Draft Preview: 28. Denver Broncos


This man needs to be replaced.

Fax machines, man. They still make them like they used to.

Since teams and agents still rely on technology that requires a telephone line to execute the delivery of vital documents, Elvis Dumervil was cut by the Broncos, and he then signed in Baltimore. Or maybe his departure wasn’t tied to archaic technology at all, and it was instead the product of a deeply fractured relationship.

Either way, it really doesn’t matter now. Dumervil is gone, and the Broncos have to go about the business of replacing his 11 sacks, and the delicious tandem he formed opposite Von Miller. Yes, pass rushing can be delicious, as there was surely no better place for a Broncos fan on a Sunday afternoon than deep into their couch groove while watching those two meet at the quarterback, and sipping back some of that rocky mountain brew (oh, also with…TWINS!). Together, Miller and Dumervil combined for 29.5 of Denver’s 52 sacks, a total that tied the Broncos for the league lead.

So a pass rusher is their top draft priority, right? I asked that question, and Dustin Salaz from Predominantly Orange answered. And then he answered four more questions.

1. Even if we assume that the Broncos replace Dumervil with one of the remaining veteran defensive ends left on the market (most likely Dwight Freeney), some more youth rushing the passer is a likely focus in the first round. If that’s the direction Denver takes, is there a pass rusher you prefer?

The more I see of Margus Hunt, the more I like this kid. He’s an absolute freak in terms of his size and athleticism. His downside is that he lacks experience playing DE and could take some time to develop into an all-star pass rusher. The foundation is definitely there, and assuming we pick up Freeney, he would have some fantastic talent to learn from.

2. There’s also the interior of the defensive line, with providing depth beyond Kevin Vickerson and Terrance Knighton a need. The likes of Jesse Williams, Datone Jones, and Johnathan Hankins will likely be on the board near the end of the first round. Who’s the best fit?

Of the DT’s listed I’ve got to say that I like Johnathan Hankins. I agree with Jack Del Rio when it comes to big DTs. I want a big body in the middle that can stop the run. Listed at 320 pounds and with a little bit of room to grow, Hankins would fit well in the middle.

He’s strong, and I think JDR can keep his effort level up. He fits well into the Broncos’ scheme, and with the excellent pass rush around him he could become an excellent player. I worry about his stamina, but with the proper physical training he could be a monster.

3. The search for youth and/or depth could continue at cornerback. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie partially addressed that need through free agency, but despite his still generally elite play, age isn’t Champ Bailey’s friend. How early do you expect a corner to be targeted?

Great way to pose that question. It certainly needs to be addressed with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie being on such a short contract. There are some pretty phenomenal DB’s in this draft, so I would say maybe the Broncos take one with their second or third pick. Our need at DE and DT are a bit more pressing, and depending on the Johns’ (Fox and Elway) view of things, a sturdy running back could also be a more pressing issue. With our current group of DBs, I suspect that position may wait until the later rounds.

4. There’s a trend with those first three questions: defense…all defense. Can we expect that side of the ball to be the Broncos’ primary focus with their six picks? Running back depth seems like the only strong offensive need with Willis McGahee aging, and Ronnie Hillman perhaps not trusted yet to endure a heavier workload.

I would say that defense has more prominent holes than offense does. Our defense is still a very solid group that performed at an incredible level last year. That said, there’s always room for improvement on both sides of the ball, but with the signing of Louis Vasquez and Wes Welker on offense, the only real place to improve is to clarify our running back situation. There are plenty of backs on the roster, but the Broncos just need to pick which one is going to be the featured back and stick with it. Though if it were up to me, I would be staring pretty hard at Eddie Lacy to be that back (assuming he falls that far).

5. Lastly, if there’s one player the Broncos have to get for their 2013 draft to be a success, who is it?

Naturally, this is all my opinion, but what would make this draft an instant success for Denver is if we’re able to snatch either Matt Elam (S, Florida) or Lacy (RB, ‘Bama) out of the first round. Those would be very strong picks, and the Broncos would be very lucky to see them fall all the way down into their lap. Either one could come into this NFL and be a starter on our team.