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Ranking the Broncos’ remaining free agency needs

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We’ve seen the splash, how does it ripple across the rest of free agency and the draft?

It’s funny how two days ago the narrative was that John Elway and the Broncos were sitting on their hands while the market exploded around them. Since then Jeff Driskel was added, Jurrell Casey was acquired, Mike Purcell was retained, and De’Vante Bausby resigned for a veteran minimum deal. Count in the franchise tag for Justin Simmons (who would have been the top safety on the market) and a trade for A.J. Bouye, and it’s been a really solid offseason so far.

There remains work to accomplish going forward, however.

My best guess at the Broncos 2 deep roster.

So what remains the Broncos biggest needs?

1. Receiver

Elway mentioned at his end of 2019 press conference that there was a need for speed and the Broncos have sat on their hands at the position so far. It wouldn’t surprise me if that remains the case through the end of free agency, however. The 2020 Draft is loaded with wide receivers and one of the worst kept secrets in the draft community is how infatuated the Broncos seem to be with Alabama’s Henry Ruggs. They aren’t alone, and there has been a lot of speculation that they may need to trade up to get him.

Ruggs is a top tier receiver in this class who combines world class speed with strong hands and underrated route running.

2. Cornerback

If you look above you’ll notice that I used a three corner nickel formation on the two deep. This is because nickel is the new base, and the Broncos used it more than 60% of the time in 2019. Adding A.J. Bouye could be a potentially great addition, I looked at it here, but he essentially replaces the now departed Chris Harris Jr. in 2019 corners 2-5 were the bigger question that number one.

If we assume Bryce Callahan returns from the foot injury that derailed his first season in orange and blue, there may still be a need for another boundary corner. Isaac Yiadom was penciled in to start the opener last year but was so inconsistent over the first two weeks of 2019 he got benched. His replacement was De’Vante Bausby, who played well in Denver’s week 3 contest, okay in the week 4 game against Jacksonville and got hurt in week 5. This gave Davontae Harris an opportunity to play until he got benched for Yiadom at the end of November. At the time of writing this, Denver has not resigned Harris.

3. Offensive Line

At the Combine Fangio gave some praise to the young linemen on the Broncos roster, save for Garett Bolles. Later we found out John Elway did not intend to decide on Bolles’ fifth year option for now. They have until right after the draft, and with so many of their formal interviews dedicated to top tier tackles like Tristan Wirfs, Jedrick Wills, and Austin Jackson, it’s a very real possibility that we’re watching the last year of Bolles’ career in Denver.

Even if that’s not the case, a strong argument can be made for an upgrade at T3 behind Bolles and Ja’Wuan James. Right now the depth there is a large question. If Mike Munchak plans to play Graham Glasgow at right guard, Elijah Wilkinson would resume his duties as the 6th linemen and essentially back up four spots. Last year proved he’s not cut out to be an average tackle.Playing in space proved to be too much so finding an alternative would be wise.

I had hoped the Broncos would kick the tires on former Steeler B.J. Finney, but they lost out on him when he signed with the Seahawks. If it isn’t Glasgow at center, right now it looks like Patrick Morris. He played in relief of Connor McGovern last year and the word seems to be that Munchak is high on him. There’s a strong possibility Elway looks to add talent to the mix in the draft, they had a formal interview with Michigan center Cesar Ruiz in Indianapolis.

4. Linebacker

There were reports back in December that Denver had interest in Cleveland’s Joe Schobert. They missed out when he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. They also kicked the tires on Christian Kirksey before he signed with the Green Bay Packers. Combine that with Fangio’s expressed desire to add to the position and this will be a group to watch going forward.

There are a number of promising linebackers in the 2020 NFL Draft that could boost the athleticism at the second level. With Todd Davis and Alexander Johnson locked in to return on affordable deals but uncertain futures, drafting a future starter would make a lot of sense.

5. Running back

The Broncos have shown varying levels of interest in a number of backs this spring, including Melvin Gordon, Jordan Howard, Kenyan Drake, J.K. Dobbins, A.J. Dillon, to name a few. There seems to be a strong desire to find another big back to step in over Royce Freeman.

A.J. Dillon is kind of like a Day 3 version of Derrick Henry.

6. Depth

With the NFL moving to a 17 game schedule in the near future, Von Miller turning 31 very shortly, and a general desire to plan ahead I hope that the Broncos position themselves to take the best player available at every pick in the upcoming draft. Smart teams plan for future needs and don’t pigeonhole themselves into picks. This has the makings of a tremendous offseason for John Elway, let’s hope he keeps it going.

Poll

What is the Broncos’ biggest remaining need?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Receiver
    (1207 votes)
  • 1%
    Running back
    (52 votes)
  • 8%
    Linebacker
    (235 votes)
  • 24%
    Offensive Line
    (680 votes)
  • 14%
    Cornerback
    (407 votes)
  • 4%
    Defensive Line
    (134 votes)
  • 0%
    Safety
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Quarterback
    (20 votes)
  • 0%
    Tight end
    (9 votes)
  • 0%
    Kicker
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    Punter
    (55 votes)
2802 votes total Vote Now

Your Broncos’ Links

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This is an easy victory for the Broncos, whose three starters along the defensive line are all free agents. Casey isn’t in the top tier of interior pass-rushers, but he’s a tough two-way player who should help create pass-rushing opportunities off of stunts and twists for Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. Denver coach Vic Fangio will likely use Casey in the Akiem Hicks role, and given what lesser players are getting paid in free agency, bringing in Casey on what amounts to a three-year, $37.9 million deal with no guaranteed money is a good use of a late seventh-round pick.

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