The Denver Broncos had the worst season in recent franchise memory in 2010 when they went 4-12 and earned the 2nd pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. With the selections of Von Miller, Rahim Moore, Nate Irving, and Quinton Carter, the Broncos have gotten off to a good start of adding real talent to the defensive side of the ball. With the addition of injured Elvis Dumervil and defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, this is a unit really on the rise.
With that being said, the Broncos still have not completed the rebuilding of that side of the ball, and there are a couple of things I would like to see them do to improve their defense. There are some players who I think could be a great fit in the coming NFL Draft.
One thing I have noticed about this year’s crop of prospects is that it’s fairly weak at the defensive tackle position, arguably the worst position on the Broncos’ roster. There are guys like Jerel Worthy (Mich. St.), Kawann Short (Purdue), Brandon Thompson (Clemson), and Devon Still (Penn State) among others at that position that they could take an interest in, but those are guys who will have to really improve over the course of this season to warrant a high-mid first round selection.
Right now, my top targets for the Broncos as potential first round picks are as follows:
1. Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State
2. Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
3. Dre’ Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
4. Quinton Coples, DE/DT, North Carolina
5. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Honorable mention: Bruce Irvin, DE, West Virginia; Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State; Brandon Thompson, DT Clemson
Obviously, this big board will change throughout the year, but I think the Broncos will really place an emphasis on the defensive side of the ball, though it’s possible they could look at WR’s if they are unable to retain Brandon Lloyd and Eddie Royal, both of whom are free agents at the end of this season.
I think as of next year, one player who could really help the Broncos as a pro-ready right now player is cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, who is one of the best shut-down cornerbacks in the country. Andre’ Goodman will be entering the final year of his four year contract with the Broncos next year, and Champ Bailey (while showing no signs of slowing down) is getting older, though he also just signed a new contract with Denver.
The reason I am high on Brandon Jenkins is because I feel like Robert Ayers–while improving–is not a quick-step pass rusher and has yet to show that he is developing into one. Jenkins is one of the elite pass rushers in this year’s draft, and he has a ton of raw ability. If the Broncos are looking to really torture teams by rushing the passer, adding Jenkins to Dumervil and Von Miller could be absolutely lethal.
In addition, the Broncos could certainly be in the market for a safety next year if they see Quinton Carter hasn’t developed as planned. Brian Dawkins is approaching 40 years old, and while he’s in top condition, the Broncos might need to upgrade soon. They cut Darcel McBath, who was a solid prospect before injuries derailed his career. They are also developing Kyle McCarthy, a former undrafted player from Notre Dame, but adding an elite prospect at strong safety could be a good idea for the Broncos, who could use this draft to fix their secondary as well as add some talent to the defensive front four.
Alabama’s Mark Barron is an option as a strong safety, as well as Miami’s Ray Ray Armstrong.
Some of this might just seem like a lot of random thoughts, and it really is right now, but it’s hard to determine where the Broncos will have dire needs without assessing them through watching games.
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