I have been saying for months now that this draft is easily the most important in Mike Shanahan's tenure with the team. S.I.'s Don Banks seems to agree with me. He breaks down the 5 teams with the most on the line this draft, and it shouldn't take long to figure out who is Number 1 on his list --
Denver's recent track record is spotty at best when it comes to identifying talent and building a roster. All those swings and misses on the defensive line. All those chances taken on players who came with some baggage in tow. The Broncos have nine overall picks, including two in the fourth, fifth and seventh rounds, but how they use their first two selections (No. 12 and 42 overall) will be huge.
They have to replace retired offensive tackle Matt Lepsis if they hope to re-solidify their line and keep quarterback Jay Cutler's development going. And they have to again shop for an impact player in the middle of their defensive line, which is a key to their defensive improvement. In addition, the offseason arm injury suffered by No. 1 receiver Brandon Marshall could force the Broncos to spend their second-round pick on another pass-catcher.
With the talent gap only widening between two-time defending division champion San Diego and the rest of the AFC West, the Broncos and Shanahan don't have any margin for error.
The pressure will only continue to mount as we get closer to April 25.