>\n\nWorst to First: 12. Denver Broncos \n\n\n\n

Worst to First: 12. Denver Broncos

Written by Ben Morgan on 04/21/2009

Scratch one crybaby QB, now say hello to Kyle Orton. Ummm... damn. And switching Defense? This seasn could get really ugly quickly. Mike Shanahan is one of the best coaches in the league, I don't think it's really a stretch to say that, and Denver only just missed out on the playoffs so perhaps it was a bit surprising they waved goodbye to him. It didn't take too long for the new coach to make his mark either. It seems mainly by trying to instigate a trade for his star QB to get Matt Cassell, a different type of QB but one familiar with the type of offense the Broncos will try and instill now. Again like a few of these teams I feel like they shift to the 3-4 isn't a quick fix. As you can see below though there's been a big player turnover in Denver this offseason. Out go a fair few players who won't really fit the 3-4 and it's no surprise to see a number of players come in who are a) familiar with Josh McDaniels offense (Lamont Jordan, Jabar Gaffney) or b) have experience playing in the 3-4 (Andra Davis, Ronald Fields, Andre Goodman, Renaldo Hill). This could help a lot as I didn't really see too many certain fits in the 3-4 for the Broncos before that. Even so that DL could prove to be a sticky area. Take a look at the roster turnover below.  

2009 Free Agent Losses
2009 Free Agent additions
Karl Paymah DB (Vikings, UFA), Erik Pears OT (Raiders, UFA), Patrick Ramsay QB (Titans, UFA), Jay Cutler QB (Bears, trade), Niko Koutouvides LB (Buccaneers) J.J. Arrington RB (Cardinals), Correll Buckhalter RB (Eagles), Andra Davis LB (Browns), Brian Dawkins S (Eagles), Ronald Fields NT (49ers), Jabar Gaffney WR (Patriots), Andre Goodman CB (Dolphins), Brandon Gorin OT (Rams), Renaldo Hill S (Dolphins), Lamont Jordan RB (Patriots), J'Vonne Walker DT (Panthers), Lonie Paxson LS (Patriots), Darrell Reid DT (Colts), Chris Simms QB (Titans)
2009 Unsigned Free Agents
2010 Potential Free Agents
Tatum Bell RB (UFA), Dre Bly CB (cut), Ebenezer Ekuban DE (UFA), Andre Hall RB (UFA), Darrell Jackson WR (UFA), Marquand Manuel S (cut), Marlon McCree S (UFA), Tom Nalen C (UFA), Michael Pittman RB (UFA), DeWayne Robertson DT (cut), Edell Shepherd WR (UFA), Nate Webster LB (UFA) 
Kyle Orton QB, Brandon Marshall WR, Chad Jackson WR, Jeb Putzier TE, Ben Hamilton OG, Chris Kuper OG,     

Roster Breakdown
Quarterbacks Major Need

While this is a Major Need without doubt I'm really beginning to think the Broncos would rather use their early picks to re-tool their defense with 3-4 type players instead of perhaps packaging their 2 first rounders to trade up for Mark Sanchez. I think should the unthinkable happen and Sanchez is there a 12 they won't hesitate in drafting him but I notice they've also brought in Curtis Painter and Stephen McGee for workouts, they're later round prospects wo McDaniel may see a little of the raw Tom Brady in. I mean Kyle Orton is not a bad player at all and if he can adapt quickly to McDaniels system he could find himself being extended. All the things are there for him to succeed, a great collection of WRs, a top notch pass blocking OL and a Running game that should be able to move the chains. If Orton's not asked to win too many games by himself they could still be very successful with him under Center while they develop their Tom Brady from somewhere. That's a lot of things to rely on though. Chris Simms could even surprise and steal the starters gig. A lot is going to come down to training camp but with the OL the Broncos have there are not many better situations for a QB to land in.  

Runningbacks No Need

Shanny was always drafting RBs then usurping them with his latest undrafted sensation. Well it remains to be seen how much the running game is going to get used under McDaniels but there is no shortage of numbers at the position. Buckhalter and Lamont Jordan have both had their injury troubles though so you can't rule out the addition of some more depth. There's a couple of Shanny holdovers who may not suit the new system and may not be good tips to make it on the opening day roster. Even so J.J. Arrington should provide enough depth as the #3 to make drafting a Runningback an afterthought at best.

Wide Receivers
Minor Need

In Brandon Marshall they have their Randy Moss, in Eddie Royal they have their Wes Welker. In Jabar Gaffney they have, well, their Jabar Gaffney. Just to top it off they have a guy who is still one of the best #3WRs in the league, Brandon Stokely AND former Patriot bust Chad Jackson. The only real question for this group is how they cop ewith Brandon Marshall's upcoming suspension and whether they keep him beyond 2009. I'll keep this at Minor Need because of the question marks about Marshall but if everything goes well this is a great group for whoever lands at QB to throw to.

Tight Ends
No Need

They already have their Daniel Graham in umm Daniel Graham. Scheffler is on the trading block and should be a top target for some team needing a pass catching TE. He has excellent hands and can be a real threat but he'll be largely superfluous in McDaniel's scheme as he'll prefer a 3rd WR instead of a second TE. Basically Jeb Putzier can probably do that job. I did notice they had Richard Quinn (a blocking TE) in for a workout. The Patriots would always seem to spend a pick on a TE somewhere so don't rule it out but if they do it'll probably be a late rounder.

Offensive Line
Minor Need

12 sacks in over 600 drop backs? That's simply remarkable and the Broncos line is for my money, the best pass blocking OL in the league. The only question marks come in the fact that both starting Guards are free agents in 2010, Chris Kuper and Ben Hamilton. I'm going to list it as a Minor Need because of this but there's not really a whole lot else to say and given the Broncos ability over the years to pick good zone blocking guys in the mid and late rounds I feel bad even listing this as a Minor Need. 

Defensive Tackle
Minor Need

Ronald Fields could prove to be a bit of a gem. He has experience both in the 3-4 and under new DC Mike Nolan from his 49er days. He certainly looks the part. They also have Marcus Thomas to compete. Now I don't think either of these guys is B.J. Raji, or what Raji could be at NT in a 3-4 so if Raji makes it to 12 he could be the pick. Fields also has experience of playing DE in the 3-4 so that could work out pretty well.

Defensive End
Major Need

This looks a bit like the problem position in their 3-4. There is some crazy talk coming out of Denver about using Elvis Dumervil as some sort of hybrid DE/OLB in the 3-4 sets. To me that's a nonsense. A 3-4DE should be lined up between the Guards and Tackles. That's not anywhere I want Dumervil as it simply won't make the best of his greatest asset, an insanely fast first step. No to me Dumervil should be playing ROLB when in the 3-4 set and at RDE on passing downs. They've signed a couple of guys who are questionable fits at 3-4DE so I think an early pick on a guy like Tyson Jackson would be ideal for them. They could probably do with adding another guy late on as well really. Jarron Gilbert is another option, first round may be a bit of a reach for him but maybe in round 2?

Linebackers Minor Need

Elvis Dumervil should be a great fit for the 3-4OLB position, using his speed to get to the QB, Jarvis Moss may even finally find a place to be productive on the other side. I did think of him as a possible 3-4OLB when he came out of college so hopefully for the Broncos he can hold down the other side and apply some pressure. On the inside they have D.J. Williams who should slot in pretty well and Andra Davis has past 3-4 experience and has been a big playmaker at times in his career as well. They could certainly use some depth both inside and outside and a guy like Rey Maualuga is going to look awfully appealing with the 18th pick if he's still there. For me I would concentrate on the DL though because I think this group of LBs could be very productive if they can get the DL right. If I were the Broncos GM I'd seriously consider using my first 3 picks on that DL if it meant being able to grab Raji, Tyson Jackson and Jarron Gilbert. I'm a lot more concerned about the DL than the Linebackers anyway.      

Cornerback Minimal Need

Based on his last season as a Dolphin (and bearing in mind it was probably the only decent Dolphins team he played on) Andre' Goodman should be a good pick up to pair opposite Champ Bailey. Both of them are into their 30s now and Goodman may be more of an excellent nickelback than a great starter but with so much need in other places this may have to wait. They have a couple of young guys underneath these 2, Josh Bell showed a little promise as a rookie so they could just try to develop him instead.

Safety   Minor Need

Having suffered in the secondary last year and with shifting to a different defense the Broncos moved swiftly to add some experienced guys. Renaldo Hill is more of the journeyman type but he has experience both with in the 3-4 and alongside Andre Goodman in Miami. They've also brought in the Eagles long time safety Brian Dawkins. Dawkins may be 35 but he's still in great shape and can still make plays. More importantly perhaps he'll bring some genuine leadership to the defensive backfield in a time of change. Even so Hill and Dawkins are both a little long in the tooth so they could definitely use a pick on a younger guy. 

Specialists No Need

There's no escpaing the fact that Matt Prater just didn't do a good enough job last year, especially not from over 35 yards. With some of the squeakers Denver lost that could prove costly both to the Broncos and to him if that continues. He has a big leg though so they'll no doubt persevere with him for the time being but the "competition" in camp may be more than just lip service this year. Brett Kern did fine on punts and he probably won't have to face any questions about his continued presence on the team.

Return Game
No Need

If they want to continue using Eddie Royal on kickoffs then great, if they don't JJ Arrington should provide the same sort of level of service anyway so there's no need here. 

Dream Day One

1.13 Mark Sanchez QB USC
1.18 Tyson Jackson DE Tennessee
2.48 Evander Hood DL Missouri

Player Visits
Mark Sanchez QB USC
Malcolm Jenkins CB Ohio State
Mike Thomas WR Arizona
Ryan Succup K South Carolina
Ron Brace NT Boston College
Cody Brown OLB Connecticut
Connor Barwin DE Cincinatti
Richard Quinn TE North Carolina
Stephen McGee QB Texas A&M
Larry English DE Northern Illinois
LeSean McCoy RB Pittsburgh
Robert Ayers DE Tennessee
Evander Hood DL Missouri
B.J. Raji NT Boston College
Victor Butler DE Oregon St

Clay Matthews LB USC
Beanie Wells RB Ohio State
Pat White QB West Virginia
Patrick Chung S Oregon
Paul Kruger DE Utah
Curtis Painter QB Purdue
Rashad Jennings RB Liberty

Last Edited: 04/21/2009

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