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2011 NFL Draft Results: AFC West Grades Illustrate Strong Value Throughout

The Oakland Raiders made a couple smart picks, and a couple questionable picks in the 2011 NFL Draft. In that, they addressed some potentially big needs with some players who should be able to fill those needs, but in vintage Raiders fashion, they didn't necessarily draft the players who might fit best, going with speed and athleticism once again. It actually felt like they weren't going to go that route at first, but they did spend a couple picks on guys that, how you say, "fit the bill," for Al Davis.

Without a first-round pick in the draft, the Raiders would have to sit back and watch their AFC West rivals potentially get better on day one, and for the most part, that definitely happened. The AFC West is very competitive at this point, with two teams clearly at the top and two teams clearly at the bottom. If you're wondering where Oakland is, I'm sorry to say that it's the latter. Their draft was indeed strong when it all comes down to it, so that could all change with the new regime, but for now let's see how the rest of the division turned out.

Denver Broncos

Round 1: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M (2nd overall)
Round 2: Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA (45th overall)
Round 2: Orlando Franklin, OL, Miami (46th overall)
Round 3: Nate Irving, LB, N.C. State (67th overall)
Round 4: Quinton Carter, DB, Oklahoma (108th overall)
Round 4: Julius Thomas, TE, Portland St. (129th overall)
Round 6: Mike Mohamed, LB, California (189th overall)
Round 7: Virgil Green, TE, Nevada (204th overall)
Round 7: Jeremy Beal, DL, Oklahoma (247th overall)

Analysis: Let's get this out of the way right now: Miller was not the best pick for the Broncos at number two overall. Marcell Dareus and Patrick Peterson would both have been better picks, and Nick Fairley would have been more in-line as well - Miller just doesn't project well into Denver's defense. That being said, he's such a high-talent player with as much upside as anybody in the draft, and any defense in the league would likely bend over backwards to find somewhere for him to play, so the pick is good in that regard.

After the Miller pick though, the Broncos had an insanely good draft. Moore will learn under Brian Dawkins and immediately contribute on the defense. Franklin is a right in-line with value and can play all five offensive line positions, and Irving can also come in and be a first-year player. The steal of the draft is Virgil Green in the seventh round, that is if he can stay healthy. He slid from a potential second-round pick all the way down to the seventh due to health concerns ... there is no risk spending a seventh rounder on him, and this writer thinks he will be just fine.

Value: A+, Need: B-, Overall: A-

San Diego Chargers

Round 1: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois (18th overall)
Round 2: Marcus Gilchrist, DB, Clemson (50th overall)
Round 2: Jonas Mouton, LB, Michigan (61st overall)
Round 3: Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego St. (82nd overall)
Round 3: Shareece Wright, DB, USC (89th overall)
Round 6: Jordan Todman, RB, Connecticut (183rd overall)
Round 6: Steve Schilling, OL, Michigan (201st overall)
Round 7: Andrew Gachkar, OLB, Michigan (234th overall)

Analysis: San Diego was clearly looking to get things done in their secondary, be it cornerback or safety. That's why they made Wright and Gilchrist their picks: both guys figure to be cornerbacks, but both guys have been called safety-converts by scouts. The Chargers have to be figuring that one of them will work out at one position, while hoping that the other works out at the remaining. For a caveat to that, both picks didn't really line-up well with value and they were definitely considered reaches.

The Liuget pick was a pure best-player-available strategy, but you can be sure he was a player A.J. Smith liked a lot. He doesn't feel a huge need or anything of that nature, but San Diego will find a spot on their line for him to play, preferably somewhere along the interior, where he will excel. The later rounds saw the Chargers grab Todman, who figures to be a change-of-pace back in the vein of Darren Sproles.

Value: C, Need: B+, Overall: B-

Kansas City Chiefs

Round 1: Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh (26th overall)
Round 2: Rodney Hudson, OL, Florida St. (55th overall)
Round 3: Justin Houston, LB, Georgia (70th overall)
Round 3: Allen Bailey, DL, Miami (86th overall)
Round 4: Jalil Brown, DB, Colorado (118th overall)
Round 5: Ricki Stanzi, QB, Iowa (135th overall)
Round 5: Gabe Miller, OLB, Oregon St. (140th overall)
Round 6: Jerrell Powe, DL, Mississippi (199th overall)
Round 7: Shane Bannon, RB, Yale (223rd overall)

Analysis: What a monster draft from the Kansas City Chiefs. From the get-go, they take steps to improve their young offense by adding some protection for Matt Cassel with Hudson, and then give Dwayne Bowe a complimentary receiver with Baldwin. Both are great values, and both will contribute from day one. Keeping with offense, the Chiefs were the team to take a flier on Stanzi, the quarterback out of Iowa, and he may be the quarterback of the future, as he'll get plenty of time to sit on the bench and develop.

On top of that, the Chiefs had an even better draft for defense. Houston is a first-round talent that fell, he will contribute as a pass-rusher and wreak havoc, while Bailey is another high-potential guy who fell and can contribute a lot in his rookie season. Powe is the big man up-front, great value in the sixth round, while Jalil Brown should develop into a solid nickel corner out of the fourth.

Value: A+, Need: A-, Overall: A