Yahoo! Sports has broken down the needs and potential solutions for each team heading into the NFL draft on April 28-29 in New York City.
OTHER AFC TEAM NEEDS
OTHER AFC TEAM NEEDS
Team needs: DE, OT, S, CB, RB
Overall pick/round: 21 (1), 56 (2), 70 (3), 86 (3), 176 (6), 233 (7)
DE: The Broncos were hoping to land free agent defensive end Patrick Kerney, but lost out to the Seahawks. If they are unable to land someone before the draft, this becomes their most pressing need. They have gone through every castoff from the Cleveland Browns, most recently adding defensive tackle Alvin McKinley. The Broncos seem to rotate based on down-and-distance, but have a strong need for an edge rusher. They are one of the teams mostly likely to try to deal up in the first round, but if unable to, they could chase after a pass rusher at No. 21.
OT: In their ideal world, the Broncos will be able to trade up to acquire the rights to Wisconsin left tackle Joe Thomas. Barring that, they could take a close look at guys like Joe Staley or Tony Ugoh in the first round. If they wait until later on the first day, names that will interest them include James Marten, Allen Barbre or Doug Free.
S: This position has gone overlooked in the past few drafts. Instead, they counted on guys such as Sam Brandon and Kenoy Kennedy, who have failed to produce ideal results. The ideal choice for the Broncos is a guy capable of playing both free and strong safety, so that he could rotate behind John Lynch and Nick Ferguson. What they need most is a fleet-footed defender with better range and ball skills than their current backups.
CB: The tragic loss of Darrent Williams means that even with the acquisition of new starting cornerback Dre' Bly, the Broncos should look to add someone to pair with Domonique Foxworth in nickel and dime situations. The defender they select could also be tried as a return specialist, so look at names such as Calvin Bannister, Marquice Cole, Daniel Francis or Corey Graham on the second day.
RB: This is Mike Shanahan's favorite position, so Travis Henry's long-term deal will not keep him from using a draft choice on a running back. Mike Bell had a few issues with holding onto the ball last year, so it should come as no surprise when they pull the trigger on a mid-to-late round back like DeShawn Wynn, Justise Hairston, Jackie Battle or Danny Ware.
Kansas City Chiefs
Team needs: WR, DT, CB, OT, LB
Overall pick/round: 23 (1), 54 (2), 84 (3), 160 (5), 196 (6), 231 (7)
WR: The Chiefs are aging at both wide receiver and tight end, so an influx of talent and speed is needed on the outside. They could benefit if a guy like Ted Ginn, Jr. slides. If not, they would likely have a choice of guys such as Robert Meachem or Dwayne Bowe at No. 23. The depth at receiver could allow them pass on this position in the first round, though it would also signify they have big plans for last year's sixth-round pick Jeff Webb.
DT: It is "buyer beware" for the Chiefs here as guys such as Junior Siavii (cut last year) and Ryan Sims (likely to be replaced by Alfonso Boone) have failed to meet expectations. They likely would have to use either their second- or third-round choice to come up with someone who has the skill level to rotate in right away. If not, they could use multiple picks on interior defenders later in the draft.
CB: This is the position closest to the heart of coach Herman Edwards, a former NFL defensive back. He has a pair of aging veterans (Patrick Surtain and Ty Law) who need to be replaced soon by younger, fresher legs. They lack ideal candidates to play in nickel and dime situations, but they also feel that their Cover 2 scheme will allow them to find ideal candidates later in the draft. The Chiefs could surprise by taking a cornerback in round 1, but they will likely wait to address this spot.
OT: The release of Kyle Turley and free-agent departure of Jordan Black mean the Chiefs need to develop some younger talent behind their starting tackles. They are hopeful that Chris Terry can rebound and provide them with adequate play on the right side, but Kevin Sampson is the lone backup tackle who has actual game experience. A developmental pick would be OK, but finding someone with a fair amount of college experience would benefit them short term.
LB: They inked free agent Napoleon Harris, who increases their speed and range on the field, but he lacks a bit in the instincts department. However, the loss of Kawika Mitchell opens the door for this position to be addressed in the mid-to-late rounds, especially since there has also been some talk of converting backup linebacker Boomer Grigsby to fullback.
Team needs: QB, DT, WR, OL, TE
Overall pick/round: 1 (1), 33 (2), 65 (3), 99 (3), 100 (4), 138 (5), 175 (6), 211 (7), 254 (7).
QB: The Raiders have to weigh the long-term effects of drafting and paying a No. 1 overall QB when they could be in a similar situation a year from now. They could sign David Carr or deal for Aaron Rodgers in a trade that would send Randy Moss to Green Bay, which would allow them to pass on JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn, and target receiver Calvin Johnson.
DT: The defensive unit was strong last year as a whole, but wore down at times against the run. Adding a young, space-eater would help give them some fresh legs now and a future replacement for Warren Sapp. Potential prospects that could be available between Rounds 3-5 include Paul Soliai, Antonio Johnson, Kareem Brown or even Walter Thomas.
WR: Passing on Johnson does not mean they will write off this position. The depth of this receiver class allows them to find a complement to Jerry Porter between the second-fourth rounds, especially if a deal for Moss is completed by or at the draft. Guys like Craig Davis, Paul Williams or Aundrae Allison would fit that mold.
OL: They have drafted several linemen in recent years, including three in 2006, but injuries and inconsistency have plagued the unit. Adding a young tackle like Adam Koets, Stephon Heyer or Ken Shackleford could come in the middle rounds.
TE: Developing a young guy with good size and the combo skills to beat out the veterans would help improve the offense. Keep an eye on Kevin Boss (Western Oregon) and Michael Allan (Whitworth) as the two small-school prospects have the type of size, athleticism and speed to be worthy mid-round picks if the Raiders pass on this position early.
San Diego Chargers
Team needs: DB, WR, OL, LB, RB
Overall pick/round: 30 (1), 62 (2), 93 (3), 96 (3), 129 (4), 167 (5), 172 (5), 240 (7)
DB: The Chargers have several needs at this position, starting with a strong safety capable of playing both the run and pass opposed to just an in-the-box type guy like they have had in past years. If the Chargers stay at No. 30, they may have a shot at Brandon Meriweather. More than likely, they would be left to choose someone like Michael Griffin at which point they could wait until the second or third round. They could also come back with a second safety or corner later in the draft since Drayton Florence hits the open market in 2008.
WR: They opted to cut ties with Keenan McCardell, so one of their early choices will likely be spent on a receiver opposite of Vincent Jackson that possesses more vertical speed and better hands than the ones on their current roster. If a receiver were to slip in the first round, they could make a move on the position earlier than expected.
OL: They would be drafting for depth and future years at this position as Mike Goff is expected to depart via free agency when his contract is up. No matter what else they do on the draft's first day, expect them to take a lineman before the third round is up. Potential targets are Julius Wilson or Brandon Frye. If they look for a guard in rounds 3-4, Mike Jones could be a target, while Nicholls State tackle Jacob Bender is a solid mid-to-late round option.
LB: They released productive Donnie Edwards, so the time for youngsters like Tim Dobbins and Stephen Cooper has come. That has created a void in terms of depth and solid role players for their special teams units. On the outside, they also lack quality depth, so finding a young edge rusher that can come along slowly and see just limited action over the next few years would be fine as Carlos Polk is an average backup at best.
RB: As odd as it may sound with LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner possibly in the fold for next season, the Chargers should look to add a running back on the second day. Turner, a restricted free agent who has piqued some interest this offseason, could soon be dealt. If not, he will become an unrestricted free agent after the 2007 campaign. They found a gem in the fifth round with the tough and speedy Turner, so going back to that philosophy in this year's draft could supply them with a guy like Tyrone Moss, Justin Vincent, D.D. Terry or Thomas Clayton.