The 2011 NFL Draft is over, but every team still faces questions. Over the next week, we'll present a question for each team. Each team's success may depend on finding an answer. Today, the AFC West.
How well will the Broncos transition back to the 4-3 defense? When you look at the starting outside linebackers on the Broncos (Elvis Dumervil and rookie Von Miller), they both look better suited for the 3-4 defense. The team also has only two defensive tackles – Louis Leonard and Kevin Vickerson – under contract. If the Broncos want to get better in their front seven, the team will probably have to re-sign Ronald Field and Marcus Thomas, and go after one other free agent tackle.
Can the Chiefs prove in 2011 that 2010 wasn't a fluke? Kansas City was one of the surprise teams of 2010, winning the AFC West with a 10-6 record. Last season, the Chiefs faced one of the easiest schedules in the league. Playing Cleveland, San Francisco, Denver, Arizona and Tennessee, the Chiefs were 6-1 against teams drafting in the top 10 this year. By contrast, the Chiefs were 1-1 against teams that made the playoffs last season (Indianapolis and Seattle). Kansas City has been adding a lot of talent in recent drafts and Jamaal Charles has arguably been the best running back in the NFL. Against what should be a tougher schedule in 2011, though, the team will have to prove that talent isn't fool's gold.
Where do the Raiders go with their passing game? Once again, the quarterback situation in Oakland may be in flux. Last year's starter, Jason Campbell, had an average season. The Raiders also benched Campbell in the second game in favor Bruce Gradkowski, who is currently a free agent. Campbell got the job back when Gradkowski was hurt. The Raiders were said to be enamored with Colin Kaepernick in the draft but didn't trade up to get him. Now the team may go with Campbell again, but history shows he'll be average, at best.
San Diego Chargers
Is general manager A.J. Smith on the hottest entering the 2011 season? Smith has become known as a GM who likes to spar in public with unhappy players, and the repercussions have been growing. They started as simple arguments but evolved last season into wide receiver Vincent Jackson and offensive tackle Marcus McNeill sitting out part of the season. Add in what looks like a questionable 2011 draft class and Smith seems to be testing the team's ownership.