The Denver Broncos have been absolutely dominant on offense the past two seasons. Last year, their potency even got them to the Super Bowl. Their magic ran out in a crushing 43-8 defeat on the world’s biggest stage, but they should still remain a top contender to get right back where they were for a chance to finish what they started.
They’re not without some holes, though, while management would also be wise to look ahead at a few positions. Let’s break down Denver’s team needs as we countdown the days to the 2014 NFL Draft:
Offensive needs: OL, RB, WR
Denver doesn’t have a lot to fill in terms of needs on offense, as there is no glaring hole. However, they did lost some offensive line talent in free agency, so depth could be needed. They could snatch a free falling prospect early, but it’s not all that necessary. This is probably their biggest “weakness” on offense, but it’s really not something they need to freak out about. If they target a specific position on the o-line, it’d probably have to be guard thanks to the departure of Zane Beadles, but grabbing another tackle in the middle to late rounds to develop probably would be okay, as well.
While the need isn’t insane right now, drafting another running back wouldn’t be a bad move. We don’t know for sure what kind of player Montee Ball will be or if he can truly handle a feature role. Ronnie Hillman is a shaky bet to pan out, too, so the Broncos may consider bringing in another back. They probably won’t grab one in the first two rounds, though, so guys like Charles Sims or De’Anthony Thomas could be worth a look in rounds 3-4. It depends if they’re looking for power or versatility.
Demaryius Thomas will be a free agent soon, Wes Welker is 32 and Emmanuel Sanders is a wait and see addition. That could force Denver to dig into the wide receiver pool in this year’s draft. It’s seemingly bottomless in terms of talent and upside, so they could take a stab at someone in the second, third or fourth round. Colorado’s Paul Richardson is small but very explosive and could fit in nicely down the road, while Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis plays like Eric Decker and brings some nice versatility to the table. These guys are different player types but both bring talent and value and can probably be had in round three.
Is Brock Osweiler really the future of the Denver Broncos? Somehow I doubt it. Zac Dysert isn’t anything special either, so the Broncos could take a stab at a free falling quarterback at any point in this draft. Heck, if the right guy slides to them in round one, why not? Manning is 38 and nearing the end, so if they have any doubts about Osweiler being his long-term replacement, now is the time to get some more competition for the position.
Defensive Needs: DL, LB, CB
Denver did a pretty good job shoring up their defensive line by bringing in a clearly undervalued DeMarcus Ware. He’s 32 and has been nicked up, but if he’s healthy he gives them a major boost in their pass rush. They’ll also be getting a healthy Derek Wolfe back (seizures) but with age and health concerns on the line, they probably will add some more talent. Whether on the end or inside (or both), it could start in round one. Guys like Stephon Tuitt and Dee Ford both make a lot of sense. Tuitt might be the best option, as he can play inside or out, while Ford has the athleticism to play on the end and potentially even help out at linebacker.
Ford probably isn’t going to be playing linebacker if Denver drafts him, though, while their biggest need would be on the inside, where he couldn’t help them, anyways. Wesley Woodyard is gone, so they’ll definitely be looking to add a talented inside linebacker early in the draft. C.J. Mosley would be amazing if he could fall all the way to the 31st pick, but that’s wishful thinking. Denver should target Chris Borland in round two or wait on someone like Shayne Skov in round three or four.
The Broncos did a great job addressing their secondary, as T.J. Ward eradicates their safety issues (although it’s still arguable Rahim Moore can be upgrade upon), while Aqib Talib locks down one corner spot with elite ability. Letting Champ Bailey go was probably a win in itself, too, but the Broncos could use one more corner after letting Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie walk. They could get the job done in round one with someone like Bradley Roby or Jason Verrett, or snag someone like Marcus Roberson in round two. One way or another, they need a third guy to throw into the mix with Talib and Chris Harris.