by David Syvertsen
1 – Denver Broncos (13-3)
2 – San Diego Chargers (7-9)
3 – Oakland Raiders (4-12)
4 – Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Offseason 2013: Where They Stand
To this point, 2013 has to be considered a major success after an abysmal 2012 regular season. They are now led by a new Head Coach in Andy Reid along with former Niners starting quarterback (and number 1 pick) Alex Smith. Combined they have proven track records of success with a lot of winning pedigree. Kansas City was able to bring back left tackle Branden Albert and re-sign number one receiver Dwayne Bowe. They’ve done a nice job of adding above average veteran role players to the defensive side of the ball to group with a young nucleus that is up and coming. A quick look at the Chiefs overall personnel has led me to believe they are already close to a team that can finish around .500 next winter.
1 – Offensive Tackle
Albert was franchised for 2013. If he cannot be signed long term, that hole needs to be plugged right away. Drafting a top tier pass protector can nullify that potential issue before it even exists. In year one, that rookie can compete for a spot on the right side; a spot that was left open after the roster cut of 2012 starter Eric Winston.
2 – Edge Rusher
OLB Justin Houston exploded on to the scene in 2012. He is one of the top young edge players in the division. The reliable veteran Tamba Hali hits the 30 year old mark this season, and the economics game will soon catch up with him. They have little to be excited about behind these two.
3 – Inside Linebacker
The Chiefs have the personnel to play a diversified scheme on defense. They have options considering the talent they have along the defensive line. No matter what though, they need more presence next to star linebacker Derrick Johnson.
While it may not be the most attractive year to have the number 1 overall selection, the opportunity to pick any player you want and add him to this up and coming roster is huge. The defense looks like a unit that will compete at a pretty high level in 2013. QB Alex Smith is a massive upgrade over the likes of Mat Cassel and Brady Quinn. He fits in well to Reid’s scheme and is smart with the football in his hands. Their playmakers have already proven to be productive. If the offensive line can keep him upright and confident, the Chiefs will score points. They have one of the most explosive talents in the league at running back and a solid group of pass catchers. Bring in Eric Fisher or Luke Joeckel to plug in at RT right away while providing long term insurance of Albert signs elsewhere in 2014.
As for days two and three, the Chiefs will still have three selections remaining in the top 100 despite losing their second rounder for Smith. There will be plenty of opportunity in there to add a young edge rusher and inside linebacker. Adding more young talent at wide receiver that can start off in the slot should be looked as well, as the jury is still out on WR Jonathan Baldwin.
3 Round Mock
#1 – Eric Fisher – OT – Central Michigan
#63 – Khaseem Greene – LB – Rutgers
#96 – Corey Lemonier – OLB – Auburn
#99 – Stedman Bailey – WR – West Virginia
Offseason 2013: Where They Stand
The Raiders are in year two of trying to escape from salary cap hell. For the first time in awhile, I like the direction they are heading in. They are looking for value among the free agent market and brining in young, quality football players that perform well on tape rather than the winners of combine-type workouts. With that said, they have more holes to plug than any team across the league. While the Raiders showed some life in 2012, they’ve already lost a good amount of young, quality talent to free agency. With a lack of financial flexibility, the personnel losses may keep coming. The short and long term future at quarterback is unstable, as Carson Palmer may soon be cut.
General Manager Reggie McKenzie has been slowly turning the page to a new style of player acquisition in Oakland. Yet another top 10 pick creates yet another opportunity to acquire a future cornerstone to the team’s long term success. Fortunately for him, this team desperately needs talent on both sides of the ball in a variety of spots. Very simple process here. Take the best player available at any position; plug him in to the depth chart. At some point with those first three picks, they need to bring in a quarterback to compete with Terrelle Pryor for the team’s long term solution under center. With that said, #3 overall is not the time to do it. That would a sign of desperation.
If there is one strength I see on this roster, it is at linebacker. To get the most out of those players, the front office must bring in quality players up front to occupy blockers and rush the passer. Losing Richard Seymour, Matt Shaughnessy, Desmond Bryant, and possibly Tommy Kelly is a huge hit. Protect the small but fast linebackers with some big and able bodies up front should be a priority as well.
1 – Cornerback
A position that is starving for young talent in a league that sets passing records every year, within a division with one of the game’s best ever quarterbacks. A quality cover corner needs to be brought in as soon as the value is even close if the defense to be competitive in 2013.
2 – Defensive Line
Inside or outside here, although I think they could use an edge rusher more right away. The Raiders no longer have a deep group to rely on up front. They need to keep their talented linebackers clean and the best way to do that is bringing in defensive line bodies which opposing offenses need to account for.
3 – Quarterback
Carson Palmer has proven to be ineffective since being traded from Cincinnati, even when he has time in the pocket. He is now an overpaid, aging, signal caller that should be holding the clipboard on the sidelines. Pryor has talent and there is no denying that but he doesn’t throw and react the way a starter should. A security net and potential long term solution will be available for them.
3 Round Mock
#3 – Dee Milliner – CB – Alabama
#66 – EJ Manuel – QB – Florida State
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Offseason 2013: Where They Stand
The Chargers had a nice run under Norv Turner and AJ Smith. But they failed to get over the hump and descended from mediocrity to the bottom third of the league. Enter General Manager Tom Telesco and Head Coach Mike McCoy. They will try to bring back an offense that has been slowly getting worse and worse since the departure of LaDainian Tomlinson, injuries to Antonio Gates, and loss of talent up front. They’ve added two starting caliber offensive linemen to the right side, but still have a gaping hole at left tackle that plagued them for much of 2012. They don’t have a ton of financial flexibility, so they must do a nice job of acquiring some NFL ready talent over draft weekend.
Rivers is one of the most immobile starting quarterbacks in the game in or outside of the pocket. Combine that with an offensive line that struggles mightily with speed of the edge in an era where defenses are adding speed, speed, and speed to their units, and you have a lot of passing plays under duress. They’ve signed three free agents already this offseason, but there needs to be a left tackle brought in early. They are in a good spot at #11 overall matched up with a good year to be in this position.
The loss of Vincent Jackson in the spring of 2012 left its mark on the passing game as well. Rivers, despite that weak arm, throws the deep ball well. But without any legit deep threats, his game will be limited. There are some big time talents available on days 2 and 3 here. Their defense is very homegrown, but they don’t have any superstars at any position. They can really take a best player available approach when attacking their potential defensive rookies.
1 – Left Tackle
The recently waived Jared Gaither makes this need even more crucial for the team’s success in the near future. This is not a position that should be left untouched with what they currently have on the roster. As soon as the value is close, grab the best guy on your board.
2 – Edge Rusher
2012 1st round pick Melvin Ingram is a nice player that can rush the passer and stuff the run. However there is minimal edge talent beside him which will hurt the defense and Ingram’s potential as an individual.
3 – Pass Catcher
The Chargers can look at wide receiver or tight end at some point in the first half of the draft. Antonio Gates seems to have run in to the aging wall that is notorious for swallowing up superstars in a blink. They have nice talent already at wide receiver, but none of them are seen as irreplaceable.
3 Round Mock
#11 – Lane Johnson – OT – Oklahoma
#45 – Sam Montgomery – DE/OLB – LSU
#76 – Da’Rick Rogers – WR – Tennessee Tech
2013 Offseason: Where They Stand
After surprising success led by Tim Tebow and stingy defense in 2011, General Manager John Elway led the charge for Peyton Manning and a more pro-style passing game in 2012. Manning returned to the league after his year off recovering from a neck injury and played his way in to the AFC Championship. They were incredibly close to winning that game and if it weren’t for a mis-timed leap by safety Rahim Moore, we could be singing a different tune about this team. As close as they were, Denver has already gotten a lot stronger through the free agency period. Despite losing Elvis Dumervil to Ravens, they’ve acquired a top tier slot receiver in Wes Welker and put him in an offense with a quarterback that knows how to best use his skills. They’ve made three acquisitions on the defensive side of the ball to all three levels of the scheme that will prove to be effective moves in 2013.
The Broncos are in a fortunate position. They have a Super Bowl-caliber roster without a single gaping hole. This is a great position to be in because they can follow the board and base their selections on who is the highest graded prospect. With that in mind, they don’t have a lot of long term stability on the offensive line. Any team that is led by Peyton Manning needs to make it a priority to bring in quality talent to protect his aging, slowing, damaged frame.
Defensively, Denver has a nice blend of youth with upside and proven veterans with plenty left in the tank. It is a very well balanced group. They lost DJ Johnson to free agency however, and their inside linebackers could be upgraded or, at the very least, added to for depth purposes. The loss of Dumervil may not hurt too much on the field, but if they want to maximize Von Miller’s enormous talent, another edge rusher could be of good use in their aggressive scheme.
1 – Edge Rusher
I like the young players they have up front controlling the outside. Derek Wolfe is going to surprise people with his talent to break the pocket. However Robert Ayers has proven to be inconsistent, if not incapable of being a reliable every down player. There will be a good edge rusher available when they are on the clock.
2 – Offensive Line
There are long term questions surrounding one of the top left tackles in football, Ryan Clady. He is secured, as is Manning’s backside, for 2013. But without a long term solution, the team must be prepared for a potential hole at left tackle if Clady chases a big payday elsewhere.
3 – Cornerback
Much like that left tackle spot, there is some instability for the long term performance at corner. Champ Bailey is nearing the end of his career and even though Elway brought in the talented Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, there could be a need for depth in a league that will play 3-4 corners at any given point.
3 Round Mock
#28 – Alec Ogletree – LB – Georgia
#58 – Jordan Poyer – CB – Oregon State
#90 – David Bakhtiari – OT – Colorado