Denver Broncos April Scouting Report
Elway fortified the fronts on both sides of the ball. G Ron Leary is a physical guy who plays with an attitude, and T Menelik Watson has that same ability at tackle. NT Domata Peko is a longtime team leader and DE Zach Kerr has "a lot of upside". All bring a bit more nastiness to their units than was present last year because of their size and ability. "It's still open, and we're not done. (Elway).
The offensive line looks like it is going to be a multi-year project, not a one-year fix. The Broncos needed productive players and G Ronald Leary and T Menelik Watson are upgrades on Michael Schofield and Donald Stephenson. Both Watson and Donald Stephenson (restructured contract) have experience at left tackle, but neither is the likely solution. Leary will be a starter and Watson can be if the Broncos can somehow solve the riddle of a gifted player who has been slowed by a string of injuries. There will be guys released from now until summer and there are three guys that are first-round picks: Utah's Garett Bolles, Wisconsin's Ryan Ramczyk and Alabama's Cam Robinson (Joseph). So it's a work in progress. T Justin Murry's 6’5 305 lbs (Future Contract) size alone allows him to be an anchor on the outside, however, his size could be a problem versus quick pass rushers. If the Broncos don’t believe players WRs Bennie Fowler (3rd yr), Jordan Taylor (2nd yr) and Kafif Raymond (2nd yr)are ready to make a significant jump in their play, they will need some wide receiver help. Defenses will keep doubling Thomas and Sanders until the Broncos find somebody who forces them to do otherwise.
The Broncos appear to be entrusting many young players (Kerr, Barrett, Anderson, Dora, Doss, Nelson) with bigger roles in 2017 and are no better or worse along their front-seven. LB Kevin Snyder 6’2 245lbs (Future Contract) possesses great eyes, footwork and ability to track the football for solid pass coverage and covering drag and inside routes in space.
LS Jeff Overbaugh, 6-2 240lbs (Future Contract) makes minimal mistakes at long snapper.
The Broncos have spent most of their free-agency money on their own guys in recent seasons. Elway believes free agency is where a team should sign for need so the draft can be used to acquire the most talented players on the board, regardless of position. The AFC West is getting more and more physical, and the Broncos added some very physical players. DT Domata Peko (32) 6'3, 325, a durable run stuffer, will compete to be the starting nose tackle. DE Zach Kerr (26) 6'2, 330, a defensive end with a nose tackle's body, brings physicality, toughness, quickness, and versatility to the defensive line. DE Kasim Edebali (27) 6'2, 253 projects as a rotational linebacker for the Broncos behind Von Miller, Shane Ray and Shaq Barrett. Peko has been a durable, productive pro for more than a decade. Zach Kerr should get situational work, and Kasim Edebali should be a regular on special teams. Three exclusive rights free agents have signed their tenders: C Matt Paradis, WR Jordan Taylor, and LC Casey Kreiter. The Broncos still need a true left tackle, a home run hitting runningback, a cornerback and a #3 Quarterback (maybe a young veteran).
LOST: CB Kayvon Webster OLB DeMarcus Ware (retired) OLB Dekoda Watson
The Broncos need game-breakers who can create mismatches, but the Broncos will look for the player they feel has the greatest value and fit for them: 1) the most productive over the long term 2) the most unique talent relative to his on-field position and draft standing and 3) how much of an upgrade is the player over a veteran free-agent or trade acquisition.
Determining value is difficult because it is highly variable based on scheme, coaching, team needs and the players specific skill sets and sizes. The Broncos would probably need to trade up farther than they have in recent drafts to draft RB Christan McCaffrey. I expect them to add a quarterback during or after the draft.
BRONCO-PROSPECT MEETINGS (SR - Senior Bowl; EW - East-West Shrine; COM - Combine; PRO - Pro Day; PRI - Private visit): Isaac Asiata, G/C, Utah (COM) Zach Banner, OT, USC (COM) Garett Bolles, OT, Utah (COM) Caleb Brantley, DT/NT, Florida (COM) Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss (COM) Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama (COM) Dan Feeney, G, Indiana (COM) Brian Hill, RB, Wyoming (COM) Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech (COM) Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo (COM) Danny Isidora, G, Miami (SR) Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee (COM) Forrest Lamp, OT/G, Western Kentucky (SR) Harvey Langi, ILB, Brigham Young (SR) Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson (COM) Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida (COM) Pat Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech (COM) Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford (COM; PRO) Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma (PRI) David Njoku, TE, Miami (COM) Storm Norton, OT, Toledo (EW) Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin (COM) John Ross, WR, Washington (COM) Garrett Sickels, DE/3-4OLB, Penn State (PRO) Jamari Staples, WR, Louisville (SR) Trent Taylor, WR, Louisiana Tech (SR) Marquez White, CB, Florida State (SR) Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado (COM) Deangelo Yancey, WR, Purdue (EW) Josh Hill, Merrimack (PRO) T AL,Cam Robinson (COM; PRI) WR O. Dom. Zach Pascal (PRO) DL O. Dom Rashaad Coward (PRO)
Sleepers: OT Julién Davenport Bucknell (size 6-7, 318 Rd 2) Akron's Jerome Lane (raw, unusually quick 226 pounder), Western Kentucky's Taywan Taylor, CB Breon Borders (Duke), SS Malik Gordon (Penn State), QB Austin Apodaca (NM) OT Taylor Morton (W. Mich) (6'5 319 Rd 2)
It doesn't mean much as players take tons of visits this time of year.
The Broncos appears to be entrusting many young players with bigger roles next season.
QB: Siemian; Lynch RB: Anderson; Booker WR: Thomas (Joseph has challenged Thomas to be a "dominant player all the time."); Sanders TE: Green; Derby; Heuerman OL: Paridis; Leary; Watson; Stephenson; Sambrillo; Garcia; Turner; McGovern; Ferentz; Day; Schofield; Murry
DL: Wolfe; D. Peko; Kerr; Gostis; K. Peko; Richardson; Iosia LB: Miller; Ray; Marshall; Davis; Barrett; Edebali; Nelson; Anderson; Dora; Gause; Snyder CB: Talib; Harris; Roby; Doss; Nixon; FS: Stewart; Simmons SS: Ward; Parks
K: McManus P: Dixon LS: Kreiter; Overbaugh to be continued
April 10: Offseason program begins
April 25-27: Voluntary Minicamp
April 27-29: 2017 NFL draft
May 11-13: Rookie Orientation
May 23-25, May 30-31, June 1, June 5-8: OTAs
June 13-15: Mandatory Minicamp
The Broncos appear to be marginally better on paper, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Left offensive taackle is still a need and the rest ofthe offensive line will remain a question mark until the pads come on. The same can be said for the defensive line. The quality of the Broncos may well determine how successful the Broncos are this season. The Broncos under Mike Shanahan believed they needed to be in the top five offensivly and defensively. This year's team should be top five defensively, but the offense may not have enough talent, playmakers or depth to be in the top five. The Broncos could rather than should win the AFC West and should be no worse than second in the division with double digit wins. I'm a McCaffrey man in the draft, but trading up to get him isn't something I'd be inclined to do with the likely hood of one of the top four offensive linemen being available at #20.
FANTASY OUTLOO K
Quarterback Trevor Siemian will be better than last season, but Paxton Lynch may not be ready for extensive duty. I won't be drafting either for my fantasy team. At least the Tony Romo (retired) saga is over. The runningbacks are C.J. Anderson and Davante Booker. (It is at least mildly concerning the Broncos do not know if Anderson will be ready by the end of May, but he should be a full go for training camp at the latest). They are the only backs presently on the team that have any fantasy relevence. The same may be said for wide receivers DeMaryious Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. The rest of the wide receivers have various shades of potential and little fantasy relevance without a breakout seasons. The tight ends, as a group, are receiving tight ends based on their talents. Virgil Green plays more of a blocking role, but IMO is a good receiver if he is given a chance. None are fantasy starters. Kicker Brandon McManus may be a starting fantasy kicker, but we won't know how Vance Joseph will go with field goal attempts with a team he wants "to score points." We do know you don't usually win if you kick too many fields. However, I look for McManus to bounce back into the top 10 this year. Even with the personnel changes, I see an uptick for the defense under new defensive coordinator Joe Woods-kind of a "halo effect" for an all ready good defense.
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