The Broncos desperately need help on their interior Offensive Line. If Josh McDaniels wants to build a power running system, he's going to need to find linemen that don't get blown off the ball so much. No doubt about it, Denver will need to spend either the 11th or 45th pick on a strong OG or Center.
D.J. Williams is very solid at one of the ILB spots, but on the other side are journeymen that don't have much to offer. After dealing with the loss of DC Mike Nolan, the Broncos will have to use one of their top two picks to close up this hole in the 3-4 defense.
Unlike the Chargers, who would be getting a CB for depth and for the future, Denver needs young talent in their secondary that can perform this season. Alphonso Smith has the look of a bust, and the rest of the Bronco CBs are old and aging fast. Denver could look at Perrish Cox or Chris Cook in rounds 3-4.
The Broncos need to draft a Punter. Mitch Berger is a disaster.
Raiders team needs: OT LB(s) CB S QB
If they want to finally get some success out of the QB position, Oakland needs to add a strong Offensive Tackle that can pass protect. They have some good young linemen on their roster now, but they're too raw to count on them in 2010.
This may not please many San Diego fans, but Kirk Morrison regressed in 2009 (so did Thomas Howard). Slade Norris is now their best LB, and they're going to need to use this draft to eventually replace Morrison and/or Howard. Look for them to go after Dekoda Watson or Larry Hart, who are both very fast (remember: Al Davis loves speed).
I wouldn't be surprised to see the Raiders pick a CB high in this year's draft. I know that have Nnamdi Asomugha, but Chris Johnson had a down year in 2009 and has proven himself to be a better nickel CB than a starting CB. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah seems like he would be a great fit for this aggressive defense.
Michael Huff has been so inconsistent with the Raiders, showing flashes of great talent and following them up with some very disappointing stretches, that I think he needs a change of scenery. Mike Mitchell, who is still very raw, showed a lot of talent in 2009 and needs to be playing next to somebody he can rely on. If they're available, I could see Major Wright or Darrell Stuckey ending up in Oakland.
It's no secret that the Raiders have issues at QB. JaMarcus Russell is a hamburger short of 290lbs, which is good for a OT but not for a QB. Bruce Gradkowski is an improvement over Russell, but shouldn't seriously be considered as anything more than a #2 QB. Don't be surprised if you hear Sean Canfield's name called when the Raiders are on the clock in the later rounds. He's raw, but with the right coaching he could be the best QB on the team.
BOTTOM LINE: The Raiders could win 8 games this year, but Al Davis will probably force Tom Cable to start JaMarcus Russell for the first half of the season again....so look for 6 wins.
Chiefs team needs: S DT ILB RT/RG WR
The Chiefs might have the worst Safeties in the NFL. Eric Berry is a perfect fit for this team.
After watching him with the Broncos last season, I can say that Ron Edwards is a good player but not stout enough to be a 3-4 defensive lineman. Cam Thomas would be a good option at NT.
At ILB, Derrick Johnson has been inconsistent since being drafted by the Chiefs. Corey Mays had a good season in 2009, but I don't know if he can continue to play at that high level. If they can find a way to get Rolando McClain, that'd be a huge shot in the arm for their defense.
I know the commenters over at Arrowhead Pride have said that they don't need offensive line help, but they do. Matt Cassel, who's not quick to get rid of the ball to begin with, doesn't have enough time to make a play if his first option isn't open. Yes, the team and the offensive line was a little better at the end of the year, but it's easier to play well when there is nothing to play for. I think if they want to compete, the Chiefs need to pick up 1 or maybe even 2 good offensive linemen.
Chris Chambers and Dwayne Bowe showed themselves to be dangerous receivers in 2009, but this WR group is lacking any sort of deep threat. Golden Tate and Jordan Shipley would help the Chiefs to stretch the field, freeing Bowe and Chambers up for even more catches.
BOTTOM LINE: Sorry AP, but this is a bottom 5 team in terms of talent. I can't see them winning any more than 4-6 games.
1st round mock draft
STL QB BRADFORD
DET OKUNG OT
3 TB MCCOY-DT
4 WASH T WILLIAMS OT
5 KC E BERRY S
6 SEA B BULAGA T IOWA
7 CLE N SUH DT NEB
8 OAK A DAVIS OT
9 BUF J CLAUSSEN QB ND
1O JAX D MORGAN G TECH
11 DEN M IUPATI
12 MIA S KIDELE TEX
13 SF J HADEN
14 SEA E THOMAS S TEX
15 NYG R MCLAIN
16 TEN J-PIERRE-PAUL DE
17 SF B CAMPBELL OT
18 PITT M POUNCEY C
19 ATL B GRAHAM DE
20 HOU S WEATHERSPOON LB
21 CIN D BRYANT WR OK ST
22 NE J ODRICK DT PSU
23 GB K WILSON CB BOISE
24 PHILLY D MCKINNEY- CB RUTG
25 BALT J HUGUES TCU LB
26 ZONA P ROBINSON CB -FLA ST
27 DAL D WILLIAMS DT TENN
28 SD R MATTHEWS RB FRESNO
29 NYJ C WOOTEN DE -NW
30 MINN T MAYS S USC
31 INDY C BROWN OT USC
32 NO J GRISHAM TE OKIE