SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
2011 NFL Draft Picks: Corey Liuget, DT (1-18); Marcus Gilchrist, CB (2-50); Jonas Mouton, OLB (2-61); Vincent Brown, WR (3-82); Shareece Wright, CB (3-89); Jordan Todman, RB (6-183); Stephen Schilling, G (6-201); Andrew Gachkar, OLB (7-234)
A lot of people did not talk about the Chargers draft but personally, I thought they had one of the better drafts. They had five picks in the first three rounds and did a great job with them. Liuget had a great career at Illinois. He is a large, athletic tackle who gets off the ball quick and has great instincts for finding the ball. He can made an immediate impact for this team. The Chargers addressed secondary issues but getting a solid pair of corners in Gilchrist and Wright. I really like the additions of Vincent Brown (who I think will have a pretty good rookie campaign given Rivers’ ability to distribute the ball) and with uncertainty at running back, sixth round pick Jordan Todman could get a chance to get some touches early on. The only negative in their draft is that they failed to address their need for an offensive tackle.
KEY ADDITIONS: Vincent Jackson, WR (Chargers); Malcolm Floyd, WR (Chargers); Takeo Spikes, LB (49ers); Bob Sanders, S (Colts); Jeromey Clary, OT (Chargers); Antwan Barnes, LB (Chargers); Jacques Cesaire, DE (Chargers); Scott Mruczkowski, C (Chargers); Travis LaBoy, LB (49ers); Randy McMichael, TE (Chargers); Eric Weddle, S (Chargers); Billy Volek, QB (Chargers)
KEY LOSSES: Darren Sproles, RB; Brandon Siler, LB, Legadu Naanee, WR; Jyles Tucker, LB; Craigh Davis, WR
Great teams keep their best players. The fact that San Diego was able to make it through their free agency period and somehow keep both Vincent Jackson and Malcolm Floyd is a huge win for that team. The departure of Darren Sproles hurts that offense but it was pretty inevitable. It’s hard to believe that in the last four years this team has allowed L.T., Michael Turner, and now Darren Sproles to just walk.
I really like the additions of Takeo Spikes and Travis LaBoy to the Chargers linebacking corps. But the biggest move that San Diego could have made on the defensive side was locking up their own Eric Weddle and pairing him with the Colts’ Bob Sanders. The question with Sanders is always if he can stay healthy but if he can, this defense could be a force to be reckoned with.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
2011 NFL DRAFT PICKS: Johnathan Baldwin, WR (1-26); Rodney Hudson, C (2-55); Justin Houston, DE (3-70); Allen Bailey, DE (3-86); Jalil Brown, CB (4-118); Ricky Stanzi, QB (5-135); Gabe Miller, OLB (5-140); Jerrell Powe, DT (6-199); Shane Bannon, FB (7-223)
Last season right after the draft I gave the Kansas City Chiefs the highest draft grade after somehow grabbing Eric Berry, Javier Arenas, Dexter McCluster, and Tony Moeaki all in the same draft. This year I’m not as big on Kansas City’s draft but I do believe that Scott Pioli knows exactly what he is doing. This is the guy who used his Mr. Irrelevant pick to grab Ryan Succop a couple years back, who I believe to be one of the best kickers in the league. The Chiefs grabbed Baldwin in the first round who I thought was a bit of a reach but it was clear that the Chiefs needed immediate help at wide receiver and Baldwin is a big receiver with good hands who has great initial burst off the ball. He is very raw and will take some development. I still believe that taking an offensive lineman here and grabbing someone like Torrey Smith, Titus Young, or Randall Cobb in the second round would have been the better move. Hudson was a perfect second round pick and I cannot believe that Justin Houston fell to them in the third round. I definitely thought he was an early second round talent. I like the addition of Ricky Stanzi to back up Cassel in the fifth round who was a very underrated college quarterback. I am mostly intrigued by Jerrell Powe who is a very raw, but could be a very effective run stopper for the Chiefs. The last time Pioli had the 199th overall pick (with which Powe was selected) he selected Tom Brady in New England so he is clearly a guy that knows how to find value late in a draft.
KEY ADDITIONS: Tamba Hali, DE (Chiefs); Steve Breaston, WR (Cardinals); Kelly Gregg, NT (Ravens) Brandon Siler, LB (Chargers); Wallace Gilberry, DE (Chiefs); Le’Ron McClain, FB (Ravens)
KEY LOSSES: Brian Waters, G; Ron Edwards, DT
The Chiefs made the biggest move they could have in free agency – they locked up Tamba Hali long term. He’s not a big name but he is an elite pass rusher. Chiefs fans have to be glad after seeing elite talent like Jared Allen and Tony Gonzalez leave the past few years that the Chiefs could lock up one of their own. They then turned around and re-signed Gilberry to bookend with Hali while Houston develops. Kelly Gregg is aging but he’s definitely a solid nose tackle pick-up for the Chiefs. The ideal pick-up would have been Aubrayo Franklin from the 49ers but Gregg is a good consolation prize. The one addition I love is Steve Breaston. Last year the Chiefs had Bowe and Moeaki at tight end and then nobody else to catch the ball. Now with McCluster having another season to catch out of the backfield and the addition of Baldwin and now a speedy receiver like Breaston who had 1,000 yard seasons under current Chiefs coach Todd Haely in Arizona, Kansas City has put together a solid little receiving corps.
2011 DRAFT PICKS: Von Miller, LB (1-2); Rahim Moore, S (2-45); Orlando Franklin, G (2-46); Nate Irving, ILB (3-67); Quinton Carter, S (4-108); Julius Thomas, TE (4-129); Mike Mohamed, ILB (6-189); Virgil Green, TE (7-204); Jeremy Beal, DE (7-247)
If you had to ask me who was the best player in the draft – it would be a toss-up between Von Miller and Arizona’s Patrick Peterson. I really feel like Von Miller could make an immediate impact for the Broncos and he was the player that made the most sense for Denver. Denver’s biggest needs in this draft were on the defensive side of the ball and this was their primary focus. Denver was able to take the first safety off the board in the second round and if Nate Irving can avoid injury, could be a steal in the third round. The one thing that is lacking in this draft for Denver is they did not really address the concerns along their defensive line.
KEY ADDITIONS: Ty Warren, DT (Patriots); Brodrick Bunkley, DT (Eagles); Jeremy Jarmon, DT (Redskins); Derrick Harvey, DE (Jaguars); Marcus Thomas, DT (Broncos); Daniel Fells, TE (Rams); Willis McGahee, RB (Ravens); John Fox, Head Coach (Panthers Head Coach)
KEY LOSSES: Jabar Gaffney, WR, Daniel Graham, TE; Ronald Fields, NT; Renaldo Hill, S; Ryan Harris, OT
Surprisingly, Denver did not have a lot of cap room to work with going into free agency. The Broncos started off by immediately addressing defensive line issues with the addition of Ty Warren, Brodrick Bunkley, Derrick Harvey, and the re-signing of Marcus Thomas. I love the trade of Jabar Gaffney for Jeremy Jarmon as he fits John Fox’s scheme in Denver perfectly. Derrick Harvey has never lived up to his draft hype BUT he is definitely a risk worth taking and if there is one thing John Fox knows it’s defensive ends. I also really like the addition of Daniel Fells though the Broncos really did put a huge emphasis on tight ends in their offseason. I think McGahee was a risk worth taking in their backfield to pair with Knowshon Moreno. Of course what is going to be really interesting is to see how new head coach John Fox (great hire) deals with trying to implement his system with a mixture of Shanahan and McDaniels guys.
2011 DRAFT PICKS: Stefen Wisniewski, C (2-48); Demarcus VanDyke (3-81); Joseph Barksdale, OT (3-92); Chimdi Chekwa, CB (4-113); Taiwan Jones, RB (4-125); Denarius Moore, WR (5-148); Richard Gordon, TE (6-181); David Ausberry, WR (7-241)
I saw the Wisniewski pick coming from a mile away. He satisfied a need on the Raiders’ offensive line and given that his uncle Steve is a Raiders assistant coach and legendary lineman – it was clear that Wisniewski was Al Davis’ guy. Van Dyke was a necessary pick-up given the later departure of Nnamdi Asomugha. Of course, the Van Dyke pick was pretty obvious given that he was the fastest guy in the draft and everyone knows how Al Davis loves his speed guys. They waited awhile in the draft to address their wide receiver and outside linebacker positions but I think getting Denarius Moore out of Tennessee in the 5th round represents great value. Like any Raiders draft, a lot of head scratching moves here and a hard draft to gauge at this moment in time.
KEY ADDITIONS: Kamerion Wimbley, LB (Raiders); Michael Huff, S (Raiders); Khalif Barnes, OT (Raiders); Jarvis Moss, DE (Raiders); Samson Satele, C (Raiders); Stephon Heyer, OT (Redskins); Justin Smiley, G (Dolphins); Trent Edwards, QB (Jaguars), Hue Jackson, Head Coach (Raiders Offensive Coordinator)
KEY LOSSES: Nnamdi Asomugha, CB; Zach Miller, TE; Robert Gallery, G
The Raiders did a good job of resigning their free agents, unfortunately they missed out on the three most important ones. This free agency period is definitely more about what they lost as opposed to what they brought back. They lost the best cornerback in the NFL with Asomugha, they lost a big part of their offensive line in Robert Gallery, and then Zach Miller who I consider a top 10 tight end and has been vastly underrated. Huff, Moss, and Wimbley all had strong years for a good Raiders defense but they have underperformed for most of their careers. I do like the hire of Hue Jackson and like bringing in Trent Edwards to back up Campbell; but the Raiders free agency definitely left a lot to be desired.