Posted Fri Jan 28th by Jon Heath
In the coming weeks and months leading up to the 2011 NFL Draft, you’ll see plenty of mocks and predictions on who the Broncos should pick. This isn’t one of them. This is a fan trying to make a case for a player, or rather, for a position.
This week is Senior Bowl week, a time when NFL coaches and players get a chance to meet with some of the top college players in the country and watch them play live. The Denver Broncos currently have only one scheduled meeting (known of), and that is with LSU star cornerback Patrick Peterson.
This blogger loves Peterson and would love if Denver drafted him, while at the same time questioning if it is the right pick.
In 2009, the Cleveland Browns‘ defense ranked 31st, the second worst defense in the NFL that season. Heading into last April, their defense needed some serious help. The team selected Florida star corner Joe Haden with the 7th overall pick. While Haden had a solid rookie campaign, the Browns defense didn’t fair quite so well. Last season, Cleveland’s defense ranked 22nd overall, with the 18th best secondary and 27th worst best run defense.
Another team that was looking to rebuild its defense through the draft last season, the Detroit Lions drafted Ndamkukong Suh. The former Nebraska standout helped the Lions defense go from dead last in 2009 to ranking 21st overall last season.
A year prior to the above mentioned NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers held the 9th overall selection. Looking for help on the defensive line, Green Bay drafted tackle B.J. Raji out of Boston College. Five picks later, the New Orleans Saints selected Ohio’s Malcolm Jenkins, one of the most scouted corners in 2009. The Packers defense ranked third in 2010, with Raji starting all sixteen games while recording 6.5 sacks. The Saints ranked 10th, with Jenkins contributing (now as a free safety), but he hasn’t had the impact Raji has over the past two seasons.
Now don’t think I’m trying to compare Haden to Peterson and Fairley to Suh, that’s not fair. This is a comparision of positions. Over the last two drafts, teams looking to improve their defenses by starting with the defensive line have faired better than those that have selected corners.
This is not about a safe pick, it’s about rebuilding a defense by starting in the trenches. A good pass rush can make any good cornerback look like a great one (just look at New Englands’ Devin McCourty). That’s not a knock against Peterson — he is the real deal, and would be a safer pick than say Auburns Nick Fairley. There are plenty of capable cornerbacks (many more than there are productive defensive tackles and ends) that will be available in later rounds, though.
Fairley isn’t the only option for the Broncos either. Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, Alabam’s defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, and Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget have all drawn exceptional scouting reports and would help to get a defense headed back in the right direction.
Agree, disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments!