The Denver Broncos have done a fine job in free agency so far, picking up Owen Daniels, Joe Don Duncan, Vance Walker, Shelley Smith, Karl Schmitz, and Darian Stewart, to go along with re-signing Virgil Green and Steven Johnson. However, there are still concerns with the roster moving forward.
The Broncos are cap and cash strapped as they try to fix these roster concerns prior to the draft. General Manager John Elway does not like going into the draft with glaring concerns, as it limits his options. The free agency frenzy has passed and those still left on the market are likely lowering their price tags, as they look to find a NFL home.
For veterans, signing before the draft is key. If they don’t, they may not be playing in the NFL next year. Their last hope comes during training camp when teams start dealing with health concerns and teams realize that veterans provide better options than rookies.
So, where are these roster holes for the Broncos and who is left that can fill them? Let's take a look and break them down.
The Broncos have Matt Paradis, last season's sixth round pick, whom the team is reportedly comfortable with. However, there are some options in free agency who can provide stability at the position for another year or two, as Paradis continues to grow. Two veteran options are Will Montgomery and Chris Myers, both of whom have experience playing in this offense, or one similar, and have excelled therein.
Myers was cut from the Houston Texans, due to money issues and not fitting the offense moving forward. Having been cut, he would not count into the compensatory pick formula for next year.
Montgomery was with the Broncos last season and started for about half of the season. He was signed after he was cut from the Washington Redskins for similar reasons as Myers, though scheme fit wasn’t as big of an issue. Montgomery had his best year in 2012 in a zone blocking scheme ran by Mike Shanahan, which is very similar to what Gary Kubiak runs.
After Myers and Montgomery, there are plenty of other options. Scott Wells, Stefen Wisniewski, and J.D. Walton are all available. Wisniewski may come at too high of a cost, which may explain the lack of interest from Denver. The others are viable options, though Myers and Montgomery are likely plan A and plan B at this time.
The options at right tackle are slim, but there are a couple of good fits on the open market, both of whom are former Broncos. Ryan Harris has bounced around the NFL, playing with the Broncos, Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs. The best years of Harris’ career came in Denver when he was playing opposite Ryan Clady in a ZBS.
Harris was solid in Houston and had another solid year last season with the Chiefs, though it was not great. Harris would provide a veteran option to compete for the starting right tackle position with Michael Schofield and possibly a rookie.
Another option is Tyler Polumbus, who had a sub-par 2014 season, before dealing with injuries and getting benched. However, he is not far removed from some really good years in Washington. His 2013 season stands as the best season of his career, which came in a similar offense. Polumbus won’t "wow" with his pass protection, but his run blocking is solid, at the very least. Harris would be the better option, but Polumbus would also provide a veteran option to compete.
After those two, pickings get slim. There are players like Joe Barksdale, who is a solid option, though not the best of scheme fits, or Jah Reid, who comes with a lot of baggage and off-the-field concerns. The options are there, but not many scheme fits. One player is Jake Long, who has a hard time staying healthy. When he does see the field, it isn’t very pretty to watch. As the market price drops for some of these players, Elway should look to strike sooner, rather than later.
The Broncos helped themselves when they picked up Vance Walker, but they still lack depth overall on the defensive line. If they could pick up another defensive linemen, the unit will be set. One name comes to mind for a cheap pickup. He knows how things run in Denver and has played multiple roles on Denver’s defensive line before--Mitch Unrein.
While he isn’t a flashy player, he is one whom coaches love. He does whatever is asked of him and in Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme, Unrein could be asked to do a lot, including either defensive end position, or nose tackle.
Besides Unrein, the options are bountiful in free agency. They include, Leger Douzable, Chris Canty, Brett Keisel, Da’Quan Bowers, Cliff Matthews and C.J. Mosley. The market is flooded, so Elway and the Broncos can sit and wait a while longer.
This position depends on what they do with Joe Don Duncan, who reportedly has been asked to play fullback. Either way, the Broncos can look to add a pure veteran fullback in free agency. Someone like John Conner, AKA “The Terminator,” John Kuhn or Jackie Battle, could fit.
However, with the Broncos options on-roster and in the draft, they may decide to hold off on pulling the trigger now. While fullback is not a glaring need because of the players on roster, if the team realizes they need to upgrade the position in training camp, it becomes a major concern for Kubiak’s offense.
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