5 Potential First-Round Scenarios for the Denver Broncos in 2014 NFL Draft
Denver Broncos' 5 Potential First-Round Scenarios
After suffering what is the most embarrassing loss in Super Bowl history, the Denver Broncos have plenty of questions to address this offseason.
Denver's front office has plenty of big decisions to make. Breakout running back Knowshon Moreno and wide receiver Eric Decker are up for free agency as are key defenders Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Shaun Phillips.
Denver's defensive line is a major question mark this offseason. With Phillips' status in doubt, the Broncos need to address a pass rush that was easily handled by the Seahawks' offensive line. Denver's middle linebacker situation is another place to look as both Wesley Woodyard and Paris Lenon were serviceable, yet there weren't any difference makers. In the back end the Broncos have some questions to answer as well with Champ Bailey starting to breakdown, Cromartie's impending free agency and Chris Harris Jr. expected to come back from a season-ending injury.
The offense also has some problems to deal with. Moreno is expected to be let go from the Broncos as is Decker who publicly said that he wanted to test free agency. On the offensive line, the Broncos played most of the season without Ryan Clady and settled on Manny Ramirez at center even though he was their fourth-string center.
With the window starting to close on this talented yet aging team, this draft is crucial not just to compete for a chance to be in Super Bowl 49 but to maintain a level of success for the immediate future.
5. Trade Up for C.J. Mosley
Denver's linebacking corps was decimated during the season. Before Von Miller's season-ending injury, the star linebacker was suspended for violating the league's drug policy.
Danny Trevathan, the other outside linebacker, led the team in tackles and was a big playmaker for this unit, yet their troubles are in the middle.
Woodyard and Lenon broke down during the season and didn't play like big play middle linebackers.
While it is rare for the Broncos to trade up in the draft, Alabama's C.J. Mosley is the clear top prospect at middle linebacker. The drop-off between Mosley and the next best middle linebacker is significant enough to trade up.
4. Draft Travis Swanson at No. 31
Denver's offensive line was repeatedly tested this year. Although they played admirably in two postseason victories, this unit showed their true colors in Super Bowl 48. Nowhere was that more glaring than at center where Ramirez had a bad snap on the game's first play which led to Denver's downfall.
Instead of relying on a fourth-string center, the Broncos should select Arkansas' Travis Swanson, the best center in the NFL Draft.
Look no further than last year as the Dallas Cowboys had some success with another center in Travis Frederick who was selected No. 31 overall.
3. Draft Allen Robinson at No. 31
Denver's wide receiving corps will be tested this summer as Decker is up for free agency. Although Decker caught more than 10 touchdowns in 2013, the wide receiver had only one catch for six yards in Super Bowl 48.
With the real possibility that Decker is let go, Penn State's Allen Robinson is a tall wide receiver like Decker who had experience playing in a pro-style offense in college with now Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien.
2. Trade Down for Bradley Roby
Denver has been known for trading down in the draft under John Elway after the Broncos traded down to select Derek Wolfe. Teams with early picks who have their eyes on a specific player would want to trade back into the late first round to ensure they get their guy.
Ohio State corner Bradley Roby is projected to be a late first to early second round pick which is a perfect spot for Denver. Although the Broncos will get Chris Harris Jr. back from injured reserve, cornerback is a position of need. Rodgers-Cromartie will be a free agent and cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Tony Carter were both beaten repeatedly in the Super Bowl.
1. Select a Pass Rusher at No. 31
Considering that the Denver pass rush had zero sacks on Russell Wilson and were down to second and third string players due to injuries, Denver should invest in a pass rusher at No. 31.
The Broncos can't rely on Phillips in his mid 30s to have another 10 sack season or rely on former second-round pick Wolfe to be fully healthy after a scary neck injury and a season-ending knee injury last season.