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......
So let me start by saying that I love our Linebacker corps. My only problem is that our whole corps is around the same age. Boss is a 6th year player, DJ, Niko, and Green are all 5th year players and Beck is a 4th year player. Winborn and Webster have 8 and nine years respectively. While our starters look in fine shape and in prime of career territory, our backups are either RIGHT behind them or on the down slope of their careers. To be truthful playing for 8 seasons at linebacker and maintaining the speed you had when you walked on to the field in game one is stellar so kudos to Webster and Winborn. The only problems I see coming up on the site are as follows:
~Niko is unproven as a starter
~Our Line backing crew is old behind the start.
Fairly good concerns but only one bothers me.
Niko is unproven as a starter. Okay fair enough, but like many of our MHR faithful have said he had to compete against Tatupa for a starting job. The coaches in Seattle have said he would have started if he wasn't there. Niko also has something that no other Linebacker on Denver's squad has, a year as a team captain. Now, I am not sure how you guys view this but if the players and coaches have confidence to make the guy a captain, then I have the confidence to have the guy as our starting Mic. Like many say, he is going to get the chance to compete for it with others.
Our Crew is old. This one concerns me more. Hoosier teacher is one of many that advocate staggering contract negotiations and retirements. Currently, we have 6 of our guys who are around that same area at that same time. Do I want to dump any of them? No. Should we? Well that is up for the salary cap guys and personnel guys to decide. Without getting younger at linebacker, we face having to pay out huge contracts to FA's or possibly losing our greatest players because of better offers somewhere else and then we have nothing. We spend the first three picks we have on 3 linebackers to replace what we lose. Probably not the smartest thing we could do. With that being said, here is a list of draft candidates.
As if Keith Rivers' stock couldn't get any higher... He ran a 4.51 and notched a vertical of 42.5 at his Pro Day. Rivers made a number of tremendous plays at Washington, including one tackle where he chased down Huskies quarterback Jake Locker from a few yards away and pulled him down before he had a chance of crossing the first-down line. He is just a tremendous athlete who is in the mold of Current players such as Ray Lewis, Patrick Willis and DJ Williams. Very smart and sound fundamentally as you would come to expect form a organization that produces greats like Polomalu, Palmer and of course the Juice.
Determined to be the leader of Penn State's defense last year, Connor was finally be able to shine now that Paul Posluszny's off to the NFL. Has the ability to be there and be a sideline to sideline player as Denver likes to have the LB's. Fairly strong and goes out of his way to try and strip the ball WHILE making the tackle. His instincts remind people of Al Wilson and Tatupa. Knows what it means to be a Mic.
Mayo has instincts and speed. Need I say more for a Denver fan? He is the right size for Denver and his 40 time actually projects onto the field. The team that picks up Mayo could very well get the best Mic out of this draft. He's big, fast. Strong, smart and agile. The top three round out real well with him.
Lofton has emerged to become one of the greatest defenders in the country. In fact, he won the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award, thanks to 157 tackles, sixth most in school history. Another agile and smart player Lofton can be a force of nature and just dole out punishments. He smiles every time a guy is slower to get up because it means the Lofton Machine is running on over full while the opponent is running on close to empty!