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Ted Sundquist's AFC West Draft Needs

[Editor's note:  Former Broncos G.M. Ted Sundquist will be looking at the primary needs of each NFL team, separated by division.  He starts with his old stomping grounds, the AFC West.]
The AFC West stumbles into the 2009 draft as the only division with all four teams having earned the right to select in the top half of the 1st round.  Rebuilding is taking place in Kansas City and Denver, Oakland continues last season’s reclamation project, and the Chargers are looking to get back into regular-season form after having to win the division in Week 17.
Team needs will be pushed by scheme, injuries, and free agent losses.  The majority of two-deep rosters are filled with first-and-second-round talent and focus will be on finding long term starters immediately so let’s get right to it.
Denver Broncos
Primary Need:  Defensive Tackle
The fourth defensive coordinator in four seasons not only brings another change in leadership but a whole different philosophy as well. Denver is moving from a predominant 4-3 scheme to the 3-4 that has been so good to the “Patriot way” over the past few seasons.  The problem is that after ranking at the bottom of the League in just about every category, the personnel to run the 3-4 aren’t currently in the locker room at Dove Valley.  The Broncos need a major overhaul in the front seven and it starts at the NT position.  Look for focus to be on finding an inside anchor first and then perhaps bulking up at the DE position as well.  Raji is tempting but off field questions persist.
One more question: Is Orton really their man?
Potential targets: NT B.J. Raji (Boston College), DT Ziggy Hood (Missouri), DE Tyson Jackson (LSU)
Kansas City Chiefs
Primary Need: Defensive End
Another AFC West team looking to mold themselves in the manner of New England is the Chiefs.  Scott Pioli has already begun the change in the Personnel Department and look for it to spill over to the personnel on the roster.  Kansas City was miserable in putting pressure on opponents in ’08.  The Chiefs finished with only 10 total sacks as a team and twelve players across the League had 10 or more sacks on their own.
The Chiefs will be looking for edge pressure in their own 3-4 scheme and OLB will be a priority.  There are a number of talented college defensive ends that could make the switch to the perimeter but look for one player to be in Pioli’s crosshairs.  Aaron Curry may be the best player in the draft.
Potential Targets:  OLB Aaron Curry (Wake Forest), DE Brian Orakpo (Texas), DE Larry English (Northern Illinois)
Oakland Raiders
Primary Need: Wide Receiver
Al Davis has elevated Tom Cable from interim to full-time Head Coach.  That’s made Cable’s full-time job to shore up an offense rated 31st in the League, with a passing game at 30th.
It’s time for the Raiders to start getting some return on their investment in QB Jamarcus Russell.  With Darren McFadden in the backfield Oakland has the makings for as balanced an offense as there is in the division.  What they don’t have are enough consistent targets for Russell to target.
The Raiders didn’t have a single receiver rated in the top 80 at the position (over 50 receptions) in 2008.  WR may very well be the deepest position in the early rounds and at #7 Oakland could land the pick of the litter.  Michael Crabtree has fought injury and has yet to post workout numbers, Kenny Britt has off field questions.
Potential Targets:  WR Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech), WR Kenny Britt (Rutgers), WR Jeremy Maclin (Missouri)
San Diego Chargers
Primary Need: Defensive End
After stumbling out of the gate at 3-5 and losing defensive phenom Shawne Merriman for the season, many had written off the Chargers and were talking about a “changing of the guard” at the top of the division.
San Diego stormed back to overtake Denver in the final week of the regular season and then made a nice run to the divisional round.  Now Norv Turner and A.J. Smith look to get back to consistency.  The return of Merriman should help a defense that struggled at times to stop the perimeter runs and pressure opponents.  Early emphasis will still be on replacing the loss of DE Igor Olshansky and the No. 16 overall pick should provide a solid launching point to do just that.  Johnson’s size and athletic ability project the cleanest at the position.
Potential targets:  DE Larry English (Northern Illinois), DE Michael Johnson (Georgia Tech), DE Robert Ayers (Tennessee).

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22 Responses to “Ted Sundquist's AFC West Draft Needs”
  1. foober says: Apr 8, 2009 12:38 PM

    looks like the donks will be fighting it out for d-end/d-tackle types this draft with other teams doing the same. There will be several other teams really wanting to get good d-end/d-tackle types as well. And there really aren’t that many good ones in this draft.

  2. theeraser21 says: Apr 8, 2009 1:00 PM

    The Chiefs do not have a second round pick. Unless the Chiefs trade down, Larry English will be long gone.

  3. GZ says: Apr 8, 2009 1:19 PM

    How much did Kenny Britt, or rather his agent, pay PFT and Ted to spew his name all day, going as far as even ranking him above Jeremy Maclin? Don’t get me wrong, Britt is an excellent player, but c’mon guys, lets be realistic.

  4. LetRBuck says: Apr 8, 2009 1:27 PM

    Michael Johnson probably isn’t the best choice to replace Olshansky as he isn’t a 34 DE prospect. He’s certainly tall enough, maybe too tall, but would have to put on about 35 to 4o lbs. Perhaps he means OLB.

  5. tom3565 says: Apr 8, 2009 1:29 PM

    Pick for the defense and leave the one year wonder from USC on someone elses team, if he turns out to be the next Peyton Manning oh well, better that then wasting that pick on something you already have. Orton is more than sufficent for this year, who knows maybe he will put up decent numbers now that he has an offense to work with. If you have a Qb that doesn’t throw over an interception per game and a decent defense, you don’t need to throw for 5 thousand yards, just keeping the other teams offense of the field all the time will help tremendously.

  6. Pea Tear Griffin says: Apr 8, 2009 1:48 PM

    Good observations as always, but:
    “Potential targets: DE Larry English (Northern Illinois), DE Michael Johnson (Georgia Tech), DE Robert Ayers (Tennessee).”
    I thought all these guys were projected to be 3-4 OLB’s or 4-3 DE?

  7. Deadpool says: Apr 8, 2009 1:56 PM

    some of these picks seem almost ridiculous to me all these guys are first round caliber for sure but KC taking Larry English that high? Or Kenny Britt ranked ahead of Maclin? And I don’t see Ayers, Jackson or Johnson going in the first half of the first round. I tend to distrust players that fly up the draft board after the combine.

  8. Mavrick says: Apr 8, 2009 2:05 PM

    And now we know why Sundquist is unemployed. Primary needs? Comeon, man. Where’s the beef?

  9. Tek9 says: Apr 8, 2009 2:11 PM

    Michael Johnson reminds me this years Gholston.

  10. descendency says: Apr 8, 2009 2:40 PM

    He’s dead on with needs and quite frankly, many of you just don’t seem to get it. Players are not locked into a position and it’s not just that you draft them in that order.
    It’s highly possible that one of these teams grades Kenny Britt over Jeremy Maclin.
    Also, Robert Ayers isn’t a 3-4 OLB, he’s a 4-3 DE. If he tried to play 3-4 OLB, he’d be a pure pass rusher which he isn’t that great at. He could fit in as a LDE in a 4-3 though.

  11. NeoplatonistBolthead says: Apr 8, 2009 3:34 PM

    Jamal Williams is no spring chicken, and will need to be replaced. 3-4 NTs were hard-to-find when there were six 3-4 teams in the League. Now there are 3 in the division. Ron Rivera is the new DC, and this is his first offseason as DC. The Chargers need a DE no matter what, but they have a DE who could move inside to DT (opposite Williams) and start in the 4-3. If the Chargers are going to run a true 3-4, they’re going to need a new inside LB, but in a 4-3, they’re overabundant. The Bolts wouldn’t talk about it if they were going to make major changes, so I don’t think I’d believe anything I’d heard, but if they grab a college DE and a late stab at an NT replacement, and pass on the linebackers, I wouldn’t be surprised. Also don’t be surprised if they trade down: a lot of teams, like NE and Philly would be willing and able to package two early-ish picks for #16.

  12. peruano88 says: Apr 8, 2009 3:35 PM

    the potential picks for the chargers are waaaaaay off. larry english and michael johnson are both being looked at as possible 4-3 ends or 3-4 OLB’s, both of which either dont fit in the scheme or arent a priority. i’ve heard that robert ayers is being looked at as possibly being able to fit into the role of a 3-4 end, but after putting on more weight. he’s been listed at 270, so another 20lbs and he can possibly have the size to play 3-4 DE. more realistic possibilities would be tyson jackson, or rey maualuga because they need a playmaker at ILB to be paired up with merriman. i’m not sure jackson is worth the pick at 16, and besides, the chargers could look at kyle moore or fili moala from usc, who both have been described as being able to play 3-4 DE, and also 3-4 DT for moala.

  13. BigTiki007 says: Apr 8, 2009 5:39 PM

    With a new franchise QB Who’s gonna protect his bacon? K.C. needs offensive line help as well.

  14. Burritto says: Apr 8, 2009 5:52 PM

    Wow. I agree with each of these. Maybe this Sundquist guy knows what he’s talking about. Heh.
    Also, to those complaining about Sundquist projectning players too highly, please reread the article: “The majority of two-deep rosters are filled with first-and-second-round talent and focus will be on finding long term starters immediately so let’s get right to it.”
    The way I take this is as though Ted is saying that it’s not always a good fit for a team to draft their primary need with their first pick in a draft, so perhaps they’ll address this need in the second round or move around in the draft (up or down) to get the guys whom they need.
    Ya dig?

  15. AlDavisIsCrazy says: Apr 8, 2009 7:30 PM

    I don’t think the Raiders must take a WR in the first round. I can’t see how one of the worst rush defenses in the league can pass on Raji if he’s there. I think DL and OL are more of a problem than WR

  16. jeremyb91 says: Apr 8, 2009 8:09 PM

    I’m a Raiders fan and want Crabtree, but what about KC needing a DT? Dorsey is way undersized to play NT and too short to play DE in a 3-4.
    Both Denver & KC should have the worst D lines in football this season unless they are able to bring in a rock solid DT to man the NT position.

  17. ryand says: Apr 8, 2009 9:17 PM

    I don’t understand how a few of those guys are gonna play 3-4 end for the Chargers. What about Tyson Jackson, the prototypical 3-4 end, why isnt he mentioned at all while guys that are being talked about as potential switchers to outside backer can all of a sudden play end in a 3-4?

  18. NeoplatonistBolthead says: Apr 8, 2009 11:19 PM

    That’s the thing. I think the Chargers will migrate away from the 3-4 to a great extent this year. They just won’t broadcast it.

  19. Drafty says: Apr 8, 2009 11:21 PM

    “The problem is that … the personnel to run the 3-4 aren’t currently in the locker room at Dove Valley.”
    And thanks in large part to you, Ted, the personnel to run a 4-3 can’t be found in that locker room, either.

  20. superchop7 says: Apr 9, 2009 1:01 AM

    With the Goodmans gone…..don’t count on alot in the Bronco locker room either.

  21. RuloMeck says: Apr 9, 2009 4:32 PM

    You got that right Drafty.

  22. Rivers2Gates says: Apr 25, 2009 12:27 PM

    Now I see why this guy doesn’t work for 1 of 32 teams.
    Fail

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