Now that most of the free agency action is over, let’s take another close look at the Broncos’ current roster, what their needs are, and a few of my thoughts on the draft.
What the Broncos gained in free agency:
1. Case Keenum
The Broncos made a big deal out of this signing. Here’s what I think the No Bull truth is on this signing:
- He’s a placeholder veteran QB who’s here to help the team play respectably next season.
- The Broncos didn’t like the idea of spending all their money on Cousins
- Cousins didn’t like the team situation in Denver (I feel you, Kirk)
- Denver did not want to enter the draft forced to find a starting QB
As far as the QB himself goes, I plan on watching some more film on him this summer to form a better opinion. Right now, he’s JAG in my mind...the Minnesota team he “took” to the NFC Championship game was stacked...I feel like that phrase should be the other way around: they won in spite of him, not because of him (having watched both playoff games, I’m fairly sure that’s the truth as far as the playoffs went).
Honestly, I’m not terribly excited about Keenum and neither should most of Broncos Country be. He’s not the long-term answer no matter what the talking heads say (stop listening to your local radio jock talk people!). That being said, he’s better than anything we had last year and I do expect him to help this team look a lot better on offense than they did last year (which is to say, average).
2. Tramaine Brock
I’m honestly not sure what the Broncos see here in Brock other than that he’s a veteran that likely can step in on day one and be trusted to take snaps as a #3 or #4 corner.
The Broncos needed that kind of depth, but my inner-GM honestly wonders why to make a move that looks fairly neutral in the long-term. The obvious answer is that he’s just a bridge until Langley develops.
3. Todd Davis
This isn’t surprising really given the complete lack of depth at the linebacker position. That being said, this is another move where the team seems to be choosing to shift into neutral instead of kicking it up a notch and actually doing something to make the team better.
4. Billy Turner
Of all the free agent signings, this is the most interesting one to me. I heard about the Broncos really liking this guy last preseason. Here’s the bar for Billy Turner: if you don’t make the team ditch Max Garcia, Menelik Watson, or both, this signing was a mistake.
Keep an eye on Turner in training camp. If the coaches like him enough to sign him, he’s likely a guy like McGovern who’s got upside that they are trying to develop.
What the team needs at this point:
For those of you who missed it, here are where we ended up in looking at the team as a whole leading up to free agency (click the links for details...otherwise, the numbers are just 1-5 with 5 being “great”):
- Defensive Ends 4
- Nose Tackles 4
- Outside Linebackers 3
- Inside Linebackers 2
- Cornerbacks 3
- Safeties 4
- Kickers 4
- Returners 3
- Tackles 2
- Interior O-Line 3
- Tight Ends 3
- Wide Receivers 3
- Running Back 2
- Quarterback 1
We added a QB, CB, OL, and ILB. Here’s what I rate them after these moves:
- Inside Linebackers 2
- Cornerbacks 3
- Interior O-Line 3
- Quarterback 2
In case you were having trouble reading the tea-leaves, I’m not a big fan of any of these moves. I don’t see any of these guys as a likely big-time answer for anything the Broncos need or having a massive long-term impact on the success of the team.
Can it happen? Sure. Kurt Warner happened. Dudes have come out of nowhere to be stud O-linemen. I’m sure there’s a story out there somewhere about a linebacker who in his 5th year morphed into a demon on the field of play. It would be the most pleasant of surprises to me if any of them panned out.
So what do we need from this draft class? Here are my personal priorities for the team going into this draft:
- Long-term starting QB - being near the top of the draft, I don’t see how you skip the opportunity to get a serious shot at an elite QB talent
- Right Tackle - if there is a guy in this draft who can come in and compete day one at right tackle, the Broncos should really try hard to be in a position to get him.
- Edge rusher - We’re losing one or both of Ray and Barrett after this year. We need another guy in the mix.
- Inside Linebacker - We have to get more talent at ILB that can both cover and play the run.
- Running back - I’m not a believer in anything we have in the stable now. We need guys that make plays instead of guys that churn for 3 yards and a cloud of dust.
Outside of those 5 positions, I really feel like the team should do something completely abnormal for them in the past few years of the John Elway managed Broncos drafting history: draft purely for impact talent instead of picking diamond-in-the-rough projects.
This draft is going to be huge for the team and how they are going to get out of the rut they dug in the past two years rolling around in the bottom of the barrel of the NFL. Elway’s biggest knock to date has been his drafting (in)ability. He absolutely needs to knock it out of the park this year with getting 2-3 guys who each take ~40% of the snaps on offense or defense.
About that 1st round pick…
The biggest news everywhere is what the Broncos are going to do with the #5 pick in the draft, and rightly so. The last time we picked this high, was when we got Von Miller (which was a helluva home run). The cool thing about this draft is the QB war brewing. We have a whole slew of talent and a lot of teams needing a QB including the Broncos.
Let me give you a word to the wise: don’t be surprised by anything. The Broncos can and should consider doing anything and everything with that pick.
If they see a QB who they feel is the “can’t miss” guy, trade up and get him.
If someone offers you a really sweet package of picks to move back (Buffalo is the popular trade partner here), feel free to take it.
If your QB is there at #5, take him.
If you love having an answer at G for the next 10 years, draft Nelson and call it a day.
Anything goes...the Broncos need this pick to be superb. They need Elway to come out of this draft looking like the GM of the year. What he does with that first pick is going to say everything about the Broncos’ draft.