It’s ironic that the year that the Denver Broncos desperately need capable bodies along the offensive line, it just so happens that the NFL Draft won’t be yielding many good options. Denver goes into this offseason looking for as many as three new starters in the offensive trenches.
There will be some candidates in free agency to upgrade the Broncos O-line. Andrew Whitworth may be enticed to go after a ring in the late stages of his career, or maybe a Ricky Wagner or Ronald Leary. Offensive tackle prospects like Cam Robinson or Ryan Ramczyk in this year’s draft both have the potential to infuse the Broncos with a needed dose of talent.
But as we all know, in free agency or the Draft, it only takes one team to upset the apple cart and force teams to scramble when plans go awry. We've also seen GM John Elway make his best selections in the Draft when he isn’t forced to take a player at a position of need, as witnessed in the selections of Von Miller, Bradley Roby and Shane Ray, for example.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1758067-elway-needs-a-massive-win... Although many fans that have their hearts set on the Broncos focusing early and often on selecting an O-lineman in the first round, there is the distinct possibility that if Elway were to stick to the best player available methodology, it would lead him away from the offensive line and towards selecting a player at a position that may not be a need at the present time.
The No-Fly Zone is the premier secondary in the league. With all four members of the group locked up for at least this next season, the Broncos will have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the back end of the defense. Taking a closer look at the group, though, does reveal that the time to add some depth may be this year, instead of kicking the can down the road later on.
Aqib Talib is 31 years old at a position that sees the wheels fall off of players at or around the same age. Bradley Roby, for all of his upside, still hasn’t been a consistent contributor when forced into the lineup as a starter. When injures brought down Talib and Kayvon Webster last season, 2015 draft picks Lorenzo Doss and Taurean Nixon failed to impress.
In a Draft that boasts a bevy of first-round caliber defensive backs and several more solid prospects that could fall into the second and third round, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Denver add more depth to one of the premier units in football. In a pass-happy league, you can never have too many good cornerbacks. It also keeps Denver from having to fill a potential hole in free agency at a position that demands top dollar for elite-level players.
In a league dominated by pass-heavy offenses, teams are always looking to add pass-rushers. Denver is one of the few teams that boasts not only talented starters in Miller and Ray but but also rush linebackers in Shaquil Barrett and Dekoda Watson that could be starters on other teams.
With veteran DeMarcus Ware set to hit free agency after an injury-plagued 2016, and a Draft that will be loaded with prospects that can get after the quarterback, going after another sack artist only elevates the already stacked No-Fly Zone, as well as allows for Miller and Ray to be fresh later on in the year.
Denver has a Pro Bowl-caliber running back that can’t stay healthy in C.J. Anderson and a talented — if unproven player — in Devontae Booker. The top end of the depth chart is set and Anderson and Booker gave us a glimpse of a smash-mouth dimension to the offense in a Week 7 win over the Houston Texans last season. The only problem is that the Broncos don't have much beyond those two.
Kapri Bibbs looked to have some potential as a change of pace back before falling to his own injuries in 2016. Even when he was healthy, Bibbs is too small to be an every down runner and doesn’t possess the typical speed to be a third down back either. What's worse — the depth chart at running back pretty much ends after that.
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As intriguing as a Christian McCaffrey pick would be for Denver, it makes sense for the Broncos to invest a pick into the backfield, or at the very least, look for a Danny Woodhead-type of back on the open market that could thrive in Mike McCoy’s offense.
A prospect like a Wayne Gallman of Clemson or Jeremy McNichols of Boise State, could give Denver a trio of talented ball-carriers and serve as the backbone of an offense that figures to be headed by a young quarterback like Paxton Lynch or Trevor Siemian. That is, if something isn’t worked out for the Broncos to acquire Tony Romo in the near future.
There isn’t a team in the NFL that doesn’t have needs. Denver just happens to have those gaps in the roster and the worst possible opportunity to fill them.
With that in mind, I still feel like with the offense McCoy will bring with him, it won’t be as crucial to overpay for aging players in free agency. And the Broncos certainly don't want to draft a rookie that won’t fit within the new offensive philosophy.
Fans will be up in arms if more blockers aren’t brought in to upgrade the offensive line in the Draft. But this class is replete with deep talent at defensive line, safety, cornerback and tight end.
The Broncos would be crazy not to capitalize on the strengths of this class. John Elway will be his own man and is best served by not giving in to the temptation that he has to draft an offensive lineman in this year’s draft.
Adam Uribes is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @auribes37.