Something that the Denver Broncos are facing right now is which of our needs is the greatest? Our horrible Run Defense last year begs a Defensive Tackle, Matt Lepsis' Retirement, asks for an Offensive Tackle, B-Marsh's injury, Walker's defection to the raiders and Rod Smith's "Retirement" demand a Wide Receiver, Signing Boss and K2 are looked at as great but leave us with a Linebacker corps who are all roughly the same age and what are seen as stop gap solutions at Safety mean a little attention there may be required as well. I know I did something similar to this last week but this time I am going to focus more on those five areas. It seems that they are the five we focus most on in our diaries and comments. I want to break down who we have as well as the draft potential at each position. Without further ado......
One of the most solid Tackles in the NFL has retired. While wishing him well most people acknowledge that Matt Lepsis left an unusually large hole for the broncos to fill. The last nine seasons the organization has not had to worry about that spot and has been drafting in later rounds so that the guys can learn under Matt and Ron Dennison. Matt leaves a hole of mentor on the line (yes Nalen and Hamilton are also mentors but it is always nice to have one per position!) as well as a starting left tackle. I am sure there are guys who can better break down the difference between right and left tackle, the basic idea is that the left tackle is usually the team's best pass blocker. Of the two tackles, the left tackles will often have better footwork and agility than the right tackle in order to counter-act the pass rush of defensive ends. Most quarterbacks are right-handed and in order to throw, they stand with their left shoulders facing downfield, closer to the line of scrimmage. Thus, they turn their backs to defenders coming from the left side, creating a vulnerable blind spot that the left tackle must protect. The right tackle is usually the team's best run blocker. Most running plays are towards the strong side of the offensive line. Consequently the right tackle will face the defending team's best run stoppers. He must be able to gain traction in his blocks so that the running back can find a hole to run through. Now Matt was solid in both areas and that is what we will look for to replace him. There is plenty of talent on the line as well I will list a few of them.
Ryan when first drafted was to me the heir to Matt. He is player who plays his best as a pass protector who has learned to block as a runner better through Denver's system. I would give Ryan the benefit of the doubt as starter because of his time on the team in this position.
A solid contributor last year despite the many Offensive Line injuries we had. Erik is well adapted to his role as the right tackle. From what I saw this season he will probably not be moved as he is a great asset in the Running game.
On the roster Kuper is listed as a guard although as Coach has said he has some time as a tackle in college. This move seems unlikely as I believe the Broncos are going to push our younger guys to stay in their positions because of the looming injury retirement risks that are Nalen and Hamilton. However he could very well be in line to compete for this job.
With all of that out of the way now we move on to the draft and this position.
I won't type anything because we won't get him!<- I have to change my statement here. with some of the moves we have made we coudl very well swing for the fence and grab Jake Long. don't be too surprised if we do. The boy is a beast and can play both right and left tackle as well as just plain boddy guard for Jay Cutler. Massive, Fast, Agile, Coachable he is everything we need in a OT. Of course he is everything everyone else needs as well.
Ryan Clady had a solid Pro Day by improving his 40 time a bit and had a vertical of 31 inches. Not bad for a 310-pound tackle. I would look for Clady to be out of the picture at #12 with other teams needs
Chris Williams solidified his status as a top-20 prospect with a good combine.
After a solid Senior Bowl, Williams very well could be the third tackle taken. Co-captain of Vanderbilt's football team, Williams simply doesn't allow sacks. His 40 at his size is remarkable. He would fit well regardless of Cutler. Once again getting him would be good and it all depends on which position the Broncos feel is most important in the draft.
Looked slow at the combine but there are some attributing it to an ankle sprain (unconfirmed). Not a bad pick but a ZB could pick better than him.
Baker could end up a round two or three pick because of his workouts. Absolutely brilliant in USC's zone scheme and is a pure ZB player. Very few teams will be interested in a guy who would have to learn something besides zone blocking. hint hint
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