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Published on 02/08/2012 at Wed Feb 08 12:27.
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Von Miller and John Elway

Von Miller of the Denver Broncos is presented to the media for the first time with vice president of football operations John Elway at Dove Valley on April 29, 2011 in Englewood, Colorado. Miller, a projected outside linebacker in head coach John Fox's new 4-3 scheme, was selected second overall from Texas A&M. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Editor’s Note: We’re thrilled to welcome Christopher Hart back onto the BT staff as one of our draft experts. Chris will jump in each week with scouting reports of players of interest for the Broncos. To start things off today, Chris looks at what some of the Broncos’ bigger needs are. Enjoy!

It’s great to be back on staff to contributing to the best coverage of Broncos News on the Internet. One of my main focuses over the following months will be to provide information and analysis regarding the Broncos and 2012 NFL Draft. If it has anything to do with the Broncos and the NFL Draft — it will be covered here!

Where Do We Go From Here?

2011 is a year that Denver Broncos fans will remember for years to come. After starting the season with an abysmal 1-4 record under the leadership of Kyle Orton, the Broncos Brass made the dramatic switch to second-year quarterback Tim Tebow who helped spark a rally that ignited the Broncos to their first playoff appearance and division championship since 2005. Sporting the underdog role, the Broncos shocked the football world when they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in an overtime thriller on Wildcard Weekend — only to end up being brought back down to Earth after a thrashing by the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Game.

Even with a disappointing end to their 2011 campaign, the Broncos season can be highlighted as positive from a variety of perspectives. First and foremost, the accrual of playoff experience is something that these players needed to grow on the field. Champ Bailey and DJ Williams are the only remaining members left from the 2005 team who lost the Steelers in the AFC Championship. Outside a few free-agent veterans, the Broncos roster was devoid of players with experience and post-season backgrounds. With two games against quality opponents underneath their belt, the Broncos should be battle-tested and prepared with a new sense of confidence for the rigors that will come in 2012.

Additionally, the fact the Broncos were able to make the playoffs with such a young team and new coaching staff is delightful in its own right. There can be no doubt that the virgin years of John Fox’s and John Elway’s leadership tenure in Denver was a tremendous leap forward from The Great Depression endured under former head coach Josh McDaniels. Unfortunately, Dennis Allen, whose coaching and philosophy helped improved the Broncos defense in 2011 has been hired on to lead the rival Oakland Raiders into battle — leaving the Broncos with their seventh defensive coordinator hire in seven years. Allen’s replacement, former Jacksonville Head Coach Jack Del Rio has had success teaming with John Fox in the past — and Broncos fans should be excited about their reunion.

Key performances from young players such as Tim Tebow, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Von Miller (Defensive Rookie of the Year), Orlando Franklin and Quinton Carter are encouraging signs that the Broncos have a strong foundation for the future. Undoubtedly, the Broncos need to get better and most certainly will. If the Broncos play their cards right in free agency and the 2012 NFL Draft, they should have an opportunity to once again make headlines in the coming season. With that said, let’s shift our focus from a synopsis of last season to what the Broncos can do to get better in 2012!

As it stands right now:  The Broncos hold the 25th selection in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.  This will be out of the range of the blue-chip prospects, but players who can contribute immediately will be available.  In addition to that Denver has selections in the second, third, fourth, (2) fifth and a seventh round to bolster their roster.  But what areas of the team need to be addressed the most?  Listed below are my thoughts on where the Broncos need a talent influx.

  1. Defensive Tackle– Broderick Bunkley was a consistent performer for the Broncos in 2011, but is a free agent this off-season.  Marcus Thomas deserves a call-back as a rotational defender, but he isn’t the kind of player who strikes fear into opposing lineman.  Fans have clamored for the use of an early selection on a defensive tackle for years and have been let down consistently.  Figuratively speaking, the defensive tackle stable is either bare or broken (I’m talking to you Ty Warren) and an upgrade is necessary.  Jack Del Rio wants to get pressure by using his front four and become more stout on run defense.  Addressing defensive tackle early is a must. Consider:  Devon Still, Fletcher Cox, Jerel Worthy, Brandon Thompson and Alameda Ta’amu
  2. Cornerback– Champ Bailey is a consistent performer and Hall of Famer and Chris Harris showed promise as a nickel corner as a rookie, but the Broncos need a legitimate option opposite of Champ to replace Andre Goodman, who is long in the tooth and has consistency issues in coverage.  Lucky for Denver, this class has quality depth at the corner position and they should have the ability to snag one with starter caliber in the first three rounds if they don’t bring in someone in free agency.  Expect to target corners who are able to cover well in zone. Consider:  Janoris Jenkins, Stephon Gilmore, Chase Minnifield and Casey Heyward
  3. Running Back– Willis McGahee proved to be a valuable addition to the Broncos #1 rushing attack, but is 31 years old.  Knowshon Moreno has talent, but legal issues and injury concerns may hinder his ability to contribute long-term.   Jeremiah Johnson and Lance Ball can easily be replaced with a mid-tier draft talent.  If the Broncos want to be successful and keep pressure of Tim Tebow, the rushing game still has to be consistent.  It would make sense for the Broncos to bring in another young rusher to keep McGahee fresh. Consider: Lamarr Miller, Chris Polk, LaMichael James and Vick Ballard

The aforementioned positions are three positions where I think the Broncos can find players with their early selections that can make an immediate impact to the team.  Linebacker and Interior Offensive Line are also positions where the Broncos should pay close attention to as well, but have recently drafted players who should get another year of development before being replaced.

Draft Wildcard Surprise:  Despite drafting Virgil Green and Julius Thomas, the Broncos should consider the opportunity to nab Dwayne Allen or Orson Charles, who have the ability to be dynamic receiving tight ends in the NFL.  A tight end is a young quarterbacks’ best friend and Tim Tebow would benefit from having such an option on the team.

What About Quarterback:  With Tim Tebow being the only quarterback under contract for the 2012 NFL season, the Broncos have clearly stated they are in the market for a quarterback.  Brock Osweiler and Ryan Lindley are two options in the middle of the draft that offer starting potential and would be great value / insurance selections.

Random Musings:  The Broncos would be wise to add a utility player on offense who can bring speed and quickness to the offense.  T.Y. Hilton, Isaiah Pead, Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps are some names to look forward to as the draft process unfolds.

Agree with my take? Where do you think some of our biggest needs lie, Broncos country?

Check back this Friday to witness the kickoff of my 2012 NFL Draft Prospect Scouting Report Database — highlighting South Carolina DE/OLB Melvin Ingram!

  • http://Facebook.com/BroncosZone Jon

    Welcome back, Christopher! Looking forward to your contributions to the site.

  • Anonymous

    Welcome back, and I totally agree about Denver’s needs. I don’t know much about the available college players, so I’m glad you are going to be providing your insight…

  • Requim of Dream?

    So, how does one become a “draft expert”?

  • Braden

    Vontaze Berfict in the first round!

  • Anonymous

    I’m all for Berfict, but only if we can get him in the second round

  • 5280

    Well I think your on point for the most part. I don’t really see lamicheal James as a good running back option though. He’s more of a special teams threat or a threat out of the backfield throwing the ball. However, I think Lamar miller is a grat pick up and Chris polkhad a great senior bowl. Denver needs a big back that can run between the tackles effectively and experience in the read option is preferred. But if they take a back they should don’t in the second or later rounds. Their first priority should be defense, specifically DT. I just wonder which positions they will address in free agency and which ones they’ll address in the draft. Keep in mind that Casey Hampton is a free agent this year and so is James Harrison. I’m not sure, but isn’t Asante Samuel a free agent also? It would be awesome to have champ on one side and Asante on the other. Talk about shut down corners!

  • Anonymous

    I’m all for a stud DT in the draft. With that said, if Brockers falls to 25, I take him. If he goes earlier (which I think he will) then I start looking to trade the 25th pick to a team that wants back into the 1st round for their 2nd round plus an additional pick or two.

    CB is something we need to find in FA, not the draft. (Terrel Thomas would be my choice if i had the check book)

    Yes RB could be addressed in both the later rounds of the draft and FA. I’d prefer not to spend a high pick on a RB tho. Marcus Lattimore should be coming out next year. I make a move in the draft to snag him in 2013.

    As far as Taze goes, he’s a not worth it. Throwing punches at his own teammates, temper tantrums on the sidelines..we dont need that mess. I haven’t given up on Nate Irving yet. I’d like to see what progress he can make this off season.

    QB, yes. I’d like to see Nick Foles. Outside of Luck and RG3, I think the rest of the QB’s aren’t anything to write home about and they’re all project type QB’s. Weeden isn’t bad, he’s just going to be old. 29 or 30 by the time the season starts. No thanks. I don’t see Foles falling to us in the 2nd, and to take him at 25 may be a bit of a reach. We do need to bring in QB’s tho, so not drafting one wouldn’t make any sense.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Arguecat/104517056045 Argue Cat

    Dream!!!!!!!!!

  • John P Mathias

    No Doug Martin on your RB radar?

  • requim for dream

    well, at least now we know what happens to posters that get kicked off broncos forums.

  • Anonymous

    Tebow is a competitor no doubt and at times a good passer, but he is too inconsistent. I saw several plays where the rookie Tight End #85 Virgil Green ran perfect routes and was wide open and Tebow threw the ball in the dirt, or over his head. I have followed Green since high school when he was a Wide Receiver. Green will catch anything that is possible to catch. Tebow checks his 1st option usually #88  Demaryus Thomas, and if he is not open, Tebow is ready to run, without checking down to his often open Tight Ends. Green is also an excellent Yards after the catch receiver (YAC). Lessons could be learned watching The New England Patriots, Brady to Hernandez and Gronkowski and even Woodhead 5, 10, 15 yard checkdowns and occassionally the 20-40 yard passes to Welker. I think Virgil Green and Daniel Fells did a great job at run blocking considering the ball was rarely passed to them, and when it was it was barely catchable if at all. Many of their unselfish blocks helped Tebow and Magahee get in the endzone.