Denver Broncos: WR, OG, 3-4 ILB, C, 3-4 DL, RB depth
The Broncos found some nice role players and veterans this offseason to fill up some of their holes and allow them more flexibility going into the draft. After trading Brandon Marshall away though, they did create a void in a unit that outside of Marshall struggled anyway. If Dez Bryant is sitting there in the 1st round, it would be difficult to pass him up. As Denver adjusts to a man-based blocking scheme with a larger emphasis on strength over athleticism, they’ll need to make some adjustments, which starts at finding a suitable starting guard. Chris Kuper should be the answer at RG, but the LG is up for grabs and 32-year-old Russ Hochstein is a question mark at center with his knee problems. Knowshon Moreno is serviceable starter, but they could use some depth behind him, preferably someone with explosive ability. After filling the defensive line with scheme veterans, they will look to make selections on that unit as they find value. At linebacker, they’ll move last year’s OLB Mario Haggan to MIKE, while hoping Robert Ayers can fill in opposite Elvis Dumervil. They should look to find a starter at either position, in case their ideal forecast doesn’t pan out.
Kansas City Chiefs: 3-4 NT, WR, OT, 3-4 ILB, 3-4 OLB, S
The Chiefs have many needs, but they need to start focusing on rebuilding the front 7 of the defense. As most good teams do, this has to come from the inside out. Up front it starts with finding the anchoring nose tackle of the defense. From there, they can find an athletic, sift-through-trash inside linebacker, though those guys are far from common. Finally, they should add another pass rusher and hope for a trickledown effect into the secondary, where they could really use a playmaking safety to capitalize on errant passes. Offensively, the Chiefs should make a determination on their long-term projection of Branden Albert. I think he can be an average left tackle, but an All-Pro left guard. Regardless, they’ve had enough time to evaluate him now, where they should be able to commit to a decision and draft accordingly.
Oakland Raiders: DT, QB, OT, OG, DE, LB
As bad as JaMarcus Russell is, the Raiders desperately need to do something about that run defense. That secondary is actually very good and if they can patch up the uncontested running lanes, they can win some ball games with defense alone. Finding a good nose tackle should be their first order of business. Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard, despite some pretty good numbers, have become the scapegoat for the putrid run defense, which isn’t completely fair. They could try to find some thumpers to take care of the problem in the middle rounds, but rebuilding the defensive line should be a priority. At defensive end, they’ll look for a pass rushing specialist. Russell won’t be able to buy much time, even if he gets a shot at starting again. It’s now or never for him. They do need to work on getting the offensive line situated by finding a left tackle and moving Henderson back over to the right side and finding a starting guard to push or replace Cooper Carlisle. They also need more production from their receiving crops, but they have a couple young guys who I think will take a big step forward this year – whether or not the balls get there is another concern.
San Diego Chargers: RB, 3-4 NT, S, OL depth, QB depth, CB depth
You can bet the house that the Chargers will address running back in the draft in one of the first two rounds. Sproles is a good back-up and special teams player, but can’t handle much more. Their offensive line play was suspect early last year, but they improved down the stretch. Louis Vasquez was a big addition, but they could still use some talented bodies to push some of their mediocre linemen to hit their potential or ride the bench. After trading Charlie Whitehurst, I’m sure Norv Turner would love having another young man to develop at quarterback as well. With a void at nose tackle, the Chargers are a top contender for Terrence Cody. Whether it’s him or someone else, they better hope to find a starter or they may struggle defensively again next season. They’ll also enter another offseason with mediocrity at safety and a need to continually push their starters to excel or a backup plan in case one falls apart. After trading Antonio Cromartie because of his lackadaisical approach to the game, the Chargers added former Pro Bowler Nathan Vasher to help them out. In case he struggles, there should be depth to ensure last year’s early season performance doesn’t repeat itself.
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