The off-season is in full swing and mocks are beginning to be put together by the members and staff so we wanted to put out minds together and see what the staff felt the biggest needs the Broncos had and how they should be addressed.
Each staffer put together a list of their top three needs the Broncos have and a few thoughts on why they see that position as a need. So here are out thoughts, ranking the needs from the ones that received the most votes to the fewest.
Middle Linebacker (6 Votes)
For MLB, I think it’s pretty obvious. We haven’t had an Al Wilson type enforcer at MLB since, well, Al Wilson. We can’t keep trying to plug and play, anymore. We have to find a MLB to go with Woodyard and Von Miller.
Middle linebacker is a huge need since Brookings is gone and Mays is coming off an injury. Middle linebacker is such a huge position that it needs to be addressed immediately, the Broncos need a play maker at MLB who can do it all, how I think this should be solved may differ though from others.
Defensive Tackle (5 Votes)
The biggest need the Broncos have is a nasty physical presence in the middle of their defense. I feel like we are one of the strongest teams on the perimeter both with our secondary and pass rush. Filling this void could come one of three ways---Derek Wolfe makes an a huge impact next year from the DT position.
Defensive tackle is the #1 priority to me since the Broncos really have no true DT on the roster. The Broncos will likely try and convert Wolfe to being a full time DT but the Broncos still need a true nose tackle, a space clogger, the job Justin Bannan filled last season. Getting a big, nasty, 2-gap space hog would be my dream for this off-season.
An upgrade is needed and at DT Vickerson and Bannan aren't the best DT's in the league but did a nice job, but can be easily upgraded.
Cornerback (4 Votes)
I'm going to say it, I don't think Champ is too old, yet. Chris Harris is the premier slot corner in the NFL but he's only solid on the outside. The Broncos need a true #1 corner to replace Champ. This has been a need for years and the Broncos have kicked it down the road with average stop gaps like Andre Goodman, Tracy Porter and Tony Carter. Drafting a quality corner to be the #2 corner and eventually replace Champ should be near the forefront of the front offices mind.
Depth Along the Offensive Line (3 Votes)
In terms of... Ryan Clady, Chris Clark and Dan Koppen will be free agents this year and I have some questions about how well Chris Kuper can bounce back from the injuries that have plagued him in 2012. Add in that I was not completely sold on Manny Ramirez as a replacement -- he seemed to be awfully inconsistent -- and the offensive line will need some work to remain an effective force in the run game.
I say "offensive line" because I think we have a decent group of starters, but we are razor thin across the board and need to get some quality depth at all of those positions.
Safety (2 Votes)
At Safety, I think we need to replace Mike Adams. Of course, I know there’s still a ton of angst towards Rahim Moore, but keep in mind that he’s still a young player in need of some more experience and coaching. Mike Adams, on the other hand, is experienced, but I fear his physical tools are starting to dull, a bit. He’ll be 32 when he hits the field for training camp.
ind that intimidating FS that impacts the run game and passing game. I really miss having a heavy hitter back there like we had with Steve Atwater---someone who could just come up and lay the wood on someone.
Running Back (2 Votes)
Lance Ball and Chris Gronkowski will both be free agents and there is no guarantee that Willis McGahee will be able to carry the load in the same way that he did prior to his injury. If the Broncos were to lose Ball and Gronkowski to free agency and McGahee was not the same power runner he was before, the running back core begins to look a trifle thin: Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman and Jacob Hester would be the only returnees currently on the depth chart. There would also be Mario Fannin (currently on Injured Reserve and has never been able to make the active roster due to injuries) and Jeremiah Johnson from the Reserve Future list.
I'd have to say a running back. I love Moreno, but at this point I have no idea who he is. I don't see McGahee lasting too much longer, and Hillman isn't the workhorse type back we need.
How To Address These Weaknesses
The staff also gave their thoughts on how these issues should be addressed:
DJ Williams, pure and simple, he's proven he can play MLB and actually had some of his best seasons inside, though it was in a 3-4. DJ has the speed, coverage ability and instincts to play MLB in Del Rio's defense. Why use a pick or pay another high priced free agent when there is a on-the-field leader on the field. DJ has a big contract, a reason many want to cut him, instead make him work for that money. He's got the talent and done it before, downside?
The pickings are slim for a Mike Linebacker this year in Free Agency and the draft. I think the Broncos should look at the LB position with their 2nd pick at #60. That isn't to say they have to, but I think the Defensive Tackle selected at 28 will be better than the available MLB at 28. I don't know if Nate Irving or Steven Johnson are the answer, but they may be the stopgap solution for 2013.
Middle Linebacker: Draft. I just feel like this is a position where we need youth, energy and an identity to build around. For me, Arthur Brown would fit perfectly.
I don't think the Broncos will draft a Mike, could be wrong, but I think our LB corps is pretty talented and young and just needs to step into those roles.
want drafted. There's a good number of potential MLB's who can be drafted early (Kevin Minter, Te'o, Alec Ogletree, Arthur Brown, and Khaseem Greene)
Defensive tackle: Free agency. I think size and experience can hold up for now. In the future, we will need some more youth to go alongside Wolfe though.
Draft, two would be even better. Having a young defensive tackle who would be the future of the position for a decade is exactly what the Broncos need.
There is the option of bringing back Kevin Vickerson and Justin Bannan, but both are over 30 years old. An infusion of youth is needed and it just so happens that there are multiple Defensive Tackles to choose from in this year's draft and at least 3 quality players that will be available at 28.
Doesn't matter, there are some amazing, young free agent corners out there for a reasonable price (Adam Jones, Chris Houston, and Darius Butler are just a few) but I wouldn't complain about drafting a top ranked corner.
There's the Revis rumors out there, they can't be ignored, but if we do not add him i can see a draft pick added. If the coaches like what they see from Omar Bolden they may hold off on drafting one though. Chris Harris, Tony Carter and Champ Bailey all will be back.
Offensive Line Depth
Offensive line would largely depend upon what players are available during both free agency and the draft. I could see Denver address both needs through both aspects of the off-season.
The offensive line depth will certainly be gotten through the draft.
There has to be a better verdict than Manny Ramirez as the "sixth man" on the Offensive Line. The majority of O-Linemen are drafted in the middle rounds and hopefully Denver can find a diamond there.
Safety could be a position that is gained through free agency, as well as corner, actually. However, I think getting younger at each position would be helpful, so if free agency is used to gain a player, I think that a player of similar position could be acquired later in the draft, as well.
As far as safety? Who knows, go out and get someone like Ed Reed for a year or two? Go out and draft someone else? Quentin Carter is a wildcard for sure.
Running Back: No clue. I don't see one coming from the draft, and I don't know if we can get someone from free agency who would fix our problems. Another steal like McGahee would be amazing at this point.
What Position Can Be Ignored
The staffers then gave their thoughts on what positions they hope the front office don't waste their time on.
Tight End (4 Votes)
Joel Dreessen, Jacob Tamme and Virgil Green as a unit likely rank among the best in the AFC. While none of them are huge play makers like some fans will want, combined they bring a flexible and talented unit that can do it all, and do it very well.
Tight End, no question. They don't even need to bring any "Camp fodder" to Training Camp this summer.
I'll go with the easy out on this one: tight end. We are amazingly deep at that position and have a variety of styles to chose from right now.
Wide Receiver (1 Vote)
Wide receiver (including tight ends). The Broncos will have both Decker and Thomas back in 2013. They have four other WRs (Caldwell, Holliday, Stokley and Willis) on the active roster along with two (Greg Orton and Gerell Robinson) on the Reserve/Future list. Add in the four tight ends (Dreessen, Tamme, Green and Thomas) on the active roster and we can see a solid receiving core. Only Stokley and Willis are slated to become free agents this year.
Defensive End (1 Vote)
I would hate to see the Broncos spend money on defensive ends. We’re looking pretty good at that position with Dumervil, Ayers, and (technically) Wolfe. On passing downs, we make Von Miller a defensive end, anyways. So, if we spend money to keep acquiring defensive ends, that’s money poorly spent, in my opinion. If they want to get younger in the middle and beef up the defensive tackles, that’s fine, but leave the defensive ends alone.
We'll have a post coming up soon asking what you guys feel are the biggest needs this off-season.