I wrote a post a week ago outlining who I thought the Broncos would most benefit from in the draft and free agency, but with more knowledge at hand I have a revised plan of attack..
The Broncos have killed the draft two years in a row now. With the fruit of their labor finally coming to form this year by way of winning the AFC West and making it to the 2nd round of the playoffs largely on the backs of those who they drafted in 2010 and2011. Since the Broncos are the reigning AFC West champions they can no longer use the title "rebuilding". They are now defending champs, who are on the heels of a playoff run. The truth is though, the team is not nearly as fundamentally solid as you would think a division champion would be. They still have some serious holes and have to fill a roster that is critically lacking play makers on offense and need to replace multiple aging and injured veterans on defense.
If the Broncos continue to draft the way they have the last two years, they are going to be a force to be reckoned withsoon. In my last post I said that the Broncos first position to tend to in the draft was Wide Receiver, after seeing the list of young talented free agents that are likely going to be available this off-season I changed my mind. Unless Justin Blackmon falls to the 25th spot, I think the Broncos need to plug the hole on defense, getting a defensive tackle with their first pick. Todd Mcshay predicts that DT Devon Still from Penn State will fall to them at 25, Kiper thinks its going to be DT Fletcher Cox from Ole Miss. Either one of those guys is a huge upgrade to the defensive line and both are considered valuable enough to go in the 1st half of the 1st round but due to team needs they will likely fall in the Broncos favor.
So with the first pick going to DT to plug the line and help stop the run on the D, the next pick I think is going to be one of both value and need. If Im right with who I think could end up being the best CB in this draft will likely fall to the bottom of the 2ndor even 3rd round. If this is the case the Broncos have got to jump. Janoris Jenkins is who I'm talking about, after two seasons at Florida in which he was all SEC shutting down the most elite receivers in college football such as A.J. Green, Alshon Jeffery and playing a pivotal part on the 2008 National Championship team, he was kicked off the team by incoming coach Will Muschampfor having a second violation for possession of marijuana. Stupid no doubt, fixable, I think yes. Worth it,, hmm, he was predicted to go in the top 10 of the 2011 draft! But he decided to stay in school, mistake, big time, but lucky for somebody else who can get this shutdown corner who can run as fast as any corner in the draft, is a ball hawk, can return kicks and lay the wood for a great value. And if im not mistaken CB is an area of need. Get Jenkins if you can!
Okay for your 3rd and 4th round picks Denver will likely be looking for an ILB that can wreak havoc withVon Miller, as well as trying to find a Tight End that can block and catch. Now you might be saying, but what about Magahee, hes old and we need a new RB. I agree but Magahee has at least one more year left in him, and if you see the list of RBs that are gonna be unrestricted free agents this offseasonI think you would agree with me.
What I do think the Broncos can get at great value in the draft is a "scat back", there are a plethora of these types of backs coming out in the draft this year and they have proved themselves to be effective making immediate impacts on NFL teams. I heard a guy make the argument the other day that the smaller backs have proven to be ineffective in the NFL. Wrong my friend..Short list, Darren Sproles, Chris Johnson, Dexter Mccluster, Percy Harvin, and even guys like Desean Jackson and Eddie Royal can be considered scat backs. The formula that I have seen for success, is if the guy can have great success at the elite college level, and he can run under a 4.3 40 yard dash, he can be effective. There are at least 4 guys coming out in this years draft that fall in this category and not one of them is projected to go before the 3rd round! You got Lamicheal James, Oregons burner, Chris Rainey Floridas speedster who can run a 4.2 40 yard dash! Thats Deion speed ! Thats Chris Johnson speed! As well as Jeff Demps and the Jaquizz brothers from O state. Now James and Rainey I think are the best option here but anyone of those guys you can pick up in the later rounds for good value to help in special teams and break plays in the offense could be beneficial. Chris Rainey blocked more punts than any other player in SEC history while he was at Florida! This kid could be the steal of the draft, I know the guys cant be every down backs or run between the tackles but they can definitely be utilized as slot receivers, catch out of the backfield and be threats on reverses on options, as well as wreaking havoc on special teams!
Not to mention Tebow is used to playing with these fast scat back type players. They help break open the offense andthe create a new dynamic for defenses to worry about. So looking though what is available in this years draft for tight ends I didnt really see anything that stood out to me. I realize the importance of having a good pass catching Tight End they are almost invaluable in todays NFL, but unfortunately I just dont think this off season is going to produce any gems at that position. What doesnt make since to me though is why it seems like the best performing Tight End, Fells is the only one going to free agency this year, seems to me you would want to keep him and maybe get rid of Rosario or some of the other scrub Tight Ends on the roster.
This years free agency doesn't really have any gems either, one guy I see possible potential in and could maybe be got on the cheap is Randy Mcmicheal from San Diego, he performed pretty admirably for the Chargers while Gates was injured this year and could be a good addition. Other than that its names like Jeremy Shockey, who I think is passed his prime, and Tony Gonzalez whoI doubt is gonna want to spend one of his last remaining years in Denver with Tebow after coming off a record breaking year with gun slinging Matt Ryan as his QB. No offense to Tebow, I just don't see that happening.
Receivers on the other hand are a dime a dozen in this years free agency. The right pickup here could be all Tebow needs to open up his passing game and take the offense to a whole new level. You got veteran guys like Reggie Wayne, Deon Branch, Plax Burres who I think the Jets will resign this year but is a possibility. But the names that stand out to me most to me are Desean Jackson and Dwayne Bowe. Both are guys who are unhappy with their current situation, both are proven game breakers, and either one of those guys could be the crown jewel of our receiving corps. I understand its gonna take some serious loot to get one of those guys, but with Brian Dawkins, Kyle Orton, Brandon Lloyd, and possibly Eddie Royal and some other players off the books for 2012 the Broncos should have enough cap space cleared to at least make one or two big splashes in the free agency market. If you dontgo with one of those big names at least you could pick up some solid guys like Andre Caldwell or Anthony Gonzales from the Colts either way their is much to be had in the Free Agency department at receiver, and much need for play-makers at that position for the Broncos, good supply and demand here.
The same can really be said for running backs this year in free agency, their are a few superstars that I doubt the Broncos could afford to sign like Matt Forte, and Peyton Hillis that are kind of fantasy stretch free agents but I see a few that may be affordable and well worth there weight in gold. The best of this class I think is guys like Legarrate Blount, but even he may have outperformed what the Broncos could afford. Mike Tolbert on the other hand I think is someone who could be a reasonable candidate, that guy is a human wrecking ball, can catch the ball great out of the backfield and moves quick for a short stout back. The other would maybe be Cedric Benson, he's still a valuable back but given his off the field issues he may be had at a good price. Either way the Broncos should be set for at least another year with what they already have in Magahee, Ball, and Johnson, and if Knowshown comes back from his injury that's more than enough. But for now its safe to say that they could probably use an additional back to help Magahee carry the load.
Well that's one plan of attack I think that could work for the Broncos this off season if all the stars align accordingly. I think given the youth of this Broncos team and the kind of drive and motivation they often show, they could be a real force next year and for years to come. This depends largely on the development of Tebow during the off-season and the GMs ability to put weapons around him, and given the fact that I have laid out this very simple plan and approach for the Broncos organization to use as a reference this off season there should be no problems. Your welcome John El Fox...