Let me first start off and say I'm not a scout and do not pretend to be. I know this is the internet and if you have opinion, it's your expectation to express it, whether you actually know anything at all. I do however, look at other's scouting reports for prospects and compare their opinions while looking at possible draft picks. Also of note, I don't even watch that much college football unless it's Colorado or Notre Dame. Their I said it!
I think it's fair to say the Broncos need a middle linebacker and/or possibly a nickel cover backer, depending on how you are leaning. I think most or all of us believe the Broncos will draft a LB in the draft somewhere.
Next topic: The Broncos run a 4-3 base defense, wide-9 to be more specific. They don't run a 3-4. Yes, they have complicated fronts to confuse the offense, but they do not employ 3-4 personel, other than the tweeners Wolfe and Jackson which do NOT play 5 techs. Fact is, they are nickel defense conservatively 60% of the time where Von Miller is the LDE. For most of last year, Woodyard and Travathan were the nickel LB's.
Linebackers are NOT fungible, meaning you just can't move them all around and expect them to be great. Two specific examples: 1)Wesley Woodyard last year. He simply did not perform great as a 4-3 MLB. We'll see how he does as a 3-4 WILB at Tennessee. 2)DJ Williams. He was very, very good at 4-3 WLB. Average at 4-3 SLB. Average at 4-3 MLB and good at 3-4 WILB. Each linebacker position in the 4-3 has a different responsibility and I'll outline them here:
SLB - Lines up the offense's strong side, usally over the TE. His jobs are to take on the TE and run stop and cover the TE in those appropriate passing situations. Also, they are expected to be good blitzers.
MLB - Usually the captain. Should be good at diagnosing taking on the lead blocker and shedding blocks. Strong tackler. Zone coverage on pass plays.
WLB - Usually the fastest LB. Should be good at diagnosing and getting to the ball carrier quickly. Great tackler. Coverage also should be strong. If you ever notice, WLB will have more tackles than the MLB and leads the team a lot. When it comes to measurables, I don't always pay attention to size. I pay more attention to their jobs in college.
WLB - Danny Travathan(S), no idea who is backing him up
SLB - Von Miller(S), Nate Irving (was very good when Miller was out), Lerentee McCray?
LB - LJ Fort, Brandon Marshall
We are set at the corners, but who's playing MLB on all 3 downs?
Since the Broncos didn't sign Darryl Smith or D'Qwell Jackson, they obviously have a plan.
The most talked about linebacker prospects I hear of on Bronco boards and mock drafts: (these are my recaps given my research, I'm trying not to be biased)
CJ Mosley - Alabama - Widely considered the most complete MLB coming out. Played mostly WILB in college. Queue in Alabama hate about their prospects being beat up. I would like this pick.
Ryan Shazier - Ohio State - Great athlete with great coverage, good tackler but not a big hitter. Played OLB in college. Slight frame with concern about being able to put on weight and take on/shed blocks. Very intriguing prospect.
Kyle Van Noy - Brigham Young - Strong tackler and good in space and coverage. Bigger OLB prospect. Can he play MLB in our scheme? If not, where do you play him? Intriguing prospect.
Chris Borland - Wisconsin - Strong leader and tackling machine. On the shorter side with shorter arms. Not fast by any means and doesn't project well to coverage. Would be a great 2-down guy. could be available at the end of the 2nd round.
Shane Skov - Stanford - Leader and strong tackler. Not overly athletic which questions 3rd coverage skills. Could be a 3rd/4th guy.
Christian Jones - Florida State - Looks like a good athlete. OLB in college with good coverage skills. Some projections of being only a SLB. 3rd/4th rounds.
Jordie Tripp - Montana - Reports are all over the place on him. Called very versatile. Played OLB at FCS Montana. I don't get the love of him, personally.
Avery Williamson - Kentucky - Played 3 downs at MLB in college. Not that many scouting reports out there on him. Honestly if he didn't go to Kentucky he wouldn't get a third of the pub in Broncoland. Looks to be a developmental prospect with upside. 6th/7th round guy.
Andrew Jackson - Western Kentucky - Prototype 2-down thumper. Some work ethic/character concerns. Have to question level of competition. Late rounder with upside.
Max Bullough - Michigan State - Scouting reports all over the place on him. Team captain, but was suspended for Rose Bowl game. Some say 2-down MLB, some say could play on 3rd down. Looks to be a late rounder.
Please do tell, what do you think we should do in the draft.