Back in September I wrote my first and only fan post on the 2012 draft and I recently got the desire to go back and read through it. It was weird reading about the draft back when the Broncos were picking top 5, Orton was the starting QB and we were sloted to take Richardson or Claiborne. For the most part things stayed consistent but their have definitely been some changes.
I'm not going to give an analysis of every player like I did in September because everyone is already familiar with the draft. This time around I'm just going to give my thoughts and opinions on the draft, FA, what the Broncos needs are, and what they should do this offseason. I'm also going to list off some sleepers I never see get mentioned who I think people should pay attention too. Due to school I don't have the time to debate and argue football and I have a lot of thoughts built up so I'm going to split it into two parts and we'll start with the offense. If you don't wanna read it all, I promise I'll give a quick summary and a mock draft near the end.
So let's get started with the offense (and yes their will still be a mock at the end).
Shall we start with QB. We are going to sign a guy and we're probably going to draft a guy. With Matt Barkley and Landry Jones going back to school, the talent at QB really took a hit this year. At the beginning of the year it looked like this would be one of the best years for QB talent ever. Now it looks like the same thing that happened last year will happen this year and QB's will be overdrafted because of the demand for them. In September I had Tannehill going to the Broncos in the 3rd. Chances of that happening now?
Players to watch for in FA are Dennis Dixon, Josh Johnson, and Chad Henne. My sleepers nobody knows in the draft are Dominique Davis (Eastern Carolina), Chandler Harnish (Northern Illinois), Austin Davis (Southern Miss), and Dan Persa (Northwestern). However If I had to pick one player to become the next Romo/Brady it would be Dan Persa.
Now what is the future for the Broncos at QB? Last year I predicted that Tebow would do enough to earn starter going into 2012 but nothing more and that's exactly how it played out. Unforunately I'm having a tough time making a prediction this year. My brain says Tebow will have not show the improvement he needs to show and the Broncos will go in a different direction in 2013 but my heart says otherwise so I'm just going to let 2012 play out without making any predictions.
However whether Tebow plays great or poorly, the Broncos are in a great position at QB for the future. If Tebow plays great, we'll have our future. If he doesn't then it's a good thing Barkley and Jones went back to school because next years draft is looking amazing at QB. Barkley will go #1 and Jones is a top 15. Tyler Bray has top 15 potential and just needs to put an entire season together to cement that status. Tyler Wilson is another solid 1st round pick and Aaron Murray has been easily the best QB in the SEC the past couple years and should be taken in the 1st. I'm doing this off the top of my head so I'm probably missing some players. Point is, no matter what happens with Tebow next year, QB is looking bright for the future.
To draft a RB early or not to draft a RB early? T'is is the question? Yes that's Shakespeare but the point is this is one of the most highly debated questions on MHR. One fact I always see used to argue the latter is the fact that there are a lot of good RB's who were drafted late or were not drafted at all. While this is true I think a better way of determining where to draft a QB is not by looking at how many RB's succeed despite being being draft low but looking at the success rate of all RB's drafted low vs. drafted high. I don't have any numbers to back this up but if I was to guess, I'd say there is about an equal amount of RB's who succeed drafted in the early rounds as there are drafted in the later rounds. However the total number of RB's drafted later is double the amount drafted early. Therefore you have a better chance of finding a solid RB early in the draft. This being said it's also no big deal if a 7th rounder doesn't become an all-pro so the risk is a lot lower drafting a RB low.
Either way the Broncos need to find someone who can compliment McGahee. There isn't much in terms of FA's that really excite me. Bush tends to wear down as the season goes on and he'll probably get a bigger contract than he's worth but if we can get him cheap I wouldn't mind. If Lynch accepts a huge contract to leave Seattle, it'll only show he's motivated by only money and will most likely disappear forever next year. The only big name RB's I'm interested in is Tolbert and Forte (if he hits the market) but the name I'm most interested in is Kahlil Bell. If the Broncos can pry him away from the Bears, that will negate the need for the Broncos to draft a RB. My sleepers nobody knows about are Robert Turbin (Utah State) and Lance Dunbar (North Texas) and my next Arian Foster is Robert Turbin. Cody Johnson (Texas) is the only fullback worth mentioning and unless we can get someone like LaRon McClain my guess is Larsen returns next year as well.
The Broncos need to find another playmaker, particularly at receiver. I would love to nab a big name FA this year but my gut tells me no big name FA will want to play here unless they have connections to Tebow or are big fans. I just can't see any receiver wanting to come to a team ranked 31st in passing so I think the Broncos will have to get one in the draft or hope to find a good value signing if they want to find a solid playmaker. I'm also not against bringing back Eddie Royal on a 1 or 2 year contract. The only FA's that really interest me (besides Bowe and Jackson) are Pierre Garcon, and Mario Manningham. I'd also like to see a vet brought in like Reggie Wayne or Hines Ward. My draft sleepers are Chris Givens (Wake Forest), Risard Matthews (Nevada), and Derek Moye (Penn State) and my next Victor Cruz is Risard Matthew but there is also a good chance Givens could be a stud too.
I believe the offensive line will look identical next year to how it did this year. However I would still love to see some competition and veterans brought in to help our offensive line improve. There isn't much FA talent at tackle and the one guy I think the Broncos should really consider trying to get is Anthony Collins who could push for a starting job here easily. My OT sleepers are James Brown (Troy), Markus Zusevics (Iowa), and Joe Long (Wayne State). For guard all the talk will be of Carl Nicks but I think the Broncos should try pursuing Ben Grubbs if they wanna sign a new starter. My guard sleepers are Rokevious Watkins (South Carolina), Will Blackwell (LSU), and Alex Hurst (LSU). Most of the FA centers are either over the hill players or all-pros demanding big contracts. One FA I would like is Samson Satele. Draft Sleepers are Garth Gerhart (Arizona State) and Grant Garner (Oklahoma State).
As for TE I think we need to find help however I doubt we draft a TE this year. EFX seem to be high on both Green and Thomas and I fully expect them to try and implement them more into the system next year. While everyone outside of Denver is saying the Broncos must get a pass catching TE, I think the Broncos are going to give Thomas that role next year. Hopefully he can improve as a blocker and stay healthy all season because I really think he can be that guy we're looking for. Still I would love to find help in FA and while I would love to get a guy like Fred Davis but I think the better option would be looking at a vet player like Jeremy Shockey or Bo Scaife. My TE draft sleepers are Kevin Koger (Michigan), Philip Lutzinkirchen (Auburn), and Anthony Miller (California).
To Summarize, offensively I like where the Broncos are going but we need to find more playmakers. When Tebow took the realms I realized something. The Broncos were not a QB change away from being a good team. What we needed was a playmaker. Orton might be a better QB but he is not a playmaker like Tebow is and ultimately making plays will win you the game. Still the offense stalled for majority of the season and finding another playmaker or two could really help. We need to find a RB and at least one playmaker who can catch the ball, particularly at receiver. While I've seen many people mock the Broncos a TE in the draft, EFX still seem to be really high on both Thomas and Green so I doubt they draft a TE and I can't wait to see Thomas in training camp next year. Still I think they will definitely address TE in free agency.
In terms of free agency I think the Broncos will look to find a couple people who can catch the ball and score with it and bring in some depth and competition along the o-line. In terms of the draft, well I promised... Mock Draft. Since I only spoke about offense, I got the idea to do an offensive only draft and see how that turns out so let's begin.
Note this is offense only. Unless a guard or tackle plummets to us I doubt we pick offensive line so the 1st pick will be between WR and RB
1. RB Lamar Miller, Miami
I wanted give us a WR but the Broncos are primarily a running team and Miller would be an absolute weapon to have. If we do go receiver it'll be either be Kendall Wright (Baylor) or Mohammed Sanu (Rutgers).
2. WR Dwight Jones North Carolina
I seriously contemplated McNutt or Toon here but went with Jones because he has the highest ceiling out of every receiver outside the 1st and still produced big at NC despite being completely underutilized. If Jones isn't available there will still be plenty of talented guys like McNutt, Toon, Streeter, Broyles, Hill, etc.
If we go receiver in the 1st, then we'll look at RB's David Wilson (Virgina), or Doug Martin (Boise State).
3. G Brandon Washington, Miami
Another Miami lineman who fits what Fox loves in offensive lineman. Plays with a mean streak and is a powerful run blocker with underrated athleticism just like Franklin and like Franklin both played tackle in college. However unlike Franklin, Washington will probably get little to no consideration as a tackle in the NFL.
An interesting name to consider is Ty Hilton (Florida International). He is a small speed receiver but would be a great help in the option game and would be a weapon returning kicks. He would be a great option to replace Royal if Royal leaves.
4. T James Brown, Troy
Solid player with high upside. Would create competition at tackle.
5a. WR Chris Givens, Wake Forest
Smaller speed receiver who would give us a nice deep threat.
5b. QB Dan Persa, Northwestern
This is the smallish, weak armed QB that everyone should be talking about, not Kellen Moore. While Moore won more games and suffered less injuries he also played on a far better team and Persa is bigger than Moore, has a stronger arm with equal accuracy and anticipation and is a better athlete. Plus he has the heart, drive, and determination equal to that of Tebow's. Injuries have slowed him down his college career but at one point our own Sayre Bedinger rated him as a 3rd round talent comparing him to Colt McCoy.
7. RB TJ Graham, Florida
I mocked Chris Rainey here but realized the chances of him being available are slim to none. Then Jeff Demps but realized he isn't entering the draft. So on my 3rd attempt I pick TJ Graham. Nowhere near as fast as Demps or Rainey but can still run close to a 4.40. Either way what I am looking for with this pick is a speed RB/WR who could come in and help open up the option game. If Rainey is not available (which he probably won't be), then TJ Graham (North Carolina State), Travis Benjamin (Miami), or Bert Reed (Florida State) would be fine.
So there you have it. Hopefully you enjoyed this and I hope I can find the time to get out pt. 2 sooner rather than later. Thank you for reading.