Explaining my mock draft picks

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Below are the choices I made for the AFC West teams as part of ESPN.com's blog network first-round mock draft.

By the way, I will post my final mock draft for each AFC West team Friday. Don't be shocked if there are changes from today's mock draft. The reason? My entire mock draft may be different than today's offering, so there will be some players off the board or on the board for AFC West teams that weren't in play for this mock.

No. 3, Kansas City: Former Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry

Why: I could see Kansas City making a surprise pick such as LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson or offensive tackles Jason Smith or Eugene Monroe. But the safest pick is Curry. He is the top defensive player in the draft and his selection makes sense here.

No. 7, Oakland: Former Missouri receiver Jeremy Maclin

Why: Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree was off the board, so I went with Maclin. I know many people expect the Raiders to take Maclin even if Crabtree is on the board. I think Crabtree is the better overall player. But Maclin would help Oakland. I was also tempted to tab tackle Andre Smith of Alabama here, but I think Oakland will take a receiver.

No. 12, Denver: Former USC quarterback Mark Sanchez

Why: He was the best player on the board and he's a long-term answer at quarterback. Yes, Denver needs defense and I'd be somewhat surprised if Denver takes Sanchez. But it would be a smart move.

No. 16, San Diego: Former USC linebacker Rey Maualuga

Why: I think he'd be an instant fit for San Diego. He is a playmaker and he can help the defense play at a high level. San Diego needs an impact defender and Maualuga qualifies.

No. 18, Denver: Former LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson

Why: Denver likes this guy. The Broncos could take him at No. 12 and San Diego could take him at No. 16. He is a perfect 3-4 player and would help Denver greatly as it transitions to that scheme.