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 AFC West Draft Needs

The Broncos won the Superbowl last season but it is not difficult to see them missing out on the playoffs this year in what should be an excellent division. Oakland appears poised to move up, Kansas City should be the best team in the division, and San Diego is a team known to surprise people in years where they are otherwise ignored. WIth 33 picks spread out through the division the teams can afford to be as competitive during the draft as they are likely to be during the season.

Denver Broncos

Fresh off a Superbowl victory things feel pretty good for the Broncos, despite losing Peyton Manning to retirement and Brock Osweiler to free agency. The Broncos tried to work out a trade for Colin Kaepernick with the 49ers but were unable to agree on either compensation with the team or the player. The team lost some of their defensive stalwarts to free agency also but the core of the defense remains in tact. With ten total selections Denver can afford to be aggressive and still add plenty of new blood to its roster.

Draft Needs: QB, OL, DL, OLB  It’s tough to believe that Kubiak will be comfortable heading into the season with only Mark Sanchez as a legitimate starting option so quarterback remains in play for the team. COnnor Cook has been linked to the Broncos, but only because he is the only legitimate option likely to be on board when they select in round 1. Even that is not assured with Cleveland, San Francisco, and Dallas all looking for a quarterback and all capable of leaping ahead of the Broncos in the late first round. Assuming they cannot land Cook a defensive lineman is the most likely selection. The depth of this class lines up well with the Broncos needs, although offensive tackle is also a possibility. The team’s 3 second day picks should all yield talented prospects as well for the defensive side.

Draft Picks, 10: 31,63, 94, 98*, 136*, 144, 157, 219*, 228, 253

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs had a good year by any standards. Factoring in the injury to Jamal Charles made their 2015 season a smashing success. Alex Smith still looks like he’s got some good years left in him and, given the offseason turmoil surrounding Denver, the Chiefs have to be considered the favorite to win the division next year. Not having a third round pick might hurt this season so a trade down is not out of the realm of possibility, but the value at 28 this year is better than other years so a trade down would only occur with better than average compensation.

Team Needs: OL, DL, WR, QB

The Chiefs don’t have a ton of immediate needs but they could use another receiver to play opposite Jeremy Maclin and some younger players along the offensive and defensive lines - Andy Reid has a history of drafting linemen early, which matches up with two of the team’s primary needs this year. Darran Reid would give the Chiefs a cornerstone defensive lineman to build around, although Cody Whitehair could also catch the team’s eye. WIth a field stretcher like Maclin already on board a guy like Josh Doctson could be a good fit as a possession receiver.

Draft Picks, 7: 28, 59, 126, 162, 165, 203, 249

Oakland Raiders

Few teams should be happier with their progress than last seasons Oakland Raiders. Behind the excellent play of quarterback Derek Carr - along with new receiving additions Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper - the offense was, at times, dynamic, while Khalil Mack turned a pedestrian defense into a better than average unit. WIth young defenders across the front 7, free agent Bruce Irvin, and the possibility of a late season return for Aldon Smith the Raiders appear poised to make a playoff push this season with only a few key additions.

Team Needs: OL, ILB, CB

The Raiders could use some better players at offensive tackle, although the premier players will be off the board well before they draft. It is possible that Taylor Decker falls to them in the first round but the more likely scenario is that the team fills its needs at cornerback or linebacker at 14, as those needs line up better with the draft talent likely to be available to them there. Reggie Ragland is an option at inside linebacker although Eli Apple, Vernon Hargreaves, and Mackenzie Alexander are all better players, with at least two likely to be available. There will be good players at both cornerback and offensive tackle on the second day of the draft, however, while inside linebacker has a noticeable drop off after Ragland, given the injury to Jaylon Smith. (Note: We all know that the Raiders love speed and cornerback Jonathan Jones from Auburn was one of the fastest players at this year’s combine. Sources have told me the Raiders are high on Jones.)

Draft Picks, 8: 14, 44, 75, 114, 143, 154, 194, 234

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers are the rare aging team that still has a small window to make a deep playoff run. San Diego has for decades been one of the least consistent teams in the league, sneaking into the playoffs, and winning, when no one would expect them to and underwhelming whenever they were expected to be good. But with three picks in the top 66 selections San Diego could come away from this draft with enough new energy to make a playoff run.

Team Needs: OL, DL, S, CB

No team has ever benefitted more from being traded in front of, twice, than this year’s San Diego Chargers. It is now obvious that Laremy Tunsil, the drafts best player, will be on the board when the Chargers select at 3. Tunsil will give the team the bookend tackle that they need to help Phillip Rivers maximize his remaining years in San Diego, as well as provide protection for his eventual replacement 4-5 years down the line. The Chargers might be able to sit tight and take the best left tackle and safety in the draft with their first two picks and still find a defensive lineman or cornerback that can start as a rookie in the third round, and with 5 additional selections the team can still add some depth at other key positions moving forward.

Draft Picks, 8: 3, 35, 66, 102, 175*, 179, 198, 224

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