There are quite a few Mock Draft sites that have the Denver Broncos selecting LSU Cornerback Patrick Peterson with the second overall pick. Others have stated their case for defensive Linemen Nick Fairley, Marcell Dareus or Da'Quan Bowers. Personally, I don't keep up with the scouting for the college ranks and will leave that to those that do follow that path. However, I do believe that the Broncos must address the defensive side of the ball with most of their six draft picks. I also believe that the defense should have it's strength from the middle positions (NT or DT's, ILB or MLB and the Safeties), beginning with the front men. This post will focus on those front guys who are available in Free Agency. If the Broncos select Peterson, my belief is that they should pick up two linemen in the Free Agent period. If they choose to take a linemen with at #2, well then they could be more flexible and possibly get by with a single quality pickup. I will leave it for you to discuss after the jump and please note that these players are listed where they played on their teams roster and I don't imply that they cannot move to the other side. I do think it is helpful to know this so you can fill out a reasonable personnel list for your Mock drafts.
Brandon Mebane is the starting LDT for the Seattle Seahawks. He is 6' 1", 311 lbs, Age: 25 and in his 4th year. In 2010, he had a salary of $1.101 million.
At only 6’1, Mebane has the natural leverage and quickness to give interior linemen fits. Though his numbers were merely average, his impact on the field was anything but that. A solid tackle who does a great job reading plays and picking up the run, Brandon is quicker than he is fast. He excels at getting into the backfield off the snap, has a high motor and a healthy amount of confidence. His limited size and athleticism are obstacles. He is improving but needs to show more skills. Mebane is typecast as somewhat of a one-dimensional pocket-collapser. He is considered to a good starter. Brandon has the work ethic and the tools to be a dominant defensive tackle for the next decade. The Seahawks will try everything in their power to ensure that each of those years will be in Seattle.
Barry Cofield is the starting LDT for the NY Giants. He is 6-4, 306 lbs, Age: 26 and in his 5th year. According to Yahoo, he made $1,016,110 in 2010. Barry can excel at both tackle and end. His size and girth allow him to play in the middle but he's fast enough to get into the backfield. A good run stopper and solid tackler who's cool from snap to whistle. He isn't an explosive defender with play-making skills because of his slow reaction on snaps. He is improving but still misses some easy tackles. Considered a very reliable starting lineman, Cofield also has a Super Bowl Ring.
Daniel Muir is the starting LDT for the Indianapolis Colts. He is 6' 2", 312 lbs, Age: 27 and in his 4th year. His 2010 salary was $1.759 million. Muir is a well-sized and very athletic Tackle who reads plays well and reacts quickly. He possesses both the speed and mentality to adjust and make the stops on running plays. Daniel is a bit of a late bloomer who is still learning. He doesn't wrap efficiently and sometimes needs help to finish tackles. Could be coached up on execution basics, but still, he is a starting defensive lineman.
Nick Hayden is the starting LDT for the Carolina Panthers. He is 6' 4", 292 lbs, Age: 24 and in his 2nd year. His 2010 salary was $470,000 and he is currently a Restricted Free Agent. Hayden is a big, strong run-stopper with underrated quickness. He has the capability to be an anchor on the inside of the defensive line, but needs to round out his game and add more bulk. Nick isn't really a pocket-collapser type. He is considered to be a backup defensive tackle/spot-starter.
Desmond Bryant is the 2nd string LDT behind Richard Seymour for the Oakland Raiders. He is 6' 5", 290 lbs, Age: 25 and in his 2nd year. His 2010 salary was $320,000 according to Yahoo and he is currently an Exclusive Rights Free Agent.
Desmond has great athleticism for a man his size. His initial first step is very good and he possesses a very strong lower body. He is an excellent run stuffer who finishes plays. However, Bryant isn't an instinctive reactor and will sometimes make the wrong decision. He has good leverage and reach but could use his hands better. Considered a good backup/adequate starter.
Anthony Hargrove is the 2nd string LDT for the New Orleans Saints. He is 6' 3", 272 lbs, Age: 27 and in his 6th year. He made $622,080 in 2010. A very good athlete with above-average initial quickness, Hargrove shows solid instincts and awareness. He is very good at getting into the backfield for sacks and run-stuffs. Somewhat of a late bloomer, his focus and intensity are question marks. Anthony doesn't have ideal overall size for the position and can be an inconsistent performer because of it. He is considered a rotational defensive end with starter tools. Hargrove also has a Super Bowl Ring
Leger Douzable is the 2nd string LDT behind Tyson Alualu for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is 6' 4", 284 lbs, Age: 24 and in his 2nd year. His 2010 salary was $385,000 and he is currently a Restricted Free Agent. Leger has good mobility and strength. He plays a safe and physical game. He has solid tackling ability and defends well against the pass. Douzable isn't an instinctive reactor to plays. He doesn't seem to have the poise and mean streak to make big plays. He is not a pass-rusher and has limited vision of the field. He is considered a fringe reserve lineman.
Fred Evans is a LDT for the Minnesota Vikings. He is 6' 4", 305 lbs, Age: 27 and in his 5th year. His 2010 salary was $1.759 million. He is currently positioned at 3rd string behind Pat Williams and Jimmy Kennedy on the Vikings depth chart. Fred can be a real load up the middle when he gets up a full head of steam. He has good acceleration and can collapse the pocket. He also picks up the run fairly well along the way. Evans is an inconsistent performer who needs to develop better technique rather than relying so much on his solid (but not elite) physical tools. He is considered a decent rotation lineman with starter potential.
Derek Landri is the starting RDT for the Carolina Panthers. He is 6' 2", 290 lbs, Age: 27 and in his 4th year. In 2010, he made $466,110 according to Yahoo. Landri is an intense and scrappy defender that gets a real good burst through the line and can collapse the pocket. He is very solid at picking up runners along the way. However, Derek is a little bit undersized at tackle. he isn't a great athlete and needs to keep working to improve his technique. He may just need to be in the right system to succeed as a pro. Considered a backup defensive tackle.
Remi Ayodele is the starting RDT for the New Orleans Saints. He is 6' 2", 318 lbs, Age: 27 and in his 4th year. His 2010 salary was $464,680. Remi is the younger brother of former Bronco LB Akin Ayodele. He shows good awareness of action around him, picks up the run pretty well and can occasionally collapse the pocket to make plays in the backfield. Ayodele is a later bloomer who isn't particularly fast or quick. He's not the typical monster nose tackle who will manhandle or overpower opponents and doesn't have a lot of pro experience. Still, he is an adequate backup with upside as well as a Super Bowl Ring.
Anthony Adams is the starting RDT for the Chicago Bears. He is 6' 0", 310 lbs, Age: 30, and in his 8th year. According to Yahoo, he drew a $900,000 salary in 2010. Adams is a very wide and thick man who is surprisingly quick and agile for his body type. He is a good pursuer over short distances, is tough, tenacious and plays with great leverage. He doesn't command many double-teams due to lack of ideal size, speed, and burst when getting after the quarterback and loses track of the ball at times. Anthony is considered to be a solid starter.
Gary Gibson is the starting RDT for the St. Louis Rams. He is 6' 3", 285 lbs, Age: 28 and in his 5th year. According to Yahoo, his 2010 salary was $510,000. Gibson is a good, physical player who possesses great lower-body strength to defend the middle against running plays. He's not a shifty lineman and doesn't use his hands well enough to get an extra step to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. Gary is a decent rotational lineman though.
Antonio Johnson plays 2nd string behind Fili Moala at RDT for the Indianapolis Colts. He is 6' 3", 310 lbs, Age: 26 and in his 4th year. In 2010, his salary was $390,200 according to Yahoo. Antonio has size, natural quickness, and a nose for the ball. He is a solid physical presence who works hard on every shift. He is also a very good listener and fast learner. Another late bloomer, Johnson still needs a lot of work with technique and footwork as he can lose his balance and get pushed backwards at times. He is considered a starting defensive tackle.
Andre Fluellen is the 2nd string RDT for the Detroit Lions. He is 6' 2", 302 lbs, Age: 25 and in his 3rd year. In 2010, he made $391,890. He is currently a Restricted Free Agent. A supreme athlete for a guy his size, Andre moves well, has good leverage and can penetrate beyond the line to make some plays. The problem is inconsistency. He needs to start living up to his measurables. Fluellen could put on a lot of bulk without losing too much and may be a better fit in 3-4 defenses as a Nose Tackle. He is considered to be a decent rotation lineman/occasional starter.
Trey Lewis is a 3rd string RDT for the Atlanta Falcons. He is 6' 3", 316 lbs, Age: 25 and in his 3rd year. His 2010 salary was $467,280 per Yahoo. Lewis is bulky, powerful, and pretty mobile. He has a nice overall balance to his game (both physically and tactically) and is solid in coverage. Trey shows consistency and works to improve his game. He's not a disruptive pass-rusher and he's had some injury issues early in his pro career. Still, he is considered a spot-starting defensive tackle.
Clifton Ryan is a RDT for the St. Louis Rams. He is 6' 3", 310 lbs, Age: 26 and in his 4th year. His 2010 salary was $1.684 million. Ryan is a very serviceable lineman who can play both the end or tackle position. He has the explosive burst to get into the backfield, either off the edge or collapsing the pocket from the middle. He also has the tools of a play-maker. He isn't a speedy defender despite having solid mobility and will sometimes come in late on plays. He is considered a solid interior D-lineman. Clifton was limited to one game in 2010 because of Migraines. The Rams placed him on Injured Reserve on Oct 27th.
As you can see, there are some pretty solid options open to the Broncos if they indeed change back to the 4-3 Base defense. I don't have any particular favorites, but it should be pointed out that Nick Hayden and Derek Landri played for Coach John Fox last year in Carolina.
There is another situation to keep an eye on. Antonio Johnson and Daniel Muir of the Indianapolis Colts might be persuaded to leave for a bump in pay. It appears that the Colts will ask safety Bob Sanders to take a pay cut to make room for Peyton Manning's $100+ Million deal. You can read about that here.
I hope this helps all the Armchair GM's in the vision for their personnel decisions for the Broncos in 2011.