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2013 NFL DRAFT TOP NEEDS: AFC WEST

DENVER BRONCOS (13-3)

2013 Draft Picks: 28 (1st), 58 (2nd), 90 (3rd), 125 (4th), 161 (5th), 24 (7th)

2012 Early Draft Selections: DT Derek Wolfe, CIN (36, 2nd), QB Brock Osweiler, AZST (57, 2nd), RB Ronnie Hillman, SDST (67, 3rd)

Decision Makers: GM John Elway, Head Coach John Fox

The Broncos took a major risk on Peyton Manning’s surgically repaired neck and it paid off as they finished with the best record in the AFC in 2012. That didn’t help much in the playoffs though as they failed to win a game or advance any further than Tim Tebow led them the year before. They still remain one of the top teams in the NFL, but do have needs that have to be filled, particularly on defense.

1.   Defensive End – A ridiculous front office mistake saw Elvis Dumervil end up signing with the Ravens instead of Denver leaving a massive hole on their defensive line. Derek Wolfe was excellent as a rookie, but Robert Ayers has shown nothing so far in his short career to show that he can be counted on for another year as a starter. Backup Jason Hunter also left in free agency. Adding a young defensive tackle is needed as well.

2.   Middle Linebacker – The middle of the defense is a major weakness for the Broncos. Keith Brooking was pretty good for them in 2012, but he’s a 37-year old free agent, while Joe Mays is coming off a season-ending injury and D.J. Williams departed in free agency. They need to find someone to quarterback their defense.

3.   Cornerback – Unfortunately future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey can’t play forever so finding someone for the long term future to learn behind him would be a good idea. The Broncos franchise has not drafted a corner of note since the late Darrent Williams in 2005. They made a great signing in bringing in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on a one year deal. Chris Harris has been a solid player for them as well. Tracy Porter signed with Oakland as a free agent.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (2-14)

2013 Draft Picks: 1 (1st), 63 (3rd), 96 (3rd), 99 (4th), 134 (5th), 170 (6th), 204 (6th), 207 (7th)

2012 Early Draft Selections: DL Dontari Poe, MEM (11, 1st), OG Jeff Allen, ILL (44, 2nd), OT Donald Stephenson, OKLA (74, 3rd)

Decision Makers: GM John Dorsey, Head Coach Andy Reid

A new era begins in Kansas City as former long time Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid takes over the reins following a 2012 season that everyone would love to forget with the exception of the 2013 first overall pick they received for their misery. The Chiefs still have a lot of talent on this roster, including a number of Pro Bowlers, most of who are still in the early stages of their careers. Despite just two wins last year, they have the potential for a quick turnaround with better coaching, improved quarterback play and a good draft. They traded for Alex Smith, but Reid loves his quarterbacks so look him to take one to develop with one of their mid-round picks, perhaps someone like Tyler Bray, who has the best pure arm talent of any quarterback prospect this year.

1.   Offensive Tackle – The Chiefs have been rumored for months to be taking either Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher with the first overall pick and for good reason. They franchised left tackle Branden Albert, but that’s just for one year and they recently gave Miami permission to talk to him in order to work out a trade after shopping him around the league. Even if Albert remains in Kansas City for 2013, they still have a hole at right tackle after releasing Eric Winston. Joeckel or Fisher could play on the right side for a year and then take over at left tackle when Albert isn’t resigned following the season or the Chiefs could move Albert over to right tackle and let either of the prospects start on the blind side from day one.

2.   Inside Linebacker – The Jovan Belcher tragedy has left a spot open next to Derrick Johnson on the inside that has yet to be filled. The Chiefs did sign a pair of decent linebackers in Akeem Jordan and Zac Diles, but they figure to be more for depth. Johnson is still one of the top inside linebackers in the league, but he’ll be 31 in November and in his tenth season. Adding a young linebacker to learn from Johnson for however long he keeps playing would be beneficial.

3.   Free Safety – They need to add someone better than Kendrick Lewis or Abram Elam to play free safety next to strong safety Eric Berry in the starting lineup.  Georgia’s playmaking Bacarri Rambo or the hard-hitting T.J. McDonald out of USC in the late third or fourth round could be options.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (7-9)

2013 Draft Picks: 11 (1st), 45 (2nd), 76 (3rd), 110 (4th), 145 (5th), 179 (6th), 221 (7th)

2012 Early Draft Selections: OLB Melvin Ingram, SCAR (18, 1st), DT Kendall Reyes, CONN (49, 2nd), S Brandon Taylor, LSU (73, 3rd)

Decision Makers: GM Tom Telesco, Head Coach Mike McCoy

The Chiefs aren’t the only franchise entering a new era as San Diego will do the same after finally deciding to move on from the A.J. Smith/Norv Turner regime and replacing them with Tom Telesco and Mike McCoy. The Chargers still possess a roster with some very talented players on it, but also have brutally glaring holes specifically on their offensive line and in the secondary. Their offensive line may be the worst in football right now. They probably need to add three offensive linemen in this draft.

1.   Offensive Tackle – Left tackle Jared Gaither was cut this offseason after he was unable to stay healthy or adequately protect Phillip Rivers when he was in the lineup, while right tackle Jeromey Clary is awful. Two new staring offensive tackles need to be added. San Diego has no hope if they can’t protect Rivers.

2.   Offensive Guard/Center – The interior offensive line wasn’t any better than the their tackles and is in need of major upgrades, especially after their only reliable player, RG Louis Vasquez signed with the rival Broncos as a free agent. Tyronne Green and Rex Hadnot are free agents who probably won’t be resigned. They did sign former Bill Chad Rinehart who was good in 2011, but was injured for almost all of last season. San Diego hasn’t drafted an offensive lineman in any of the first three rounds in the past four years, so whether it is tackle, guard or center, they need to draft as many good linemen as possible regardless of position.

3.   Cornerback – The Chargers will have a pair of new starting corners when the 2013 season begins. Antoine Cason signed with the Cardinals, while Quentin Jammer is a 34-year old free agent. Neither was expected to be brought back. They did sign former Jag Derek Cox to start at one spot, but he’s missed 14 games due to injury over the past two seasons and was let go by the Jags because of his inability to stay healthy. The other starting spot remains unfilled.

OAKLAND RAIDERS (4-12)

2013 Draft Picks: 3 (1st), 66 (3rd), 100 (4th), 172 (6th), 176 (6th), 205 (6th), 209 (7th)

2012 Early Draft Selections: OG Tony Bergstrom, UTA (95, 3rd)

Decision Makers: GM Reggie McKenzie, Head Coach Dennis Allen

Reggie McKenzie continues to try to rebuild the dreadful Raiders, perhaps one of the toughest rebuilding projects we’ve ever seen in sports. Since taking over he’s cleaned out as many big, mostly bad contracts as possible, but in doing so he has depleted this roster of any of the talent that they did have. Dealing with a horrible cap situation, McKenzie has filled most of the holes on this roster with cheap, stop-gap players that were backups on other teams. This is a team that just needs to take the best, most talented player available with every pick regardless of need. At least this year he has a first round pick to work with.

1.   Defensive Tackle – Their best interior defensive lineman Desmond Bryant departed for Cleveland in free agency, while Richard Seymour is an aging, declining free agent that probably won’t be brought back and Tommy Kelly was rightfully cut. They signed former backups Pats Sims and Vance Walker, who are currently set to start for them. A pair of defensive tackles need to be added in the draft.

2.   Cornerback – The Raiders added Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter as free agents to an underwhelming group of corners. None of which a potential playoff team would want starting for them and that includes stopgaps Jenkins and Porter. Finding a young cornerback is another massive need.

3.   Defensive End – Oakland finished 31st in sacks last year only ahead of the dreadful Jags. Lamarr Houston has developed into a solid starting defensive end, but is better at stopping the run than putting constant pressure on opposing passers. They also saw Matt Shaughnessy go to Arizona in free agency, while the Raiders signed Jason Hunter and brought veteran Andre Carter back for another year. Houston is the only legit starting defensive end on the roster at the moment. Like with defensive tackle and cornerback, they need to find potential star talent throughout the draft, but any prospects with talent are a boost to this depleted roster.

Written By: Mark Scott

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