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High picks are critical for AFC West teams to fill major voids

  • By Pat Kirwan NFL.com
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Denny Medley / US Presswire
The Chiefs won the AFC West at 10-6 last season, but each team in the division has big holes to fill in the draft.


Pat Kirwan examines the draft needs for all 32 teams, by division, this week. The biggest need for each team is listed first and followed in descending order.


AFC West

Denver Broncos

Needs: DE, S, TE, DT, RT, RB

Why are Broncos looking at QBs?
Despite having a plethora of quarterbacks on the roster, the Broncos are showing interest in some of the top prospects at the position heading toward the draft, says Vic Carucci. More ...

» Video: Will Broncos go QB at No. 2?

John Elway now runs the show in Denver, and he was smart enough to hire veteran coach John Fox. The switch to a 3-4 defense was a failed experiment, and Fox will switch back to a 4-3 scheme and needs the personnel to run it. Look for the Broncos to take two defensive linemen in their top four picks. There will be a very good defensive player available with the second overall pick.

After the defensive issues are resolved, a tight end and possibly a right tackle could be targeted. Some feel a running back could be on Fox's list since he operated with two backs in Carolina. Maybe the Broncos hit the free agent market to add backfield depth in the form of DeAngelo Williams, who Fox knows very well.

* Draft choices: Nos. 2, 36, 46, 67, 181, 184

Kansas City Chiefs

Needs: NT, WR, C, OLB, OT

The Chiefs will face a first-place schedule and need to get better in order to duplicate the 10-6 mark that won the division a year ago. A young nose tackle like Baylor's Phil Taylor would make sense in the first round, especially considering how general manager Scott Pioli built the Patriots with defensive linemen taken early in drafts.

A wide receiver opposite Dwayne Bowe would help open up the passing game and keep opponents from rolling coverage to his side of the field. I signed center Casey Wiegmann coming out of college as an undrafted free agent in 1996 and he is still playing at a Pro Bowl level. Even though he missed just one game over the last 10 years, it is time to add a young center. There might be a temptation to take an offensive tackle if a top prospect is still on the board at No. 21.

* Draft choices: Nos. 21, 55, 86, 117, 132, 137, 194, 213

Oakland Raiders

Needs: CB, OT, QB, G, S, C

The Raiders improved to 8-8 last season, but fired their coach and don't have a first-round pick. In fact, they don't select until the middle of the second round (No. 48). By that time, the top six corners, top seven tackles and top five quarterbacks could all be gone. The Raiders are really going to have to do their homework to come up with impact players in this draft.

It appears Robert Gallery will not be back, so guard is a need. If cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha also leaves, the Raiders will have a big problem. There are also issues at quarterback, but fingers are crossed that quarterback Jason Campbell can finally lead this team to the playoffs.

* Draft choices: Nos. 48, 81, 112, 145, 176, 209

San Diego Chargers

Needs: OLB, ILB, DE, WR, RT

The Chargers have been considered a deep team in recent seasons, often described as one of the best 53-man rosters in the league. I'm not sure that was entirely true. If fact, it might have been more of a function of coach Norv Turner and his staff as well as quarterback Philip Rivers overcoming issues on the offensive line and at receiver.

San Diego currently only has six draft picks and a significant number of players scheduled for free agency. This could be a draft where the Chargers match a free-agent void with a rookie, and that can mean a struggle. While the Chargers got nine starts out of first-round pick Ryan Mathews, they got none from the other choices. In fact, the Chargers cut their fifth- and seventh-round selections, getting just seven active games from the rest of the draft class.

* Draft choices: Nos. 18, 50, 61, 82 89, 178

*The draft picks are unofficial at this point. The league is expected to release the complete draft order by the end of March.

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