Defensive needs dominate draft talk

The Broncos' biggest defensive upgrades this offseason were in the secondary, where Brian Dawkins and Renaldo Hill were signed to start at safety and Andre' Goodman was added at cornerback.

There have been signings in the front seven as well, but the team needs more. With the 12th overall pick in the draft, a lineman that fits in the 3-4 or a standout linebacker would be a natural pick.

The team could leave D.J. Williams outside if a natural inside linebacker is acquired early and can start right away. The team has some candidates at linebacker, and signed Andra Davis, but another standout would be a huge help.

The Broncos will have to decide whether one of the available defensive linemen would be a better fit at No. 12. The Broncos desperately need to upgrade their line, and didn't sign any big-money free agents along the defensive line this offseason.

Because the Broncos still have plenty of holes to fill, their other early-round picks need to become immediate contributors as well. Last season, Denver found two offensive starters, left tackle Ryan Clady and receiver Eddie Royal, with its first two picks.

Aside from the obvious needs at linebacker, defensive tackle and defensive end, the Broncos could use some depth at cornerback and have also been aggressive on offense.

The team hasn't added any offensive linemen in free agency, so it might draft for depth. Denver has added three veteran free-agent running backs, but adding another from the deep class of rookie backs can't be ruled out.

Getting another receiver after the Texans matched an offer sheet to restricted free agent David Anderson could also be a priority.

Last year, the Broncos targeted high-character players that could learn systems right away and play immediately. Although there is a new regime this year, a similar approach might suit them well.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--The Broncos signed guard Scott Young, formerly of the Browns. He had also spent time with Philadelphia since breaking into the NFL in 2005. He hasn't made any starts in the NFL. He will provide some backup depth on the line.

--Denver re-signed tight end Jeb Putzier. He is only the second free agent the Broncos have retained, along with defensive lineman Kenny Peterson. Putzier, a good receiver at the tight end position, was brought back to Denver last year when injuries struck at tight end.

--The Broncos' offseason workout program began March 16, albeit without quarterback Jay Cutler. The team generally has great attendance numbers for its offseason program. Many players prefer to work out in the thin air of Colorado.

--The Broncos first minicamp with new coach Josh McDaniels will be April 17-19, right before the draft. That will give the new regime a look at its current roster before making its final decisions on what areas to attack in the draft.



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