AFC West


Denver Broncos

The noise out of Carolina is getting louder that QB Cam Newton will be the No. 1 pick, thus setting up the optimal scenario for a Denver team starved to add a defensive difference-maker. The current favorite to be taken No. 2 overall appears to be Alabama DT Marcell Dareus, which would be a perfect marriage of need and talent worthy of that high pick. The Broncos are especially thin in the middle of a defensive front that is transitioning from a 3-4 to 4-3 base under coach John Fox. Denver finished No. 31 against the run last year (154.6 yards per game allowed) and Dareus’ ability to occupy blockers as arguably the top interior power player would be the first of many building blocks Denver will add in this draft. … The Broncos continue to poke around the draft’s top QBs, with Newton visiting team headquarters this past week. The justification for the moves publicly continues to be thoroughness, and it still appears unlikely the team would go in that direction with Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton on board. But the modus operandi also is sending signals the team isn’t completely comfortable it already has a franchise quarterback. – Lee Rasizer

Kansas City Chiefs

Defensive-heavy drafts in recent years have given the Chiefs several good young players on that side of the ball. It’s a different story on offense, where they are thin at wide receiver and several spots along the offensive line. At least five of their eight picks should be used on offensive players. … Wide receiver is the biggest need but no one of value at that position may be available to the Chiefs at No. 21 overall. If the team doesn’t trade down, look for it to select a receiver (Miami’s Leonard Hankerson is an option) in Round 2. … The Chiefs could be in the market for a developmental quarterback but won’t reach to take one. Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi would seem to be a good fit, but it’s unlikely given their other needs they would take him in the first three rounds. – Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders worked out Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick earlier this month, even though they are without a first-round pick and have two established quarterbacks on their roster. Coach Hue Jackson realizes that Jason Campbell and Kyle Boller turn 30 this season and aren’t signed beyond 2011 and that it’s high time for the Raiders to develop a long-term franchise quarterback. As a result, team is contemplating selecting Kaepernick, or another of the many highly regarded quarterbacks in this year’s class, even if it entails trading up in the second round or into the first round. Florida State QB Christian Ponder also has flashed on the Raiders’ radar. … As usual, the Raiders are taking a close look at the draft’s fastest prospects, regardless of position. Among those in that category are Eastern Washington RB Taiwan Jones and Hawaii S Mana Silva, players who posted impressive times in the 40-yard dash. –Steve Corkran

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers seem content with the 18th overall pick because there is such an abundance of top talent at positions of need — defensive end and outside linebacker. However, the two teams that pick directly in front of them (Jacksonville and New England) are also targeting both positions. Should Dallas go end at No. 9, the Chargers could be enticed to jump up and assure they get J.J. Watt or Ryan Kerrigan. … Defense is the overwhelming draft priority, and depending on if there is a run on pass rushers, the Chargers could be enticed to package one of their four second-day picks and a future first-rounder to move up for a second first-round pick … Along with addressing the defensive front seven, they will turn to wide receiver and cornerback and possibly inside linebacker or offensive tackle on Day 2. – Kevin Acee

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