- Matt Williamson, ESPN.com
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In the AFC West, a slew of recent first-round picks absolutely must step up in 2010.
In Denver coach Josh McDaniels' first draft last year, the Broncos selected RB Knowshon Moreno and DE Robert Ayers, and neither lived up to his first-round billing in his rookie season (especially Ayers). The Broncos also traded a first-round pick from this upcoming draft to select CB Alphonso Smith with the 37th overall selection last year.
All must play better to justify their selections. To spend the 12th overall pick on a running back, that player better be exceptional. Moreno has done some good things, but he certainly hasn't been exceptional thus far in Denver. Meanwhile, Ayers could be miscast in the Broncos' 3-4 scheme.
Much like McDaniels' first draft, the Chiefs' Scott Pioli got very little return from DE Tyson Jackson, the third overall pick. In fact, Jackson could have been the biggest rookie bust in the league when considering his draft position.
Although Pioli's regime wasn't responsible for the 2008 selections, clearly the Chiefs must get far more from DT Glenn Dorsey as well, the fifth overall selection that year. Getting far more from this pair of top-five defensive linemen will be as critical to the fate of the Chiefs' organization as any other area of this team outside of quarterback.
If Jackson was not the biggest first-round bust last year, that dubious distinction had to go to WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, who went seventh overall and was painfully absent from the Raiders' passing game as a rookie.
The first overall selection in 2007, Oakland QB JaMarcus Russell, is absolutely holding this entire organization hostage, but the selection of Darren McFadden with the fourth overall selection in 2008 hasn't turned out much better. Actually, the Raiders have not gotten the production expected from their first-round pick since they selected Nnamdi Asomugha way back in 2003. It is awfully difficult to be a winning organization with such a terrible first-round track record.
The Chargers' most recent first-round pick, LB Larry English, did very little to distinguish himself in his rookie season, but their 2008 first-rounder (CB Antoine Cason) is really under the microscope in San Diego. CB Antonio Cromartie is now with the Jets, and San Diego's depth at the corner position is weak. Cason has done little since joining the league to justify anointing him a starting cornerback.
When you look at why the AFC West is one of the weakest divisions in the NFL, look no further than many of the recent first-round selections in the division.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.
9hBy Dan Graziano
1dMatt Walks, ESPN.com
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