Denver Broncos: Top Five Areas to be Addressed
There's still work to do
With the NFL season in the rearview mirror, other than the Super Bowl; it’s time to start looking forward to free agency and the draft. It seems like it is way too early and the season just ended, but the NFL never stops. Every team has a different view of how to build a team and John Elway has made it clear on which way the Denver Broncos are going. They will build the foundation of their team through the draft, and supplement with free agency.
Free agency is a great tool and it is more exciting for the fans because they know the names, but the teams that are good for long periods of time rely on the draft. The best two examples are the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers; they are contenders year in and year out, but they are rarely involved in bug free agent signings. They just draft well, bring the guys through their system and then those players are ready when their number is called. That’s where Elway wants the Broncos to be.
The Broncos spent too much time over the past ten seasons trying to fix everything quickly with band-aids, and it eventually caught up with them. When Elway was hired; he said that they have to “Stack one good draft class on top of another, and then another.” The first two drafts under his leadership have been very solid; resulting in five starters and six others who play on a regular basis. The starter number is seven if you count safety Quinton Carter and center JD Walton who missed the 2012 season due to injury. If the Broncos have that type of production in the upcoming draft, then 2013 will be another playoff season.
Now obviously the Broncos biggest move under Elway was the signing of Peyton Manning, a free agent, but that was a unique situation. They will continue to add any free agent they believe will help them win right now but if you are waiting for the Broncos to spend a lot of money on big names, you are going to be waiting a long time.
With all of that said, in no particular order, here’s an early look at the top five positions that must be addressed in either the draft or free agency.
The defensive line, specifically the ends, had a good season but the Broncos still must address the defensive tackle spot. Perhaps the best and easiest way to do this is to move Derek Wolfe inside, his natural position, and pick up another defensive end. The attractive free agent name is Dwight Freeney, who played with Manning for the Indianapolis Colts. It is also easier to find defensive ends in the draft as opposed to defensive tackles. Either way, the Broncos must address the interior of the defensive line.
This is not a shot at Rahim Moore because of his crucial mistake in the loss to the Baltimore Ravens; the truth is Moore had a solid season and will be a starter in 2013. The Broncos also get Carter back from injury, and he was their best safety at the end of the 2011 season. Veteran Mike Adams also will return but the Broncos need some more depth, and will seek to add that in the draft. It may even happen in the first round if there is a player they like at the position. Signing a safety in free agency seems unlikely at this point.
Keith Brooking stepped in six games into the season and player well at middle linebacker, but the Broncos need to shore up that position with a younger player. This is an area that the team could look to the free agent market; there are a few out there including Dannell Ellerbe from the Ravens who played very well in place of the injured Ray Lewis. The Ravens will make a big push to re-sign him but the Broncos could also show interest. The draft is also a possibility and so is the idea of using a high pick in filling the need at middle linebacker.
The receivers for the Broncos were very good; namely Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker but they could use one more weapon for Manning. There are a couple of free agents that are intriguing but look for the Broncos to draft a receiver or two that can hopefully contribute right away. Specifically guys who can play the slot position and are comfortable running routes over the middle of the field. Manning only has two or three seasons left; the Broncos need to put as many weapons around him as possible.
Offensive line depth
The starting five offensive linemen are set but the depth is questionable. Assuming center Dan Koppen re-signs with the Broncos; getting Walton back will help with the depth on the interior of the line. The draft is a great place to build depth on the offensive line and that’s what the Broncos will do in 2013. Last year’s draft pick Phillip Blake also returns from injury and that will help with the depth as well.
The Broncos will seek to add talent at other position as well including; running back and cornerback but those are the five areas that must be addressed in the 2013 offseason.
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