Moving right along in our “better late than never” draft grades series, let’s take a look at the AFC West.
Denver Broncos: B-
It’s hard to think about the Broncos draft and not immediately go to the selection of Tim Tebow in the first round, which I’ll get to in a minute. Overall, Denver had a fairly successful draft but made some questionable picks along the way.
They started off by grabbing Georgia Tech WR Demaryius Thomas, which almost seemed like a no-brainer. The Broncos decided to pass on Dez Bryant, who many had ranked as the better receiver, but it makes sense to not bring in another diva to replace Brandon Marshall. While Thomas was picked up a bit high for my taste, he still would have surely gone in the first round had Denver not pulled the trigger.
Then Denver loses me. McDaniels and company decide to trade up into the first round to take Tim Tebow, the controversial quarterback from Florida. Look, I don’t doubt Tebow’s work ethic or character. What I do doubt is that Tebow would have been taken by any other team in the first round had Denver not moved up. I just don’t get the idea of drafting a developmental quarterback in the first round when your team has many other needs. But I digress…
Denver decided to focus on the interior of their offensive line, grabbing Zane Beadles, the OT from Utah, JD Walton, the center from Baylor and Eric Olsen, the center from Notre Dame. Walton, to me, appears to be the true center prospect while Olsen will probably be a fill-in/depth guy at the guard/center positions. Beadles also will likely be shifted inside to guard for his career and could potentially fit in nicely there.
In addition to grabbing another WR (Eric Decker from Minnesota), the Broncos were able to grab two corners that were highly touted at the beginning of the 2009 season, but failed to impress throughout the year. Oklahoma State’s Perrish Cox has some off-field issues, but brings the added bonus of being a talented return man. Syd’quan Thompson from California really lost me at the Senior Bowl with his lack of effort, but Denver was able to get both corners for a song in the 5th and 7th rounds.
I came close to giving the Broncos a C for their grade because I believe that they paid too steep of a price for Thomas, Tebow and Beadles. However, they were able to get solid value with JD Walton, Perrish Cox and Syd’Quan Thompson in the later rounds.
Round 1 (pick 22) Demaryius Thomas — WR — Georgia Tech
Round 1 (pick 25) Tim Tebow — QB — Florida
Round 2 (pick 45) Zane Beadles — OT — Utah
Round 3 (pick 80) JD Walton — C — Baylor
Round 3 (pick 87) Eric Decker — WR — Minnesota
Round 5 (pick 137) Perrish Cox — CB — Oklahoma State
Round 6 (pick 183) Eric Olsen — OG — Notre Dame
Round 7 (pick 225) Syd’quan Thompson — CB — California
Round 7 (pick 232) Jammie Kirlew — DE — Indiana
Kansas City Chiefs: B
We all know the Chiefs have a long way to go as a franchise but they’re heading in the right direction. The 2010 draft seemed to be all about versatility for Kansas City as they grabbed players that could play multiple positions for the team. To many, the Chiefs were a bit of a surprise by taking Eric Berry in the first round, which is something we actually predicted in our final mock draft. We didn’t see this pick as much of a surprise at all. Berry is a special player and could have an Ed Reed type career in the NFL. It’s hard to pass on that talent when it’s available.
The Chiefs followed up the Berry pick by grabbing two versatile players in Ole Miss RB/WR Dexter McCluster and Alabama CB Javier Arenas. I fully expect McCluster to get plenty of touches this year for the Chiefs, who don’t have a lot of offensive firepower. Don’t be surprised to see McCluster lined up in the slot as a receiver or in the backfield as a running back, or possibly even returning kicks. The kid is a play maker and you have to put the ball in his hands. Javier Arenas will most likely start as the nickel back but has the ability to play #2 across from Brandon Flowers. Arenas has some versatility as he’s also a talented return man.
What I really loved about the Chiefs draft is their third round selections. Jon Asomoah, the guard from Illinois is an absolute monster and is a great value in the 3rd round. Tony Moeaki is an intriguing tight end prospect as he’s a solid blocker but also an effective route runner and pass catcher.
The Chiefs didn’t get fancy in their draft. They didn’t make any crazy moves or make any very surprising picks. Overall, they had a quietly solid draft that will help in the building of their young foundation.
Round 1 (pick 5) Eric Berry — S — Tennessee
Round 2 (pick 36) Dexter McCluster — RB/WR — Ole Miss
Round 2 (pick 50) Javier Arenas — CB — Alabama
Round 3 (pick 68) Jon Asamoah — OG — Illinois
Round 3 (pick 93) Tony Moeaki — TE — Iowa
Round 5 (pick 136) Kendrick Lewis — S — Ole Miss
Round 5 (pick 142) Cameron Sheffield — DE — Troy
Oakland Raiders: B+
Yes, even I can’t believe what happened on draft day with the Raiders and what is even more mind-boggling is the fact that I’ve given them a B+ grade. I happen to subscribe to the theory that someone slipped a sedative in Al Davis’ coffee and he slept through the first day of the draft. The Raiders started off with a very solid selection of Rolando McClain, which will give them a top-notch linebacker for years to come. The Raiders defense gets even better with the addition of Lamarr Houston, who is another prospect that I believe wasn’t getting enough attention.
The Raiders added some much needed help to their offensive line by grabbing back to back tackles in Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell. Veldheer is much closer to being ready to play than Campbell and should see some early playing time. Campbell is a physical freak that some even expected Al Davis to select as early as round one of the draft. He’ll need plenty of time to develop his game, but his potential is unlimited.
Oakland added a typical Al Davis pick by grabbing the speedy Jacoby Ford from Clemson. He’ll be able to contribute mainly in the return game or possibly as a slot receiver. However, the Raiders still need to hope that last year’s first round pick, Darius Heyward-Bey, steps up his game and becomes the receiver they hoped he could be.
The main reason Oakland gets such a high grade is the trade for Jason Campbell at quarterback. Not only did the Raiders organization make huge strides by releasing the bust of a quarterback, Jamarcus Russell, but they went out and got a quarterback that will bring some veteran leadership to their team. Campbell hasn’t had a stellar career, but he also hasn’t had a steady set of coaches behind him, or a strong offensive line in front of him, since he’s been in the NFL.
With a draft that wasn’t flashy and some picks that were no-nonsense, the Raiders actually received a higher grade from me than I ever envisioned giving them before the draft.
Round 1 (pick 8 ) Rolando McClain — LB — Alabama
Round 2 (pick 44) Lamarr Houston — DT — Texas
Round 3 (pick 69) Jared Veldheer — OT — Hillsdale
Round 4 (pick 106) Bruce Campbell — OT — Maryland
Round 4 (pick 108) Jacoby Ford — WR — Clemson
Round 5 (pick 138) Walter McFadden — DB — Auburn
Round 6 (pick 190) Travis Goethel — LB — Arizona State
Round 7 (pick 215) Jeremy Ware — DB — Michigan State
Round 7 (pick 251) Stevie Brown — DB — Michigan
San Diego Chargers: C
To me, the Chargers draft was nothing more than average. They did make a move to go get Ryan Mathews in the first round, which was certainly a need for the team. Darren Sproles can’t carry the load by himself and the team parted ways with Ladanian Tomlinson, so Mathews was a must for the Chargers. However, the pick came at a cost and the Chargers didn’t pick again until the third round where they selected Donald Butler, the linebacker out of Washington. Butler is a solid pick but might not get on the field as early as you’d expect.
The Chargers followed up the selection of Butler by taking Darrell Stuckey, the safety out of Kansas. Stuckey was very highly touted at the start of the 2009 season, but didn’t impress as the season went on. However, his potential is high and by grabbing him in the 4th round, the Chargers received quality value. San Diego’s 5th round pick is one of my favorites in North Carolina DT Cam Thomas. Thomas has a chance to be an instant impact player at the nose tackle position. Personally, I believe Thomas should have gone as early as the third round, so the value on this pick is fantastic.
San Diego had some concerns along the offensive line that the team failed to address as well as in the secondary, which drops their grade a bit. Overall though, they targeted one player that they felt they needed more than anything and I give them credit for going after him. In the end, it’s hard to look at the Chargers draft and say it’s anything more than average.
Round 1 (pick 12) Ryan Mathews — RB — Fresno State
Round 3 (pick 79) Donald Butler — LB — Washington
Round 4 (pick 110) Darrell Stuckey — S — Kansas
Round 5 (pick 146) Cam Thomas — DT — North Carolina
Round 5 (pick 168) Jonathan Crompton — QB — Tennessee
Round 7 (pick 235) Dedrick Epps — TE — Miami
Only one more division of draft grades left. Check back soon for the NFC West grades!