Writers sockonfl and Consigliere provide a division-by-division look at NFL Teams leading up to the 2010 NFL Draft. The articles will focus on teams’ strengths, weaknesses and draft needs. Other articles in this series can be found on our 2010 NFL Draft page — Ed.
Here is a look at how each team in the AFC West currently shapes up prior to the NFL Draft:
Kyle Orton: Orton proved once again that he is a winning QB with Denver in 2009. He is not the flashiest player and doesn’t put up huge statistics. Come the end of the day though, his team usually finds itself on top. Overall Orton usually avoids the stupid mistakes that can kill a team. He should benefit from another season of tutelage under McDaniels.
Knowshon Moreno: Moreno seemed to fatigue as 2009 wore on. Perhaps the time missed in training camp really hurt his conditioning. He needs to prove he can carry the load for a full season.
Correll Buckhalter: Buckhalter is a capable backup and role player. He could never be an every down back, but provides solid support to the running game.
Brandon Marshall: Marshall set the standard for receptions in a game during the 2009 season. He is being bantered around the league in trade rumors. So far the Seattle Seahawks appear to be the only ones showing some interest. No matter where he plays he is a stud receiver.
Eddie Royal: McDaniels disappointed me last year with how little they used Eddie Royal in the offense. Royal had a superb rookie season in 2008 but seemed to be on the outside looking in on the offense in 2009. Hopefully McDaniels wakes up and doesn’t waste such a talented player on his roster.
Tony Scheffler/Daniel Graham: Scheffler and Graham are the TE dynamic duo for Denver. Neither player really makes a great impact in the offense.
Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant will be taken if the Broncos find a suitor for Marshall prior to their 11th overall draft pick. If Marshall is not dealt, look for them to emphasize the offensive line and defense in the draft.
San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers: You don’t get any better at a position than having a young stud player like Rivers to drive the team. He is a top five QB talent in this league today. There will be no need to address the QB position in San Diego for years to come.
Darren Sproles: Ouch. It hurts to type Sproles as the starting running back for the Chargers. He is a great role and special teams player. A full-time starting back in the NFL he is not.
Marcus Mason: The only reason I list Mason here is because right now he is technically the number 2 running back on the team. That will change come draft day.
Vincent Jackson: Jackson has steadily become one of the top receivers in the game today. The one place he lacks is in total receptions, which always seem on the low end considering he is a No. 1 receiver. Perhaps his totals will increase in 2010 as the team continues to become a more pass oriented offense.
Malcom Floyd: Floyd is a decent WR2 in the offense, but he still is the third target overall considering Antonio Gates is in San Diego.
Antonio Gates: Gates is still an elite TE option in the NFL. I wouldn’t foresee the Chargers trying to replace him anytime soon with all the holes they have on defense.
San Diego is in desperate need of a running back with the departure of LT2. I think if he is still there in round 1, the Chargers select Fresno State’s Ryan Mathews. If Mathews isn’t there I think they take a defensive player round 1 and then come back and draft Stanford’s Toby Gerhart. San Diego did have Gerhart in for a private workout, so there is definitely some interest there.
Kansas City Chiefs
Matt Cassel: Cassel was who I thought he was in 2009. He was merely an average QB that benefited from a system and stellar receivers in New England. Now the Chiefs have so much invested in him they have to keep him as the starter to save face.
Jamaal Charles: Charles had skyrocketed all the way up into many people’s top 10 overall fantasy draft picks for 2010. Then the team signed free agent Thomas Jones. It burst that bubble in a hurry. Charles will still get some yards. But I think down by the goal line it will be TJ time in KC.
Thomas Jones: I initially had the Chiefs going after Stanford’s Toby Gerhart in the upcoming draft. They fooled me and signed the wily veteran Jones instead. He will remain an option as a change of pace and goal line back in 2010.
Dwayne Bowe: I have heard more positive news on Bowe already this offseason than I did the entire training camp and preseason last year. Maybe he finally woke up and realized he could be a great talent in the NFL if he just put the effort into it.
Chris Chambers: The Chiefs resigned Chambers for 2010. He proved to be a valuable receiver down the stretch of the season especially during the weeks of Dwayne Bowe’s suspension. Hopefully he can play a solid role in the offense again.
Leonard Pope: When Pope is your No. 1 option at TE, I am not sure you have much of a TE at all. Look to other teams for a fantasy option at TE.
The Chiefs have so many holes to fill on the offensive line and in one of the most horrible defenses in the league, that I highly doubt they draft any skill position players in the upcoming draft.
Bruce Gradkowski: The Tampa Bay reject has placed himself atop the Raider depth chart at QB. Although that could be more by the lack of effort put in by former No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell than any other reason. Gradkowski should remain the starter because the Raiders won’t want to admit they made a mistake drafting Russell by taking another QB this year.
Darren McFadden: With Justin Fargas gone, McFadden finally gets his chance to show the world he is the back that the Raiders expected when they took him in round 1. It could be do or die for McFadden, as he has Michael Bush nipping at his heels for playing time.
Michael Bush: Someday an RB is going to step up and be the leader. The Raiders hope Bush or McFadden can be that back.
Darrius Heyward-Bey: Last year’s first round draft bust (seems like a recurring theme in Oakland doesn’t it) needs to step up his game and contribute in some fashion on offense. Maybe he can develop some chemistry with Gradkowski after a full offseason of workouts.
Chaz Schilens: Schilens may actually be the No. 1 WR option on the team. He played well in a few games late in the year. He was set back most of the season due to an ankle injury. It will be interesting to see how well he does in a full season of work.
Zach Miller: Miller is a decent backup TE in fantasy circles, but I would not want to rely on him week in and week out as my starter until they get a better QB in Raider Nation.
The Raiders could use a QB, but they won’t draft one. That would be finally admitting Russell is a bust. They wouldn’t want to do that. They could also use some receiving help. Who had the fastest 40 time of all the receivers? That’s right it was Clemson’s Jacoby Ford. It wouldn’t surprise me any for the Raiders to call Ford’s name a few rounds too early in the upcoming draft.