At this point in the season we're able to get some sense of how well our off-season FA acquisitions & draftees have panned out. I don't want to detract from the remaining games but I'd like to look forward and examine how the Broncos can improve.
Again, I'm not trying to sell the Broncos short, especially since they lead their division, but I like to analyze team needs and see if I can can figure out a way that the Broncos can best help themselves.
There are many ways of improving a team, such as trades, FA acquisitions, etc., but on this topic I'd like to restrict my comments somewhat and focus in on the draft. I'd also like to address team strengths and weaknesses, since this is integral to 'which' position we need to address in next year's draft, as well as 'who' at that position we think would best fill our needs.
WHAT OTHERS THINK -- MOCK DRAFTS
The first thing one notices when seeing who the draft mavens have picked for us is that much of their thinking parallels our own. What I'd like to do here is provide some examples of mock drafts and evaluate our chances of getting those players is possible or if there are other scenarios that might meet our needs -- such as an alternative player at a position of need.
Scott Wright's MOCK: Wright has us drafting William Moore, S, of Missouri at #15. Like many draftniks, Wright sees us needing a Safety -- no surprise there! Part of the story is positional, as in 'what' we need, and the other part is 'when,' as in where we'll be drafting and who will be available then. I think Wright is correct about where although I know that won't be a popular sentiment. Our current record puts us in the #13 to #20 range, but there's some tough games ahead and we'll probably fall back slightly.
Some of his other draftees are important, too, since they're targets that many of us have identified. Wright has Laurinaitis, ILB, at #10 and Maualuga, ILB, at #11. Immediately proceeding our pick is Aaron Curry, OLB - Wake Forest at #14, and I think we should consider him as another possibility. Just to mention a few more; Sen'Derrick Marks, DT - Auburn at #17, Taylor Mays, S - USC, at #23, and Peria Jerry, DT -- Mississippi, at #26.
Matt McGuire of WalterFootball: McGuire has us drafting Gerald McCoy, DT - Oklahoma, at #11. Some others of interest; Mays at #10, Maualuga at #15, Laurinaitis at #17, P. Jerry at #18, Everette Brown, DE - FSU, at #20, W. Moore at #25 and Max Unger, C -- Oregon, at #28.
McGuire admits that he's alone in having McCoy as a high pick, but there's a number of younger DTs who will project higher than the seniors once they declare and scouts evaluate them. I don't know which ones will leapfrog the seniors but it's certain that some will. This also makes the DT class hard to evaluate since the younger players will project higher based mostly on potential.
Two of the names here are new, and I thought it would be interesting to mention some players -- like Everette, who's a junior -- who may see their stock rise, and also, play a position that we're not specifically targeting. The other name, Max Unger, also plays another un-emphasized position and may be rising, and I've spoken of him previously because he's a natural fit for a zone blocking scheme and this is also a very deep class for OLs. I expect that there will be some offensive 'surprises' during the draft and I'm trying to guess who, or where, they'll be.
2nd ROUND: Dannell Ellerbe, ILB, at #43 - Georgia. Some other names of possible interest: Derek Pegues, FS -- Miss. St., at #37, Myron Rolle, S - FSU, at #39, Terrence Cody, NT - Alabama, at #40.
Greg Haefner of WF: Haefner has us taking Maualuga at #10. His 2nd round has us taking Mark Parson, CB - Ohio, at #42. CB is another position -- although not a primary target -- that's fairly deep and may give us some draft day surprises. Also, Kam Chancellor, SS - VT, at #43. He's another S in the Mays mold that we should be aware of.
Walter's (?) MOCK: 1st - Laurinaitis (ILB) at #15, 2nd - Peria Jerry (DT) at #46, 3rd - Zack Follet, OLB - Cal., at #46 [previously Cody Brown, OLB - Conn.].
Some more MOCKs from FF Toolbox. Joel Welser: #15 - Laurinaitis, #47(15th pick) - C. J. Spiller, RB - Clemson.
Raul Colon: Aaron Curry, OLB at #23.
Ricky Dimon: Brandon Spikes, LB - Florida, at #24.
Dustin Claussen: Terrence Cody, DT, at #19.
Randall Weida: W. Moore, S, at #23.
Despite the fact that different draftniks peg our position at different spots, a number of them still have us drafting the same players (when reasonable). They obviously see our draft the same way we do. LB and Safety come up a lot, but there's sometimes a DT. The reason -- IMO -- that DT doesn't come up more is because it's hard to project these DTs. It's not because there's no talent, although in some cases we're not well positioned to draft them. Still, there are many DTs who will be drafted relatively high, but it's very difficult to gauge exactly when they'll be taken.
Seeing who is taken at the same spot is often interesting, although the exact ordering varies because of team needs. However, the overall ranking of all players is important for how the draft will play out, and a different draft order can scramble the order of player selection because of different team needs. Our expected draft position gives us a good shot at number of defensive players who will be going in the mid to late 1st round. And there are enough players at our targeted positions to allow us a good chance of addressing DT, LB & S in the early part of the draft. But, as it usually plays out, there are players at positions we haven't focused on that we'll draft, simply because there's a lot of quality athletes available at positions we haven't targeted. I like to become more familiar with the the 2nd tier of players at our need positions because we've only got one 1st pick. I've seen a lot of mocks that I'd love to see happen, but it's extremely rare for a draft to follow a single scenario. We know that there are number of players at our positions of need but it's very hard to predict who will be selected. Given the small probability of any one player being selected, it makes sense to become familar with a wider group of possibilities.