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NEEDS FILLED — The conversion of Denver’s offensive identity is complete. Gone are Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and the smaller, quicker zone-blocking line; in this draft alone the Broncos added wide receivers Demaryius Thomas (Round 1) and Eric Decker (Round 3), quarterback Tim Tebow (Round 1), and a pair of bigger linemen (OG Zane Beadles in Round 2, C J.D. Walton in Round 3). Even Day 3 was productive, with a couple of corners projected to go a day earlier (Perrish Cox in Round 5, Syd’Quan Thompson in Round 7) and another beefy lineman (Eric Olson, Round 6).
NEEDS IGNORED — The Broncos were expected to beef up their linebacking corps, maybe even with their first pick; instead, Denver waited until its final selection — the 232nd pick — to add DE/OLB Jammie Kirlew.
BEST PICK — The boom-or-bust nature of Thomas (athletically gifted but unpolished) gets lost in the even bigger boom-or-bust shadow of Tebow, but it will take a year or two at least to see if Josh McDaniels was onto something or just on something when he yoked the pitch-and-catch duo in Round One. Third-rounder Decker could have more value — both short- and long-term — so long as his foot injury is healed in time for him to play this season.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — To find a missed opportunity in Denver’s draft class would be to dispute the entire theory of the picks — and there are certainly those who dispute Tebow as an NFL quarterback. You could beat them up for taking Beadles over LB Daryl Washington in Round 2 or Walton and Decker over LBs Navorro Bowman or Rennie Curran in Round 3, but then they’d be shy a lineman or receiver.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Dynasty leaguers who smell what McDaniels is cooking have options; will Tebow’s favorite target be the dynamic Thomas or the sure-handed Decker? Both receivers are nursing foot injuries, so their fantasy impact may be delayed; that’s already the expectation for Tebow as he adjusts from the college spread to an NFL offense.
Kansas City Chiefs
NEEDS FILLED — The Chiefs had a chance to address their offensive line need in Round 1; instead, they addressed their defense’s need for a playmaking safety (Eric Berry). They still added o-line help in Round 3 (G Jon Asamoah) and also beefed up their passing game with RB/WR Dexter McCluster (Round 2) and TE Tony Moeaki (Round 3).
NEEDS IGNORED — With gaps to fill in the middle of their defense, the Chiefs drafted neither a nose tackle nor an inside linebacker — even more surprising given the depth of those positions in this draft class.
BEST PICK — Berry was considered by many the third-best player in this draft behind DTs Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy; he’s expected to step directly into the Chiefs’ defense and be its ringleader for years to come. For value, adding Asamoah in Round 3 beefs up one of the team’s weak spots and could potential give the team its left side of the line (Asamoah alongside Branden Albert) for the next decade.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — There’s little question McCluster is a dynamic playmaker whose stock was climbing on draft day, but the Chiefs already have a similar player in Jamaal Charles; that second-round pick might have been better spent on a nose tackle like Torell Troup, Linval Joseph, or Terrance Cody or a linebacker such as Daryl Washington or Sean Lee.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — McCluster will be listed as a wide receiver but used all over the field; however, he’ll have to battle Charles and Thomas Jones for carries and Dwayne Bowe and Chris Chambers for looks in the passing game. Moeaki might have an easier time cracking the rotation, with only Leonard Pope ahead of him on the Chiefs’ depth chart.
NEEDS FILLED — Maybe Al Davis nodded off during the three-day draft and wasn’t available to overrule the scouts; maybe he harked back to his AFL glory days and flashed that keen football acumen that built Oakland’s Super Bowl squad. Whatever the reason, the Raiders matched up draft picks with roster needs and didn’t even reach for guys three rounds too early. The defense got better with LB Rolando McClain (Round 1) and DT Lamarr Houston (Round 2), while the offensive line upgraded in Rounds 3 and 4 with OT Jared Veldheer and OT/OG Bruce Campbell. Davis woke up early on Day 3 and grabbed WR Jacoby Ford, one of the fastest players in the draft.
NEEDS IGNORED — The Raiders didn’t draft a quarterback, but they traded for Jason Campbell and upgraded at the position anyway. That left running back as the only area of need not addressed on draft day, though with Darren McFadden and Michael Bush already on the roster they’re not exactly thin at the position.
BEST PICK — Many mocks had the Raiders reaching for the athletic but football-raw Campbell with the eighth overall selection; instead, Oakland addressed several other needs and still managed to add Campbell, who has been taking reps at guard during minicamp.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — Are you kidding? Any draft in which the Raiders don’t leave a stain in their shorts is a full-fledged win, and by hitting needs and grabbing value with each of their first four picks Oakland had one of their best drafts in recent memory. To quibble with any of the picks would be unkind.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — The Raiders spent the last three drafts picking “skill” position players in the first round, with only McFadden coming close to living up to the hype. This time around Ford is the only player who’ll factor into fantasy drafts; given the struggles of Oakland’s existing receivers, the Raiders’ upgrade at quarterback, and Davis’ need for speed Ford could be viewed as a deep sleeper in larger leagues.
San Diego Chargers
NEEDS FILLED — The Bolts took a “quality over quantity” approach, befitting a team with Super Bowl aspirations and few roster spots to fill. San Diego traded up to secure RB Ryan Mathews, expected to walk right into LaDainian Tomlinson’s old role. Their other key need was a beefy nose tackle, and while they waited until Round 5 they landed just the kind of player they were looking for in Cam Thomas. The Chargers also replaced the departed Charlie Whitehurst with developmental quarterback Jonathan Crompton, another fifth-round selection.
NEEDS IGNORED — The Chargers were expected to pay more attention to their secondary than merely thorwing a fourth-rounder at S Darrell Stuckey, especially after trading CB Antonio Cromartie in the offseason. The offensive line was also in need of some depth, yet San Diego didn’t select a single o-lineman in the draft.
BEST PICK — While Mathews is the more obvious choice, getting Thomas — widely expected to go as early as Round 2 — at pick #146 was a real coup, assuming he lives up to the potential left somewhat unfulfilled at the college level.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — With a need at the cornerback position, it was surprising to see the Bolts opt for LB Donald Butler over CB Brandon Ghee in Round 3.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — With the opportunity about to be afforded him, Mathews is the early favorite for fantasy rookie of the year. The Chargers have already penciled him in for LT’s former workload, making him the only rookie back with such a clearly defined role. San Diego’s other “skill” position picks — Crompton in Round 5 and TE Dedrick Epps in Round 7 — are unlikely to see the field this season and have zero fantasy value.