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NFL draft preview: AFC and NFC West

The draft will be held Thursday (Round 1), Friday (Rounds 2-3) and Saturday (Rounds 4-7) in New York. Times NFL writer Sam Farmer examines the needs for each team by division. Today, the West divisions:

AFC West

The Chiefs have the 11th pick and probably will be looking for a defensive lineman who fits Coach Romeo Crennel’s 3-4 scheme. A player such as LSU’s Michael Brockers could fit the bill. Kansas City could use an inside linebacker too, and a logical choice that early would be Luke Kuechly of Boston College. A quarterback is also a possibility, but maybe in a later round.

The Chargers are looking to lock down the strong safety spot, so don’t be surprised if they try to make a move up from No. 18 to grab Alabama’s Mark Barron. The team needs another pass-rushing outside linebacker too, especially with Peyton Manning now in the division. With Mike Tolbert gone, another running back would be helpful, and a replacement probably could be found in a middle round.

Just like last year, the Broncos could use some help on the interior of their defensive line. They have Ty Warren, but he’s 31 and frequently battling injuries (he last played 16 games in 2007). Denver will also take a hard look at this crop of running backs, with Willis McGahee on the wrong side of 30 and Knowshon Moreno not panning out. The club also could use help at corner.

Unless they find a way to trade back into the upper rounds, the Raiders will be early spectators. They don’t have a pick until the third round. No team has fewer than Oakland’s five picks. Still, the Raiders can use what they have to build defensive depth, and pick up help on the line, at outside linebacker and at tight end.

NFC West

The Rams have the sixth overall pick and sit at one of the early pivot points in this draft. They could use help in a host of areas, whether it’s at receiver (Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon), cornerback (Louisiana State’s Morris Claiborne) or on the offensive line, were USC’s Matt Kalil to slip past Minnesota at No. 3. St. Louis has three of the first 39 picks.

The Seahawks let their middle linebacker go, and Kuechly is a player who could step in and be a Week 1 starter. Seattle could also use help along its defensive line, particularly someone who can rush the passer. And even though safety isn’t a position of glaring need, don’t be shocked if the Seahawks take a hard look at Barron, especially with so many teams using multiple tight ends.

There’s some debate about who is the best guard in this draft, Stanford’s David DeCastro or Georgia’s Cordy Glenn. Either would work for the Cardinals, who have a need at that position. Like many teams, Arizona is looking for help at outside linebacker. The team is eyeing the available receivers too, among them Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd.

A fashionable pick for the 49ers at No. 30 is Stanford tight end Coby Fleener. But Jim Harbaugh, his former college coach, also has some more pressing needs. As good as its offensive line is, San Francisco could use help at guard. San Francisco also could pick up some depth along the defensive line, someone who could complement/learn behind Justin Smith.

sam.farmer@latimes.com

Article source: http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-nfl-draft-west-20120425,0,2524787.story




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