Fix-it-Friday: The Denver Broncos

The Broncos seemed to rebuild their offense last year, but they still fell short of expectations. That being said, a rebuild doesn’t happen in one year, especially with a lot of rookies. This year could be the real turning point, but they need to get a few things right first.

They finished the season with a 5-11 record; since their Super Bowl victory in 2015, the Broncos have a cumulative record of 32-48. It seems like they have been searching for a QB for a very long time, with a brief hiatus for two seasons when they landed Peyton Manning before he retired. The QB position is still the biggest question mark in Denver.

Head Coach and General Manager:

The Broncos hired long-time defensive genius Vic Fangio before the 2019 season. While things haven’t improved much in his two years, the Broncos don’t appear to have waived in their view of Fangio. However, if the Broncos don’t make a playoff push, and the defense remains in the middle towards back of the pack, I don’t think it would make a lot of sense to keep him for a third year.

Technically, George Paton was hired as the Broncos General Manager in January of 2021. However, John Elway remains the main decision-maker in Denver. It almost seems blasphemous to suggest the firing of Elway, but let’s be honest here; the Broncos certainly assumed Elway would figure out the QB position, of all positions, yet it still remains unsolved after 10 years of searching. A team can only go as far as its QB, as it is the most important position in all of sports, and if Elway and the Broncos can’t figure it out soon, there will need to be a change at the top.

Cap Space: $48.2 million

Cut/Trade:

Nick Vannett, TE, $2.7 million

Jeff Driskel, QB, $2.5 million

The Broncos do not need to make many cuts. There of course are the rumors swirling around Von Miller and Kareem Jackson, both with club options, but I firmly believe the Broncos should bring both of them back. If not, edge and safety become huge needs, so what’s the point?

Re-sign:

Von Miller, EDGE*

Kareem Jackson, SS*

Justin Simmons, FS**

A.J. Johnson, LB

Phillip Lindsay, RB

Shelby Harris, DL

Demar Dotson, OT

Jeremiah Attaochu, EDGE

DeMarcus Walker, DL

DeVante Bausby, CB

Kevin Tolliver, CB

*As I mentioned above, Miller and Jackson have club options. This kind of falls in both categories of cut and re-sign.

**The Broncos placed the franchise tag on Simmons just hours ago. They now need to work towards a long-term deal for him.

Free Agency:

The Broncos are on the precipice from leaving the rebuilding stage. I do not believe in spending big in free agency just to spend money. The Broncos do not need any offensive weapons or safeties, but almost everything else is on the table. And, if they do not believe Drew Lock is the guy at QB, they should go all in to try and trade for Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson. But, signing any current free agent QB would not be an upgrade over Lock.

Tier One:

Brandon Scherff, G

Joe Thuney, G

Matt Judon, EDGE

Shaquill Barrett, EDGE

Tier Two:

Melvin Ingram, EDGE

Mike Pouncey, C

Corey Linsley, C

Bud Dupree, EDGE

Patrick Peterson, CB

Russell Okung, OT

Yannick Ngakoue, EDGE

Lavonte David, LB

Alex Mack, C

Markus Golden, EDGE

K.J. Wright, LB

Jadeveon Clowney, EDGE

Alejandro Villanueva, OT

Jason McCourty, CB

Leonard Floyd, EDGE

Mike Hilton, CB

Olivier Vernon, EDGE

Desmond King, CB

Tier Three:

Josh Norman, CB

Ryan Kerrigan, EDGE

Kyler Fackrell, LB

Everson Griffen, EDGE

Sean Lee, LB

Austin Blythe, G

Jimmy Smith, CB

Daryl Williams, OT

Matt Skura, C

Quinton Dunbar, CB

Chidobe Awuzie, CB

Jason Verrett, CB

Shaquill Griffin, CB

Levi Wallace, CB

Draft:

Round One:

9th Overall:

Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

If the Broncos miss out on a trade for Wilson or Watson, they need to trade up and grab either Fields or Wilson. Neither will be there at 9 if the Broncos decide to sit and wait, someone will jump up for them. It’s time to move on from Lock, but only for the names I’ve mentioned. They can always address offensive tackle, inside linebacker, or cornerback if they miss out on the QB market completely.

Round Two:

40th Overall:

Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami

Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia

Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame

Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri

Landon Dickerson, IOL, Alabama

Daviyon Nixon, DL, Iowa

The Broncos have A LOT of options with their second pick (assuming they still have it after a potential trade for a QB). Aside from the positions I already mentioned, the Broncos need upgrades across the defensive line. Whether or not they bring back Von Miller, they need another edge rusher, as well as an interior defensive lineman after the Jurrell Casey cut.

Round Three:

71st Overall:

Jalen Twyman, DL, Pitt

Dayo Odeyingbo, EDGE, Vanderbilt

Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse

Pete Werner, LB, Ohio State

James Hudson, OT, Cincinnati

Josh Myers, IOL, Ohio State

I will beat these six positions into the Broncos until the draft is over. They are set at the top at receiver, running back, tight end, and safety. Aside from QB, these positions can all use an upgrade. This set of prospects excite me a lot. I like the first round, the second round feels a bit disappointing, but the third round is filled with guys I would be happy to land in the second round.

Round Four:

110th Overall:

Daelin Hayes, EDGE, Notre Dame

Kary Vincent Jr., CB, LSU

Ben Cleveland, IOL, Georgia

Tyler Shelvin, DL, LSU

Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa

Derrick Barnes, LB, Purdue

At this point, the Broncos must select an offensive lineman in this draft. I would also say the same about cornerback, but things would be tight in terms of draft capital with a trade for a QB. This list of guys can be nice backups, but I feel like they all have a chance to start in a few years, or even sooner if given the chance.

Round Five:

149th Overall:

Cornell Powell, WR, Clemson

Janarius Robinson, EDGE, Florida

Noah Gray, TE, Duke

Milton Williams, DL, Louisiana Tech

Jermar Jefferson, RB, Oregon State

K.J. Britt, LB, Auburn

The Broncos can target offensive weapons late in the draft for depth. I love their receivers, and I’m a huge fan of Noah Fant, but you can never have too much depth when it comes to offensive weapons. While I believe the Broncos should bring back Phillip Lindsay, to lie with Melvin Gordon again, but I’m not sure either running back is a long-term solution. You never know when you’re going to hit on a late-round running back.

Round Six:

189th Overall:

John Bates, TE, Boise State

Tuf Borland, LB, Ohio State

Jonathan Cooper, EDGE, Ohio State

Josh Imatorbhebe, WR, Illinois

Bobby Brown III, DL, Texas A&M

Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Oklahoma

Denver can clean up on positions they haven’t addressed with their final pick in this draft. Once again, you never know when an offensive weapon drafted late is going to break out once they hit the NFL.

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