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Is fortifying the Broncos’ defense the way to go early in the Draft?

Cody Roark of Pro Football Network joined Broncos Country Tonight earlier this week to talk building the defense in the offseason.

NFL: JAN 03 Raiders at Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We are officially into Speculation Season where everyone tries to guess what the Broncos will do in free agency, who/what position they’ll draft from the college ranks and what - oh what - will become of the quarterback.

With a new GM, the speculation is even less predictable, but in Monday’s “Broncos Country Tonight” segment with Cody Roark of Pro Football Network, Ryan Edwards and Ben Allbright steered mostly clear of the Deshaun Watson talk and focused on possibilities for the Broncos on defense in the coming season.

Allbright posed an interesting question to Roark, asking him to choose one of four options for the Broncos in the upcoming draft: “Sitting at No. 9, would you take a cornerback, a linebacker, trade up for a quarterback or trade back and get more draft capital?”

Roark cheated a little and amended his choices but settled on if Paton & Co. address the cornerback situation in free agency (which he had a suggestion for), then his choice would be to trade back and get draft capital.

“You have a Young offense and have talent all around, you can build something special with those guys,” Roark suggested. “I think that if there is a collective philosophy, they’ll get the right guys to buy into the culture.”

Now about that cornerback solution...

Rather than selling the farm for Watson, Roark is more keen on looking at the fire sale that could be coming out of New Orleans, a team soon to be in what is officially known as “cap hell.” And in that scenario, the 24-year-old Marshon Lattimore with one year left on his contract could be a prime target for Denver.

“In the NFC championship he was paired with Mike Evans and he was jawing with him,” Roark pointed out. “Broncos need a bully at cornerback. ...I think Marshon Lattimore absolutely makes you better right away.”

Although Allbright couldn’t “imagine a trade scenario” that would make sense for the Broncos, he floated the idea of trading A.J. Bouyé and swapping first-round picks (giving Broncos an obviously later pick in the first round), which could be beneficial if Denver isn’t trying to go after a quarterback and has the top-tier corner they need.

Either way, Roark believes the new GM will likely look for a cheaper veteran QB to compete with Drew Lock and therefore plan to fortify the Broncos’ defense in the early rounds of the draft.

“Broncos need depth,”he said. “I think they will invest on defense.”

noting that there is some attention on cornerback Parnell Motley, who Roark calls a “work horse with a high motor” who could be an under-the-radar guy. But with Vic Fangio, linebacker always seems to be in the discussion and Roark is more interested in finding out what Justin Strnad will be able to do after coming back from his hand injury rather than pursuing some of the rookie linebackers.

And then there’s always the question about edge rusher. Roark doesn’t yet see an edge rusher he thinks is worthy of the first round, but he anticipates it being a major part of Denver’s defensive scheme moving forward.

“You have to have pass rush, especially with Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes in the division,” he said. “The formula will probably stay the same at getting to the quarterback.”