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2011 NFL Draft Recap - AFC West
John Tuvey
May 17, 2011
 

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DENVER BRONCOS

NEEDS FILLED — Most if not all of Denver’s needs were on defense, and the Broncos devoted four of their first five picks to that side of the football; notably, they tabbed the draft’s top safety, Rahim Moore, at 2.13 and also got value with Quinton Carter at 4.11. Denver also scratched its tight end itch twice with the athletic Julius Thomas at 4.32 and Combine standout Virgil Green with the first pick in the seventh round.

NEEDS IGNORED — Perhaps the Broncos’ biggest need was in retooling their defensive line, but they didn’t spend a pick on the position until the 44th pick in Round 7 when they selected DE Jeremy Beal.

BEST PICK — In a draft woefully thin at the position, Denver swiped two of the better ones off the board. And not only do yhe selections of Moore and Carter give Denver depth at safety, the rookies will get to study at the feet of veteran Brian Dawkins, who is expected to return for another season.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY — Denver’s AFC West foes ranked first, second, and 15th in rushing yards and first, fourth, and ninth in rushing attempts last year. Much of that success came against the Broncos, who finished 31st in the league in stopping the run. After struggling to field a three-man defensive front last season, Denver is switching to a 4-3. They could have planted Marcell Dareus smack dab in the middle of that line, and while Von Miller is a nice player it may be a move they’ll regret as the Chiefs, Raiders, and Chargers run all over them.

FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — The Broncos took only two “skill” position players in the 2011 draft, and both were tight ends. There’s little on the current roster to keep Thomas and/or Green from seeing the field early on, but Denver’s offense hasn’t been particularly tight end-friendly since Mike Shanahan left town and John Fox wasn’t exactly known for his tight end production in Carolina.

OAKLAND RAIDERS

NEEDS FILLED — Oakland’s greatest needs were at cornerback and on the offensive line; lo and behold, the Raiders’ first four picks were a center, a tackle, and two cornerbacks—not too shabby, considering they didn’t have a first-round pick and have been known to stray off the beaten path on draft day.

NEEDS IGNORED — The Raiders will once again enter the season with quarterback questions. While they missed out on the opening run due to their lack of a first-round pick, they did have one shot at Ryan Mallett and multiple opportunities to select Ricky Stanzi; instead, we’ll get more Jason Campbell and Kyle Boller.

BEST PICK — The selection of C Stefen Wisniewski at 2.16 was almost preordained; after all, his uncle Steve was an eight-time Pro Bowl offensive guard for the Raiders. He’s a known quantity who’ll have a chance to learn from Uncle Steve, who now serves as an assistant offensive line coach in Oakland. And he fills a significant need as the Raiders retool their offensive line in the wake of Tom Cable’s departure.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY — With Nnamdi Asomugha likely to depart via free agency, it was no secret the Raiders would be looking for cornerback help in this draft. But in typical Al Davis fashion, Oakland bypassed the likes of Johnny Patrick, Shareece Wright, Curtis Marsh, and Curtis Brown—all ranked higher on most non-Raider draft boards—for Demarcus Van Dyke, who was the fastest guy at this year’s Combine.

FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — The back half of Oakland’s draft was devoted entirely to “skill” position players, but only fourth-round RB Taiwan Jones—who could move into the mix if Michael Bush leaves via free agency and/or oft-injured Darren McFadden gets hurt— projects to be of fantasy note this season.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

NEEDS FILLED — The Chargers entered the draft looking for help on the defensive line and at wide receiver, then successfully addressed the former with first round DT Corey Liuget and the latter with third-round value WR Vincent Brown.

NEEDS IGNORED — San Diego was expected to pursue pass rush help in this draft, but unless you count the eight sacks Liuget recorded in three collegiate seasons they came up woefully short in that area.

BEST PICK — Three of the Chargers’ top four wideouts could leave via free agency, so a wide receiver was a necessity. Brown is outside the mold of the receiver A.J. Smith typically drafts (in other words, he’s short), but he was a solid value at 3.18 and should fit nicely into the Bolts’ receiver rotation.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY — With a pair of second-round picks and potential replacements for Shawne Merriman such as Justin Houston and Chris Carter still on the board, the Chargers instead opted to reach for CB Marcus Gilchrist at 2.18 and OLB Jonas Mouton at 2.29.

FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Vincent Jackson is still unhappy about his contract and both Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee are potential free agents, so depending on what happens if/when the lockout is settled Brown may have a short path to immediate playing time. Perhaps the Chargers view sixth-round pick Jordan Todman as a replacement for Darren Sproles, but he’s not particularly experienced in the passing game either as a blocker or receiver.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

NEEDS FILLED — Go figure, Scott Pioli fills needs with tremendous value picks right down the line. First-round pick Jon Baldwin may have been a slight reach on some draft boards, but he has significant upside as a complementary target to Dwayne Bowe. Rodney Hudson should start immediately somewhere along the interior of Kansas City’s line, and rush linebacker Justin Houston, a third-round find, was ticketed to Romeo Crennel’s defense in the first round of some mock drafts.

NEEDS IGNORED — The Chiefs pretty much nailed their checklist, though even after selecting Baldwin they’re still a bit thin at wide receiver.

BEST PICK — While Pioli hit on value all over the draft board, perhaps his best find was NT Jerrell Powe at 6.34, a full 199 picks into the draft. Powe slipped due to academic and character concerns, but at 6-2 and 330 pounds he has the size and upside to fill a significant need along KC’s defensive front.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY — Baldwin offers upside but he was hardly a unanimous choice as the top next-tier receiver after A.J. Green and Julio Jones went off the board. So the Chiefs might have considered a little more quantity at the position—perhaps Denarius Moore, Jeremy Kerley, or Niles Paul in the fifth round instead of somewhat superfluous quarterback Ricky Stanzi.

FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Unless you’re a Verran Tucker fan or think Chris Chambers still has something left in the tank you can go ahead and pencil Baldwin into KC’s starting lineup. And while the Chiefs were the league’s top rushing team a year ago, with Bowe drawing attention and Matt Cassel a competent quarterback there is a definite opportunity for Baldwin to put up some helpful fantasy numbers.

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