With the 2015 NFL Draft fast approaching, Bucky Brooks is breaking down the biggest areas of need for every team in the NFL, division by division. Below is his look at the AFC West. (NOTE: Click on tabs to see other divisions; click on team names to see a full list of draft picks.)
Biggest needs: Tight end, offensive line, outside linebacker.
The arrival of new coach Gary Kubiak will require general manager John Elway to tweak his offensive personnel to better suit the zone-based running game and play-action passing game. The Broncos will thus seriously consider athletic offensive linemen with nice feet and movement skills. Florida State's Cameron Erving would fill a huge need along the interior; Denver could also eye Pittsburgh's T.J. Clemmings, Florida's D.J. Humphries and Texas A&M's Cedric Ogbuehi as potential developmental offensive tackles. Kubiak's affinity for the tight end position could prompt him to take a look at Minnesota's Maxx Williams as a playmaker between the hashes. Miami's Clive Walford is also a potential fit as a Day 2 candidate. New defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will retain the 3-4, but he could look to improve depth at outside linebacker with an intriguing athlete in Kentucky's Bud Dupree or Virginia's Eli Harold.
Biggest needs: Receiver, offensive tackle, inside linebacker.
The Chiefs were on the cusp of making back-to-back playoff appearances under Andy Reid, but they couldn't finish the deal down the stretch last season. The lack of touchdown production from the wide receivers makes upgrading that position a priority, even with the arrival of free-agent signee Jeremy Maclin as the new WR1. Thus, the team could take extended looks at Arizona State's Jaelen Strong, Louisville's DeVante Parker and Missouri's Dorial Green-Beckham to increase their red-zone efficiency. A speed merchant like Ohio State's Devin Smith or Miami's Phillip Dorsett could also add a spark to the passing game, what with their explosiveness and vertical playmaking ability. As a former offensive lineman, Reid is prone to falling in love with developmental tackle prospects. Guys like Florida's D.J. Humphries, Pittsburgh's T.J. Clemmings and Miami's Ereck Flowers are possible fits. On defense, the Chiefs need to groom a young replacement for Derrick Johnson. UCLA's Eric Kendricks, Mississippi State's Benardrick McKinney and TCU's Paul Dawson are viable candidates.
Biggest needs: Receiver, pass rusher, running back.
In last year's draft, the Raiders added key pieces in linebacker Khalil Mack and quarterback Derek Carr. This year, they must pick up a few more blue-chip players if they want to build a championship nucleus. They need a WR1 who can help Carr thrive in the pocket. Alabama's Amari Cooper and West Virginia's Kevin White are potential candidates, given their impressive physical traits and polished games. Defensively, the potential addition of USC defensive tackle Leonard Williams would alleviate the pressure on Mack along the front line; Williams would command double-team attention and allow Mack to face one-on-one opportunities on the edges. Florida's Dante Fowler Jr. and Clemson's Vic Beasley would help fortify the edges. Beasley is the more explosive pass rusher, but Fowler is a hard-nosed player with a game that is eerily similar to Mack's. The Raiders acquired running back Trent Richardson in the offseason, but that shouldn't prevent them from adding another dynamic runner like Miami's Duke Johnson or Alabama's T.J. Yeldon on Day 2.
Biggest needs: Running back, offensive line, nose tackle.
Poised to enter the season with a pedestrian trio of runners (Danny Woodhead, Donald Brown and Branden Oliver), the Chargers should explore adding a legitimate feature back, to offset the pressure on quarterback Philip Rivers to carry the offense -- barring, of course, the unlikely rumors of the Bolts trading Rivers and drafting Marcus Mariota coming to fruition. Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon is a home-run hitter with the vision, balance and body control to handle a heavy workload as an inside-outside runner. He isn't a proven commodity in the passing game, but he flashes the potential to be an effective threat on the perimeter. Georgia's Todd Gurley is a wild card at the position, as he is coming off a torn ACL suffered in November, but he is clearly the top runner in the 2015 class. He would give the Chargers a Marshawn Lynch-like presence to build around. On the offensive line, the team could move D.J. Fluker inside and scoop up a developmental offensive tackle with outstanding athleticism and movement skills. Oregon's Jake Fisher, Pittsburgh's T.J. Clemmings and Miami's Ereck Flowers would be intriguing options at right tackle. Defensively, the need for a big body in the middle could put Texas' Malcom Brown, Florida State's Eddie Goldman and Oklahoma's Jordan Phillips in the conversation.