How To Fix the Denver Broncos

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As much as I wish that we were focusing on an upcoming playoff game for our beloved Broncos, we've unfortunately come to a point in our franchise's history where early January means mock draft time. And although it sucks that we're not in the playoffs, I think to a certain degree we all enjoy the offseason and the intriguing possibilities that it brings every year. Personally, I really enjoy scouting players both collegiate and professional during the year, and trying to come up with my own plan for the team in the offseason. I love trying to come up with a mock that I believe is realistic and also makes our Broncos much better. Usually I'll wait until free agency is over to try to come with an accurate mock, but with the excitement of having the number 2 overall pick, I'm just not able to wait. However, doing a mock when you don't know who the coach is going to be or any of the signings/releases he's going to make is extremely difficult. So for the sake of this mock I'm going to mock the entire offseason the way I would do it if I had the privilege of running the Broncos.

Let's start with the coach. I know a lot of people want guys like Jim Harbaugh and Mike Mularkey. With all due respect to those coaches, I think that would be a huge mistake. The problems with our Broncos lie almost exclusively on defense. Hiring an offensive head coach would be making the same mistake we made in 2009 when we hired an offensive genius like McDaniels. In 2008 the Broncos were a defense away from Superbowl contention. Instead of addressing the defense, we spent 3 out of our 4 1st round picks in McDaniels tenure on offensive players, all of whom played positions that were a strength in 2008. I don't want to focus too much on the past, but we would be fools if we didn't look back to it and use it to learn from our mistakes. Hiring an offensive coach would again mean we would be focusing on the wrong side of the ball. Not to mention an Offensive coach would almost undoubtedly want to spend at least one of our top 4 picks on the offensive side of the ball. We have 4 picks in the top 67 and we would be stupid to spend them on anything but defense. It's time for the defense to be the focus, for the guys on the defensive side of the ball to have head coach they can rally around.

When it comes to defensive coaching candidates there are quite a few out there- John Fox, Rob Ryan, Ron Rivera, and Perry Fewell come to mind. However, I want to propose someone that a lot of people probably haven't considered. My choice for the next head coach of the Denver Broncos is ...


Mike Nolan, Defensive Coordinator, Miami Dolphins

Nolan, like Mularkey did not fare well in his first head coaching job. For that reason I believe Nolan is hungrier for success than any of the other candidates. He's experienced, but still young relative to most coaches, and most importantly he has a history in Denver. By all accounts, the defensive players who were here under Nolan absolutely loved the guy. He is familiar with essentially all of our personnel, and was in the process of building this defense into an elite one, until unfortunately he was forced to resign. Nolan may not be flashy, but he is a great leader and would be able to delegate responsibility through out his coaching staff. The job of the Head Coach is not to worry about every little detail on the team, but rather to coach and equip all of the assistant coaches with the skills necessary to coach their respective areas of expertise. This is something Josh failed miserably at, and something I think Nolan would excel at.

Bringing in Nolan would also mean for the first time in 5 years our players wouldn't have to learn a whole new system defensively. Although the players have likely forgot some things since 2009 I'm sure it would naturally come back to all of them very quickly. The constant changing of Defensive Coordinators the last five years has really hurt the development of a lot players. DJ Williams for example has switched has had to learn 3 different positions since being a Bronco. Nolan got the most out of our defense last year. Elvis Dumervil especially really thrived under Nolan, and he's some one the Broncos really need to get going again next year.

Naming Nolan the next Head Coach would also help greatly during Free Agency. Paul Soliai, the Dolphins 6'4" 355 pound nose tackle is going to be a free agent come March and is expected to be in high demand. Soliai was drafted in 2007 and is just about to enter the prime of his career. Soliai was largely considered a bust up until this year where, under Nolan, his play sky-rocketed. If Nolan was our coach my bet is Soliai would be dying to come here and be apart of our defense. Nose tackle problem solved.

The addition of Nolan would also help greatly with keeping Champ Bailey in town. Showing Champ that the Front Office realizes all of the problems on defense and is willing to bring in a Head Coach that specializes in defense would get Champ really excited about finishing his career a Bronco.

Even though the defense is what deserves the majority of the attention this offseason, the offense is certainly not perfect. Positions that need to be addressed in my opinion are TE, RB, and OL. We need a tight end that can stretch the field, but is also a solid blocker. We could also use a power back to complement Moreno, and some depth at OL. None of these positions are urgently in need of being upgraded, but should be looked at in free agency as well as with a later round draft pick.
However, the most important thing on offense this offseason is continuing the progress of Tim Tebow. Tebow has been impressive in his first three starts but still has a long way to go. He needs someone who has experience working with Quarterbacks, especially young ones. I think this is where we go with a young up-and-coming coach. For Offensive Coordinator my pick would be...


Bill Musgrave, Quarterbacks Coach, Atlanta Falcons

Musgrave has been the QB coach for Atlanta since 2006 and was named Assistant Head Coach this past year.  He is a Colorado native, a former Quarterback, and was even on the Broncos roster for a time during the mid 90's.  He's been a big part of Matt Ryan's success in this league and would be great with Tebow.  Also, Musgrave comes from a balanced offensive philosophy.  This past year we relied far too much on the pass, and especially with a young quarterback the offense needs to feature both the run and pass.                                                                                                                                                                                            

So, Elway and Xanders would be picking the players; Nolan would be the leader of the players, the manager of the coaches, and the defensive play-caller; and Musgrave would be working extensively with Tebow as well as calling the plays on offense.

Now that the coaching staff is in place, onto the roster...


-CB, Champ Bailey

Champ is still a shutdown corner, and I can't even imagine this defense with out him.  He needs to be rewarded for his outstanding play and leadership on and off the field.  He still has at least one elite year left at CB, and then could easily transition to safety.  This man needs to retire a Bronco.

-OL, Ryan Harris

Harris has been great on the right side for us when healthy.  He was injured in Week 8 of 2009 against Baltimore and his absence was notable down the stretch.  Harris is a solid pass-blocker and run-blocker, it would be a shame to let him get away.

-K, Matt Prater

Prater's been great the past two years.  He's a no-brainer to be re-signed.

-DL, Marcus Thomas

-DL, Kevin Vickerson

-LB, Wesley Woodyard

-DL, Ronald Fields

These four are great depth along the front seven.  They're not every down players, but they really excel in rotational play.  Fields has a history with Nolan dating back to San Francisco.

Contract Restrucuring

-WR, Brandon Lloyd.

He still has one more year on his contract but he deserves a raise from the 1.4 million he'll make in 2011.  Lloyd should be locked up with a three year extension.  He's especially valuable to us because his amazing aerial abilities are able to bail out young quarterbacks like Tebow that are still learning the NFL game.

-TE, Daniel Graham

Graham is still a solid run-blocker and is better than anything else on our roster right now. He's also a team captain. WIth that being said, 4.2 million is a lot to pay him next year, if he wants to stay in Denver he will need to take a pay cut.


-S, Brian Dawkins

This one is really tough.  Having Brian Dawkins on the Broncos the past two years has been an absolute honor.  His fire and passion for the game are unmatched by any one in the league, but his play has significantly fallen off from his 2009 campaign.  He struggled in coverage, against the run, and missed a staggering amount of tackles for Brian Dawkins.  His contract is void if we cut him this offseason and we would be saving 4.6 million dollars by letting him go.  It sucks, but it's a business and its time to move on.

-CB, Nate Jones

Rookie Cassius Vaughn's value in the return game means that Jones will be the odd-man out in the Broncos Cornerback corps this offseason.  Bailey and Goodman are aging, and Perrish Cox could be in jail this time next year, so this position needs to be addressed in Free Agency or the Draft.

-DL, Ryan McBean

He did not impress at all after a solid 2009. The only memories I have of him this year is taking stupid penalties.  We can find better 5-technique DE's in Free Agency and the Draft.

-HB, Laurence Maroney

Maroney is a free-agent so we wouldn't actually be releasing him.  I just wanted to emphasize that he should not be back with the team next year.  I can't believe we gave up a 4th round for him.

-QB, Brady Quinn

Again his contract is up so it's not technically a release but he should not be resigned.  There are far better options at back up Quarterback in Free Agency and the Draft.

-OL, Stanley Daniels

He was unimpressive in the limited amount of time he played.  Better depth can be found in Free Agency or the Draft.

-K, Steven Hauschka

Prater is way better.

Other players that could be cut depending on their performance in training camp include Jamal Williams, Ronald Fields, David Veikune, Lendale White, Brady Quinn, Chris Clark, and Russ Hochstein.  Bringing in Soliai means either Williams or Fields has to go. Their play in camp will determine who the odd man out is.


-Trade Kyle Orton and 2012 6th Round pick to Minnesota for their 2011 Second Rounder (43rd Overall).

Free Agency

-NT, Paul Soliai, Miami Dolphins

Just to reiterate, I think this only happens if Nolan is our Head Coach.  Soliai's break out year was with the help of Nolan and I suspect Soliai would want to continue working with him.

-HB, Michael Bush, Raiders

I'm not positive that the Raiders will let him go, but if he is available we should jump on the opportunity.  Bush is a power back that would be able to carry the load on his own if Moreno was injured, and would also be a nice complement to Moreno when healthy.

-LB, Brandon Siler, Chargers

Siler has a lot of potential but has yet to reach it in the NFL.  He would likely start at Strongside ILB for us alongside DJ Williams next year.

-QB, Tyler Thigpen, Miami Dolphins

Thigpen impressed me when he had a chance to start in Kansas City.  I think he's an upgrade over Brady Quinn.

Zach Miller, Kevin Boss, Marcedes Lewis, and Owen Daniels are all scheduled to become free agents.  I doubt that their respective teams let them go, but if they do, I'd love to have one of them in Denver.  I would rank them in the same order I listed them.


This is extremely hard to do with out knowing what players will be coming out for sure. Also, there is a possibility that some of the players I selected might not be there.  In which case trades would likely be made to move up in the draft, but for simplicity lets just pretend that all of these players would be available when I selected them.

1st Round (2nd Overall) The Broncos select...


Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

I absolutely love Patrick Peterson.  I think he's going to be the next Champ Bailey.  However, there is no point of having elite corners if your front seven can't stop the run or rush the passer.  Fairley is an absolute beast, and would help at both stopping the run and rushing the passer. He would be playing the 5-technique for us (3-4 DE)  and along with Soliai he would begin to legitimize our front seven for the first time in a while.

2nd Round (36th Overall) The Broncos select...


Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

I'm not positive he'll be available, I could see the Ravens taking him at the end of the 1st round, but it is definitely possible that he slides to us at 36 overall.  At 6'2" 205 Smith is an extremely physical corner with a bright future ahead of him.  Smith would likely push Andre' Goodman for the starting job alongside Champ Bailey.

2nd Round (43rd Overall) The Broncos select...


Kenny Tate, S, Maryland

Tate is only a junior and its not known yet if he'll come out.  If he does he would be a steal at 43 overall.  He is an extremely active, athletic safety.  Maryland used him in a bunch of different ways, and he could play both Strong and Free Safety in the pros.  Tate, a sure tackler, flies around the ball, and is always in the Quarterback's face when blitzing.  While watching tape on him I felt like I was watching Brian Dawkins in his prime.

2nd Round (46th Overall) The Broncos select...


Quan Sturdivant, ILB, North Carolina

At 6'2" 230 Sturdivant can play just about any LB position in the 34.  Sturdivant is a sure tackler, can rush the passer, and also can hold his own in coverage.  He would likely compete to start at Strongside ILB.


Denver trades their 3rd Round Pick (67th overall) to Jacksonville for their 3rd Round Pick (80th Overall), and their 4th Round Pick (113th Overall)

From Jacksonville, 3rd Round (80th Overall) The Broncos select...


Lance Kendricks, TE, Wisconsin

We desperately need a tight end that can stretch the field.  Kendricks is not only a receiving threat, but is also a sound blocker, and is partly responsible for the success of Wisconsin running backs John Clay and Monte Ball.  Speaking of John Clay, if he decides to come out I would love to have him in a Broncos uniform.  He's a big, tough, power back that would be an excellent complement to Moreno. Kendricks would push Daniel Graham for the starting TE spot Week 1.

From Jacksonville, 4th Round (113th Overall) The Broncos select...


Sione Fua, DT, Stanford

More help for our dreaded front 7. At 6'2" 305 Fua would be a defensive end in our 3-4 defense, and would compete for a starting job with Justin Bannan, Kevin Vickerson, and Marcus Thomas.

From New England (Laurence Maroney) 6th Round (Late 6th Round, not yet known exactly what pick it will be) The Broncos select... 


Will Rackley, OL, Lehigh

Rackley played tackle at Lehigh but would likely be a guard in the NFL. You can never have enough offensive linemen and Rackley is a nice value in the late 6th Round.  Rackley would not be expected to push for a starting job, but would provide nice depth.

7th Round (194th Overall) The Broncos select...


Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama

McElroy is a leader and proven-winner.  His arm is better than average and he's very intelligent.  He would make an excellent back-up Quarterback, and I could see him being successful as a starter if he ever got the opportunity.

So our opening day roster would look vaguely like this:


QB: Tim Tebow, Tyler Thigpen, Greg McElroy

HB: Knowshon Moreno, Michael Bush, Lance Ball, Correll Buckhalter

FB: Spencer Larsen

WR1: Brandon Lloyd, Demaryius Thomas

WR2: Jabar Gaffney, Eric Decker

WR3: Eddie Royal, Matt WIllis

TE: Lance Kendricks, Daniel Graham, RIchard Quinn

LT: Ryan Clady

LG: Zane Beadles, Will Rackley

C: JD Walton, Eric Olsen

RG: Chris Kuper, Russ Hochstein

RT: Ryan Harris


DE: Nick Fairley, Kevin Vickerson, Sione Fua

NT: Paul Soliai, Jamal Williams, Ronald Fields

DE: Justin Bannan, Marcus Thomas

ROLB: Elvis Dumervil, Mario Hagan

WILB: DJ Williams, Wesley Woodyard

SILB: Quan Sturdivant, Brandon Siler

LOLB: Robert Ayers, Jason Hunter

LCB: Champ Bailey, Jimmy Smith, Sydquan Thompson

RCB: Andre' Goodman, Perrish Cox, Cassius Vaughn

FS: Kenny Tate, Darcel McBath, David Bruton

SS: Renaldo Hill, Darcel McBath, David Bruton

So, what do you guys think?

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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