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NFL Draft: Team Report Cards - AFC West
John Tuvey
April 29, 2008
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Denver Broncos

Needs Addressed: While trades swirled around them, the Broncos held steady and wound up with the offensive tackle they coveted, Ryan Clady. The pick of wideout Eddie Royal in round two was a bit of a head-scratcher given some of the other receivers on the board, but Royal’s return skills may have tipped the scales in his favor. On day two Denver filled just about every need on their board, finding value with each pick; in particular, running back Ryan Torain could be the next late-round find for Mike Shanahan and seventh-round safety Josh Barrett has all the measurables to be an impact safety. 
 
Fantasy Impact: Clady is a lineman in the classic Broncos mold and should step immediately into the lineup—great news for Jay Cutler and Travis Henry. With Javon Walker gone Royal may need to deliver more than just help in the return game, and if Henry’s season goes awry—again—Torain is a name to file away for future reference. Lead blocker Peyton Hillis opened plenty of holes for Darren McFadden and Felix Jones at Arkansas and should do the same at the stripe in Denver.

Overall Grade: B

Kansas City Chiefs

Needs Addressed: The Jared Allen deal signified the Chiefs were heading into rebuilding mode; the dozen draft picks they made will help expedite the process immensely. If the Saints were truly offering two No. 1 picks and a second-rounder to move into the fifth spot we would have been tempted to take the deal, but you simply cannot argue with adding Glenn Dorsey, Branden Albert, and Brandon Flowers with your first three picks. Value was also found on day two, specifically in third-rounders Jamaal Charles, Brad Cottam, and DaJuan Morgan.
 
Fantasy Impact: Albert will step in at right guard for now, but he has the athleticism to play tackle at some point down the road. Charles could spell Larry Johnson as a third-down/change-of-pace back while Cottam, if able to stay healthy, offers an heir to Tony Gonzalez at tight end. Will Franklin provides depth at receiver, while Kevin Robinson brings a Dante Hall-type X-factor to the return game. If KC coaches can light a fire under fourth-round selection Barry Richardson, a mammoth offensive tackle with great feet but questionable motivation, LJ will find daylight reminiscent of the Willie Roaf/Will Shields era.

Overall Grade: A

Oakland Raiders

Needs Addressed: A team that finished sixth in the NFL in rushing and just re-signed its lead back to a $12 million deal spends the fourth overall selection on… another running back? A club that inked one corner to a $70 million contract and franchised the other corner at $9.4 million for 2008 uses its next pick on… another corner? Need fulfillment was certainly not the order of the day in Oakland, as none of their five draft picks were used to upgrade the offensive line or address the retirement of Warren Sapp. On the heels of throwing $55 million at Javon Walker, however, Al Davis used 40 percent of his 2008 picks on more wide receivers. 
           
Fantasy Impact: Davis didn’t draft Darren McFadden to complement Justin Fargas; he’ll be the lead dog, with Fargas and Michael Bush picking up the table scraps. Obviously, the Raiders hope to follow the blueprint Minnesota used in “easing” Adrian Peterson into the NFL last year. Not surprisingly, both of the receivers Oakland drafted—Arman Shields and Chaz Schilens—can fly; with JaMarcus Russell and his cannon under center, they could find use in the Raiders’ vertical attack.

Overall Grade: C

San Diego Chargers

Needs Addressed: The Bolts didn’t add offensive line help until the final round of the draft, but they did draft a couple backs to fill the void left by Michael Turner’s departure. San Diego also used two picks to address their secondary, including first-rounder Antoine Cason and a value grab in short-but-speedy DeJuan Tribble in round six. There was only so much A.J. Smith could do with just five picks at his disposal.
 
Fantasy Impact: The additions of 230-pound Jacob Hester and 215-pound Marcus Thomas suggest that the Chargers aren’t leaving LaDainian Tomlinson backup duties solely to the diminutive Darren Sproles. While neither enters the season with the fantasy value Turner held over the past two seasons, it’s worth keeping an eye on the training camp battle to see which one will be required handcuffing on drauction day.

Overall Grade: C+


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