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Kansas City Chiefs (5th pick)
Eight picks: 1.5; 2.4, 2.18 (f/ATL); 3.4; 4.4; 5.5, 5.11 (f/MIA), 5.13 (f/CAR)
This is a good year for Kansas City to have three of the first 50 picks, as the draft is deep in interior linemen and those are the areas—both offensively and defensively—that the Chiefs will be looking to address. KC also hopes to shore up the middle of their defense, from inside linebacker to safety. Offensive playmakers are also on the list, though the emergence of Jamaal Charles and signing of Thomas Jones should solidify the backfield; Chris Chambers’ return makes the need for a wideout less immediate, but long-term Matt Cassel will need more than just Dwayne Bowe to throw to.
Possible options: OT Russell Okung, Oklahoma State; S Eric Berry, Tennessee; DT Dan Williams, Tennessee; OT Jason Fox, Miami (FL); LB Sean Lee, Penn State; WR Jordan Shipley, Texas; S Reshad Jones, Georgia
Oakland Raiders (8th pick)
Eight picks plus one compensatory pick: 1.8; 2.7; 3.5, 3.21 (f/NE); 4.8; 5.7, 5.27 (f/NE/DEN/DAL); 7.8, 7.44 (comp)
After three straight skill-position first-rounders yielded little to no production (thank you JaMarcus Russell, Darren McFadden, and Derrius Heyward-Bey), maybe the Raiders will try building up front with yet another top-10 pick. The offensive line is the greatest need, but the defensive front could use some help as well. Al Davis usually picks athletes—specifically speedy ones—and hopes to turn them into football players, so don’t be surprised with a reach or two along the way.
Possible options: OT Bruce Campbell, Maryland; DE Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida; S Taylor Mays, USC; LB/DE Thaddeus Gibson, Ohio State; OT Jared Veldheer, Hillsdale; CB Brandon Ghee, Wake Forest
Denver Broncos (11th pick, acquired from Chicago)
Six picks: 1.11 (f/CHI); 2.13; 3.16; 4.16; 6.14; 7.13
Much of Denver’s draft strategy will hinge on whether or not WR Brandon Marshall is welcomed back—or if not, what picks and/or players the Broncos receive in return. Denver should be looking at some intriguing defensive front seven options when their first pick rolls around; mid-round picks will likely be devoted towards retooling the offensive line away from the smaller, quicker zone blockers and more towards wide-bodied bulldozers. Of course, that could all change if the offense needs to fill a void left by the departure of the talented but mercurial Marshall.
Possible options: LB Rolando McClain, Alabama; DE Carlos Dunlap, Florida; WR Marty Gilyard, Cincinnati; WR Damian Williams, USC; OG/OT Ciron Black, LSU; OT Kyle Calloway, Iowa
San Diego Chargers (28th pick)
Six picks plus one compensatory pick: 1.28; 2.8 (f/SEA); 3.27; 4.28; 5.28, 5.37 (comp); 7.28
The departures of LaDainian Tomlinson and Jamal Williams open up two glaring draft-day needs—and the trade of Charlie Whitehurst gives them two top-40 picks to address them. While the Chargers have morphed into a passing team, a feature back to replace LT—or at least a between-the-tackles runner to complement Darren Sproles—is high on San Diego’s priority list. Same goes for a beefy defensive tackle to plug the gaps once filled by Williams. San Diego always seems to load up on defensive backs, and after trading Antonio Cromartie in the offseason they’re sure to go back to that well again on draft day. Should RFA Vincent Jackson find greener pastures elsewhere, replacing him would vault to the top of San Diego’s list.
Possible options: RB Ryan Mathews, Fresno State; RB Anthony Dixon, Mississippi State; DT Terrence Cody, Alabama; DT Cam Thomas, North Carolina; CB Javier Arenas, Alabama; OT Selvish Capers, West Virginia