AFC West

This is the fourth part of our series, analyzing every division in the league headed into next Thursday’s draft. You can read our previous posts covering the AFC East, AFC North, and AFC South here.

As always, feel free to let us know what you think in the comment thread… enjoy!

Denver Broncos (8-8)

The Broncos had a miserable end to their season last year, finishing things off on a 2-8 streak that left them on the outside looking in for one of the final AFC playoff spots. Injuries, attitude problems, and poor coaching decisions led to much of the frustration, and as such, Denver has gone to great lengths this off-season to build up their depth chart at key positions and send off players who were unwilling to toe the line set by head coach Josh McDaniels. The Broncos still have more than a few holes to fill, but with four picks in the first 80 selections, they should emerge from this draft class, well equipped for the 2010 campaign.

  • Players added: QB Brady Quinn, DT Jamal Williams, DE Jarvis Green, CB Nate Jones, DE Justin Bannan, RB J.J. Arrington
  • Players lost: WR Brandon Marshall, RB Peyton Hillis, C Casey Wiegmann, RB LaMont Jordan, DE Kenny Peterson, LB Andra Davis, QB Chris Simms

Major Needs:

  • Wide Receiver – Sending Brandon Marshall packing for Miami was the right move for the Broncos, but it leaves them extremely weak at the position, and as such they’ll have to devote at least one high value pick towards a receiver, if not two to replace Marshall’s production.
  • Linebacker – Denver has one of the league’s best pass rushers in Elvis Dumervil, but the interior of their linebacker corps needs a lot of work. Expect to see this need addressed fairly early next week.
  • Center – With Casey Wiegmann headed back to Kansas City, the Broncos have to find someone capable of backing up Ben Hamilton effectively. It can likely wait until the middle part of the draft, but if Denver has one of the top players at the position drop into their laps early on, they’ll likely pull the trigger to get him into the fold.

2010 Draft Picks:

  • 1st (11)
  • 2nd (43, 45)
  • 3rd (80)
  • 4th (114)
  • 6th (183)
  • 7th (220)

Kansas City Chiefs (4-12)

With just 10 wins in the past three seasons, the Chiefs have set a new standard for futility in their franchise, and are pushing hard this off-season to right the ship so to speak. Bringing in the top two coordinators available in Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel should free up head coach Todd Haley to focus on managing the game as a whole, and certainly lends credibility to a team in dire need of it. That said, there’s still a ton of work to be done if Kansas City has any desire to get back to the consistent level of play they had in the 1990s, and finding a multitude of quality players in this draft is the first step.

  • Players added: RB Thomas Jones, C Casey Wiegmann, OG Ryan Lilja, DT Shaun Smith, WR Jerheme Urban
  • Players lost: OG Andy Alleman, OG Wade Smith, OG Mike Goff

Major Needs:

  • Linebacker – The Chiefs have seemingly been lacking a physical presence in the middle of their defense since the dawn of mankind, and it’s caused all sorts of wailing and gnashing of teeth among their fans, with missed tackles often outnumbering the legitimate ones. Tamba Hali was a pleasant surprise last season and should be primed for another solid year, but outside of him, Kansas City really doesn’t have a whole lot, so they’re going to need to address the inside LB and outside LB spots early on.
  • Safety – There is no way the Chiefs can go into this season with Jon McGraw and Mike Brown as their starters at this position, as they both provide little in regards to defensive production, and give up too many big plays. Fortunately for KC, they’ll likely have an opportunity to take a top notch safety at some point in this draft, and should be better next season as a result.
  • Defensive Tackle – Kansas City has a bevy of solid players on the outside of their defensive line, but the nose tackle spot is a big hole at this point, and they’ll need to fix it with one of their top picks to ensure they’ll be better against the run next fall.

2010 Draft Picks:

  • 1st (5)
  • 2nd (36, 50)
  • 3rd (68)
  • 4th (102)
  • 5th (136, 142, 144)

Oakland Raiders (5-11)

Seven consecutive losing seasons tells the story here, and a large part of the blame for that has to fall on the shoulders of the Raiders front office… errr… Al Davis, as their draft classes over that span have been abysmal as a whole. Oakland has found several quality players as of late though, and could make the turn back towards respectability with a reasonably decent slate of choices next week, but that will require Davis to stay away from the controls and unfortunately for Raider Nation, that’s not happening anytime soon.

  • Players added: QB Kyle Boller, LB Kamerion Wimbley
  • Players lost: DT Gerard Warren, OT Cornell Green, DE Greg Ellis, WR Javon Walker, LB Jon Alston

Major Needs:

  • Offensive Tackle – The Raiders have really struggled as of late to find anyone capable of keeping opposing pass rushers at bay on a consistent basis, and as such, they’ll need to use a high round pick this year to address this need. It could come in round one or potentially even in round two, depending on which player Davis fell in love with at the Combine.
  • Quarterback – For some strange reason, Davis still thinks of JaMarcus Russell as a legitimate quarterback at the pro level, and is determined to have him as his starter when the Raiders open up their season this fall. Oakland doesn’t have all that much behind Russell to sway Davis’ opinion, but anyone would be better at this point.
  • Cornerback – One side of the field is locked down under Nnamdi Asomugha, but things aren’t quite the same on the other half, with a rotation of players struggling to contain opposing receivers. Finding a quality player at this position next week would go a long way towards fixing that.

2010 Draft Picks:

  • 1st (8)
  • 2nd (39)
  • 3rd (69)
  • 4th (106)
  • 5th (138, 158)
  • 7th (215, 251)

San Diego Chargers (13-3)

The Chargers are clearly the team to beat in this division, and that isn’t likely to change between now and the season opener in September, even if another club puts together an excellent draft. With one of the league’s best signal callers in Philip Rivers and an outstanding group of receivers led by Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates, San Diego should have little difficulty on offense next fall against much weaker competition on the other side of the ball. That said, their defense is going to need some work, and if they’re unable to find a worthy replacement for their longtime stalwart in the middle, Jamal Williams, the Chargers could have have difficulty stopping opponents throughout the season.

  • Players added: RB Marcus Mason, CB Donald Strickland, CB Nathan Vasher
  • Players lost: RB LaDainian Tomlinson, RB Michael Bennett, DT Jamal Williams, QB Charlie Whitehurst, CB Antonio Cromartie, TE Brandon Manumaleuna, WR Kassim Osgood, WR Demetrius Byrd, C Eric Ghiaciuc

Major Needs:

  • Running Back – Saying good bye to a future hall of fame rusher in LaDainian Tomlinson wasn’t easy, but in the end, it was the right thing to do. It could cause some issues with the Chargers offense early on, as players get adjusted to life without him, but if San Diego plays its cards right, they should be able to grab a solid player to step into the gap early on next Thursday.
  • Defensive End – The Chargers really don’t have much outside of Luis Castillo at this spot, making it a high priority for the club in this draft class. Finding a five technique defender is easier said than done though, and they may have to bide their time a bit until someone worthy of a selection comes along.
  • Defensive Tackle – The loss of Jamal Williams cannot be overstated, in that he gave the Chargers the dominant presence in the interior of their defensive line that they need to make their 3-4 defense a force to be reckoned with. Williams has been injured often in recent years though, so San Diego should be fairly well versed in playing effectively without him around. Look for the Chargers to go after a player with the ability to play big in the middle with one of their high round picks.

2010 Draft Picks:

  • 1st (28)
  • 2nd (40)
  • 3rd (91)
  • 4th (126)
  • 5th (159, 168)
  • 7th (235)

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