With the 2016 NFL Draft on tap at the end of this month, 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.
Denver Broncos (10 total picks)
Biggest needs: quarterback, defensive tackle, inside linebacker.
Peyton Manning's retirement and Brock Osweiler's surprising departure leave the Broncos without a franchise quarterback. (The current depth chart consists of Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian.) Thus, general manager John Elway will need to take a long, hard look at the quarterback class to see if there is a developmental prospect capable of leading the team on a repeat run. Memphis' Paxton Lynch is squarely in the crosshairs as a mobile playmaker ideally suited to thrive in coach Gary Kubiak's scheme, but the team could also consider Mississippi State's Dak Prescott and Michigan State's Connor Cook as Day 2 options. On defense, the loss of Malik Jackson leaves a huge hole in the middle, which could prompt Elway to consider Mississippi State's Chris Jones or Louisiana Tech's Vernon Butler as possibilities on Day 1. Notre Dame's Sheldon Day and Ohio State's Adolphus Washington could entice scouts in the second round.
Kansas City Chiefs (7 total picks)
» Round 1: Pick 28 overall
» Round 2: Pick 59
» Round 4: Pick 126
» Round 5: Picks 162 (from Seahawks) and 165
» Round 6: Pick 203
» Round 7: Pick 249
Biggest needs: outside linebacker, quarterback, safety.
The uncertain status of Justin Houston (who underwent knee surgery in February) and the slow decline of Tamba Hali's play could force the Chiefs to investigate the pass-rusher market. Eastern Kentucky's Noah Spence could be in play on Day 1, if the team is comfortable with the character concerns. Boise State's Kamalei Correa or Utah State's Kyler Fackrell -- versatile edge players with pass-rush ability -- could be in the mix on Day 2. The Chiefs are also in the market for a safety to complement Eric Berry in the deep middle. Ohio State's Vonn Bell, West Virginia's Karl Joseph and Florida's Keanu Neal are options on Day 2, or the team could investigate Boston College's Justin Simmons, Maryland's Sean Davis and William & Mary's DeAndre Houston-Carson as mid-round possibilities. The search for a developmental quarterback could lead Andy Reid to take an extended look at Mississippi State's Dak Prescott or Louisiana Tech's Jeff Driskel at some point in the draft.
Oakland Raiders (8 total picks)
Biggest needs: defensive back, defensive tackle, inside linebacker.
Coach Jack Del Rio's mission to build a bully in the Black Hole could prompt the Raiders to have a defensive-minded draft haul. The D needs more playmakers in the secondary, which puts cover corners like Ohio State's Eli Apple and Houston's William Jackson III in the mix at No. 14. Or the team could look at Mississippi State's Will Redmond, Miami's Artie Burns or Alabama's Cyrus Jones as possibilities on Day 2. On the defensive line, the Raiders have a pretty formidable group in place, but the presence of an athletic defensive tackle would take the unit to another level. Louisville's Sheldon Rankins, Mississippi State's Chris Jones, Mississippi's Robert Nkemdiche, Louisiana Tech's Vernon Butler and UCLA's Kenny Clark are intriguing options in the early rounds. Although finding an inside linebacker isn't a top priority, the Raiders could kick the tires on a tackling machine like Missouri's Kentrell Brothers or Temple's Tyler Matakevich as possibilities later in the draft.
San Diego Chargers (8 total picks)
» Round 1: Pick 3 overall
» Round 2: Pick 35
» Round 3: Pick 66
» Round 4: Pick 102
» Round 5: Pick 175 (compensatory selection)
» Round 6: Picks 179 and 198 (from Vikings)
» Round 7: Pick 224
Biggest needs: defensive line, safety, tight end.
The Chargers need a bit of a roster makeover to return to prominence in the AFC West. Having just ranked 21st in scoring defense and 20th in total defense, that unit should get some attention on draft day. At safety, the Chargers need to find a replacement for Eric Weddle to deter opponents from attacking between the hashes. Florida State's Jalen Ramsey could be the pick at No. 3 overall, or the team could wait for an athletic traffic cop like Ohio State's Vonn Bell or West Virginia's Karl Joseph on Day 2. If the Chargers focus their efforts on re-tooling the defensive line, Ohio State's Joey Bosa and Oregon's DeForest Buckner will garner interest at the top of the draft, but the team could also consider the likes of Louisiana Tech's Vernon Butler, UCLA's Kenny Clark and Mississippi State's Chris Jones early on Day 2. A desire to find a long-term replacement for veteran tight end Antonio Gates could put Arkansas' Hunter Henry on the wish list for coach Mike McCoy.