clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Denver Broncos have no critical needs left as the draft approaches.

The roster is far from finished, but there’s a potential starter ready to go at every spot.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Indianapolis Colts v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Entering the 2018 offseason, John Elway had plenty of work to do. The Broncos’ offensive roster was a shambles and the defensive roster faced major questions about its future. Elway had been itching for his opportunity to address the team’s issues for months, and finally got his chance.

The Needs

  • Quarterback: The trifecta of Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, and Paxton Lynch was supremely underwhelming.
  • Right Tackle: Menelik Watson was terrible, and Donald Stephenson was no better. Cyrus Kouandjio at least offered a glimmer of hope in his one start.
  • Guard: Broncos fans’ hopes for Max Garcia’s development went unanswered, as he proved to not be a long term starter at right guard.
  • Dime Linebacker: This role has been the No Fly Zone’s one achilles heel, with running backs and tight ends being the few players consistently finding opportunities to get open.
  • Running Back: A presumed need, but (for the moment, at least) CJ Anderson remains a Bronco and the team’s depth chart at RB is solid.
  • Wide Receiver: Another presumed need, with significant rumors that either Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders would not remain a Bronco. Both are sticking around, but slot receiver remains a question mark.
  • Tight End: The production at this position in 2017 was highly disappointing, with AJ Derby cut, Virgil Green off to the rival Chargers, and Jeff Heuerman showing a Green-esque inability to break out.
NFL Honors - Arrivals Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images

The Solutions

  • Quarterback: Siemian is gone and Case Keenum now inhabits his spot at the top of the QB depth chart. Osweiler is likewise gone, while Paxton Lynch and Chad Kelly round out the depth chart. The franchise is poised to take the first top 5 overall QB in its history... but doesn’t necessarily have to.
  • Right Tackle: Stephenson is gone and John Elway recently acquired tackle Jared Veldheer from the Arizona Cardinals to shore things up at the right end of the line.
  • Guard: Recent reports indicate that the Broncos intend to push Garcia down the depth chart, with 3rd year Guard/Center Connor McGovern already penciled in as the starter at right guard with Ron Leary moving back to his more traditional spot at left guard. That’s not to say there won’t be competition for the right guard spot, but the team seems to think they have an acceptable in-house solution already.
  • Dime Linebacker: The way free agency played out pushed the Broncos to re-sign free agent ILB Todd Davis, which they did. But that still left a hole in the defense, as neither Davis nor Brandon Marshall can consistently cover tight ends or pass-catching running backs. Enter Su’a Cravens, lately of the Washington Redskins. He officially joined the Broncos via trade just yesterday, and offers intriguing potential to be a long term starter and solution at this safety/linebacker hybrid position.
  • Running Back: There’s not much to say here, except that CJ Anderson is still on the roster when most fans assumed he’d be long gone by now. That means the Broncos’ depth chart at RB remains essentially as it was in 2017, which is serviceable. The team can and likely will draft a rookie rusher, but doesn’t necessarily have to.
  • Wide Receiver: Both DT and Sanders remain on the roster, along with Jordan Taylor and 2nd year players Isaiah McKenzie and Carlos Henderson. Henderson spent last season on injured reserve after looking quite unready in training camp, and will be making his debut in 2018. He, Taylor, and McKenzia can compete for WR3 duties and rotational action. The addition of another receiver would be ideal, but isn’t strictly necessary.
  • Tight End: The Broncos are reportedly still looking to add a veteran tight end, but also hope that 2017 draft pick Jake Butt will step up and claim the starting TE role in 2018. Butt, who was injured in his final collegiate game, missed the entire 2017 season and is an intriguing addition to the gameday roster.
Washington Redskins v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images


No one would say that the Broncos’ roster is ready for Week 1 by any means. But while the solutions currently in place at each of the questionable starting spots might not all be as nice as we’d like, they’re all at least serviceable. That’s an important achievement, because it means the team will have the flexibility to adapt to the draft no matter how it plays out.

That’s also consistent with how Denver has approached the draft in the past. If there’s something John Elway hates more than losing, it might be going into the draft with a glaring, critical need that absolutely must be filled as soon as possible. And this year, he’s done a particularly shrewd job of it. Working with limited cap space, Elway has negotiated his way through via judicious free agent signings and several savvy trade deals.

The end result? An acceptable if not always inspiring solution to meet each need, while the Broncos are prepared to enter the 2018 NFL Draft with 8 picks, all in the first 5 rounds. In fact, 7/8ths of Denver’s picks are within the top 150 of the draft. Elway has given himself the luxury of being able to navigate the draft however he chooses without being forced to try and correct any one critical need. If he wants to go QB at 5, he’ll likely get his chance to do that. If he wants to take one of the top non-QB prospects, he’s perfectly set up to do that as well. Or if he chooses to trade back? Yeah, that’s cool too. All of that will, hopefully, result in replacing some of these stopgap solutions with far more exciting young talents.

Horse Tracks

5 boom-or-bust prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft | NFL Draft news and analysis | Pro Football Focus
Senior Analyst Sam Monson looks at five prospects that have high boom-or-bust potentials in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Analyzing the route trees of the 2018 NFL Draft CBs - Isaiah Oliver | NFL Draft news and analysis | Pro Football Focus
PFF Editor Cam Mellor takes a granular look at the 2018 NFL Draft class at cornerback, and how each of them fared across the route tree, looking at Colorado cornerback Isaiah Oliver.

10 underrated west coast prospects | NFL Draft news and analysis | Pro Football Focus
PFF's Jordan Plocher reviews the performance of 10 west coast products that might not have drawn national attention due to the late nature of many of their games.

NFL trades during the 2018 offseason have been fun. Is this a new norm? -
If this is the new NFL, we won’t be mad.

NFL targeting rule creates more problems than it fixes -
The intent is good, but the NFL’s hastily passed targeting rule is going to cause problems for officials. Retired NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz explains.

NFL Draft 2018: Mel Kiper is wrong to ignore Josh Allen’s QB stats -
Let’s look at his numbers compared to those drafted before him.

Eagles carrying their aggressive approach to the offseason -
No team embodies the NFL’s new willingness to go all in quite like the Super Bowl champs.

Denver Broncos acquire Su'a Cravens in trade with Washington Redskins
Safety Su'a Cravens, who was cleared to resume football activities in late December after suffering from post-concussion syndrome, has been acquired by the Broncos in a trade with the Redskins.

Lamar Jackson throws under center but skips 40 again
Lamar Jackson again declined to run the 40-yard dash at Louisville's pro day but made 59 throws from under center as he tried to impress NFL scouts Thursday.

Shaquem Griffin to go to NFL draft after getting invite
UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin has been invited to the NFL draft and said Thursday that he will attend.

Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly undergoes surgery to remove oral cancer, reconstruct upper jaw
Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly underwent a 12-hour surgery Wednesday night in New York to remove oral cancer and reconstruct his upper jaw.

NCAA to NFL: Can PFF data predict QB success at the next level? | NFL Draft news and analysis | Pro Football Focus
PFF Data Scientists Eric Eager & George Chahrouri take a look at the correlation between wide sets of PFF data from college and professional to depict which factors contribute most to success at the next level.

1 stat to know for every NFL team's top-graded free agent signing | NFL Analysis | Pro Football Focus
PFF's Mark Chichester takes a look at each NFL team's highest-graded free-agent addition from this offseason, and a stat to know about each new signing.