If there is a winner in the 2005 NFL draft out of the AFC West it has to be the Kansas City Chiefs, but that may not be saying much in itself. For a team that has been torched time and time again on defense the Chiefs went all over the board with their nine picks. The Chiefs chose four offensive players, four defensive players and a punter. With that said adding to any controversy there may be for them in the first day of the draft; the Chiefs drafted left footer, Dustin Colquitt from Tennessee in the third round with their second pick of the first day.
But the impact pick of the division and for the Chiefs was their first pick in round one. Linebacker Derrick Johnson should have an impact early on with Kansas City. The Bronko Nagurski and Butkus award winner this past season from Texas should produce that needed punch from the linebacker position that the Chiefs have been missing for sometime on defense.
Add Johnson and new players Kendrell Bell, Sammy Knight, Carlos Hall and Patrick Surtain and the Chiefs on paper have dramatically improved defensively. They couldn't get much worse but it does appear to be a marketable improvement on that side of the ball.
The best name to be drafted by the Chiefs however; was wide receiver Craphonso Thorpe from the Florida State Seminoles in the fourth round. If not for breaking his leg at the end of the 2003 season, Thorpe would have been a sure fire Top 15 pick in the draft. He could end up starting for the Chiefs this season and might be the steal of the second day not only for the Chiefs but the entire draft.
The Denver Broncos look to be the big losers of not only the division, but also perhaps the entire league with their off-season moves so far in 2005. Everybody wondered whom the sucker would be that would indeed draft former Ohio State running back Maurice Claret on Saturday or Sunday or even at all. Denver had the fortitude to make that move worth the 101st pick in the third round. The jury remains out on the troubled running back but let the controversy in the media begin on an otherwise already controversial team.
The Broncos also drafted three cornerbacks in Darrent Williams from Oklahoma State, Karl Paymah from Washington State, and Domonique Foxworth from Maryland. All three were drafted consecutively in the second and third rounds just a year after the Broncos traded for Champ Bailey. In addition, they signed Brandon Browner from Oregon State as an undrafted free agent. Surely the picks were made to counter the Randy Moss deal in Oakland.
The addition of Courtney Brown from the Browns and Ron Dayne from the Giants just adds more questions to the potential or lack thereof for the Broncos. Mike Shanahan should have his hands full for the third consecutive season. If the Colts, Chiefs or Randy Moss work them over this season, the Broncos draft will officially be considered wasted. But from first glance it might already be too late to salvage anything positive to say about their entire 2005 off-season.
The Oakland Raiders, like the Chiefs and Broncos attempted to beef up their defense in the draft. The Raiders drafted all defense with the exception of quarterback Andrew Walter and tackle Pete McMahon. Walter from Arizona State may be a great pick as the Raiders quarterback of the feature. Walters might change their bleak forecast beyond Kerry Collins.
Cornerback Fabian Washington from Nebraska was the Raiders first pick and could pan out to be a key addition, especially after the loss of Phillip Buchanon; who was traded the Houston Texans before the NFL Draft. So far Oakland has done a good job with their off season moves. The addition of Randy Moss, free agent running back LaMont Jordan and defensive end Derrick Burgess from the Eagles; puts the Raiders one solid quarterback performance away from the playoffs and competing with the Chargers and Chiefs next season for the division title.
In more Raiders quarterback news, Norv Turner hinted that the career if Rich Gannon may be over which actually leads to speculation that Gannon may be back. All this considering it was thought Gannon was done for good back in December. Any thought of Gannon now makes one think that he may be back after all. Gannon suffered a ruthless hit from Tampa linebacker Derrick Brooks in week three last season.
As much as many teams have changed, the San Diego Chargers seem content on staying just the same and time will tell if that was such a wise move. With no notable free agent signings as of yet, the Chargers looked to bolster themselves last weekend through the draft. Defensively the Chargers got stronger with the additions of Shawne Merriman from Maryland and Luis Castillo from Northwestern. Both were at the top of their conferences at their position and add depth to an already reliable Chargers defense.
The Chargers also appeared to be interested in mirroring themselves. With their third round pick the Chargers drafted Vincent Jackson a 6' 5" wide receiver/tight end/returner from Northern Colorado. The pick sounds like another Antonio Gates type of player, which should help Drew Brees out considerably. Another pick that compliments the Chargers well was Darren Sproles from Kansas State. A speedy back that can catch the ball as well gives opposing defenses another pest-like running back to worry about, much like LaDainian Tomlinson does for them now.
Although the draft didn't produce the names that some would have liked; the AFC West appears to be heading in the right direction. Denver by far has made the most questionable moves but they still have three months to discredit that before the start of training camp.