Now that the major free agent signings have been finalized, the Last Word On Sports NFL department will be looking at the top three needs for each team heading into the 2017 NFL Draft. Today, the Denver Broncos are the focus. The Broncos have the 20th pick in the draft and general manager John Elway will continue to fix the Broncos roster after getting started in free agency.
Denver Broncos 2017 NFL Draft: Top 3 Needs
The offensive line was a big question mark going into free agency, but Elway got a good start on fixing the issue. With Matt Paradis and Max Garcia returning, and the addition of Menelik Watson and Ron Leary, the Broncos are one player away from a rock solid offensive line. Even with Donald Stephenson and Ty Sambrailo still on the roster, the Broncos need an upgrade to open holes and provide the quarterback to be named later with time in the pocket. Neither Stephenson nor Sambrailo showed any semblance of being a competent left tackle in 2016. Sambrailo battled injuries, but there is no guarantee he will reach his full potential.
There are multiple left tackles with first round grades who can realistically step in as a starter from day one. The talent at left tackle drops after the top three prospects, so expect the Broncos to address this need as early as possible. Most mock drafts have only one tackle going before the Broncos pick so their guy will be there for the taking. Garett Bolles is the ideal candidate to be the Broncos left tackle of the future. Assuming he is still on the board at 20, expect the Broncos to pounce.
John Elway did nothing in free agency to address the Broncos lack of offensive fire power. While the Broncos have nine wide receivers on the roster (six consistently on the 53 man), they consistently struggled last season to produce. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders had trouble freeing themselves when defenses didn’t have a third weapon to worry about. The Broncos have tried, and failed, to produce with the prototypical short, fast slot receiver. The offense needs one more weapon to strike fear into opposing defenses.
The biggest name linked to the Broncos for the upcoming draft has been Christian McCaffrey. Unfortunately, McCaffrey will go in the first round, and the Broncos biggest need is at tackle. Wide receiver is always a deep position in the draft. The Broncos should look for a big receiver to take the two spot. Sanders could create a mismatch in the slot. The Broncos will have plenty of options at pick 51, and fans can only hope they stray from the small guys.
The Broncos run defense took a monumental step back after their historical performance in Super Bowl 50. The defensive line has been addressed in free agency so the issues shift to the linebackers. Obviously, the edge rushing duo of Von Miller and Shane Ray has been established as a league power. Last year’s rotation of Todd Davis and Brandon Marshall often failed to perform. Marshall showed flashes of being a high level inside linebacker but regressed when faced with off the field issues. He should be able to focus more and return to form in the upcoming season.
Every mock draft has the Broncos making multiple picks on the defensive side. While they will get depth for the line and the secondary, most picks should be focused on the second level. Since the linebacker position is not a priority for most teams, the Broncos will have no problem getting two strong prospects at linebacker. These rookies can push the veterans and win some time for themselves.
Overall, the Broncos are not in a bad position coming into the draft. With few major needs, they can focus on creating depth and competition at the positions where there are questions. Expect the Broncos to double up on some positions because a little competition brings the best out of everyone.