2012 NFL Draft

Draft Losers: Denver Broncos

When the Denver Broncos signed a 36-year-old future Hall of Famer to play quarterback, everyone assumed they were gearing up for a serious run at the Super Bowl. But this draft class tells a different story.

We'll be seeing a lot of this from Osweiler.

The Broncos only landed one  player, Derek Wolfe, who will compete for a starting job in 2012. They also only added one offensive weapon, Ronnie Hillman, who is nothing more than a 3rd-down back who will have to fight for carries with Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno.

But the most surprising selection was Brock Osweiler, who will be groomed as Manning’s eventually replacement. Osweiler is a nice developmental prospect, but in the late 2nd round the Broncos could have added another impact player who would actually help in their pursuit of a Super Bowl title during the Manning era.

It would be very interesting to hear Manning’s reaction to this draft class. He can’t be happy about the lack of support he’ll receive from the Broncos rookie class.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Broncos 1 Comment

Denver Broncos select Brock Osweiler, Grade C+

Despite making the playoffs in 2012 and adding Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos are still a few pieces away from being legitimate contenders. So I find it odd that they drafted a guy who won’t see the field in any meaningful capacity until 2013 at the earliest.

Brock Osweiler is purely a developmental prospect, and wasn’t worth a 2nd-round selection in my opinion. I like a lot of his tools, but the Broncos coaching staff will likely need to re-work his throwing motion over the course of the next couple years. How quickly he develops may also hinge on how much Peyton Manning embraces the task of tutoring him.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Broncos Comments Off

Denver Broncos select Derek Wolfe, Grade C+

The Denver Broncos addressed an obvious area of weakness, and did so with a player who should be able to come in and be reasonably effective. However, Derek Wolfe was most definitely not the top defensive tackle on the board.

Brandon Thompson, Devon Still and possibly a few others should have come off the board before Wolfe, who isn’t the most physically gifted player and appeared to have some conditioning/stamina issues in the games I studied from his senior year.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Broncos Comments Off

Quarterback Search: Denver Broncos

Most Denver Broncos fans probably won’t want to acknowledge this, but John Elway and his staff are probably going to bring in a quarterback, not just to backup Tim Tebow, but to seriously push him for the starting job.

Regardless of what you think of Tebow, he deserves to be recognized for his clutch performances. At times it seemed like he truly did will the Broncos to victory. In terms of team success, he exceeded all expectations.

But the fact remains that the Broncos scored two or fewer touchdowns in five of their seven victories with Tebow as the starter. And when you win games like that, it is never the quarterback’s doing.

The real MVP in Denver was the defense, which allowed 13 points or fewer in five of Tebow’s 11 starts – four of which resulted in wins that were unfairly credited to the Tebow by the media.

It’s tough to evaluate Tebow given his unorthodox style of play, but by using ESPN’s Total QBR we can reasonably compare him to more traditional pocket passers. Total QBR grades a quarterback’s performance in a given situation, and rewards players who make positive plays in clutch moments – regardless of whether the play is a run or pass.

One might expect this formula to favor Tebow more than the traditional statistics. However, of 34 qualifying quarterbacks, Tebow ranked 32nd – ahead of only Curtis Painter and Blaine Gabbert.

Tebow’s Total QBR of 27.2 is something awful (50 is considered average), but what makes it worse is his inconsistency.

Using each quarterback’s single-game QBRs, compared to their season-ending QBR we can determine who was most consistent – and Tebow ranks among the worst. On average, Tebow’s performance was anywhere for 23.8 points above or below his Total QBR.

One could argue that this shows his ability to perform at a high level, but 23.8 points above his average still only gets him to a Total QBR of 51 – roughly the league average.

A further examination of Tebow’s QBR also shows us that, contrary to popular belief, the Broncos did not live and die by his performance. Read more

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Broncos Comments Off

2011 Draft Grades: Denver Broncos

The Broncos had too many holes to fill in just one draft, but they did a nice job identifying the most glaring issues and got the rebuilding process started. The franchise won’t be turned around in one year, but this was a step in the right direction.

Von Miller was a legitimate early 1st-round prospect, but taking him at No. 2 was a reach – especially considering the fact that his ideal position was as a 3-4 outside linebacker. A strong case could be made that he was the best available player for a team like Buffalo or Arizona, but not the Broncos. That’s not to say he’ll fail – I still think he can be a quality starter – but he may never fully live up to expectations.

I love the selection of Rahim Moore in the 2nd round. He’ll spend a year in a backup role learning behind Brian Dawkins before taking over the starting free safety job in 2011. This is an ideal situation for both Moore and the Broncos.

The Broncos reached slightly for Orlando Franklin, who has a ton of ability but never fulfilled expectations at Miami. He primarily played left tackle at Miami, but lacks the athleticism necessary to play that position at the next level. He may even need to shift inside to guard.

It’s hard not to root for Nate Irving, who missed the entire 2009 season due to injuries a devastating car crash. He was tremendously productive in his return this past season and should only continue to get better the further removed he is from those injuries. He could prove to be a steal from the 3rd round.

Quinton Carter could be a nice compliment to Rahim Moore in the Broncos secondary. He has the ability to play either safety position and could potentially win a starting job at strong safety down the road. In the meantime, he’ll make an immediate impact on special teams.

Julius Thomas is a converted basketball player who has a lot of upside, but will offer very little help in 2011. The Broncos are desperate for a pass-catching tight end, so it would have been nice to see them add someone who could make more of an immediate impact.

Mike Mohamed is a smart, fundamentally sound player who should be a solid backup in Denver. He could play inside or weak-side linebacker.

Virgil Green is a similar prospect to Julius Thomas, and may actually offer more in terms of immediate contribution. He’s an elite athlete for the position and could be used as a weapon in the passing game.

Jeremy Beal was a productive collegiate lineman/linebacker but has limited athleticism and may have already maxed out his potential. He’s worth taking a chance on in the 7th round, but he’ll have to fight just to make the roster.

The Broncos added only one immediate starter (Miller) which is somewhat disappointing. Down the road, however, Moore, Franklin, Irving and possibly Carter and Thomas could develop into starters. That’s too many ifs to give them an A, but the class certainly has the potential to improve their grade over the course of the next few years.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Broncos, Draft Grades - 2011 Comments Off

Denver Broncos set to select Von Miller

It’s taken some time, but the top five of the mock draft is finally taking shape just hours before the draft starts.

Now that the Panthers have settled on Cam Newton, the Denver Broncos have leaked that they’re prepared to take Von Miller with the second overall selection.

While this may appear to be a late development, the only thing late about it is the media catching on. According to a source, Miller has been No. 1 on the Broncos draft board since Monday (and was likely No.1 long before that).

This news essentially puts the Bills on the clock with Marcell Dareus and Blaine Gabbert as their two options.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Broncos Comments Off

Denver Broncos targeting QB in draft?

There has been plenty of speculation that the Denver Broncos new regime may not be sold in Tim Tebow. Now they may be starting to set in motion the events that will eventually cut Tebow’s career short in Denver.

According to various reports, the Broncos are expected to bring Jake Locker in for a private workout prior to the draft.

As always, this doesn’t mean that the Broncos have their heart set on Locker. However, the fact that they’re interviewing a quarterback who will be selected in the first two rounds is noteworthy. Teams only get 30 interviews, so they’re unlikely to waste one on a player that they have absolutely no intention of drafting.

So while this certainly doesn’t mean that Locker is going to push Tebow out of Denver it does mean that the Broncos would consider selecting a quarterback, possibly as early as the 2nd round.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Broncos Comments Off

Von Miller visiting Bills, Broncos, Browns

Von Miller‘s stock has been on the rise throughout the offseason and it appears as though he’s headed towards a spot in the top five or six picks.

Miller has reportedly already scheduled workouts with the Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns – who own three of the first six picks in April’s draft.

The fact that Miller could go in the top five isn’t a surprise, but it is interesting that he’s drawing interest from nearly everyone at the top of the draft.

A fourth team in the top six, the Arizona Cardinals, may actually be the team most likely to draft Miller. They’re desperate for youth at linebacker and Miller would be a perfect fit in their 3-4 scheme. In my latest mock draft I have Miller going 5th overall to Arizona.

Update: Miller worked out for the Cardinals on March 15

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bills, Broncos, Browns, Cardinals Comments Off

Draft Needs: Denver Broncos

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Denver Broncos. [full archive here].

Season Recap – Denver’s season suffered greatly from Josh McDaniels and his questionable player trades, namely shipping off stud running back Peyton Hillis for third string quarterback Brady Quinn. McDaniels did select Tim Tebow in the draft last season, and there were glimpses of greatness from the league-leading jersey seller. This offseason, Denver must add protection for Tebow and pieces to its defense, as they transition back into the 4-3 under John Fox.

Needs:
1. Defensive Tackle - The past two seasons, Denver brought in defensive lineman for the 3-4, but now they must find true defensive tackles for the 4-3 alignment they plan to run. As of now, Denver has one of the worst front sevens in football and adding a tackle atop the draft will help the entire unit improve. Look for either Marcel Dareus or Nick Fairley to fill the void this offseason. Read more

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Broncos, Draft Needs - 2011 1 Comment

Broncos draft plans hinge on Champ Bailey’s decision?

Conventional wisdom says the Broncos will address their defense with the 2nd-overall selection in April’s draft. This likely means deciding between Nick Fairley, Da’Quan Bowers and Patrick Peterson.

At the moment, defensive line looks like their most pressing need. However, that could all change if Champ Bailey decides to leave once free agency opens (if it ever does).

Is Champ Bailey done in Denver?

If we ever get to the point where teams are allowed to negotiate with free agents, Bailey would certainly have good reasons to leave Denver. He’ll be 33 in June and has won just one playoff game in his seven years with the Broncos. If he wants to chase a championship, Denver probably isn’t the place to do that.

Bailey’s departure would leave the Broncos with journeyman Andre Goodman and troubled rookie Parrish Cox as their starting cornerbacks. Cox, however, may not even be available for all or part of the 2011 season and beyond, depending on the outcome of his arrest for sexual assault.

Given these potential departures from the Broncos secondary, Patrick Peterson may start to look like the most attractive option in the draft. He compares favorably to Bailey, and is one of the most talented corners to enter the draft in a number of years.

The Broncos may also be swayed toward Peterson due to the depth in this year’s defensive line class. The difference in talent between Peterson and potential early 2nd-round options (Brandon Harris, Aaron Williams) is far greater than the difference between Fairley/Bowers and a player such as Cameron Heyward, who may still be available with the 36th pick.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Broncos Comments Off