Denver has won way too many games to be picking in the top 5 and likely will win enough to finish in the 7-9 to 9-7 area. That would put them smack dab in the middle of the draft where they currently would be drafting if the season ended today. Being that this is almost a bye week and only 6 weeks remaining it would be fun to reassess the Broncos roster needs since inserting Tim Tebow. The defense has become drastically improved in that span. This has largely to do with the defensive coordinator play calling and the schemes being understood by the players. The offensive needs now have risen to the top to compliment Tebow’s game, and Fox’s running style.
2012 NFL draft order based off record of Week 11
1. Indianapolis 0-10
2. Carolina 2-8
3. St. Louis 2-8
4. Minnesota 2-8
5. Miami 3-7
6. Jacksonville 3-7
7. Arizona 3-7
8. Washington 3-7
9. Philadelphia 4-6
10. San Diego 4-6
11. Cleveland 4-6
12. Tampa Bay 4-6
13. Seattle 4-6
14. Kansas City 4-5 (KC leads 17-3 in third quarter of MNF)
15. Buffalo 5-5
16. NY Jets 5-5
17. Denver 5-5
18. Tennessee 5-5
19. Atlanta 6-4
20. Dallas 6-4
21. Oakland 6-4
22. Cincinnati 6-4
23. NY Giants 6-4
24. New England 6-3 (KC leads 17-3 in third quarter of MNF)
26. Detroit 7-3
27. New Orleans 7-3
28. Pittsburgh 7-3
29. Houston 7-3
30. Baltimore 7-3
31. San Francisco 9-1
32. Green Bay 10-0
This is taking prospect rankings form Walterfootball.com as I think at this point in the season he has is one of the best available lists on the net.
Top 10 Prospects:
1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
2. Matt Kalil, OT, USC
3. Matt Barkley, QB, USC.
4. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma.
5. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama.
6. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
7. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU.
8. Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina.
9. Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford.
10. Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama.
Top 11-25 Prospects:
11. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor.
12. Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
13. Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina.
14. Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa.
15. Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina.
16. Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College.
17. Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State.
18. Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame.
19. David DeCastro, G, Stanford.
20. Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska.
21. Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame.
22. Brandon Jenkins, DE/OLB, Florida State.
23. Barrett Jones, OT, Alabama.
24. Devon Still, DT, Penn State.
25. Alameda Ta'amu, DT, Washington.
Round 1-2 Prospects:
26. Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
27. Mike Brewster, C, Ohio State
28. Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
29. Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
30. Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia
31. Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt
32. Frank Alexander, DE, Oklahoma
33. Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
34. Dwight Jones, WR, North Carolina
35. Ronnell Lewis, OLB/DE, Oklahoma
36. Kelechi Osemele, G/T, Iowa State
37. Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
38. Vinny Curry, DE/OLB, Marshall
39. T.J. McDonald, S, USC
40. Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson
Denver Team Needs
Right Tackle – Denver lost Ryan Harris and drafted a possible replacement in Orlando Franklin in the second your of this year’s draft. A lot of this position being the number one need revolves around the view of Tebow being the starter. The blind side of Tebow’s projection has a lot to do with his development and success as a passer. If Denver is going to have a successful passing attack they have to find a Right Tackle that can block the speed rush (see the Detroit game). In each of Tebow’s games this season you can see the Broncos gradually limiting passes and lone protection provided by Franklin. Tim has rarely had time to throw in the pocket. Franklin coming out of college had a knock against him of not being able to block speed rushers and I don’t see how that assessment as being proven wrong. Franklin is a good block of what is in front of him, but would be better used inside as a guard and that could solve two needs by making Beadles a rotational backup. Riley Reiff, OT, out of Iowa is the prospect I am following the most through the rest of the season. He is the highest rated pass blocker that could project to Right Tackle and he should be available in the 10-15 pick area. DJ Fluker may be a better right tackle prospect, but he is only a sophomore and is likely to not declare for another year. Reiff currently plays left tackle, but has been projected to play the right side as well.
Running Back – Willis McGahee is going to be 32 next year during the season, and Knowshon Moreno is officially a bust and fragile player after being selected 12th overall in the 2009 draft. Denver may end up cutting Moreno and there is no guarantee that McGahee will last an entire season as RBs tend to get hurt regardless of talent. Trent Richardson is the dream prospect here, but he will be long gone by the time Denver picks in the first round. There really isn’t a running back prospect that Denver should look at until the second or third. There are a lot of guys though that could be great change of pace Lamichael James out of Oregon. Lamar Miller from Miami could is a prospect that could get into the first round and Denver may take a look at. Montee Ball is another prospect that could be available in the second round. Though I really am hoping that Denver pulls a miracle and signs unrestricted free agent Michael Bush.
Defensive Tackle – Denver’s front four have taken a step forward this year, but most of the players are still rotational guys and not studs that can consistently provide a pass rush up the middle. Denver passed on Darius and Fairley to take Miller who is an absolute stud and ended up being the best choice. However, the need still exists. There are some very good DT prospects that will be available in the first and second round. At the moment there are no top 10 type prospects, but some very solid players to develop. I am not terribly impressed with the top talent and it may be better to wait to get a DT. Denver could take a DT with their first pick, but again the defense has been gelling so well that that offense has again become the higher priority. The draft position Denver finds themselves in matching with talent available and need could make this the pick in the first round. Devon Still, Branden Thompson, and Alameda Ta'amu are the cream of the crop this year and are a likely pick if they are available.
Safety – Brian Dawkins is done being a starter and probably a Bronco. It is official that he is a liability in pass coverage. The guy has so much heart and drive, but I doubt he will be resigned at the same pay level next year by EFX and will be cut. Raheem Moore was a nice looking pick in this year’s draft until he got injured, but Quinten Carter shows that he is merely a run defender. His pass coverage anticipation skills are not NFL caliber for a starting defensive back. His INT in the KC game was off a tip, and he was out of position for the protection. I could see Denver trying to fill this hole through free agency instead of the draft. Being that there are no Ed Reed or Polomalu type safeties likely to crack the first round Denver would be looking to the second round at the earliest, but again could be pushed back if Denver finds a free agent. Laron Landry could be the big prize this offseason if the Redskins let him go. The top safety prospects are TJ McDonald, and Robert Lester. Ray Ray Armstrong could be a top safety talent that slips because of his suspension 4th or 5th round.
10. Punt/Kickoff Returner
Quarterback – Until Tim Tebow went 4-1 and lead another comeback victory on national television I highly doubt John Elway was looking to do anything else then figure a way to draft Andrew Luck. You could see it when he was clapping in exec booth when Tebow scored the winning TD. The look on his face said "Damn kid, you just ruined my rebuilding plans, and any chance I had at Luck". So for the moment Denver is going all in with Tebow (They should he has been awesome to will his team to victory), and he will be the starter going into training camp. Kyle Orton is a free agent next and gone to try a play starting QB for some other team like the Redskins. Brady Quinn may be retained, but currently will not be under contract. At a minimum Denver needs to start to develop a backup for Tebow if not to challenge him. Tebow has clear flaws and who knows what the future holds. If Tim can’t become a proficient passer in the next year they will have to look somewhere else at the leagues premium position. Denver will not be picking Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley, or Landry Jones. Indy, Miami, and Wachington will be taking those guys. Follow up with Seattle drafting Robert Griffin and that wraps up the first round prospects. Denver will not reach for a QB with Denver winning games with Tebow. At the moment the kid I would love Denver to bring in would be Ryan Tannehill out of Texas A & M.
Inside Linebacker – Lets first say that Jow Mays has been a good player in the middle. He is not great however, and a stud could be just the thing Denver needs to take their defense to the next level. There are three studs that project as first rounders in this year’s draft. This may end up being the pick if a top RT or DT isn’t available. Zach Brown plays both inside and out, but he guy is absolutely awesome. The best pick if Denver goes in this direction could be Luke Kuechly out of Boston College.
Cornerback – Champ Bailey or Andre Goodman aren’t getting any younger. Goodman made himself look really good on a pick six in the Thursday night game, but it masked several coverage issues where Plaxico Burress made him look a couple steps slow on nearly every play. Harris is a good young prospect, but Denver needs to start developing young talent in the near future to replace the other side of the field.
Defensive End – Denver has guys that can play and defend the run well in Ayers, but could use another pass rushing presence to compliment Doom and Miller. They could also use a player to spell Dumervil as he is not a run stuffing force on goal line or short yardage situations. Being that this is a lower priority than Defensive Tackle first round prospects such as Quinten Coples and Courtney Upshaw.