2013 NFL Draft: Denver Broncos Top Five Needs
Denver Broncos 2013 Draft Needs
The Denver Broncos are in an enviable position heading into the 2013 NFL Draft in April. They have seven picks to work with, but they have options on whether to trade up, down or select the best player on the board from any position when their name is called.
Last season, executive vice president of player personnel John Elway had a decent draft. With selecting players such as Derek Wolfe and Ronnie Hillman, they received two young men that played the entire year, and at times contributed well to the team. They also chose their quarterback of the future in Brock Osweiler, who gets the privilege of learning from an all-time great in Peyton Manning.
But with a little change here or there, imagine what the Broncos would have looked like if Elway tweaked his board just a touch. What if he had chosen RB Doug Martin in the first round, Wolfe in the second, then Osweiler in the third where they ultimately landed Hillman? How would 2012 ended in that scenario?
It's easy to look back and play the what-if game, but Elway must realize that he does not need to force this draft. The Broncos are built to win, and it might be beneficial for them to stockpile picks for future drafts. The Broncos still have needs now, as do all teams, but with Ryan Clady all but secured, the path for the Broncos becomes clearer.
Here are five needs for the Broncos to focus on as they prepare for the 2013 NFL Draft. "Rant" your comments below if you feel as if they should go in another direction.
LT Ryan Clady was given the franchise tag, and Zane Beadles is the only starting offensive lineman that will be participating in the Broncos off-season program. This is a glaring need that Elway must address in the draft. No one is for sure if G Chris Kuper will be able to return to form, and although I believe that the Broncos would be smart to acquire a player like Brandon Moore from the New York Jets, the draft is full of high impact players on both sides of the line that would make sense.
Elway might like to trade out of the first round to acquire extra picks, and the second or third rounds can produce a Barrett Jones from Alabama, or a Travis Frederick from Wisconsin. Either of these players would be able to fill the need, while moving Orlando Franklin to the inside when he returns from his off-season surgery.
The Broncos have two players, Kevin Vickerson and Justin Bannan that they must decide on if they are going to be back this season. The draft is heavy with defensive lineman, and again, the Broncos could wait until a later round and still get some value. They would still do well to look at a veteran even with drafting a defensive tackle, but if Elway decides to keep his first-round pick, then he will have some pretty good players to choose from.
Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio would love to get a hold of Jonathan Hankins from Ohio State, or even John Jenkins from Georgia. Even in the later rounds, Bennie Logan from LSU would not be a bad choice to groom if a veteran like Richard Seymour could be gotten for the short term.
This may be the most important decision that Elway makes in the draft. He has already stated that the middle linebacker position is there for the taking between Nate Irving and Steven Johnson. If that's the route the Broncos are looking to go, then so be it. I am not convinced, and still believe this position is a dire need for the Broncos. With Keith Brooking turning 38 in October, and the imminent release of Joe Mays, Elway must find a diamond in the rough to upgrade the mike spot.
Kiko Alonso from Oregon has fallen on many boards because of his off-field problems, but still poses second round potential. Jon Bostic from Florida might also be an option for the Broncos. One linebacker I can all but guarantee they will not draft is Manti Te'o. After his combine performance, his stock has dropped and the Broncos would be best suited to act like his girlfriend and vanish.
I am of the firm belief that the Broncos will make a strong push for the services of Steven Jackson after he declares himself eligible for free agency. If they fulfill my prophesy, they would still need a running back if they choose to release both Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno. This is a tricky situation that hinges on what kind of veteran back they can pick up, and just how close they believe they are to getting to the top.
Le'Veon Bell from Michigan State would be a nice compliment if the Broncos decide to forgo my suggestion and bring in Shonn Greene. He is a bigger back that has good hands out of the backfield and can pass-block. If they do decide on Jackson, then Robbie Rouse from Fresno State would be a perfect draft pickup. At 5-5, 186 lbs, Rouse may look compact, but he has powerful legs and would deceive opponents in a mix of Jackson and Ronnie Hillman. Either way, they need to draft a back.
I saved this position for last being that it leaves a sore taste in Broncos fans' mouths after their loss to the Baltimore Ravens this past season. But moving ahead, the Broncos are most likely to part ways with Mike Adams, and even if they can get a veteran safety such as Charles Woodson, they would be wise to draft an impact player that can learn from the best. Rahim Moore will be fine next season as a safety, and I can almost guarantee that his gaffe against the Ravens will never happen again.
The Broncos can wait until the later rounds to draft a player like D.J. Swearinger from South Carolina, or even take a chance with Tyrann Mathieu from LSU. His off-field troubles may make teams leery, but his talent is there and the gamble would more than likely pay off. If not, Elway can always look to groom a player such as T.J. McDonald from USC, who had a less than stellar senior year. But being the son of a former 49er, I am sure the pedigree would be well worth the year wait for him to blend into Jack Del Rio's system.