Denver Broncos April Scouting Report
Denver's roster has more play makers through the first wave of free agency and they continue to add free-agent talent via the second-wave market. But their roster still has a few holes and needs. VP/GM John Elway is known for his reticence in entering the draft with any big needs. The Broncos need a #2 and #3 wide receiver and depth across the roster. The tight end group features a lot of uncertainty, as Jeff Heuerman, Jake Butt, Austin Fort and Troy Fumagalli have all dealt with serious injuries. TE Nick Vannett's signing brings the best ability-availability-to the Broncos. Number one TE Noah Fant's role will basically be as a big slot receiver.
Denver was the only team in 2019 to finish the season in the bottom five in points per game, yards per game, red-zone efficiency and third-down percentage. They are looking for Melvin Gordon to fix that. Gordon had nine touchdowns last year in only three-quarters of the season. He's the only player in the NFL to rush for at least eight touchdowns in each of the last four seasons. Throw in his receiving touchdowns, and Gordon has averaged 1.75 touchdowns per season during that time. If Gordon shares the load with Lindsay, Lindsay's explosiveness could return. "Any time you can add a good football player to your team, especially one who will touch the ball, if that works financially and works with the structure of your team, it's always a good thing to do," (Fangio).
Denver has $19m+/- in cap space heading into the third wave of free agency, but are likely done until after the draft.
Pre-Draft: The NFL's offseason workout programs were to begin on April 20, but have been postponed indefinitely. The players are struggling to find a place to work out, because most of the gyms/places they go to are closed down.The Broncos are in the process of sending players their tablets and are working on a plan to communicate with their 90-man roster.The Broncos still need some additional pop on offense, including more speed at wide receiver: Ceedee Lamb, Oklahoma, is an all-around WR1; Jerry Jeudy, Alabama is a high-end slot receiver or go-to target on the outside; Henry Ruggs, Alabama, is a matchup mismatch as a rookie (Will Fuller to Tyreek Hill by end of rookie contract); Justin Jefferson, LSU, (4.43 speed) reliable underneath target (4.43 speed) as a rookie with WR1 upside in a couple years. Five offensive tackles, 1 linebacker and 2 cornerbacks are in play with the wide receivers at #15.
The Broncos best move is to trade down in the draft and pick up an extra second round pick.
The Broncos' head strength and conditioning coach, Loren Landow, and his three assistants have designed a program maintain the physical conditioning if they can't be at the training Broncos' center. Each individual's plan is built around rebuilding the player's body by reducing the amount of weight lifted, increasing repetitions and slowing down the pace of each workout. Each workout includes sprint work to strengthen hamstrings, hip flexors, ankle joints, calf muscles and other key areas.
2020 NFL Draft "I think we feel like we can go into the draft and draft the best player possible that's going to be able to help our football team," Elway said. "So, I felt like we closed our glaring holes and therefore can go into the draft and try to pick the football players for the Broncos that are going to have a chance to have good, long careers." Elway has a history of favoring PAC 12 players and defense ($123m) over offense ($63m). The talent level in rounds 5-7 isn't much different than undrafted free agents, so teams are just looking for guys that fit their system. Elway can complete a mini-rebuild with five picks in the top-100 heading into the draft. The Broncos need to come away with four starters from this draft – receiver (a dynamic WR2), cornerback (Fangio's zone-centric scheme) left tackle or center/guard and a number three safety. Orangeman's Take In a best player available scenario, Denver should take two of these players in the first two rounds, if possible: Tier 1 CB Jeffrey Okudah; LB/CB/S Isaiah Simmons OT Jedrick Wills; OT Tristan Wirfs: WR CeeDee Lamb*; OT Mekhi Becton; DT Derrick Brown; WR Jerry Jeudy*; WR Henry Ruggs*; OT Andrew Thomas WR Justin Jefferson*; LB Patrick Queen; DT Javon Kinlaw; Tier 2 C/G Cesar Ruiz; S Xavier McKinney; CB Jaylon Johnson; CB C.J. Henderson; S Grant Delpit; LB Kenneth Murray; WR Denzel Mims*; WR Tee Higgins; Tier 3 CB Kristian Fulton; OT Saahdig Charles; CB Travon Diggs; OT Matt Peart; OT Lucas Niang; CB A.J. Terrell; OT Prince Tega Wanogho; WR Brandon Aiyuk*; WR Chase Claypool*; WR Laviska Shenault*; WR K.J. Hamler*; IOL Damien Lewis; DT Ross Blacklock; IOL Matt Hennessy; DT Justin Mudubuike; DT Leki Fotu; DT James lynch; S Antoine Winfield, Jr.; DT Jordan Elliott. Denver may have to trade around to make it happen. Transactions CB Bryce Callahan took a pay cut to free up cap space ($1.8m), but can earn it back. Signed: CB A.J. Bouye (#1 corner); RG/C Glen Glasgow (starter); LS Jacob Bobenmoyer; QB Jeff Driskel back-up); RB Melvin Gordon (bell cow); TE Nick Vannett (blocker); P Sam Martin; Re-signed: CB De'Vante Bausby; LB Joe Jones; OLB Jeremiah Attaochu; NT Joel Heath; DLÂ Shelby Harris; OLB Jeremiah Attaochu; Lost: S Will Parks (Eagles); CB Chris Harris (Chargers); OL Connor McGovern (Jets); DL Derek Wolfe; LS Casey Kreiter; Fantasy Draft Outlook An Offense More Built on Potential than Proven Production. Quarterback: An Unknown Quantity with Limitless Ceiling. Running back: Leading the 2020 Offense. Wide Receiver: The Current Picture is Dim (how well did they address the wide receiver position?). Tight End: Solid with Upside. Offensive Line: A League-Average Unit. The Broncos are building a more smashmouth team which can play a ball-control, physical style of football (although the passing game is more valuable then the running game in today's NFL).
QB Drew Lock-waiver wire
RB Melvin Gordon-mid RB2; volatility not consistency; red zone and passing down work.
RB Phillip Lindsay-flex option w/decent floor, low ceiling; more 1B than backup.
RB Royce Freemen- not fantasy-relevant unless he leaves the Broncos.
WR Courtland Sutton-wide receiver 2 with # 1 upside
TE Noah Fant-low tight end #1 with top 5 upside
PK Brandon McManus-top 10
More to come next month after the draft!
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