Draft preview: AFC, NFC West

April 21, 2010|By Baltimore Sun reporter

The draft will be held from Thursday to Saturday in New York. Times' NFL writer Sam Farmer examines the needs for each team by division. Today, in the final segment, the West divisions:

AFC West

San Diego has the 28th pick and a couple of glaring needs. The Chargers are looking for a running back who can complement Darren Sproles and pick up the slack in short-yardage situations. They like Stanford's Toby Gerhart, but he might be more of a second rounder. A good fit might be Fresno State tailback Ryan Matthews. San Diego also needs a defensive tackle, having cut three-time Pro Bowl selection Jamal Williams. (Denver snapped up Williams before the Chargers could re-sign him at a better price.)

Having traded Brandon Marshall, Denver will be taking a hard look at receivers. Do they roll the dice on Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant (or maybe surprise people with Georgia Tech's Demaryius Thomas), or take, say, USC's Damian Williams in a later round? The Broncos also need a center. They cut Casey Wiegmann and currently have no one to snap the ball. Florida's Maurkice Pouncey is the best center in this class and a probable first rounder, but is 11 too soon?

Oakland isn't afraid to go against the grain with its pick, as was the case last season when the Raiders made Maryland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey a top-10 pick (even though he wasn't the top pass catcher on most boards). There's a chance the Raiders could hit up the same school in the opening round this year by taking Maryland tackle Bruce Campbell, who's fast and built like a bodybuilder, yet is a second rounder on many boards.

It has been nearly a decade since Kansas City had a playmaker at safety (Jerome Woods), so they might look to fill that need with the No. 5 pick. The Chiefs can have their choice there, and the best is Tennessee's Eric Berry. Offensive tackle is also a possibility, and the run on those might already be underway at that point. The top three tackles in this class are Oklahoma State's Russell Okung, Oklahoma's Trent Williams and Iowa's Bryan Bulaga.

NFC West

Arizona is already an offensive powerhouse, so the Cardinals are likely to be thinking defense with their No. 26 pick. A nose tackle who can hold the middle would be nice, and Tennessee's Dan Williams is a possibility. The club also will look at inside linebackers who might be able to step up and replace Karlos Dansby, who signed with Miami.

The 49ers have the 13th and 17th picks and can address two pressing needs: cornerback and offensive tackle. Despite questions about his speed, Florida corner Joe Haden could be a good fit and probably could start opposite Nate Clements. Although the first wave of tackles will probably be gone, the 49ers like Anthony Davis of Rutgers.

Seattle, too, has two picks in the opening round. The Seahawks also have lots of needs, among them quarterback. It will be interesting to see whether Pete Carroll thinks enough of Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen to spend the sixth pick on him, or if the coach will take a running back -- Clemson's C.J. Spiller is the top rated -- to fill the vacancy. Most pressing, the Seahawks need an offensive tackle to step in for the retiring Walter Jones.

There's not too much mystery about what St. Louis will do with the No. 1 pick -- barring trading it, of course. The Rams plan to select Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, and have cleared the way for his arrival by cutting Marc Bulger. After that, the Rams have many areas to address, among them defensive line, tight end and someone to give Steven Jackson a breather at running back.

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