Editor’s note: This is a guess post from Kevin Roberts of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more Denver Broncos Analysis visit Fantasy Football Overdose – a fantasy football blog.
The Denver Broncos have been quick to make some key additions in free agency, patching up their defense with splash moves across the board. In just two days, Denver potentially has gone from a defense that was skating on average, to one that should be elite come 2014.
Set to lose Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and let Champ Bailey go, and already shaky Denver pass defense was looking even worse. That was until the Broncos dropped a bunch of cash to upgrade at corner with former New England Patriots star Aqib Talib, and then again at safety with former Cleveland Browns stud, T.J. Ward. Wednesday brought the addition of former Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware, giving Denver three elite defensive playmakers at three very key spots.
While those are big names and big moves alike, the Broncos can’t be done just yet. They still have work to do at the inside linebacker spot, while they also need to worry about depth on the offensive and defensive lines, as well as at wide receiver and in the secondary.
That’s what the NFL Draft is for.
Whatever loose ends Denver doesn’t tighten up over the rest of the free agency period, they’ll hopefully address in the draft. They have seven rounds to do just that, but we’re going to walk through the first three to see which impact players Denver could or should land with their first three draft choices:
Round 1 (31st pick) – Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Landing Aqib Talib is awesome and tendering Chris Harris and Tony Carter should give Denver solid depth, but they have nothing else beyond those guys worth talking about. Harris is a solid number two guy, but Carter isn’t a long-term solution even as a nickel corner. The Broncos need to make sure they aren’t right back in this situation with their pass defense in just a couple of years. Verrett is actually perfect for the slot, which means he could supplant Carter right away or within 1-2 years. Suddenly their secondary is deeper and more talented than it’s been in years.
Roby is a former ballhawk who has simply had some character concerns and an up and down final season with the Buckeyes. The talent and ability is there and I think with Denver’s coaching he can get back to the player he was and is truly supposed to be. He might slip out of the first round, but if Denver goes corner he should be one of many that are considered at the 31st overall spot.
Ford is a tad under-sized for the defensive line, but is athletic enough to play with his hand in the dirt and possibly even drop back into coverage as a linebacker. Regardless, he’s a pure pass-rusher who would offer depth and upside to Denver’s defense. DeMarcus Ware was a huge get, but he’s going to be 32 and Von Miller is returning from a knee injury. Landing Ford for the future and possibly even 2014 would be a fantastic move.
Round 2 (63) – Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin
Denver has done a fantastic job eliminating problem areas so far in free agency, and the only glaring one really staring back at them right now is inside linebacker. They absolutely need to upgrade here, and Wisconsin’s Chris Borland looks like a terrific fit. He has solid athleticism, great instincts and wraps up the ball carrier nearly every time. He’s vastly underrated and could see his stock soar a bit. I don’t think he makes it into the first round, but Denver may find it hard to get him here at the 63 spot. A trade may be in order to land their guy.
Sticking with the corner situation here, Fuller is a balanced corner with some real upside. This is a move purely for depth and thinking down the road at this point, but if the Broncos don’t go after a corner in round one, they could complete the transition process of their secondary here with Fuller.
With the loss of Zane Beadles, the Broncos are in the market to add some talent to their offensive line, one way or another. Beadles wasn’t going to be all that hard to replace anyways, but Denver certainly could get a little more talented and deeper overall on the o-line, regardless. Yankey isn’t a lock to last this long in round two, but he’s exceptionally versatile and would be a great depth add.
Round 3 (95) – Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin
Wide receiver isn’t the most pressing need, but it’s also not crazy for Denver to think about the position in round two, either. Eric Decker is as good as gone, while 32-year old Wes Welker could be looking for a job elsewhere beyond 2014. Given the recent splashes made on defense, the Broncos might be in a position where they can take more of a luxury item earlier in the draft. Abbrederis could fit the bill late in round two, as he projects much like Decker at the next level. Thanks to good size, underrated speed and some versatility as a return man, Abbrederis just might be one of the better value buys at the wide receiver position.
Skov is a smart linebacker who knows where he needs to be at all times and lays a hit like a ton of bricks. He’s had issues being over aggressive and isn’t really an elite athlete, but he’s a fine fallback option if Borland isn’t in the cards in round two.
Denver got a major defensive end upgrade when they signed Ware, but as mentioned before, Ware is aging and Von Miller’s health is a concern. If they don’t pull the trigger on a defensive end up until this point, the Broncos could take a look at Utah pass-rusher, Trevor Reilly. He’s not a freak athlete, but he’s relentless in pursuit and is a balanced defender on the line. He’d fit their scheme perfectly and would offer immediate depth in their rotation.