NFL Draft Preview: AFC West

Read our complete 2006 NFL Draft Coverage!

Denver Broncos
Current 1st Round Draft Positions: 15th and 22nd
Top Team Needs: TE, WR, DT, S, RB

TE: Jeb Putzier’s departure means that oft-injured Stephen Alexander is the penciled in starter. The way the Broncos offense historically has depended on the TE position means this is an area in serious need of a playmaker. With two first round picks it’s conceivable the Broncos could either package them to move up to take Vernon Davis, or settle for one of the other good TE’s that would still fall to them either with their second first round pick or maybe in round 2.

WR: Rod Smith continues to be solid, steady force but he’ll be 36 this season. Ashley Lelie has his moments, but is inconsistent. The Broncos have failed to find anyone who can be a reliable 3rd WR in recent years and did nothing in free agency. Bank on them taking a WR during the draft. And it could be with their 1st pick.

DT: Gerard Warren and Michael Myers is a solid starting tandem, but there is a clear need for better depth. Top backup Monsanto Pope signed with the New York Jets and while Warren and Myers are excellent run stoppers, they don’t generate much of a pass rush.

S: The Broncos don’t have an immediate need for a starter at S as Nick Ferguson and John Lynch are both excellent. But considering that Ferguson will be 33 and Lynch 35 by the end of 2006, it would be a smart move for the team to start grooming one or two guys to take over down the line.

RB: The RB position is an enigma when it comes to Denver. Mike Anderson signed with the Baltimore Ravens, and while the Broncos seem to be fine with Tatum Bell and Ron Dayne, there is speculation that the team would like another guy in the mix. The Broncos don’t seem to envision Bell as a true feature RB, and Dayne’s never proven he can be one either. I can’t help but feel that the Broncos will take one on the first day.

Kansas City Chiefs
Current 1st Round Draft Position: 20th
Top Team Needs: WR, OL, CB, QB, FB

WR: Eddie Kennison continues to be steady, and Sammie Parker showed signs of development last season, but Kennison is aging and Parker drops too many passes. After ignoring the position in free agency, it’s clear this team needs a true talent at WR. The lack of quality depth is also apparent. Biggest problem is that this isn’t a great draft for WR’s and it’s likely the top 2 guys at the position will be gone before the Chiefs get to pick. So while they need a WR, it’s also not likely to happen in the first round.

OL: I include the entire OL here as there are age concerns at every position. Even though it’s expected that LT Willie Roaf will return for another season, it’s clear that he will only play another year or two. RT John Welbourn is perhaps better suited at G. RG Will Shields signed a 4 year deal, but has a clause that makes it easy for him to retire after one season. Backup OT Jordan Black is expected to take over the RT position in the future, but that still leaves a pair of Hall of Fame shoes to be filled at LT in another year or two.

CB: Patrick Surtain holds down one spot, but the other is up for grabs. Former Bronco Lenny Walls was signed and is expected to start, but he was inconsistent last year and is no lock to develop into a solid starter. The depth behind Surtain and Walls is mediocre at best and the Chiefs will use a first day pick to address this.

QB: There’s nothing wrong with Trent Green except that he will be 36 this season. The Chiefs need to start thinking of a replacement and with several intriguing developmental prospects likely to be available on day 2, it’s expected the team will take one to start grooming.

FB: While FB is an afterthought to some teams, it’s been a vital part of the Chiefs success running the football the past few years. Tony Richardson chose to leave via free agency, leaving the Chiefs with a huge need for a lead blocking FB. They’ll look hard on day 2 of the draft for one who can come in and compete for the starting job right away.

Oakland Raiders
Current 1st Round Draft Position: 7th
Top Team Needs: LB, OG, DT, QB

LB: Kirk Morrison proved to be a steal in round 3 last year and Danny Clark is tough on the inside, but the other starting position has been a problem. Tyler Brayton struggled with the transition from DE to LB and is likely to be moved back, and Sam Williams can’t stay healthy. The Raiders need another OLB who can compliment Morrison and Clark.

OG: Ron Stone was released and is not expected back. Langston Walker is solid, but is returning from an abdominal injury that cost him much of 2005. He’s expected to be ready by training camp, but there’s no guarantee. Brad Badger is better suited as a backup. OG should be a day one priority for Oakland.

DT: Warren Sapp isn’t the disruptive force he used to be, and Ted Washington was lost to free agency. The Raiders need someone who can be a run stuffer and Tommy Kelly is not an every down guy. With the other needs the Raiders have, it’s more likely they look to day 2 to address this position.

QB: Aaron Brooks was signed to a two year deal, so it’s apparent they aren’t expecting him to be their QB of the future, but rather a stop-gap for the present while they groom someone else. Andrew Walter never got tested last year, and while he appears to fit the mold of what the Raiders like in their QB’s, it may be too tempting to pass up Vince Young if he’s there at #7.

San Diego Chargers
Current 1st Round Draft Position: 19th
Top Team Needs: CB, WR, OT, S

CB: Despite having used 1st round picks on Quentin Jammer and Sammy Davis, and a 2nd round pick on Drayton Florence, all within the past 4 years, the Chargers have problems at CB. None of these guys has lived up to expectation, and with a paltry 10 interceptions in 2005, the team needs someone who can make plays and shut down opposing WR’s. While it’s unlikely the team invests a 1st round pick in the secondary, they’ll invest a pick on the position somewhere during the draft. Ranking 28th in pass defense is unacceptable with what they’ve invested at CB in recent years.

WR: Keenan McCardell is good, but getting old. Eric Parker flashes playmaking ability, but is inconsistent. Vincent Jackson is expected to be more involved in 2006, and there’s also Kassim Osgood, but whether any of them can develop into a #1 when McCardell retires is a question.

OT: LT Roman Oben was lost mid-season last year and although should be fine for 2006, will be 34 by the end of the season. Leander Jordan is his backup, and while a good run blocker, is limited as a pass blocker. That’s not good for protecting the blind side of new starting QB Phillip Rivers. A future replacement for Oben needs to be considered on draft day.

S: Marlon McCree was signed away from Carolina to help the Chargers at the position, but he’s just one man. Like with the CB’s, there is some unfulfilled expectations with the group. Terrence Kiel is a hitter, not a cover guy. Bhawoh Jue didn’t have the impact desired when he was signed as a free agent in 2005. Clinton Hart is strictly a backup. Again, 28th in pass defense, with only 10 interceptions, while being tied for 5th in sacks demonstrates a need for more talent in the secondary.

See Russ's other 2006 NFL Draft articles:

Russ Bliss is FantasyFootballStarters.com's exclusive fantasy football expert, a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, and for 10 years has been the radio host of "The Red Zone, Talking Fantasy Football and the NFL," in Phoenix, Arizona.

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