The Denver Broncos are throwing last year out the window and already getting in shape for the coming year. Peyton Manning took a stare at the schedule and jumped immediately into working out, and the rest of his fellow team have seemed to follow suite. A return to the Super Bowl is on the main agenda for a Bronco team that has brought in some of the best free agents available this off season. In comes one of the best hard hitting strong safeties in the league with T.J. Ward, while also bringing in a familiar foe from the the playoffs; former New England Patriot’s star corner, Aqib Talib. Star defensive end, DeMarcus Ware, has also joined the revamped Broncos defense and will line opposite of another all pro, Von Miller. There are still a few tools that Denver needs to pick up to bring them back to the promise land, and with the 31st pick in the draft; John Elway will do just that.
Denver needs a play making middle linebacker for their new and improved defensive core. There are a few available middle linebackers the Broncos could seek if they decide to go that route. Chris Borland out of Wisconsin is an undersized middle linebacker who always seems to be around the ball and making tackles, he is one of Mike Mayock’s favorite linebackers in the draft. The NFL Draft thinks that Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier is that guy to man the middle of that defense for the Denver Broncos. Shazier ranked first in the Big Ten Conference in tackles, solo tackles, and forced fumbles; while also racking up seven sacks. The All-Conference linebacker played both the outside and the middle positions at Ohio State, using his versatility in pass coverage when needed; and taking advantage of blitz packages to create pressure on the opposing quarterbacks. The 6’2 225 lb. linebacker is quite lean in stature for having to shed blocks of bigger foes, the stand out linebacker will need to bulk up in order to handle the beating inside the trenches for linebackers. His production at Ohio State speaks for itself; Shazier was one of the premier players in the Big Ten and could become one at the next level.
The offensive line must be addressed as well before the season beginnings. All we remember of the Super Bowl game here at NFL Draft Daily is how often Peyton Manning was under duress from the Seattle Seahawks. The offensive line seemed a little bit more finesse then usual, and could use a little bit more “nasty” then they had last year. Players like Weston Richburg from Colorado State or Xavier Su’a-Filo from UCLA may become a natural fit on the Broncos line if drafted. That decision involves whether or not Denver will keep Manny Ramirez at the center position or move him to guard. Denver also addressed the wide receiver position in free agency with signing Emmanuel Sanders, but they could also use a little more size at the position with Eric Decker leaving. Donte Moncrief out of Ole Miss could be an option in the second round if they feel he is the best player available on the board.
With new additions and a hunger for another Super Bowl bid, the Broncos may take this season by storm. First game of the year Peyton Manning will take on his former team on Prime Time football Sunday Night; then Denver will take on a tough division foe in the Kansas City Chiefs. No one said the schedule will be easy throughout the year for the AFC champs, but the NFL Draft Daily doesn’t think that Denver expected it to be either. Football is on the horizon and one thing is for certain for the Broncos, Manning and the crew will be ready for football Sunday.
This article is one in a series, published daily, providing analysis, insight and predictions leading up to the NFL draft and beyond.
Commentary by Justin Huffman