Bronco Mike: The Broncos need to figure out what they want from the SS position. Do they view this player as a hybrid? Do they view this player as an enforcer? Do they want this player to feast from the robber role and be smart/instinctual enough to provide ultimate flexibility? It seemed as if they tried to use Duke Ihenacho in that hybrid role. Base downs he was that guy in the box ready to blow up the run. I thought he did a nice job in this role. Where Duke struggled mightily was in coverage. He had a tough time with route recognition when playing centerfield, he was often fooled and out of place. When playing man coverage against a TE in sub packages he was too often beaten by speed.
Be the Broncos GM
Be the Broncos GM
People like Pete might laugh at me, but if you're looking for that dual threat player, why not give Champ a try here? Champ is one of the greatest run-stuffing and sure-tackling corners in the history of the game. He also still has the moxie to line up against a TE or diminutive WR.
As far as free agents, TJ Ward or Donte Whitner are the choices at the top of the list for SS. A more hard hitting enforcer guy would be someone like Bernard Pollard. With him though, you get the uncanny ability to put someone from the Patriots out of the game.
At free safety, it all depends on how Rahim Moore heals up. I thought he was doing a fine job in season 2 as a starter and though he might not be that rangy ballhawk people covet, he's better than just an average starter. If you're going the Free Agent route I'd take a look at Jairus Byrd in that top level category with Louis Delmas as a cheaper and serviceable option much like Mike Adams has been.
After all of that, you could say that I would target a prized free agent at SS, either Ward or Whitner, and I would add some veteran depth to the FS spot.
Ian Henson: I hate the every-season rumor that Champ Bailey could switch to safety, but if he is going to do it then this is the year. Mike Adams may not be back and Rahim Moore is coming back from injury (as is Quinton Carter). Then again, you'd have to argue your pants off to prove to me that Bailey isn't worth keeping at cornerback. The main thing separating Bailey/Chris Harris and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell last season were the strength of their respective safeties.
Moore is not a bad safety; in fact he is a good safety. It is unfortunate that fans only remember one thing about him. I mentioned it in my free agents piece, but that one thing separating the Broncos defense being mediocre from being great is a super safety. The current best available safeties, unfortunately, probably aren't going to be available on March 11th. Money Ball Elway will likely bring in a guy like Chris Clemons. Clemons was jettisoned from the Miami Dolphins for not being good enough for what the Dolphins are hoping to do on defense, I cannot imagine that Miami's goals are all that different than Denver's.
Duke Ihenacho got a case of Eddie Royal's as the season went on unfortunately, but I imagine that with his hit strength he could return for 2014 with an even bigger chip on his shoulder. Can he be Jairus Byrd level though Ihenacho's the same strength set as Bernard Pollard, if the team can figure out a way to get him to get better in coverage and somehow retain Rodgers-Cromartie (which seems about 40/60 in the likely/unlikely category at this point) the Broncos could be the best secondary next season.
That's a lot of ifs, because right now the team is facing this as a starting secondary: Harris (24), Tony Carter (27), Kayvon Webster (23) with Moore (24) and Ihenacho (24)/Quinton Carter (25) at safety. That's a whole lot of youth. The oldest member of that entire group is Tony Carter at 27, while the next closest to him age-wise is Quinton Carter at 25.
Also, no, I did not forget to mention Omar Bolden. He's... Well, he plays special teams very well and we know that is where David Bruton makes his paycheck as well.
Big Pete: Mike, I think that Duke will only be better this season. How many rookies play lights out on a Super Bowl team? Ya know? I think Duke is a good enforcer, and growth from season to season will improve his coverage skills. I'm not even gonna mention he was undrafted, I'm willing to compare him to rookies that were drafted. Secondary rookies often struggle. Duke wasn't immune to it, but he hardly played bad enough to warrant a benching (and I know you didn't say he should. I'm speaking in generalities).
Champ may or may not make a decent FS. Would he be better than Moore? In my opinion, the answer is "no" - well, at least it's a no if Moore gets healthy enough to play. Champ can cover still (we think), but he's not as fast as he once was, so giving people a 10-20 yard cushion as a safety and then having to close and catch up with someone running full speed already is a recipe for disaster. Champ can't grab and bump and hold a WR at the line because he'll be off the line as a safety. He'll have to use speed to compensate, and we all have seen how badly Champ is susceptible to anyone with speed, and he isn't physical enough to manhandle tight ends.
Ok, Champ rant over. I really do love that dude, I'm just completely opposed to him moving to safety because I don't think he can. I like your free agent safeties. As far as draft picks? I don't think you draft a FS better than Moore or a SS much better than Duke as rookies. So if Pro Bowl-level play is the goal while Manning is our QB, then skip the safety position in the draft. We already have closer to Pro Bowl level players on the roster (and free agency).
Monty: Mike, your idea of having both Rahim Moore and Champ Bailey out on the field as safeties intrigues me. At this point, it will all really depend on what Champ wants to do. John Elway says he is going to sit down with Champ, which is something I'd do too if I were the Broncos GM.
As far as free agents go, only the top (expensive) names really excite me. Jairus Byrd or T.J. Ward would be difference-makers; otherwise I think the Broncos would be best served to bring back Mike Adams and address safety in the draft. A guy like Jimmie Ward has a lot of versatility, and we all know that's something Jack Del Rio values highly.
Scotty Payne: If Jarius Byrd or T.J Ward are available when Free Agency begins, please go get him Elway. Byrd would give the Broncos the ball hawk center field presence they have been lacking for years. Ward would give the Broncos an enforcer at SS, and a guy who can cover TE's. A safety like these two would be huge for this Broncos defense.
If Rahim Moore is healthy I believe he could play either Safety positions, so he's set. I'm still intrigued by Duke Ihenacho. He's terrible in coverage, but very good in run defense. Ultimately I believe he'll be best used as that third safety/special teamer. He's still very raw and I'd like to see how he develops this offseason.
I'm with Pete on Champ.
Christopher Hart: The Broncos would be wise to kick the tires on Byrd, Ward and Whitner in free agency as they are all upgrades over who we currently have on the roster. I feel that Clemons would be good competition for Moore and it has already been reported that Denver has interest in Delmas. Upgrading the position is obviously on their radar.
I expect the Broncos to tender Duke Ihenacho as well as draft another player at the position. I like Deon Buchannon and Ahmad Dixon at strong safety and would be an advocate for drafting Calvin Pryor if he is available for the Broncos at #31.
They need to come out of this off-season with one at each position; hopefully the team explores all possibilities.