5 Positions the Broncos Must Address in the Offseason
The 2012 version of the Denver Broncos have the chance to be a very good football team. That being said they still have some areas of weakness that still must be addressed.
There is no reason for Broncos fans to worry though, as their are plenty of great players available in the Draft this year.
The Broncos will play a very hard schedule this season but luckily for them Peyton Manning will be leading the team into battle this year.
The Broncos are going to drastically improve their passing numbers.
Their passing offense, which ranked dead last in the league last year, will be in the top ten by next season's end.
The Broncos invested their third-round pick in 2010 on J. D Walton, a center who played his college ball at Baylor.
Walton hasn't played great thus far, and the team should look to improve at center if the right opportunity presents itself.
Manning had a great relationship with Jeff Saturday, his center in Indianapolis. Peyton will be adamant about taking snaps from a center who understands the game and will protect him well.
The center is responsible for the majority of the line calls; they are basically the quarterback of the offensive line.
Centers are often overlooked and undervalued in the NFL, but this isn't the case with Manning.
The offensive line will have to play well to keep Manning healthy and upright in 2012.
If ex-Wisconsin standout Peter Konz is available when the Broncos pick in the first round, they should strongly consider drafting him.
Centers normally don't get drafted in Round 1, but Konz is good enough to be an exception.
If Konz becomes a perennial pro-bowler, which he has the potential to do, then the pick will be justified.
The Broncos were ranked 22nd in rush defense a year ago, allowing their opponents to rack up 126 yards per contest.
Since then, they lost their best run stopper Brodrick Bunkley, who signed with the Saints as a free agent.
If the Broncos cannot stop the run, it will be very difficult for them to make a championship run.
In order for a defense to be successful they must be stout against the run—if they aren't it's going to be a long season.
Manning can only do so much to help the team. If he is spending the majority of the game on the sideline sipping Gatorade and watching his defense get run over, then the team will face problems.
The Broncos should target a defensive tackle in the first round this year. Luckily for them, there are a lot of great prospects in this year's draft class.
I would love to see the Broncos grab either Michael Brockers from LSU or Fletcher Cox out of Mississippi State.
The Broncos may need to trade up and into the teens in order to do this, however.
Both of these prospects have a huge upside and would instantly upgrade the Denver run defense.
Teams around the league know how important a great defensive tackle to teams overall success and will draft accordingly.
The Broncos hoped that when they drafted Knowshon Moreno in the first round of the 2009 draft, they had just drafted a future star at running back.
Anyone who has followed Moreno's career knows that this hasn't been the case.
In his three seasons in the Mile High City, he has ran for less than 2,000 yards while only finding the end zone 12 times.
To make matters even worse, Moreno has struggled with injuries in his young career. He missed three games in his second season and injuries kept him out of nine contests last year.
Moreno is not even the starting running back in Denver, that title belongs to Willis McGahee.
Willis isn't getting any younger though; he will turn 31 in October. Typically, once a running back hits 30 his production starts to decrease dramatically.
With all the questions surrounding the running back position, the Broncos have no choice but to draft a young back this year.
If either Lamar Miller or David Wilson, from Miami and Virginia Tech respectively, are available when the team picks in Round 2, they should not hesitate in taking one of them.
Either player would be a great addition to a backfield that currently has a lot of question marks surrounding it.
Every team in the NFL should have a solid backup quarterback, it's just good football sense.
Bringing in Peyton Manning was a spectacular move for Denver, but he is 36 years old and missed the entire 2011 season due to a neck injury.
As great as Manning is, he needs to be able to play healthily to help the Broncos. Just ask last year's Colts how much Manning helped on the way to their abysmal 2-14 record.
The Broncos did sign Caleb Hanie this offseason but he isn't exactly the guy you would want leading your football team if Manning got hurt.
Hanie played in six games last year when ex-Bronco QB Jay Cutler got injured, and didn't perform very well. He threw nine interceptions compared to three touchdowns and only completed half of his passes.
The Broncos must bring in another QB to challenge Hanie.
The team's best opportunity to do so is the draft.
Taking a QB in Round 3 or 4 would be in the organization's best interest.
Russell Wilson and Kellen Moore should be available around then and would be an improvement over Hanie in the long run.
Brian Dawkins missed the end of the regular season and the playoffs last season with a neck injury.
It is possible, some would say likely, that Dawkins will not play another down in the NFL and will retire.
If Dawkins is unable to play next year, then the strong safety position will become a major need for Denver.
The Broncos need to draft a strong safety on draft day.
Mark Barron will not fall to the Broncos in Round 1 so they aren't likely to take a safety until at least Round 3, due to other needs.
A player like Justin Bethel out of Presbyterian, is a solid all-around player and may blossom into a long-term starter at strong safety.