DENVER BRONCOS / 2013 TEAM NEEDS
QB Peyton Manning’s offense was top-notch in 2012, and he makes everyone around him better. Protection for Manning is key, but Denver’s O-line held up well. Cornerstone OLT Ryan Clady was franchised and isn’t going anywhere. There are very few needs on the offensive side of the ball, just some depth questions at positions benefitted by a healthy season.
TOP 3 OFFENSIVE NEEDS
OG — Look for the Broncos to keep a close eye on Chris Kuper, as staying healthy was difficult for him in 2012. Kuper’s replacement, Manny Ramirez, was a drop-off. Zane Beadles had a fine season, but he is also a draft pick from the Josh McDaniels regime. This only becomes a big need if there are legitimate concerns over Kuper’s durability. Otherwise, it’s just about depth.
WR— Manning can never have enough weapons. And while he had no problem working mainly with two wideouts, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, this is a thin position. No. 3 WR Brandon Stokley is 36, and WRs Matthew Willis and Andre Caldwell did not do nearly enough to earn time on the field.
RB — Willis McGahee is under contract for 2013, but that doesn’t mean he will for certain be a Bronco. Should the Broncos decide to go with a Ronnie Hillman-Knowshon Moreno backfield in 2013 and part ways with the veteran McGahee, they would want to add another back later in the draft, especially with Moreno’s durability concerns.
Jack Del Rio’s aggressive 4-3 defense had a superb 2012, led up front by pass rushers LB Von Miller and DE Elvis Dumervil, and an overachieving run defense. There are some aging pieces in the middle at DT and MLB to look at, as well as veteran CB Champ Bailey. This is also a unit in which the starters are leaps and bounds ahead of the backups at some positions, and depth can certainly bolster the “D.”
TOP 3 DEFENSIVE NEEDS
DT — The starting defensive interior of Justin Bannan and Kevin Vickerson had a superb season, but Bannan will be 34 in 2013 and Vickerson just turned 31, and both of them are free agents. Mitch Unrein was a dependable reserve, but the Broncos could certainly upgrade in this department and find a starting D-tackle of the future and improve their insurance, should Bannan or Vickerson get hurt or walk.
MLB — Keith Brooking took over as the starter, but he’s 37 years old. Joe Mays proved he could not handle the middle in Del Rio’s defense and was relegated to special-teams work. Nate Irving hasn’t made much of an impact on the field. The other middle ’backer on the roster is Steven Johnson, a special-teamer.
CB — As good as Champ Bailey was in 2012 aside from getting torched by the Ravens in the playoffs, the Broncos cannot ignore that he is at the end of his career. Tony Carter and Chris Harris played well, but the Broncos will need more at corner, especially if UFA Tracy Porter is playing elsewhere in 2013 after an injury-plagued first season in Denver.
2012 DRAFT REWIND
2nd round (36): DT Derek Wolfe / Cincinnati (GP/GS: 16/16)
Skinny: Made early impact on D-line with nine tackles for loss.
2nd round (57): QB Brock Osweiler / Arizona State (GP/GS: 5/0)
Skinny: Potential heir apparent at QB only played in garbage time.
3rd round (67): RB Ronnie Hillman / San Diego State (GP/GS: 14/0)
Skinny: Took time to get going. Showed flashes as a runner, receiver.
4th round (101): CB Omar Bolden /Arizona State (GP/GS: 16/0)
Skinny: Lost return job, but still key as a special-teams cover guy.
4th round (108): C-OG Philip Blake / Baylor (GP/GS: 0/0)
Skinny: Spent the season on injured reserve.
5th round (137): DT Malik Jackson / Tennessee (GP/GS: 14/0)
Skinny: D-line reserve player made minimal impact.
5th round (188): WLB Danny Trevathan / Kentucky (GP/GS: 16/0)
Skinny: Picked up from strong camp and factored in LB rotation.
SUMMARY: Lots of developmental prospects in this class, but Denver struck with Wolfe, who was very consistent.
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