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Broncos have neglected defensive side of the ball to rebuild the offense

The Denver Broncos have seen gradual attrition on the defense over the last few years, and not much re-stocking.

Last week I threw this hot take on Twitter that at the time was something I wasn’t quite sure I believed yet; more of a ‘thinking out loud’ type of thought.

However, after sitting on it for another week and watching Denver’s defense give up 269 yards rushing to the Jaguars, and squander two game-winning drives by the offense (who aren’t blameless, by any means) by giving up big plays to allow the opposing offense to get into scoring position, I am beginning to believe it more and more.

The Broncos have taken for granted that they will have a strong defense and be a defensive focused football team just because they have Von Miller and Chris Harris Jr.

While fixing the offense has, rightly, been the major focus of the last few years, getting younger and more talented with recent drafts, Denver’s defense is older, attrited, and void of young talent ready to take the reins.

In 2017, six of Denver’s eight draft picks were on the offensive side of the ball, which moved to seven when Brendan Langley switched to wide receiver.

In 2018, six of the 10 draft picks were on the offensive side of the ball.

In 2019, four of the six draft picks were on the offensive side of the ball, and three of those picks were in the first two rounds.

So overall, Denver has invested 16 of the past 24 draft picks on the offensive side of the ball, which is right at two thirds of its picks.

Since 2017, Denver has added seven new players via the draft (or undrafted in Lindsay’s case) who are contributing significant snaps on the offensive side of the ball, while only three players drafted since 2017 (reduced to two with Yiadom’s demotion) are contributing any significant snaps on the defensive side. Essentially Bradley Chubb and Josey Jewell are it in terms of young, new talent.

Garett Bolles, Courtland Sutton, Royce Freeman, DaeSean Hamilton, Lindsay, Dalton Risner and Noah Fant were all part of a much-needed infusion of talent on the offensive side of the ball, so I am not knocking the picks, or saying Denver shouldn’t have focused heavily on offense the last three years.

However, I think we’re beginning to see the side effects of the lack of focus or restocking of the defense. Chris Harris Jr., Von Miller, Derek Wolfe, Shelby Harris (throw in Kareem Jackson as well) are all approaching, or are past 30 years old, with very few young promising options to step up on the defensive side.

Add in the recent horrific news about Bradley Chubb being out for the season with a torn ACL, and the need for Denver to restock on the defensive side of the ball this upcoming offseason is overwhelmingly apparent.

The Broncos have by and large hit on their offensive draft picks from 2017 - 2019, completely re-tooling their skill positions with players on rookie deals.

Now it’s time for the franchise to start hitting on its defensive draft picks, who — aside from Bradley Chubb — have been iffy the last three years.