Michael Amato is going to study team-by-team each squad's NEEDS over the next few weeks. Enjoy the ongoing series of articles as we explore the upcoming NFL draft.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs own the number one pick in the upcoming draft and selecting that high is something that new head coach Andy Reid isn’t familiar with coming from the Philadelphia Eagles. Kansas City was very busy in free agency and most notably made a deal to bring in quarterback Alex Smith from the San Francisco 49ers.
Now that they have Smith, Jamaal Charles, and were able to re-sign Dwayne Bowe, it would make sense for the Chiefs to strongly consider taking offensive lineman Luke Joeckel from Texas A&M first overall. Taking a lineman that high may not be a sexy pick, but Joeckel plays the all important left tackle position and is ranked number one on many team’s draft boards. Protecting your quarterback’s blindside is crucial for keeping him healthy and offensive lineman are usually pretty safe first round picks.
Joeckel earned his starting spot at Texas A&M as a true freshman and has held the position for three straight seasons. The junior was a key reason why Johnny Manziel was able to win the Heisman Trophy in 2012, and Joeckel also earned some hardware himself as he captured the Outland Trophy and Jacobs Blocking Trophy.
Look for the Chiefs to also target a run stuffing defensive lineman a little later in the draft. Kansas City ranked 27th in 2012 when it came to stopping the run and that was mainly due to the fact that Glenn Dorsey missed most of the season due to injury. Dorsey signed with San Francisco in the off-season so they will need someone to replace him.
The Raiders will be selecting shortly after the Chiefs at third overall. There are not too many spots Oakland doesn’t need help in, but the issues with their defensive line are the most pressing. The Raiders ranked in the bottom half of the NFL last year against the run and second to last in sacks. They should be looking to target either Dion Jordan of Oregon, Sharrif Floyd of Florida, or Star Lotulelei of Utah.
The problem here is that the Jacksonville Jaguars pick right before Oakland and they were dead last in sacks in 2012. They are most likely looking strongly at the defensive end Jordan who is a tremendous athlete and can line up all over the field. Worst case scenario should still land them either Floyd or Lotulelei who can help shut down the run.
As much as the Raiders need help defensively, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them take West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith either. Oakland owes Carson Palmer $13M and unless he takes a pay cut, he is probably going to get released. Leaving the unproven Terrelle Pryor next up on the depth chart if the Raiders don’t draft somebody.
Oakland also could look at a tight end later in the draft since they lost Brandon Myers to the New York Giants. They’re also going to need a new punter as long-time Raider Shane Lechler is now a Houston Texan. Lechler and kicker Sebastian Janikowski have arguably been Oakland’s two most consistent players in recent years, which should tell you how bad the Raider franchise is at the moment.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers need to better protect Philip Rivers so look for them to go with an offensive lineman in the first round. Rivers was sacked 49 times last year which was second most in the NFL behind Aaron Rodgers.
With the 11th pick they should be able to get their hands on either tackle Lane Johnson from Oklahoma, or guards Chance Warmack from Alabama and Jonathan Cooper from North Carolina. Although Warmack just helped lead the Crimson Tide to a national title, many scouts believe Cooper is more athletic and may be better prepared to help both in pass protection and the run game.
San Diego would also be wise to look at a corner in the later rounds as they gave up over 230 yards per game in 2012 through the air. They have already lost Antoine Cason to the Arizona Cardinals and appear to be uninterested in re-signing Quentin Jammer, so finding some new blood in that area is a must. If for some reason the aforementioned three linemen are already taken by the time the Chargers select at 11, defensive back Xavier Rhodes from Florida State wouldn’t be a bad option.
It may sound weird to say that the Broncos are in need of a pass rusher because they already have Von Miller, but the loss of Elvis Dumervil leaves a void on one side. Denver was tied for the league lead with 52 sacks last season and Dumervil chipped in with 11 of those. In fact he had 63 during his six seasons with the Broncos. Opposing teams can double team Miller a lot easier now that Dumervil has departed.
Defensive end Damontre Moore of Texas A&M had 12.5 sacks last season and plays a downhill game. Some feel he may be a mid-first round selection, but if he falls closer to the end of the opening round then the Broncos would be wise to pounce. His quickness off the ball would be a great compliment to Miller.
Denver could also consider a running back as well since they got it done by committee last season. Willis McGahee is aging and prone to injury, Knowshon Moreno has been inconsistent, Ronnie Hillman is inexperienced, and Lance Ball is unsigned. Grooming someone to take some of the pressure of Peyton Manning wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world.
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