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AFC West Draft Preview

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DENVER BRONCOS

Total picks: 11

Priority positions: WR, G, S, TE

The state of things: The Broncos already made one move this week, picking up a third second-round pick by trading their No. 10 pick to Baltimore for the Ravens' No. 15 slot. That might take care of any talk about Denver nabbing their next Elway in Marshall quarterback Chad Pennington. Then again, if Pennington tumbles past Pittsburgh at No. 8, who knows who might break his fall? The Broncos have a lot of little needs, but collectively they add up. Former Dallas defensive end Kavika Pittman and ex-Falcons defensive end Lester Armchambeau are both new, but that doesn't mean Denver might not look at their spots in the first round. A third, speed receiver is still lacking, and at guard the Broncos need to think about the future without banged up Mark Schlereth. At tight end, the Broncos will go with a three-man committee -- the law firm of Chamberlain, Carswell and Clark -- but none of them measure up to one Shannon Sharpe.

The hunch: If Denver doesn't slide down the first-round ladder any further, Miami tight end Bubba Franks would be an interesting pick at No. 15. If not, one of the good mid-round receivers would fit the bill. Jackson State's Sylvester Morris is little known, but considered possibly more well-rounded than even Plaxico Burress.

 

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Total picks: 8

Priority positions: RB, CB, WR, LB

The state of things: The Chiefs haven't had a running back to really build a ground game around since big Christian Okoye in the early 1990s. They're praying that Wisconsin big man Ron Dayne somehow slips through the cracks, but no one's counting on that happening. Kansas City still might try to make a move for Corey Dillon, the unhappy Bengal, but barring that they might have to reach for one of the second-tier backs at No. 21. More likely Kansas City plays it smart and moves along to need No. 2: a young cornerback. Not to say that Cris Dishman and James Hasty are old, but they were both rookies when that other George Bush was running for and winning the presidency. Ohio State cornerback Ahmed Plummer should be just coming into view when the Chiefs' pick is up. Outside of Derrick Alexander, receiver is another needy area. In the pass rush department, ex-Viking Duane Clemons will help some, but the death of Derrick Thomas can't be overstated.

The hunch: Plummer make the most sense for the Chiefs, unless a top flight back like Dayne, Jamal Lewis or Shaun Alexander tumbles to them. On second thought, pursue the Corey Dillon trade and call it a good first round.

 

OAKLAND RAIDERS

Total picks: 6

Priority positions: OLB, WR, DE, OL

The state of things: The Raiders early on sent out some vibes about going after either Chad Pennington or Chris Redman, but this probably isn't the draft for them to be thinking quarterback unless it's a late-round flyer. Oakland's most glaring need is at outside linebacker, which could wind up being a stroke of good fortune. Michigan State outside linebacker Julian Peterson is projected to go in the high teens and would be a good fit. He can rush the pass and play pass coverage equally well. Tennessee defensive end Shaun Ellis is another possibility who would meet a need. The Raiders need to get help for standout tackle Darrell Russell, in order to eliminate some of the double-teaming. Receiver after Tim Brown remains thin. Al Davis is said to be high on Florida State receiver Laveranues Coles, who has speed to burn. Coles also has had his off-field difficulties, but that never disqualified anyone from being a Raider.

The hunch: Oakland is the most unpredictable team in the NFL on draft day, and they're probably the only who rates Coles as high as the mid first round. Peterson would be the safer, wiser choice, but don't count out Davis' love of speed and the deep-threat receiver.

 

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Total picks: 7

Priority positions: WR, CB, DE, DT

The state of things: As always, Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard has left his club without a first-round pick, shipping it to Tampa Bay a couple years ago for a receiver named Bryan Still or Mikhael Ricks, or some combination of the two. Beathard still dances to the beat of his own drummer on draft day, and may trade away his 2001 first-rounder this year in order to obtain an extra second in 2000. It's that live-for-today and worry-about-tomorrow-later philosophy that has made for some draft-day busts in San Diego. If the Chargers stand pat at No. 43 and take their second-rounder, their most logical spots to address are cornerback or receiver. At cornerback, Cal's Deltha O'Neal and Virginia Tech's Ike Charlton could still be around in the mid second round. San Diego has bodies at receiver, but only Jeff Graham excelled in 1999. Another ex-Bear, Curtis Conway, is now on hand and may thrive back home in California.

The hunch: There's absolutely no way to predict which name Beathard will pick out of a hat at No. 43. The need at cornerback lines up with one of the deeper positions in this draft.

 

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Total picks: 8

Priority positions: WR, DL, G, MLB

The state of things: The Joey Galloway trade with Dallas gave the Seahawks an extra first-round pick this year and next, and it also made receiver the team's most obvious need. Derrick Mayes is still around, but a speed receiver is a must. Georgia Tech's Dez White has showed some slippage of late in some people's opinions, but he is valued at or around Seattle's No. 19 and 22 picks. Another speed threat who could tempt the Seahawks is Florida State's Laveranues Coles, if the Raiders pass him by. With middle linebacker a need, Seattle could spoil Indianapolis' day and select BYU's Rob Morris, the best pure middle man in the draft. Also needing attention is the defensive line, which lost Phillip Daniels to Chicago and will probably lose Sam Adams to either Baltimore or Green Bay. Seattle has young replacements for both players, but another draftee would hedge those bets.

The hunch: The need for speed is too great for Seattle to pass on White. A surprise pick could be at cornerback, where the team is looking to replace the disappointing Willie Williams. Cal's Deltha O'Neal or Ohio State's Ahmed Plummer are possibilities at both No. 19 and 22.


 
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