Denver Broncos Off Season Outlook

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First Priority

Find a quarterback. Experiment time is over in Denver. The defense is aging and the window feels just about closed. Still, the defense may be good enough to pull out one final run if they can get somebody to guide their underperforming offense. The offense itself isn’t completely awful though. They still have a pair of above average receivers and a backfield that may be able to hold its own if the defense can’t focus solely on them.

Their second priority should be making upgrades at the slot position and running back. I don’t expect them to retain Jamal Charles for another year, and C.J Anderson seems to run out of gas once it hits week 6. Anderson can continue helping at running back, but cannot take the load all by himself. Devonte Booker is the guy everyone waits to explode every year, but never really gets going. They don’t need to do anything drastic at the position but they do need somebody to compliment Anderson. As far as the slot goes, Bennie Fowler and Cody Latimer are the Broncos third and fourth receivers on the depth chart. Neither of them fit your prototypical slot receiver. While not unproductive, they certainly don’t make defensive coordinators lose any sleep.

Draft
Broncos pick at 5 this year, making it all but certain that they will go with a quarterback. The Broncos need help elsewhere too. Their offensive line struggled last year. They contributed to the struggling offense who ranked in the bottom half in total offense. Luckily the team is still stacked on defense meaning that they can wait till the later rounds to take players on that side of the ball. It also wouldn’t be surprising to me if the Broncos took a running back at 5. This could happen if they can trade or sign a free agent quarterback before the draft.

QB: Josh Allen– Nobody coming out of the draft looks more like an NFL quarterback then Allen. He has the size, the look, and most noticeably the arm strength. The two quarterbacks he’s being compared to is Big Ben, and Blake Bortles. Both guys that will be playing each other in the divisional round of the playoffs this weekend. Unfortunately for Allen part of the reason he’s being compared to Bortles is because of his accuracy issues. His Completion percentage in college is just over 55% which doesn’t bode well coming out of a weak conference. The upside for Allen is tremendous though. Probably the biggest arm in the draft, if he can find a quarterback coach to work with he could be a franchise quarterback in Denver.

QB: Baker Mayfield– Nobody has helped his case for being the top quarterback in the draft this season more than Baker Mayfield has. Great numbers to back up his questionable on field behavior has led all eyes to be on Mayfield. If we’re talking about just football there is nothing about Mayfield’s game that doesn’t impress you. He’s mobile, he’s accurate, and most of all he’s a legitimate play maker. The problem with Mayfield is that he’s a type. He’s a smaller quarterback, who’s mobile and at times depends on his legs to find space to make throws. I’ve heard him be compared to two people on opposite ends of the success spectrum. Russell Wilson and Johnny Manziel. His football game translates more towards the Wilson side, but his attitude definitely does not. Most people find that pretty risky specially when you’re drafting in the top 5, but someone as polarizing as John Elway may be able to rein him in.

OL: Quenton Nelson- The Notre Dame guard is by far the best guard in the draft. At 6 foot 5 he’s a bigger guard that is very good at getting downhill and absolutely punished defensive lineman and linebackers in college. His size makes and athleticism make him an ideal pass blocker as well. Just watching a highlight video on Nelson you can see how dominating he was. On runs he would have his guy pushed back 8 yards before the ball was even handed off. The guy is ridiculous.

OL: Connor WIlliams or Orlando Brown– Both these guys are tackles out of the big 12. WIlliams is from Texas and stands at 6’5. He’s a very athletic tackle that helped lead the way to last seasons rushing leader in D’Onta Foreman. Williams could slide right in at right tackle and let Bolles continue to develop on the left side. I think Williams would fit better on the right side just because he’s a little smaller for a tackle and seemed more comfortable in the run game. As for Brown he’s a 6’8 absolute beast. It should be illegal for a guy of his size to move that smoothly, but he finds a way to make it happen. Brown is going to end up being a left tackle which might hurt the Broncos Potentially drafting him, but if the Broncos do end up taking him they will not be disappointed.

RB: Saquon Barkley- Running back is not a main concern for the Broncos right now, but to me Barkley is too good to pass up. It is completely possible that the Broncos sign a quarterback or trade for one before the draft. That takes checks off a huge box in their need column. At that point they’re really looking too either build around that quarterback with weapons or trying to solidify the line. What better to help round out that offense than an impact RB. Barkley can do it all out of the backfield and would be put in a position where he wouldn’t have to do it all. The outside WRs for the Broncos are still each in the top 30 and a running game would only open things up further for them.

Free agency

QB: Kirk Cousins- To me this is the perfect fit. The pieces are already in place for Kirk to succeed and the team is a quarterback away from being a real contender in the AFC. He’s a play maker that doesn’t get any credit because the rest of his team is so mediocre. Here’s a guy that played all year with literally everybody missing and he still put up quality numbers. The Redskins were literally on their fourth string lineman by the time the season ended. They were down to their 3rd RB. Played most of the season without TE Reed. WR was a mess all year long. Still, if you look at his numbers he was close to what he did the year before. His QBR took a huge hit this season but he was also sacked almost twice as much as he had the year before. Not only that but the guy has so much confidence in himself he said he’d go play for the Browns. How many people willingly go to the Browns?

OG: Justin Pugh- Best guard coming out in free agency. Banged up during the 2017 season, but still a young guy with a good track record. He’s good in the pass game and can hold his own in the run game. Probably needs to get a little bigger to take the next step in his game, but am athletic guard who spent his previous seasons blocking for an unathletic quarterback. He would be a good fit next to Bolles on the left side.

WR: Jarvis Landry- If you want the perfect receiving core, adding Landry would make that happen. You’d have your downfield play maker in Sanders, your possession receiver in Thomas, and your route runner in Landry. While i don’t truly believe the Broncos will make a play for Landry, I still think it would be an interesting player to look at. Landry will not get top receiver money because of his play style, but his production in his slot position is undoubtedly the best in the NFL. Not many teams if any would be able to match up with those three guys.

TE: Austin Seferian-Jenkins- He was finally productive this year in New York. Would have been even more productive if he didn’t have a couple of shady touchdowns called back against him. Jenkins is an underrated tight end that won’t give you big plays, but will find ways to catch the ball. His first few years in Tampa were a bust, but he was always on the radar as a player with big potential. In 2017 we might have caught the first glimpse of that. He won’t do what Julius Thomas did for the Broncos when Peyton was there, but he will find ways to produce.

DE/LB: Aaron Lynch- The 24 year old can become a free agent after this year. Never really exploded on the scene in San Francisco, but has skills to work with. Doesn’t have the numbers you want, but that will only make him cheaper. They need to find out whether he’s a linebacker or a lineman. Perfect place to do that is Denver though because they already have so many pieces on defense. Could add some more athleticism to the d-line and depth to the OLBs.

RB: LaGarrette Blount- Would help CJ Anderson a lot. Different style of runner that can work in goal line and short yardage situations. Even though he’s 31 he doesn’t have the type of mileage on his legs as most 30 year old RBs. He was barely used this season meaning he should be able to go next season. Adds a different dimension to the offense that could help whoever plays quarterback for the Broncos in 2018.

QB: Jay Cutler: Totally kidding guys. Nobody is signing Jay Cutler. I mean he was better than the guys the Broncos put out there this season, but not necessarily a step forward. Plus there’s that whole thing how he pretty much forced himself out of there when he was put on the trading block, but not really, but ended up getting traded anyway. Probably not something either side would want to do.

Possible Trade
QB Alex Smith: Smith makes sense because of the pieces around the Broncos and how close they feel they may be to a Superbowl, but I don’t see this as a good move. He would be an upgrade over the current QBs on the roster, but not a guy that can take a team deep in the playoffs. If they did trade for Alex Smith, they would need to get an impact RB that could kill some clock in games. While Smith is a little more than a game manager, he’s not a person who you want with the ball at the end of games. This defense isn’t the 2000 Ravens defense, but it may be good enough to take over games if it has an offense that gives it time to rest. Alex Smith could do that, but you would need the defense to play as good as it did if not better than they did in their Superbowl winning season.

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