The Denver Broncos have addressed a lot of their immediate needs through free agency, but there is one that still must be tended to. It’s true they need a defensive end and help at other positions, but they definitely need a running back.
The Broncos are happy with their current stable of backs but none of them have the skills that the team needs. The player that does, should be a target for the Broncos in the upcoming draft: Wisconsin Badger running back Montee Ball. In my latest mock draft on Rant Sports, Denver Broncos: 7 Round 2013 NFL Mock Draft http://po.st/KjmwaC, I have them taking Ball in the third-round.
Ball is the perfect fit for a Peyton Manning led offense and brings a skill set to the Broncos that they were missing in 2012. As good as the offense was last season, the Broncos struggled in 3rd and short situations. The playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens happened for a number of reasons, but one of them was the Broncos inability to keep drives alive by picking up 3rd and shorts. If the Broncos convert even one of those, then maybe the situation at the end of the game never takes place. Ball is a tough, inside runner whose specialty is running between the tackles. He is also excellent on the goal-line which would take some of the pressure off of Manning in the red zone.
If a running back is going to succeed in a Manning offense, then they must do more than just carry the football. They also must have the ability to pick up the blitz and catch the ball. Ball is very adept at both and would fit perfectly into what the Broncos want to do on offense. Ball’s receiving numbers while with the Badgers weren’t great, but that has more to do with the style of offense, the skills are there as he displayed in his junior season. During that year, he caught 24 passes for over 300 yards and six touchdowns.
The Broncos have big plans for second year running back Ronnie Hillman, but he is not an every down back. Ball and Hillman would complement one another perfectly. Ball would be the every down back that will pick up those 3rd and two’s, pick up the blitz and catch the occasional pass out of the backfield.
Hillman would be the change-of-pace back who would take advantage of tired defenders who have been tackling Ball all day. Hillman is also a receiving threat in passing situations, and would often be overlooked by defenses who are trying to cover Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker. Hillman is not an every down back but he will be a big part of the Broncos offense, especially on passing downs.
As for Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno, time will tell. However, the Broncos must find a back that can help them in those crucial short-yardage situations. McGahee, as great as he has been for the Broncos, is a year older and coming off of another knee injury. Depending on him to be that guy on 3rd and 1 would be risky. Moreno surprised people last season with his play in place of an injured McGahee, but he too suffered another knee injury.
It’s time for the Broncos to find the back they can count on for those tough yards between the tackles, and Ball is the perfect fit. If he is sitting there in the third-round, then the Broncos should pull the trigger.
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