I can’t really speak too much to the current state of the Broncos as there is too much negative emotion involved. So I focus on the future. Looking at how the current rebuilding project is going I have to say that there is a serious cart before horse issue at hand. Brian Xanders is the GM and as I have mentioned before I don’t think he or the Broncos brass knows the first thing about how to build a winning football team. I believe the philosophy to this point is to draft the flashiest player in the first round, and then fill holes by taking guys higher then than their draft value. Xanders is the common denominator, but whether it is McDaniels or Elway good talent evaluation and draft philosophy don’t seem to change much. From what I have seen Right Tackle is now the number one draft need. Next would be Defensive Tackle.
First Round Flash
2009 – RB K Moreno, OLB/DE Ayers
2010 – WR Thomas, QB Tebow
From a philosophy standpoint I feel the Broncos will never get better until they start to build their lines with some premium talent. I am specifically speaking to 9 positions on offense and defense (5 O-line, 4 D-line). Denver has one premium talent on O in left tackle Ryan Clady and 1 on D in Elvis Dumervil. Even Dumervil comes with an asterix because he is a premium talent at the pass rush, but average against the run. So he is more of a specialist then a three down DE.
5= Elite (Top 5 at position)
4=Pro Bowler (Top 15 at position)
3= Starting Caliber (Top 25 at position)
2= Below Average (Good Backup)
1= Fringe NFL Talent (Shouldn’t be starting or on most NFL Teams)
Denver O-Line Talent - Grade
RT – Franklin =2
RG – Kuper = 2
C – Walton = 2
LG-Beadles = 1.5
LT – Clady = 4.5
Denver D-Line Talent - Grade
RDE – Dumervil = 4.5
RDT – Thomas = 1.5
LDT – Bunkley = 2
LDE – Ayers = 1.5
When evaluating the talent you have to look across the league and see what they have versus what the Broncos have. If Denver has the 33rd best Center in the league they don’t have a starting caliber Center. Franklin I think is a keeper, but has no business playing Tackle. Why? Because he can’t block a speed rusher to save his life, or Tebow’s life for that matter. As patient Bronco fans we have been waiting and wondering when the bottom has been hit and when we will see improvement. Honestly I see a long deep valley of bad seasons until the philosophy changes. Success is built on having talent on the lines. Sometimes you get lucky and get a pro bowl talent in the seventh round. That’s not reality. You want to see a turn around you need to see Denver taking Guards Defensive Tackles, and Big Bad Defensive ends in the first three rounds. Think I’m crazy? Look at the Lions and 49ers.
The Lions thought they could build a team on WR’s and QB’s. They truly didn’t get better until they drafted and signed from free agency top end DT’s. The Lions defensive line is why they are a top team instead of a bottom feeder and are able win games on a consistent basis. Their O-line isn’t that great, but it is effective enough for their Skill Players to do well.
RDE – C Avril
DT – N. Suh
DT – C. Williams
LDE – KV. Bosch
Cliff Avril – 2008 Draft – 3rd Round – 92nd overall
Ndamukong Suh – 2010 Draft – 1st Round – 2nd overall
Corey Williams – 2010 – Acquired via trade.
Kyle Vanden Bosch -- 2010 – Acquired via trade.
The Lions Defensive line was essentially established in 2010. With a year under their belt together and a better coach they have been dominant.
The Offensive line is older, but was invested in heavily with first and second round picks.
RT – G. Cherilus
C – D Raiola
LG – R. Sims
LT -- J. Backus
Gosder Cherilus – Drafted – 2008 – 1st RD – 17th overall
Stephen Peterman -- Acquired via Free Agency 2006
Dominic Raiola – Drafted – 2001 – 2nd RD – 50th overall
Rob Sims – Acquired via trade – 2010 for a 5th round pick
Jeff Backus – Drafted – 2001 – 1st RD – 18th overall
The Bottom line on Detroit is that they have invested heavily in the Draft and Free Agency in their lines. In 2010 they upgraded 3 of the 4 defensive line positions and 1 of the offensive line positions. Now they are an elite team. Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson are the highlight reel guys, but the Lions would not have many wins if they didn’t have their lines.
A quick look at the 49ers
49ers - O- Line
RT – Anthony Davis – Drafted –2010 - 1st RD – 11th overall
RG—Chilo. Rachal – Drafted – 2008 -2nd RD – 29th overall
C – Jonathan Goodwin – 2011-- Acquired via Free Agency
LG – Mike Iuapati - - 2010 - Drafted – 1st RD – 17th overall
LT – Joe Staley – 2007 - Drafted – 1st RD – 28th Overall
RDE – Ray McDonald – 2007 – Drafted – 3rd Round
NT – Isaac Sopoaga – 2004 – Drafted – 4th Round
LDE – Justin Smith – 2008 – Acquired via Free Agency
The 49ers are a hardnosed team the grinds out yards on offense and plays solid defense. They’re offensive line was upgraded with two first round picks in 2010 and free agency in 2011.