When you take a look at the Broncos’ roster after the first push in free agency, they have really only one glaring weakness and one secondary weakness. The glaring weakness is defensive end. Consistent pressure off the edge has been the one true, noticeable weak spot in Denver since the departures of Reggie Hayward and Bertrand Berry years ago, and I expect it to be the first area addressed when they pick at the No. 21 spot.
Clemson DE Gaines Adams will be long gone by then. In our latest mock draft, Nolan Nawrocki has Adams going No. 7 overall to the Vikings, and the Redskins could be eyeing him one spot earlier. Nebraska’s Adam Carriker has good size, strength and versatility, and he’s been moving steadily up boards of late, perhaps out of the reach of the Broncos. That leaves Jamaal Anderson from Arkansas, Florida’s Jarvis Moss and Purdue’s Anthony Spencer as the best remaining defensive ends. I’d be surprised if Anderson lasts until No. 21, and Moss’ quickness and fluid athleticism could take him off the board before Denver has a chance as well.
The secondary weakness is at safety, where injuries hit hard last season and the Broncos could use an eventual replacement for John Lynch. Range will be key, but a willingness to support the run will be just as important in Jim Bates’ new system. Miami (Fla.) product Brandon Meriweather is instinctive and physical, and Texas’ Michael Griffin is a big hitter with a ton of upside who could fit in to Denver’s plans sooner rather than later.
Help at the DT position and a little added depth at wideout are options further down the road. And keep in mind, too, that the Broncos aren’t shy about Draft Day trades. They brokered a deal to acquire WR Javon Walker from the Packers last year and also traded up to get Jay Cutler at No. 11.
I figured that with a solid roster, they’d stand pat for the most part during free agency, but more than one credible source said otherwise, indicating they’d make noise with a few significant trades and signings. The trade of RB Tatum Bell and OT George Foster for Dré Bly and the signings of RB Travis Henry, TE Daniel Graham and WR Brandon Stokley are proof positive these sources were on to something. So if that should teach us anything, it’s not to be shocked to see the Broncos trade up if they see something they like and don’t have the patience to wait until No. 21. MLB Al Wilson and another pick could be involved in such a deal. The gut feeling is Moss, but it’s awfully early.