This is probably the 8th or 10th of innumerable "If I were GM" FanPosts here on MHR during the 2012 reloading season. During this exciting time of the football cycle, you will see reasoned evaluations, ridiculous suggestions to "trade Champ Bailey", and blueprints for building a team around Tim Tebow. All are fun, all are valid in their own way. None will match what actually occurs. Think back on the Mock Drafts you have read here and in other places over the years. Some look simply outstanding! But fall way short of reality. None that I recall included Quinton Carter, Orlando Franklin, or Chris Harris. I did one last year where I suggested Colin Kaepernick for our second pick of the second round and was roundly lambasted for it. Perhaps deservedly. Perhaps not.
In this somewhat lackadaisical effort, I will not reference the salary cap. I will not finish my FanPost with a complete, position-by-position depth chart. I will not somehow maneuver our Broncos up to the 3rd pick in the draft by trading away 12 future #1's. I will simply make a few observations that I, personally, and with full realization that I do NOT have the same data set the actual FO possesses, believe would be a fit path for the Broncos to follow during this reloading season.
Allow for player development. Let's not break the bank or spend additional draft resources where we have young, untested talent. Primarily I am referring to Safety and Tight End. There is no indication that "the next big thing" will turn out better, faster, than the last time we tried. Take Safety, for example. We have 3 young, highly drafted prospects back there with very high end physical talents (whether it be range, length, strength, or burst), all of whom have demonstrated previous success at the collegiate level against top competition. Let's focus on continuity and develop what we have in these areas.
Add veteran FA's in areas where leadership counts. In my view, leadership is most valuable in the areas where physical, not mental, dominance is likely to occur. Let me explain... Think back to the NE playoff game. How often have you seen a team so utterly dominated on both sides of the ball? It is my opinion that we were "shaken" by NE's ferocity from the starting whistle right on through the end of the game. On the D, it is not the linebackers who can stop that tidal wave of emotion. By the time the wave reaches them on a play-by -play basis it is too late to stop it. No, it is the DL who need to exert their physicality and put a stop to that type of stuff. And that physicality comes less from girth and brute strength and more from wily, grizzled, veteran tactics. Football tactics. Same on the OL. I think the lack of Chris Kuper in that game was a huge factor. Not that he alone could have physically impacted the game to any immense degree, but as a pair with Franklin they can grade some roads, and that North Dakota scowl in the huddle focused on a Walton or a Beadles could be just the thing to convince them to punch Wilfork in the chin at the next snap and deflate the big man instead of letting him run rampant. I am babbling now, so I go on...
Build inside-out. Everybody wants dynamic speed. We all want the breakaway threat. Defenses have to respect the lanky dude streaking down the seam and offenses try to throw away from the blurry cornerback. But we all saw with our own eyes this year the impact of a physically dominant team. How many times did you see McGahee churn out an additional 2-3 yards with the help of his (usually right side) OL, then jam through an unseen seam and roll for another 4 or 6 after that? Plays like that beat down an opponent! They are great ways to grind out victories. Defenses watching film before playing this type of attack maybe squirm just a little bit in anticipation of the contact they know is coming. This calls for Guards, Tackles, Blocking Tight Ends, Fullbacks, and a certain type of running back.
Over the Top. Now that we have softened you up, Defense, with our running game and brutality in blocking.... Now that we have softened you up, Offense, with our wall of defenders and swarming mentality... We will kill you with suddenness. This may be the deep threat, or it may be the speed rusher. Maybe it is the Special Teams ace who outpaces the odds with his kick return capabilities. We already have the Speed Rusher with Von Miller.
Now that I have described my team, the one that I plan to build and send out on the field to honor the Bronco tradition we all know and love, here are my moves this offseason:
Carl Nicks, G. Who am I kidding? He's not going anywhere. Would you, given his situation? Ok so much for that idea.
Calais Campbell, DE/DT. Long and Strong. Very long at over 6'7". Penetrator. Allows complete Defensive Coordinator control of matchups by completing the DE triumvirate of Dumervil, Ayers, Campbell. Can roll over to DT/UT.
Michael Bush, RB. Big dude, surprisingly slithery through the gaps. Absolutely productive in his numerous starts this year during McFadden injury. Will damage opposing DL's not with high-impact collisions, but with leg churning and sheer E=MC2. Weakens division rival by losing their backup to their brittle RB.
Tracy Porter, CB Come here and compete for either #2, #3, or #4 on the depth chart against Goodman, Harris, and Rookie TBD. May the best ballhawking, fundamentally tackling SOB win. May the 3rd and 4th guy provide a blanket man-to-man guy to the spread offenses of the world and an energetic spark off the bench, amen.
Let me simplify the approach a bit.
In the first three rounds, entirely based on value at the slot and adhering to the carefully-considered/researched/background-checked/scouted/interviewed draft board, I want to pick up (in no particular order):
The most dynamic, electrifying speed merchant I can find who hopefully will have "hands" but will definitely be able to return some kicks and either create some interceptions (if defensive player) or cause some Safeties to reconsider their life's work (if offensive, think Scatback or speed WR).
The most physically intimidating lineman I can get, regardless of whether that Frankenstein is OL or DL. And not some guy who achieves his "look" via a faux-hawk or tattoos, but a guy who really couldn't care less if you dive at his knees because a) his bones are made of an iron alloy and b) he will do an elbow drop on you in the pile 7 plays later and cause your eyeball to burst.
A Mike linebacker. Not to say Irving isn't our guy, but ... what if he isn't? I don't think Mays will improve our defense with his presence next year due to his embarrassingly common missed tackles. We know nothing about Irving on the NFL playing field though we are all predictably optimistic. But even if he is the guy, we still need young, energetic depth. So let's get that guy now.
In Rounds 4-7 I quite simply trust in the FO to do what is necessary to pave the way for another decade of success. I expect a backup QB to be in there somewhere I guess.