OK, well this is the first installment of how to fix the Broncos short term/long term. I will not get into the whole coaching/GM debate, but needless to say, I am all for hiring a knowledgeable player evaluator like Decosta out of Baltimore and maybe a head coach like Harbaugh. Which would make sense seeing how Decosta worked with his brother in Baltimore. I would also say we need a new offensive coordinator, offensive line coach, new RB coach, new special team coach. I will give Wink and the defensive staff the benefit of the doubt and realize he is saddled with some poor talent on the defensive side of the ball. With that said, I will take my first crack at looking at upgrading the personnel. More after the jump…
Free Agent Signings –
LeRon McClain – FB – This guy is probably the best FB playing and is flat out nasty. Assuming DeCosta comes over, I think McClain would be a guy we target. I like Larsen, but he is not a quality FB, hopefully they would look at moving him back to LB, where I feel he is more natural. Ever since Howard Griffin retired, this team has struggled to find a quality FB that can block, run, and catch. McClain fits the bill and would bring some good attitude to the running game that we are lacking.
Nick Mangold – C – Everyone is eying Harris on the other side of the ball, my guess is that the Jets try to keep Harris and maybe let Mangold walk. JD Walton is not the answer at Center. The kid too routinely gets trucked into the backfield or misses blocks entirely. Mangold is obviously a premier Center in the league, and the price won’t be cheep, but if we truly want to improve the line, we need an elite pivot and Mangold is that type of player.
Chad Greenway – LB – This guy is a very good LB and the Vikings will likely not be able to pay to keep him. Greenway would be an excellent replacement for DJ Williams as he provides better leadership and has better instincts than Williams (IMO).
Dawan Landry – S – Another Baltimore guy, he doesn’t get the recognition of his brother and is not as spectacular as Ed Reed, but Landry is a solid safety and likely can be had at a reasonable price. Landry will help provide some leadership in the secondary.
Trades: Look for these players to be traded this offseason
Champ Bailey – He isn’t going to resign here, our best hope is to franchise him and work a sign and trade deal. I am thinking we likely could get a 2nd rounder out of New England for him.
DJ Williams – Terrific athlete, poor football player (IMO). The guy is not a leader and I think the defense needs to go in another direction at the LB spot. I also think DJ would be better served on a Tampa 2 type team, with that in mind, I think we should be able to get a third rounder from a team like Indy or Tampa, who can use his athletism at the weakside spot, similar to Derrick Brooks.
Kyle Orton – Nice guy, hard worker, but he is not the long term solution here, unfortunately he is saddled with a $9 million dollar contract, which won’t make him very attractive to many teams, I am hoping we can get a 5th rounder out of someone like Washington or maybe Arizona, who may be looking for a stop gap guy.
Cuts – Dawkins, Hill, McBean, Buckhalter, Hochstein, Graham, Walton, Cox, Fields, Maroney, Bannan, Hunter,
I know Walton and Cox are young, but Walton has not impressed me at all, and I don’t see the value of keeping him as a back-up. Cox I think is in some serious legal trouble and I don’t see the Broncos keeping him when he likely will be suspended most of next year at a minimum, if not kicked out of the league.
Now with the trades, we will have one 1st rounders, three 2nd rounders, two 3rd rounders, two 5th rounders, and one 6th rounder.
With the 1st round pick we select – Nick Fairley DT, Auburn – The needs on DL are so apparent, we haven’t had a true stud DL since Trevor Price. Fairley has posted an amazing year and looks like the real deal, having dominated in the SEC this year. Provided that he shows good in the post bowl games, I think this is a no brainer.
2nd Round – Jimmy Smith CB, Colorado – With Champ gone, Goodman probably playing out his last year next year, Smith comes to town from Boulder to help bring some much needed youth to the secondary. Smith is a big and physical corner, who should develop nicely.
2nd Round – Mike Pouncey G – Not as talented as his brother, Pouncey still is a great looking prospect. We missed out last year, we don’t make the same mistake again. Pouncey gets paired with Mangold and Clady to form a dynamic left side. Beadles will have to fight it out with Kuper and Harris to see if he starts.
3rd Round – Dontay Moch OLB, Nevada – Without Dumervil, this unit struggles, Moch is a stud at Nevada and a dominate force in the WAC. He is underrated due to the crappy conference he plays in, but this guy is a baller and will provide an instant upgrade at OLB.
3rd Round – Kendrick Ellis NT, Hampton – The guy is huge, played at a small school so will likely drop a bit in the draft. But should be a good project to replace J. Williams in a year or two. This gives us a solid DL for many years to come.
5th Round – Tejay Johnson FS, TCU – The guy has a nice size/speed combo and plays on one of the best defenses in college football. Johnson is somewhat under the radar guy but provides good depth and competition for Darcel MacBath.
5th Round – DaRel Scott RB, Maryland – A workmanlike back, he provides depth to Moreno, assuming that Buckhalter is gone.
6th Round – Edmund Gates WR, Abliene Christen – This is a guy is drafted mainly as a return specialist, he is very fast and has good size. Should be able to move Decker and Thomas out of the kick returner roles.
So the projected starters and some of the backups for next season:
WR – Royal, Thomas, Lloyd, Backups- Gaffney, Decker, Willis
TE – Boss, Back-ups - Gronkoski, Quinn
OT – Clady, Harris, Back-ups -Clark
G – Pouncey, Beadles, Backup-Kuper
QB – Tebow, Backup - Quinn
RB – Moreno, Backup – Ball, Scott, White
FB – McClain
DE – Crick, Fairley, Backups – Thomas, Vickerson
NT – Williams, Backup - Eillis
OLB – Dumervil, Moch, Backups –Ayers, Haggan
ILB – Greenway, Mays, Backup – Woodyard, Haggan, Larsen
CB – Goodman, Smith, Backup – Thompson, Jones, Vaughn
S – Landry, MacBath, Back- Johnson, Bruton, Jones
Maybe not a SB ready team, but at least a team that should compete and be better than this season. And it has seeds of something very promising.