Peyton Manning will return to the Denver Broncos but is 2015 the last hurrah? It very well could be but the championship window is still open, especially if the Broncos can put together a solid rookie class from the 2015 NFL Draft.
With draft season heating up, I got together with Sayre Bedinger of Predominantly Orange for more on what the Broncos still need to accomplish now that the free agency frenzy has died down. Below are my questions followed by Sayre’s responses.
1. How have the team’s draft needs changed since free agency opened?
"The Broncos didn’t attack free agency like they have in years past, so the perceived needs — for the most part — have stayed the same. They added Owen Daniels and re-signed Virgil Green at tight end, and they also added a sleeper in TE/FB/H-Back hybrid Joe Don Duncan, who was a pre-draft favorite of Gary Kubiak last year that wasn’t healthy enough to compete for a roster spot.The team also added Darian Stewart to compete at free safety, which was another large possible area of need. The major questions that remain for the Broncos are all along the offensive line at LG, C, and RT. They plan to promote some of those from within, but there are still major question marks."
2. What would you say are the top three needs remaining?
"I would say the top three remaining needs for the Broncos at this point are right tackle, left guard, and inside linebacker. The Broncos are obviously planning on signing a veteran center to compete with Matt Paradis, so they feel that spot is locked in even if they have to go to the draft for help. Right tackle and left guard are murky areas right now unless they decide last year’s third rounder Michael Schofield is ready for action. With Zane Beadles (LG) and Orlando Franklin (RT, LG) bolting for bigger bucks the last two offseasons, those have become big positions of need."
3. Are there any prospects that have caught your eye so far?
"For the Broncos, I’m always thinking of scenarios for how they can approach the draft and how they can attack their needs. There is nothing that won’t be considered at the bottom of the first round, even a quarterback. However, I really like Jake Fisher (OT, Oregon), D.J. Humphries (OT, Florida), Benardrick McKinney (LB, Mississippi State), Stephone Anthony (LB, Clemson), Brandon Scherff (OL, Iowa), Cameron Erving (OL, Florida State), Maxx Williams (TE, Minnesota), TJ Clemmings (OT, Pittsburgh), and Clive Walford (TE, Miami) just to name a few."
4. What do you think would make for a successful draft for your team?
"The Broncos need to come away from their first three picks probably with guys who can all be ready to start in 2015. They will have plenty of young contributors this year, but the rookies coming in are going to have an especially quick crash course to the league. They are placing extra emphasis on youth development with Gary Kubiak as the head coach, so getting three instant impact players is a lot to ask but it would make for a very successful draft class."
5. So much draft focus often goes to the first few rounds, but is there something you’d like to see your team do in the later rounds?
"The Broncos have phenomenal depth at wide receiver at the top, but they are clearly holding open tryouts for the last few spots. They signed a handful of players to reserve/future contracts in addition to bringing back the three guys that finished the year on the practice squad. I would like to see them bring in a guy like Chris Harper from Cal who can be a future slot man and return specialist. Other than that, I’d really like to see the Broncos dig deep in their scouting notebooks for the best, unheralded pass rushers in this year’s class. Perhaps most of all, I’d like to see the Broncos cash in on the depth of this RB class by adding at least one guy to the fray."
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