The initial batch of free agent moves are over. The draft looms large and it is time once again to get a draft preview from a guy who is not a draftnik, doesn’t watch college ball, and has only been following the draft at all in the past decade working with the fine ladies and gentlemen here at milehighreport.com.
While there’s a lot I can’t offer on the discussion (what college players the Broncos should go after and what their measurables are), what I can offer is a more 20,000’ view take of what kinds of players the Broncos should be looking for to fill the holes still left on the roster as well as insights I can lend based off what we’ve seen John Elway do in his time with the Broncos as GM.
In case you missed our roster review series, I heartily recommend a quick read through as the material there serves as a foundation for the thinking in this article. Feel free to browse through to get more detail at these links:
2020 Free Agency Synopsis
#Broncos free agency.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) March 19, 2020
- A.J. Bouye
- Graham Glasgow
- Jeff Driskel
- Jurrell Casey
- Justin Simmons
- Elijah Wilkinson
- De'Vante Bausby
- Mike Purcell
- Jake Rodgers
- Joe Jones
- Andy Janovich
- Joe Flacco https://t.co/KW5wQPczCM
To start things off, the Broncos made a very shrewd move to trade for a huge upgrade to their cornerback room in A.J. Bouye. As mentioned in my roster review, this was a HUGE need especially with them not being able to retain the services off Chris Harris, Jr.
We also added free agent Graham Glasgow to add a much needed solid piece to the offensive line. With the Broncos letting Ron Leary, this was another very necessary move. Add to that the signing of Melvin Gordon III, and that addresses two really big needs on the offense.
My favorite free agency moves were them upgrading the defensive line with Jurrell Casey along with resigning Shelby Harris on a very excellent deal for the team.
Also let’s not forget a key late signing in Sam Martin (formerly of the Detroit Lions). He’s a much needed upgrade at punter which helps bolster the Special Teams unit.
Overall, the team addressed many of its needs on the defensive side of the ball, though I can definitely see them needing to add another cornerback. They also need to find a future inside linebacker (which I feel like we’ve been saying for about 3 years in a row).
On the offensive side of the ball, the wide receiver group as well as the offensive tackles just scream need when you look at things on paper. I’m not sold on either tackle and other than Courtland Sutton, I don’t see guys on the current roster that seem like the kind of players that are able to light up the scoreboard in today’s NFL.
The Biggest Needs
Given all of that the Denver Broncos will be looking for the following solutions in this year’s draft:
1) Wide Receiver
I’m not sold that you have to get one in the first round. That idea is very popular, as well as very likely given how much we’ve heard about how much Elway likes some of the top talent WRs in this draft. Nevertheless, there is depth in this draft at WR and not as much depth at OT and CB.
2) Offensive Tackle
The Broncos don’t need to get a tackle in the first round to start day 1 of the 2020 season, but they need to find an answer for next year on at tackle in one form or another. We have a holding penalty machine on one end of our line and an injury risk who doesn’t seem to like to play unless he’s 100% at the other. That’s not the kind of situation you want if you have aspirations of your team making it to the playoffs.
While the scheme Vic Fangio uses on defense can cover up for talent deficiencies at corner, it becomes devastating if you don’t need to. Fangio needs two guys on the outside that are above average to really get the secondary to the productive levels we’ve seen from his stronger defenses in the past. Finding a corner with the smarts and ability of Richard Sherman in his prime would really set up the Broncos for a serious improvement in 2020.
Likely Draft Moves
The Broncos made due with a patchwork linebacker group last year made largely out of duct tape and bailing wire until Alexander Johnson came onto the scene. Josey Jewell didn’t last (as we predicted going into the year) and Todd Davis kinda took a step back (which we didn’t).
For years under the Wade Phillips style 3-4, this team has made due without big talent in the middle of the field. Fangio’s defense isn’t quite the same though and until they get two linebackers working inside at a high level, this defense won’t be able to be the force of nature it is capable of being with a mastermind like Fangio calling the plays.
The Broncos will very likely take a linebacker on day 2-3 of the draft unless their excellent scouting group has found another diamond in the rough that is going to go undrafted.
The Broncos at this point have two backs who look like big time contributors at running back. That’s not how you go into a season though and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see them add another back to the room with a 3rd day pick. It is smart, inexpensive, and is a place you can get a guy to act as depth and fill in a special teams role since he won’t likely be starting barring injury issues in the backfield.
One move that makes a lot of sense on paper is to find a developmental edge rusher for the defense. That being said, I’ve not heard of many promising names being linked to the Broncos in this arena which is why I’m questioning if they will address this need.
No one really wants to think about it, but there is a world where Von Miller is not with the team after next year (cutting him wouldn’t cost the team any cap space in dead money)...just saying.
I want to point out that I’m most excited this year by the possibilities that John Elway and his staff have at their disposal. After years of abysmal drafting, in the past two years Elway has really shown a ton of growth in both the types of players they draft and the quality of his trades and picks.
Look for Elway to make some shrewd trades along the way whether that is up or down. If they do trade up, keep in mind the coach connections to those players. I get the feeling from everything I’ve seen coming out of Dove Valley that Elway is a big believer in this Head Coach and his staff. He’s always been willing to get draft picks that the coaches are in love with (Adam Gotsis anyone?). If there is a trade up, it is very likely tied to a coach really wanting that player.
The team overall still needs a lot of help and hopefully this draft will find another 3 starters for the team with a couple more developmental guys with a real chance to contribute in a year or so.
Cheers to everyone out there in Broncos Country. I hope you enjoy your draft this year even though many of us are going to miss our various draft party traditions (I know I’ll be missing trolling my friends about their Cowboys).
What draft tradition will be missing this most this year as we continue to practice social distancing?
This poll is closed
Great food - I’m pretty used to potluck awesomeness!
Friend and family gathered together having a good time...what football is all about for us fans!
Seeing the commissioner get booed incessantly every time he steps up to the podium.
Being there...I’m a total draft junkie!
Nothing...I’m an idiot and have big draft party plans. This virus can’t stop me...‘MURICA!