Ok so the off season is still more than a couple of months away. Here is my two cents on what the Broncos should do or try to do in the offseason:
First off, Trade DJ Williams to Philly for Asante Samual, DJ is a good player but not a great player, Philly can’t carry three upper level CB’s forever and they have a need for help at the LB position, and Champ and Goodman are both on the wrong side of 30. Samual becomes a starter next to Champ and allows Harris and Goodman as nickel and dime backs.
Free agent signings – my priority starts with LaRon Landry, there are no great safety prospects in this years draft (Mark Barron is decent, but he not in Landry’s class). Landry takes Dawkins roll and is the anchor of the secondary for the next 6 years.
Next Ben Grubbs, G – Kuper’s return to 100% is an iffy proposition based on the looks of that injury and Beadles is average at best. Grubbs is a solid guard who has been instrumental in Ray Rice’s success in Baltimore. He will likely command some serious cash, but if we want a run dominated offense, he has to be a priority also.
Jason Jones, DT – While our DTs played decent, they really weren’t very effective at creating much of a pass rush. Jones is the best pass rushing DT in free agency and would upgrade this unit with Ty Warren coming in and Bunkley and Thomas, that gives you a solid 4 man rotation that should be effective in run and pass defense.
CalaisCampbell, DE – Campbell is starting to emerge as a quality DE and he may price himself out of the market, but I would love to see a home town kid come back here and succeed.
Now lets looks at the draft, I have seen the various mock drafts calling for a RB with the 1st round pick, and unless Trent Richardson falls, there is no way Denver would use another 1st round pick on a RB. It makes limited sense when you figure the shelf life and the fact that good RB can be found anywhere. With that in mind and Denver needing to find starters and impact players, here would be my mock, assuming we get the above Free Agents.
1st Round – Dont’a Hightower, MLB/ILB – Hightower has been seen as a more traditional 3-4 ILB, but he is smart and athletic enough to play the Mike in a 4-3. To me, teams are built from the inside out and Hightower would be a starter at Mike from Day 1 and likely a ten year fixture. Running Saben’s defense at Bama, you know he is smart and he is a playmaker. Lining him in the Middle and having Von on one side and likely Nate Irving on the other, gives you a great group of backers for the next decade. I also expect that Denver defense will use some 3-4 looks next season to help free up Von and Dumervil to get to the QB more frequently.
2nd Round – Chris Polk, RB – I have seen a lot of speculation on Miller out of Miami in Round 1, but to me, Polk is a better fit for the style John Fox likes to run and Polk has good deep speed and is a more bruising RB. Having McGhee and Polk will wear down defenses and these guys should do well in tandem. I think Jeremiah Johnson will have a role as a third down back or change of pace. Which gives Denver three good backs and Lance Ball going forward.
3rd Round (Trade up) – Alameda Ta’amu, DT – I expect that we will likely have to trade up to the top of the third round or late second to nab him, so we can thank the Brandon Lloyd Trade for giving us some ammunition. Ta’amu is a run stuffing beast who has enough power to push the pocket. I think he will be a good rotational player to work in with the 4 guys mentioned above. DT usually take a few years to get accustomed to the NFL, so I am not expecting a hug impact this season, but he will be a key building block in that he can play DT or NT if the Broncos want to go with a 3-4 look, and you put Warren and Jones at ends, and stick Von and Doom on the edge to cause some havoc.
4th Round – Josh Robinson, CB – Sayre had him pegged in the third, I think he falls to the 4th. A good size/speed combo, he will compete for a backup job and hopefully can make the roster as the 5th CB.
5th Round – Lucas Nix, OG – Most sites have him somewhere between rounds 4 and 5, guards typically fall in the draft, so I think he will be available Round 5 late in the round. I have us trading our other 5th rounder to move up. Nix is a decent prospect, who played RT and G at Pitt, has good attitude and good drive, good RB and decent pass blocker, but probably not quick enough to play OT in the pros on a consistent basis. Again, this should add depth to the O-line and allow us to finally get rid of Hochstein.
6th Round – Tom Compton, OT – He is a small school prospect, so he may likely spend a year on the practice squad. But he has great tools to become a solid pro, 6’ 6” 314 lbs, he excelled in D-II, but will have a big learning curve going to this level. I see him similar to Julius Thomas in a guy we can groom to be a backup or maybe starting LT.
7th Round – Kelcie McCray, S – Another small school prospect. Has outstanding speed for a safety, a tad thin 6’ 2”, 195lbs to be a in the box safety. He should be able to work into a good cover safety in a few years, but raw at this stage. Another guy we likely stash on the PS for a year or two.