2013 NFL Draft: Top 5 Priorities for Denver Broncos
Top 5 Priorities for Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos were awfully close to reaching the Super Bowl; in fact, some would say painfully close, as they were one misplayed hail-Mary pass away from hosting the AFC Championship game. That disappointment aside, the Broncos are real close to getting to the Super Bowl, and they may be just a few pieces away from getting there, pieces they’ll be looking to acquire in the upcoming draft.
Since joining Denver’s front office, John Elway has done a great job in the draft. He’s made some unconventional choices, but he’s also made some choices that have panned out better than anyone could have predicted, such as taking Von Miller two years ago and watching him quickly develop into one of the top defensive players in the league. Elway has a tendency to pick the best player available, but seeing how close the Broncos are to getting to a Super Bowl, and how small the window to get there may be, Elway may be better off going after specific needs that could be the difference in getting Denver to a Super Bowl either this year or the year after.
The Broncos had more fine-tuning to do this offseason than plugging gaping holes on their team, but they did lose Elvis Dumervil, Jim Leonhard and Tracy Porter in free agency, so there are areas, especially on the defensive side of the ball that need to be addressed during the draft. If Elway is going to put a team together that can win the Super Bowl, here are some of the draft-day priorities he should have.
5. Running Back
The Broncos are in an interesting situation at the running back spot. Willis McGahee was good last year before getting hurt, but he’s awfully old; Knowshon Moreno filled in nicely for McGahee, but may not be the most reliable player for a team with Super Bowl aspirations and Ronnie Hillman may not be anything more than a complementary back, although he was impressive in limited action last season. Denver survived with those three on their roster last year, but if an opportunity arises to upgrade at that position and get a workhorse back, the Broncos shouldn’t be afraid to add a running back in the middle or later rounds.
It’s kind of an over-reaction to go after a safety after Rahim Moore’s monumental mistake in the playoffs, but it really is a position of need for the Broncos. Some say cornerback should be more of a priority, but Champ Bailey can’t be as bad as he played in the playoffs last year, and the team did add Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Even if the Broncos feel good moving forward with Moore and Mike Adams, they still need depth, and the third or fourth round would be a good time to get some. If they want an impact safety, then there should be one available for them at the end of the first round.
3. Defensive End
With the Elvis Dumervil fiasco resulting in him leaving Denver, the Broncos will be in the market for a pass rusher that can make teams pay for focusing solely on Von Miller. Dwight Freeney looked like he could be heading to Denver, but that’s appearing less likely, which means Denver will have to address this in the draft. Derek Wolfe had a nice rookie season and could be part of the solution at defensive end, but if the Broncos expect to make up for the loss of Dumervil they need to get a more dynamic pass rusher to play opposite of Miller.
2. Middle Linebacker
Somehow the Broncos were able to piece things together at middle linebacker last season, using aging veteran Keith Brooking. There are a couple internal options that the Broncos could try out, but for such a key position on its defense, the Broncos need to find a difference maker that can man the middle. Pickings are slim for linebackers that aren’t pure pass rushers, so John Elway will have to be judicious with regards to when in the draft he addresses this need, but it is a priority, and he will have to draft a middle linebacker at some point.
1. Defensive Tackle
The Broncos have done well to bring back Kevin Vickerson and sign free agent Terrance Knighton, but defensive tackle, as its been the past couple of years, remains a high priority for Denver heading into the draft. They may not need to use their first round pick on a defensive tackle; in fact, it’s probably better if they don’t. But right now the strength of the defense remains on the edge and the Broncos need to bolster the interior of the defense, so it may not be such a bad idea for Denver to use two draft picks on defensive tackles to sure things up and make its outside pass rush even more dangerous.