Eric Goodman and Les Shapiro of the Afternoon Drive caught up with ESPN’s Merrill Hoge to discuss Denver’s needs in the upcoming draft.
Hoge made an interesting point when asked what Denver’s biggest need was in this draft. Most people when discussing draft needs tend to hone in on specific players or position groups but Hoge went a little more philosophical and made the point that Denver’s biggest issue, and really every team’s goal, is the ability to control the pace of games.
He said the best way to do this is by doing two things: stop the run, and run the ball. Denver did neither of those things well last year and went 9-7 as a result.
When thinking about Denver’s draft from that lens, it actually fits well with the prospects we have all been talking about this off season, even though I hadn’t really thought of it in those terms.
Take a team like the Dallas Cowboys, for example, not only did they have one of the most potent rushing attacks behind a dynamic runner and bulldozing offensive line (a member of which is now with Denver), but they also had the #1 ranked defense in total yards against.
Now their defense was actually pretty bad at stopping the run, but their offense dictated the pace of games so much, that they were also the team with the least rushing attempts against in the NFL, which led to them having the least amount of yards given up because teams just did not run on them that much.
This brings us back to where all our off-season conversations typically rest, the offense. Merrill agreed as well that in order to dictate the pace of games, Denver has to get a dynamic weapon or offensive line help in the draft.
Everything else flows from those two principles. Run the ball: your young QB isn’t in 3rd and long as much, the offense doesn’t go 3-and-out as much, points go up on the board faster. This forces teams to not be able to run at will on the defense, and they are more rested due to the lack of 3-and-outs by the offense.
It’s all connected together, and who we pick over the next few days should go towards helping Denver gain back the ability to dictate the pace this season.
Check out the full interview above and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.