Posted Fri Apr 18th by Monty
Part Two of today’s series explores why the Denver Broncos should NOT draft a linebacker in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Enjoy.
In the first segment, I tore down our linebacker depth and revealed its weaknesses. D.J. Williams is only under contract for one year; Niko Koutouvides has been, thus far, a career backup; Boss Bailey has a history of injuries. The depth behind these players is decent enough, though – Jamie Winborn played well to end the season in Ian Gold‘s absence. Nate Webster struggled at the end but started the year strong. Winborn will be the backup Will behind Williams, and Webster can back up both Sam and Mike. The Broncos also have Jordan Beck and Louis Green on the roster.
That’s a lot of names – enough to fill the need for the roster. The Broncos have enough bodies at this position, while other spots like OT and DT have three or less potential guys to fill holes in case of injuries. The need for elite talent is there, but there are greater needs elsewhere.
I mentioned last time that it’s not impossible to imagine the “worst case scenario” – where D.J. flies the coop after 08, Kouts doesn’t cut it as a starter, and Bailey goes down to injury. If I had to put odds on each of these events taking place, I’d say 30/70, 30/70, and 40/60 respectively. It’s more than likely that the guys we currently have under contract will more than measure up – possibly for the long term.
I also wonder if there’s a player worth that pick at 12th overall. USC outside linebacker Keith Rivers will almost certainly be gone. I mentioned him as a possibility in the previous post, but the reality is that there’s little chance he’d fall past all three teams picking at 9 through 11 (Bengals, Saints, Bills). What’s more, if Rivers is drafted, where does that leave Williams? They both prefer weak side linebacker. Would the Broncos be preparing to let Williams hit the market? Would Williams be asked to move AGAIN?
The other name that is shooting up the boards is Tennessee ILB Jerod Mayo. Not only does he come from the same school as former Broncos captain Al Wilson, but many scouts compare his physical toolset and leadership on the field to Wilson. Many mock drafts now have him drafted in the top 15, and most have him in the top 20.
When the Broncos drafted Al Wilson, they were coming off a Super Bowl championship and drafting #31 overall. Are they really going to use such a significantly higher draft pick on what amounts to the same guy? It’s a tempting proposition, but it’s doubtful.
The Broncos linebackers corps have questions, to be certain, but they’re not of the glaring type that the team currently has at OT, DT and RB.