Denver Broncos March Scouting Report
For years, everybody in the NFL ran the same offense. It was all kind of I-formation, under center, and everybody ran the same stuff. NFL offenses now rely more and more on deception like the read option. The big question is how expansive these "new" ideas will become in a league still ruled by pocket quarterbacks. IMO, Denver needs to run a one back spread offense with it's systematic approach to calling plays that uses a few base concepts-get good at them-and has the necessary counters and adjustments ready when the defense adjusts to what the offense is doing. Mike Leach does this with his air raid offense and Peyton Manning and Tom Moore did the same in Indianapolis (and Denver proved it still works with some new wrinkles). I'm not saying that Denver should go "Air Raid", but the QB no longer has to be under center for the majority of the snaps and today's college quarterback's seldom if ever take snaps under center. John Elway's father, Jack, was at the forefront of the one-back spread movement and #7 needs to take a page from his father's playbook. The NFL is a copycat league, but as much as teams try to copy "The Patriot Dynasty", the teams have failed to copy the key ingredient. The Patriots run the same offense (a modified Erhardt-Perkins offense) and the same defense (a Fairbanks-Bullough 3–4 defense) with innovations year in and year out. Elway's greatest legacy would be to end the drastic roster turnover that a team goes through when shifting head coaches and coordinators by establishing a consistent offense and defense for the Broncos-possibly saving them from aggressively impatient impulses. I'm not suggesting Denver goes Erhardt-Perkins/Fairbanks-Bullough, but the Broncos history with the 3-4 defense and their 2013 offense suggests a place to start.
Offense: Turning the offense around will not be easy in one off season, but they will face the fifth easiest schedule in 2018. Looking to turn the offense around in a hurry, it appears they have set their sights on: Cousins, McCarron, Brees, or Keenum, before using the number five draft pick on a quarterback they will need to develop. They also must upgrade the offensive line, wide receivers and running back. Musgrave doesn't tend to use tight ends so that position isn't a pressing need. The Broncos will allow WR Cody Latimer to hit the open market and "consider" bringing him back if he "doesn’t get much in the way of a contract offer." Skill players on the roster to watch: QB Chad Kelly; RB De'Angelo Henderson; WR Jordan Leslie; TE Jake Butt. Other Players to watch: OT Cyrus Kouandjio; OG Jeremiah Poutasi.
Defense: The defense isn’t what it was two years ago, but clearly this is the strongest aspect of Denver’s roster right now. However, it needs to be upgraded on all levels-line, linebacker- defensive backs-with inside linebacker and an interior pass rusher as top priorities. If Talib leaves, then corner back becomes a need-and you can never have too many corner backs. Above all, DB Coach Greg William's defensive backs must be able to come up and make plays in the open field. Players to watch: DL DeShawn Williams; Edge Deiontrez Mount; CB Michael Hunter.
Free Agency:. Free agents tend to be signed by the teams that erred the most in predicting their true worth which is why free agent signings often turn out to be disappointing. Second and third tier free agents tend to be where there is value. The Broncos usually focus on their own free agents who they want to keep. This year, the team should tender OLB Shaquil Barrett (expected 2nd rd tender).
Trades: The Broncos should consider trading OLB Shane Ray, CB Aqib Talib, RB C. J. Anderson, QB Trevor Siemian.
Draft: The Broncos received a third-round (99th-overall) compensatory draft pick and currently hold 10 picks in the upcoming draft. Denver will have a lot of non-quarterback choices at #5 and. they should seriously consider drafting RB Saquon Barkley, G Quenton Nelson, S Minkah Fitzpatrick, or ILB Roquan Smith if they are available at #5. Wyoming QB Josh Allen is a non-power five quarterback who needs to improve his accuracy and decision-making. Trading up for a QB can be very risky, but Denver could benefit if a team wants to reach for him (if they don't want to draft him themselves). The 2019 draft class will have some high quality receivers and defensive linemen which could factor into Denver's 2018 draft. The first three rounds are for finding starter caliber players. The Broncos do exactly that to help turn the ship around. Denver has plenty of draft capital (extra selection in the fourth and fifth rounds), they are about middle-of-the-road in terms of their salary cap space ($26 million).
Orangeman's Take: Denver never tried to tailor the offense to what Lynch did best (like New England/Josh McDaniels) would have done. To sign QB Kirk Cousins, Denver will likely have to "mortgage the ranch".leaving them with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, tight cap space and an aging defense. The Broncos don’t have to move Lynch and they shouldn’t unless someone comes along with a generous trade offer. Lynch has failed to quickly live up to his draft status, but the Broncos can afford to be patient as Lynch’s rookie contract isn’t a burden to their cap and his dead money hit would cost more to release him than to just keep him. HC Vance Joseph wants the Broncos to get back to controlling the pace by running the ball and limiting turnovers in the passing attack. Limiting turnovers in the passing attack is a great idea, but we all know that running the ball isn't a formula for winning NFL football. Elway needs to purge himself of big contracts and bad mistakes on his aging roster.
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