AFC West mailbag

Weekend mail call:

Roger from Ohio wants to know why I, along with other writers, felt Jason Campbell would be a good fit in Oakland and what I think about his struggles this season.

Bill Williamson: I never thought Campbell was a great answer in Oakland. I did think he was an upgrade over Bruce Gradkowski (I was wrong) and definitely over JaMarcus Russell (I guess so). Am I surprised Campbell has been a total disaster as a starter in three games? Yes, I didn’t think he’d be that bad. But I never bought the talk that Campbell was the missing link between the Raiders and the playoffs as the team clearly did. He was a below-average player in Washington. Mike Shanahan couldn’t wait to replace him. But I thought Campbell would be an adequate short-term answer in Oakland as it departed the Russell era. But he hasn’t even been able to be a good bridge player.

Matt from Kansas City wants to know if I think the Chiefs will target a quarterback in the draft next year.

BW: The potential top quarterbacks available include Stanford’s Andrew Luck, Washington's Jake Locker, Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett and Arizona's Nick Foles. Others could move up in the next six months or so. But I don’t necessarily think the Chiefs will be looking for a quarterback in the first round. Yes, they have an option on Matt Cassel, but the Chiefs want it to work with Cassel. They are in his corner and he’d have to really take a downward spiral for the Chiefs to look to replace him. At this point, I think Kansas City is more likely to try to find Cassel a stud receiver in the first round to help him improve than look to replace him.

Jesus from Fresno wants to know who are the keeper players on Oakland’s roster.

BW: I think there’s a decent core of young players. Offensively, it starts with tight end Zach Miller and running back Darren McFadden. Miller is a Pro Bowler waiting to happen and if can he stay healthy, McFadden is an impact player. Receiver Louis Murphy looks like he has a chance to be an OK No. 2 receiver. I’m not big on Darrius Heyward-Bey. I think he’ll be just a guy who will make the occasional play because of his speed, but who may never be a true No. 1 receiver. I like receiver Chaz Schilens a lot, but he has to stay healthy. Left tackle Jared Veldheer looks like he’ll be a solid player down the road. Defensively, I like rookie defensive lineman Lamarr Houston. I think he is an impact player. Rookie middle linebacker Rolando McClain doesn’t have it all figured out quite yet like he may think he does, but he should make strides and be a quality player. Safety Tyvon Branch is a stud, plain simple, and anchors a secondary led by veteran Nnamdi Asomugha. That’s a pretty good nucleus of good players. It all comes down to quarterback play, coaching and organizational direction. If the Raiders can get stability in those areas, they should be OK down the road.