AFC West Free Agent Grades and Draft Needs
Free Agency: Adding 3 more crappy running backs, hoping to solve your cataclysmic secondary with Brian Dawkins who’s too old to cover anymore, hoping to solve your cataclysmic run defence with Andra Davis who’s too old to tackle anymore and then trading your 25 year old Pro Bowl franchise QB. Yeah. Welcome to the unemployment line Josh McDaniels.
Draft Needs: You can read what I think happens to Mark Sanchez in my AFC South draft preview, but the abridged version is that the Jaguars are getting out of the top 10. Denver, Washington, Tampa and San Francisco will all put offers on the table and make plays for Sanchez this draft. It should only take a first and a third to move into the top 10 from 12, but Denver’s second pick will be used on defence. Tyson Jackson is a great fit in their 3-4 as the best pure 3-4 defensive end in the draft and will root the edge against the run and provide a decent pass rush. If they fail to land Sanchez, Larry English, Everette Brown, Aaron Maybin and BJ Raji are all possibilities.
Free Agency: Kansas City’s new regime has been busy so far, I’m not saying busy is good but busy nonetheless. I don’t really get their decision to switch to the 3-4; you drafted arguably the best player in the draft last year in prototypical defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, and now you’re going to ask him to play nose tackle. Okay… New coaching regimes mean new quarterbacks as GMs and head coaches look to get ‘their guy’ so if it wasn’t Cassel then it would have been Sanchez. I think that’s a huge risk, especially since Tyler Thigpen and Cassel aren’t that different considering both have been semi mobile, small armed, shotgun spread offense system guys. Cassel had 8 games of 200 yards or less in a New England team devoid of a running game and boasting Randy Moss and Wes Welker. His poor/slow decision making was also exposed, when despite a strong offensive line, he registered 3 four sack games, 2 five sack games and a six sack game. Kansas definitely opted for the short term solution at QB, and they cheeped out with veterans all over the field; the cornerstone of the most successful 3-4 of the last decade Mike Vrabel joined Kansas’ infant 3-4, Zach Thomas was added at middle linebacker as well and Bobby Engram will be Todd Haley’s Steve Breaston of Kansas – the only difference between those two is a zillion years and a pair of working knees. These are transition players so Kansas better hit a whole bunch of home runs in the draft.
Draft Needs: I think this is perhaps the biggest lock of the draft; Aaron Curry. I’ve heard Eugene Monroe and move Branden Albert to guard or right tackle, but come on… you’re Kansas City. You got unlucky in a lot of games last year and the dynamic ability of Curry can turn a few of those close defeats into Ws. If you go Monroe you get a marginal upgrade at left tackle (Monroe forced Albert to play guard at Virginia), and by moving Albert to guard or right tackle you’re just bolstering your pretty non-existent run game. Don’t forget that Branden Albert is a pretty good player as well. Hence, Kansas picks up the best player in the draft two years in a row.
Free Agency: Oakland are their own worst enemy; if they hadn’t of overpaid Gibril Wilson last year they’d still have one of the better safeties in the league. That makes it all the more amazing that they managed to convince possibly the league’s best player in 2008 Nnamdi Asomugha to commit his future to them – Asomugha has allowed just 10 and 8 completions against him in the last two seasons. In fact, Oakland kept a lot of their better free agents this offseason with punter Shane Lechler, returns man Justin Miller and solid number two corner Chris Johnson also re-signing. Right tackle was upgraded with Khalif Barnes, and that was their only real contribution to free agency.
Draft Needs: With Ronald Curry released the Oakland receiving core is returns man Johnnie Lee Higgins and nothing else, so receiver is their number one need. In the last two drafts Oakland got the number one QB, the number one RB and now they have a shot at the number one receiver should Crabtree escape Seattle and Cleveland. But a lot of people are speculating that Crabtree’s lack of a 40 will put off Al Davis – whose Height-Weight-Speed obsession is obscene – and could look at the fastest receiver in the draft Darius Heywood-Bey. Track star Jeremy Maclin is another option, but neither are worth the 7th overall selection. If Oakland don’t reach on Heywood-Bey or Maclin then the focus shifts to pass rush and BJ Raji shoots to the top of their list, taking Raji would also allow them to sit and wait before jumping back into the first round and taking Heywood Bey or Maclin should they slide. The problem with that idea is that those players have a huge range depending on who you talk to; some have Maclin at 8 to the Jaguars whilst others having him sliding deep into the 20s in Baltimore and Miami’s range, the same can be said of Heywood-Bey who the Giants have a noted penchant for. If Oakland want them they may have to secure them early at 7. Conner Barwin and Michael Johnson are pass rushers with phenomenal measurables, I like the fastest defensive back in the draft Chris Clemens for Oakland in the third.
San Diego Chargers
Free Agency: Very quiet; the franchising of Darren Sproles and the loss of 3-4 defensive end Igor Olshansky are the only notable moves. They spent their offseason agonizing over Tomlinson’s future and both sides just about agreed to let past issues rest. LT needed a better run blocker than Jacob Hester at full back last season and really missed Lorenzo Neal. Neal is still available in free agency, I’m just saying.
Draft Needs: One thing that would help LT no end is a dominant right tackle, and they’ll have a shot at Andre Smith and Eben Britton at 16 overall. That being said, San Diego front office is dreaming about the best pure 3-4 DE in the draft Tyson Jackson falling to them, but I think that’s unlikely.