Editor's note: Anyone in the NFL will tell you it takes three years to judge a draft. With that in mind, we asked analyst Bucky Brooks to take a look at how every NFL team fared over the last three years. In the fourth of a four-day series, he examines the AFC and NFC West divisions:
Analysis: The Chargers have routinely fielded one of the league's most talented rosters under the direction of A.J. Smith. The team has done a superb job of developing its own talent, and its uncanny ability to get its young players primed for supporting roles has been pivotal to its success. Although the Chargers haven't needed their recent draftees to make immediate contributions, they have gotten solid production from Eric Weddle, Louis Vasquez, Larry English and Antoine Cason. In spite of those efforts, the Chargers have still missed on a few of their early-round prospects. Craig Davis, a 2007 first-round pick, has recorded only one career start and has failed to emerge as one of the key players in the rotation. Other early-round selections, such as Anthony Waters and Scott Chandler, had difficulty cracking the lineup and were subsequently bounced off the roster after a season or two. The Chargers' recent drafts haven't provided a lot of sizzle, but they have given the team enough depth to continue its reign in the AFC West.
Analysis: The Broncos have undergone a major transformation with Josh McDaniels taking over for Mike Shanahan in the Mile High City. With a new philosophy in place, the Broncos took a new approach to rebuilding their team and the draft is an integral part of that strategy. In his first draft, McDaniels aggressively maneuvered to get a host of picks in the draft's early rounds. While it remains to be seen whether each of those picks will pan out, the Broncos have definitely found a franchise-caliber runner in Knowshon Moreno. Additionally, the team has watched Ryan Clady develop into a Pro Bowler in only his second season. Although those success stories won't absolve the team from the ill-advised selection of Jarvis Moss in 2007, they are indicative of the potential that exists within their draft classes. However, that immense potential will remain unrealized until Alphonso Smith and Robert Ayers prove they are worthy of the lofty draft status.
Analysis: Scott Pioli assumed control of a franchise that had won only six games in the two seasons before his first draft. While the roster was downtrodden by most appearances, Herman Edwards and Co. left behind a few productive young players with potential. Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles have shown dynamic ability as playmakers, and the team is set to build around their talents. Defensively, Brandon Flowers has been a pleasant surprise at corner, but Glenn Dorsey has not developed into the dominant force that the team envisioned when it picked him with the fifth selection of the 2008 draft. Pioli's first pick, Tyson Jackson, started 14 games as a rookie, but didn't provide any disruptive plays from his defensive end spot. In addition to those disappointments, the team couldn't get former early picks, Turk McBride and Tank Tyler, to contribute on a consistent basis, and both were let go by the new administration last season. Given the enormous turnover of the roster and the lack of production from most of their top picks, the Chiefs' draft classes have largely underachieved over the past three seasons.
Analysis: The Raiders have notoriously targeted the top athletes in the draft to add to their roster, but the height-weight-speed approach has often yielded poor results. The Raiders have repeatedly missed on their early selections, and the failure to add top players to their lineup has led to the team ranking as a perennial cellar dweller. JaMarcus Russell, Darren McFadden and Darrius Heyward-Bey have failed to deliver up to expectation, and their dismal production has weighed down the franchise. In addition, the team has failed to come up big with their "reaches" in the middle rounds. However, the Raiders have found a few gems in Zach Miller and Michael Bush. They are bright spots on a roster that has been overwhelmingly disappointing.