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How can the Broncos unLock their potential in 2020 and beyond?

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If Drew Lock looks like the guy, here’s how the Denver Broncos can give him a real chance to succeed.

NFL: Preseason-San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos
If Lock is the guy, how can the Broncos best build around him?
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

So the Broncos are 0-3. After the gnashing of teeth and blame game is over, it’s probably a good idea to start looking ahead. That hardly means giving up on this year’s team so much as accepting this year may be about finding the core players for the next contention window.

For this scenario, we’re going to accept the reality that Elway is probably running with Flacco and or Drew Lock in 2020. Unless Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa stab someone or speak out against police brutality, they’re probably going first and second in next year’s draft.

Instead of crying over that spilled milk, we’re drafting to give the Broncos’ quarterbacks their best chance at success.

Three big things before I get off and running:

  1. Yes, I know it’s still early in the 2019 season. Like I just said: this isn’t me giving up on this season. If you didn’t read either time I said this, that’s on you.
  2. Denver’s needs are all projections, so if you want to argue “X will be here,” or “Y is going to breakout”, I’m not going to put up much of a fight.
  3. For this week’s projection, I followed Tankathon’s current pick order. That means for the first time since we started doing mocks Denver is picking 5th.

1st Round, Pick 5 - Andrew Thomas, Left Tackle

Also considered- WR Jerry Jeudy, OT Tristan Wirfs

Do you take a game breaking wide receiver or fix the offensive line? With how good Courtland Sutton’s looked so far and how deep this draft looks at wide receiver I had to go with the Thomas or Wirfs. When it came down to it, I liked the fact that Thomas has more experience at left tackle and has played against much tougher competition there than Wirfs has the last three games.

2nd Round, Pick 37 - Troy Dye, Linebacker

Also considered- LB Monty Rice, CB Shaun Wade, CB Trevon Diggs, iOL Jake Hanson

It’s time to give Fangio’s D a shot in the arm. Some may see this as admission that Elway should have drafted Devin Bush at 10 last spring (check out Pittsburgh’s defense and get back to me). I look at it as the way forward.

Davis may not come back in 2020 and Josey Jewell still looks iffy in coverage. Neither brings anything close to the athleticism this Oregon Duck has. I have concerns about his ability to play through contact and he’ll need to prove he can stop the run, but until the Broncos find a linebacker who’s a dynamic coverage player smart teams will attack them in the middle.

The 2020 draft class looks woefully short on those options so it’s best to get one while there’s a chance.

3rd Round, Pick 68 - Tylan Wallace, Z/Slot Receiver

3rd Round, Pick 69 - Raequon Williams, Defensive Lineman

Also considered: iOL Zach Shackelford, CB Darnay Holmes, iOL Lloyd Cushenberry III, CB Jeff Gladney, CB Cameron Dantzler

The third round is where I start to try and reload the positions that are about to get churned as part of the rebuild. This may be tough to accept, but Emmanuel Sanders could turn into draft capital before it’s all said and done. I seriously doubt he’ll stick around next year.

Chris Harris Jr. is almost certainly playing out his final season in orange and blue. Derek Wolfe may come back, but even if he does the interior defensive line has been problematic and both Shelby Harris and Adam Gotsis are playing out expiring contracts.

Enter Wallace and Williams. The former is an explosive playmaker for Oklahoma who has made some incredibly acrobatic catches over his career. The latter is a long, dynamic interior rusher. Both will need development as Wallace has issues beating the press and Williams has to improve his leverage and hand play, but they offer serious potential.

If everything breaks right the Broncos would secure their long term E replacement and a versatile dancing bear to open day 3. To cap off this draft, I’d be looking for an interior linemen, second tight end who can block, and some secondary help.

Poll

What grade would you give this draft?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    A - I love it!
    (91 votes)
  • 44%
    B - I like it!
    (267 votes)
  • 25%
    C - I’m dead inside.
    (151 votes)
  • 8%
    D - Not great.
    (54 votes)
  • 6%
    F - Where’s my pitchfork?!
    (38 votes)
601 votes total Vote Now

Your Broncos links

HC Vic Fangio keeping team focused on game ahead despite outside noise

‘We’re going to have to deal with everybody thinking we suck,’” Fangio said Monday.

Fangio: 0-3 ‘sucks’ ... but the team doesn’t - Mile High Report

“You just fight through it. The easiest thing to do is to just make wholesale changes, whether it’d be personnel, scheme, this, that or the other thing,” he said, adding that change just for change’s sake isn’t very smart either. “We’ve got to operate that fine line as a staff and realize what we’re doing. Are the mistakes we’re making correctable? And then make a good and intelligent decision.”

Did the Broncos err in letting Shaq Barrett walk? - Mile High Report

So while the narrative continues that Elway and the Broncos erred in letting Barrett walk for nothing, it doesn’t hold up under the slightest scrutiny.

Denver Broncos: Derek Wolfe suffers high ankle sprain against Packers - Mile High Report

The Denver Broncos lost Derek Wolfe to an injury that required him to be carted off the field against the Green Bay Packers.

There are some positives despite Denver Broncos 0-3 start - Mile High Report

The Denver Broncos are 0-3 and that definitely sucks, but there are positives happening through three games that leads me to believe the wins are coming.

12 things we learned from Denver Broncos 27-16 loss to the Packers - Mile High Report

Plenty of plays the Denver Broncos will want back, but lots to like in this loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Denver Broncos 5 winners, 5 losers in loss to the Green Bay Packers - Mile High Report

Turnovers by the offense and lack of turnovers/sacks from the defense proved the difference for the Broncos.

Denver Broncos showed they can run the ball - Mile High Report

Even in the loss, the Denver Broncos proved they have a legitimate running attack in their 27-16 road defeat to the Green Bay Packers.

Broncos fans looking for answers after loss to Packers - Mile High Report

Broncos Country finds fertile ground looking to lay blame for abysmal start to 2019 season.’

From Brissett, to Jones to Minshew: Young QBs Stole the Spotlight in Week 3 | SI.com

The Broncos have a top-10 defense, still (they rank ninth in total D as of this morning). And it’s fair to wonder now if the offense is going to be good enough, fast enough, to capitalize on what’s left of that defense’s upside. The team’s struggles in identifying a quarterback and constructing an offensive line are, obviously, the biggest issues.

FMIA Week 3: Daniel Jones Energizes Previously Sleepy Giants With Win – ProFootballTalk

This is eight days old, but I keep thinking about the end of Bears-Broncos, when a pass play ended with the clock showing :01, and by the time the Bears were recognized for calling time, the clock showed :00, and the officials huddled and put one second back on the clock. That allowed the Bears to have a chance to try—and make—a 53-yard field goal to win. Why I hate this officiating decision: At no other time of game would officials huddle to put one second back on the clock on a pass play in the middle of the field. So why do they huddle and put one second back on the clock after the last play of the game—or what should have been the last play? Why was the last play officiated differently than the other 131 in the game?

Looking ahead to Jacksonville

Jalen Ramsey trade: Baltimore Ravens offered first and second round picks, TE Hayden Hurst to Jacksonville Jaguars - Big Cat Country

The Jacksonville Jaguars reportedly turned down a trade offer from the Baltimore Ravens.

Jalen Ramsey trade unlikely to materialize anytime soon - Big Cat Country

After a whirlwind of what seemed like hourly updates on the Jalen Ramsey trade front, it’s been all quiet since the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football.

Tom Coughlin texts QB Eli Manning to see how he’s doing... nothing to see here, folks - Big Cat Country

Tom Coughlin has had a busy week.

2019 NFL odds Week 4: Jaguars open as 3 point underdogs vs. Broncos - Big Cat Country

The Jacksonville Jaguars are currently opening as 3-point underdogs against the Denver Broncos, which shouldn’t be that surprising

Jaguars next 6 games are... mostly winnable? - Big Cat Country

The Jacksonville Jaguars are playing a sixth round rookie quarterback in Gardner Minshew. Jalen Ramsey is providing the most excitement off the field during any season I’ve ever covered this team.

Jaguars offensive line could have a slight shakeup against Broncos - Big Cat Country

The Jacksonville Jaguars offensive line has been in a little bit of a state of flux so far this season.

Jalen Ramsey calls out sick on Monday – ProFootballTalk

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey wants a trade away from the Jaguars, but the team doesn’t seem to be inclined to take any offers they might have received at this point. As a result, it appears Ramsey does not feel inclined to join the Jaguars for practice.

A look around the rest of the AFC West

Is the Ravens’ offensive aggression the new way to play the Chiefs? - Arrowhead Pride

Baltimore was playing the percentages, but more teams could follow suit after one-score game.

Mahomes-Reid relationship led to Chiefs’ game-sealing play vs. Ravens - Arrowhead Pride

The duo’s special bond made the difference in a game that came down to the very end.

Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy: “Football is fun again” - Arrowhead Pride

The Chiefs running back played through an ankle injury and is already enjoying his time in Kansas City.

Lions’ defense hurting with Chiefs coming to town – ProFootballTalk

If there’s one team you don’t want to face with a banged-up defense, it’s the Chiefs. But the Lions have the Chiefs coming to town on Sunday, and their defense may be less than 100 percent healthy.

Surge or Static: “Next man up” mentality continues to fall short for Bolts - Bolts From The Blue

It was another second-half implosion that should have fans reeling with PTSD-like symptoms stemming from the team’s horrendous 2016 campaign where they blew a historic amount of leads over and over again. That season, they finished 5-11. It was the final season for Mike McCoy and the year that finally caused the Chargers to move on from that lackluster coaching staff.

It’s not so much that the Raiders lost the last two games but HOW they lost them that’s a problem - Silver And Black Pride

We’re not talking moral victories here. The idea that you can lose a game and still win. But we are talking about demoralizing losses.

Jon Gruden ‘concerned to say the least’ about injuries at linebacker, Raiders will bring in some this week - Silver And Black Pride

Many questioned the Raiders final 53-man roster having just four linebackers on it.

NFL News

The Redskins fall into four-TD hole versus Bears, lose 31-15 to drop to 0-3 - The Washington Post

The Redskins needed a win Monday night. They needed it probably as much as a Washington team has needed a victory in some time, their season already unraveling with two season-opening losses. They were left to salvage the year on national television against the Chicago Bears.

And then came disaster.

Saquon Barkley (high ankle sprain) out several weeks - NFL.com

The Giants will be without their franchise player for a while. The team is expecting to be without star running back Saquon Barkley for the next several weeks because of his high ankle sprain, Ian Rapoport reported

John Harbaugh explains analytical approach vs. Chiefs - NFL.com

The Ravens went for it on fourth down four times and tried for two after all but one of their four touchdowns in a loss to the Chiefs. John Harbaugh explained how following the analytics gave Baltimore its best chance to win.

At Least Freddie Kitchens Knows He Blew It

We’re three games into Freddie Kitchens’s first full season as head coach in Cleveland, and so far things have been rather chaotic. The Browns are 1-2 and one of the more heavily penalized teams in the league, and Kitchens often looks and coaches like a guy who was handed the headset after winning a contest.

NFL winners, losers: Pittsburgh Steelers struggle with Mason Rudolph

Week 3 in the NFL showed that the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers have very different trajectories their teams may take with new quarterbacks.

“Unbelievable” Dalvin Cook leading the way for Vikings offense – ProFootballTalk

Dalvin Cook went over 100 rushing yards in Sunday’s 34-14 win over the Raiders and that made him the first Vikings player in history to rush for at least that many yards in each of the team’s first three games.

Week 3: We need to care about the Browns offensive struggles

As soon as Kyle Allen hit the field in Week 3, it was all revealed. The Panthers offense truly erupted. Both wide receivers scored and cleared 50 yards receiving. Olsen went for 75 yards and found the end zone twice. Christian McCaffrey did his damn thing with 188 total yards.

9 things we learned from Sunday of Week 3

The Panthers are on the hook for a $23.2 million cap hit in the 2019 season as part of the five-year, $103.8 million contract extension Newton signed in 2015. In 2020, they’d have to give up $21.2 million in cap space to keep Newton, while releasing him would cost just $2 million in dead cap.

There are times when performance and economics combine to make a scenario very obvious.

McCourty on Pats’ defense: Belichick will find the flaw - NFL.com

Despite the near-perfect defensive start to the season, Devin McCourty knows Patriots coach Bill Belichick will find the flaws on defense. The Pats’ D haven’t given up a touchdown through Week 3.

What now for Antonio Brown? Answering the biggest questions around his release

Brown is under NFL investigation and without a job. Could another team sign him soon? Here’s what you need to know.