Will Denver get a shot at Nick Fairley?

Now, all the Denver Broncos need is for the Carolina Panthers -- and new defensive-minded coach Ron Rivera -- to take a pass on Nick Fairley.

As expected, Auburn’s superstar defensive lineman is forgoing his senior season and is headed to the NFL draft. The Broncos have the No. 2 pick in the draft and Fairley would be a perfect fit in Denver. Had Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck entered the draft, Fairley would be a slam-dunk for Denver since the quarterback-hungry Panthers would have surely taken Luck. Now, all bets are off as Fairley looms as one of the best players available.

In an ESPN.com Insider pieceInsider , Mel Kiper has Fairley ranked No. 1 on his current big board. The Broncos may have to hope that the Panthers try to improve their offense and hone in on Georgia receiver A.J. Green or Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert. This will be a major storyline to watch in the coming weeks and months.

In other AFC West news and notes on a busy early Friday:

Oakland star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha spoke publicly about his pending free agency for the first time since his contract was voided. Asomugha is very smart and he doesn’t make mistakes. Thus, he said very little about his future and didn’t give any hints about whether he’ll return to Oakland or go elsewhere.

Former NFL salary guru Andrew Brandt has an interesting look at Asomugha’s voided contract.

New Denver coach John Fox is looking to hire some of his former assistants in Carolina.

The San Diego Union Tribune has an excellent roster evaluation of a Chargers’ team that could look very different in 2011.

In an Insider piece,Insider

Kiper looks at the five teams that best fit Eagles’ backup quarterback Kevin Kolb. None reside in the AFC West.