Setting the Table
Let's start with something that some of the MSM is finally starting to understand at some level: John Elway doesn't go into the draft looking to find answers to big holes on the Broncos roster. Elway has fairly consistently made his strategy to use free agency to find answers for holes in the roster in the short term.
What this does is allow him and his team the leeway to use the draft as a means of finding talented young players that can help us in the medium-to-long-term with sound coaching and development.
You are looking at it all wrong
Most people out there are very human about the draft and what I'm finding is that this isn't the best way to look at the draft for the Denver Broncos. What I mean by this is that we like to understand things. In order to make that easier, we look for formulas and methodologies that break down complex things into simple structures. This time of year we like to break down rosters, assign them scores, and then say "here are the big needs for this team."
It just isn't that easy. Our GM isn't just looking at holes, he's looking at value as well. He isn't just looking at the short term needs, he's also looking three to five years down the line.
All the talking heads like to break it down that way too. Then on draft day they get paid big fat checks to look in the camera and say, "This is a head-scratching move honestly. This team didn't need DL, they needed a RB."
Curiosity is better than angst
Let me invite you all as card-carrying members of Broncos Country to approach this draft with a spirit of curiosity instead of angst. All of us like to be arm-chair GMs (me especially). But instead of throwing your remote at the cat when Elway makes a move you don't like, try wondering why the move was made.
See, I promise you that you don't know more than Elway and his staff about this piece of the NFL pie. This is how they earn their paychecks. While you and I get paid to crunch numbers, handle manual labor, work in IT, etc. etc. etc., they get paid to draft NFL talent and know as much as possible about that process.
Give it a try: hop on our draft day threads and throw out ideas of why this move may be good or what it says about what the front office thinks about the personnel group that this young guy got drafted to play in.
My two pence
Now that I'm off my soapbox, let me put my arm-chair GM hat back on (because this is fun, right?) and talk about what I see as needs we may be looking for in the 2016 NFL Draft.
I spent a good amount of this offseason breaking down our personnel. Here's some links to the series-ending "big picture" posts:
In my mind the biggest overlooked story of our personnel this year is the shaky state of our offensive tackles. Let's review real quick our tackles:
- Russel Okung - injury history is a concern
- Donald Stephenson - last year looked pretty shaky at KC. May not even be an upgrade to what we got last year out of Schofield.
- Ty Sambrailo - recovering from injury and looks more like a guard than tackle at the NFL level
- Micahel Schofield - big question marks last year from his play throughout the year, which looked below-average often.
Out of this group we need two starters and a swing tackle. Can they do it? Sure. Barring injuries maybe all the answers are here. But what about in a year or three? I see too many injury risks here and lack of talent from what my eyes tell me to think the Broncos shouldn't be looking at a tackle in this draft somewhere.
Another big need I see is some depth at safety. We have both our starters coming up on free agency. This is the time to find a replacement for one of them as insurance. It is just smart management to do this kind of move. I see no one on the roster currently who I think is a potential starter in this league.
Let me echo this sentiment again that I've been saying for a few years now: safeties are a very underrated piece of a successful defense in today's NFL. The passing game is so advanced now that you have to have safeties who are skilled at reading and reacting at a very high level in order to have success on defense.
It wasn't just our pass rush last year that had our defense being world-beaters. It was also the supremely well executed play of our safeties that led to our success.
This position has a lot more value in today's NFL that it gets credit for and the Darian Stewarts, Earl Thomasrs and Eric Weddles of the NFL do a lot more than just grab INTs here or there.
We only have two on the roster and neither of them rank in my books as legit "average quality" NFL starters. This is the perfect time to draft another development project if there is a guy you like that drops to a good spot. I will say I'm not a big fan of trading up in the first round farther than around pick 20. There's just too much loss of value to the team to do so.
I honestly like a lot of what Elway has done so far on the D-Line. We have options to fill the hole at DE and we have another rotational possibility in Taylor at NT.
The big deal here is that this draft looks to be loaded with talent up front and we could honestly find some good upgrades in young players who can take over as starters in 2-3 years. I'd love to see Denver grab some high ceiling players to get into our system and help us stay dominant for another 5 years.
There's way too much value to be had from drafting a RB every year. Their market value isn't as high as it used to be by a long shot and you can't tell me that you expect us to get through 2016 with a healthy C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman throughout the season.
Everyone have a great time in the next few days. Enjoy the heck out of the draft and make sure to check in with us here at milehighreport.com for all the best coverage of your Denver Broncos 2016 draft. I may not be the biggest draft guy, but we have guys on staff who are and they will have the latest news, breakdowns, and reactions to every move our team makes.