Peyton Manning is the center piece of that project, and one must think that surrounding him with a core of talented wide receivers, like what he had in Indianapolis, is priority No. 1. However, I believe Peyton Manning has everything he needs at wide receiver, and the Broncos need to look at filling other holes in the 2012 NFL draft.
The 2006 NFL season ended with the Indianapolis Colts as the reigning Super Bowl champions. Peyton Manning had another remarkable year, throwing for nearly 4,400 yards and 31 touchdowns. He also had two wide receivers (Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne) who combined for over 180 receptions, 2,600 yards and 21 touchdowns that year.
Almost six years later, Peyton Manning finds himself six years older and four neck surgeries later. However, team doctors and fellow teammates have noted that Manning looks as good as ever, referencing to the article, "Broncos WR: 'No Question' Peyton's Arm Is OK".
So the question is, does Peyton Manning have all he needs at wide receiver to match what Harrison and Wayne did in 2006?
Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is coming off of a solid first year after missing his rookie season due to a lingering foot injury. In the 2011 season, Thomas caught 32 passes for 551 yards, and added another 297 yards in the Broncos' two playoff games.
At 6'3" and 230 pounds, Peyton Manning has never had a receiver quite like Thomas. Harrison and Wayne were both 6'0" and under 200 pounds, and although they were both hall of fame wide receivers, neither of them had the size that Thomas does.
What's even more impressive about Thomas is that despite his size, he gives up little if no speed to the likes of Harrison and Wayne. He ran a 4.38 40-yard dash in his combine, and his speed was evident in his 80-yard overtime touchdown catch and run against Pittsburgh in January. Thomas is in prime position to be Manning's number one receiver in the 2012 NFL season.
Peyton Manning also has wide receiver Eric Decker, who at 6'3" and 220 pounds, is a guy who can leap for the jump ball and can also play in the slot. He's not quite as fast as Thomas, but there's no doubt that Decker can be a primary No. 2 receiver for Manning. He caught 44 passes for over 600 yards last year, while adding eight touchdowns.
Caldwell has a similar body type to that of Harrison and Wayne. At 6'0" and only 190 pounds, Caldwell would be a perfect fit for the slot in Peyton Manning's system. Look for Manning to target Caldwell a lot in the upcoming season and for him to have a breakout year in 2012.
Manning also has a plethora of tight ends to look at. Second year pros, Virgil Green and Julius Thomas will look to compete with recently acquired veterans Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen for the starting tight end position. Manning will need someone who is exceptional at pass protection and has the hands of a wide receiver.
No need to draft a tight end in the 2012 NFL draft.
In the 2006 season, Manning targeted his running backs for nearly 600 of his passing yards. Look for Willis McGahee to get a lot of touches from Manning through the air. The Denver Broncos could also look at drafting another running back in the 2012 NFL draft who has good hands and is able to run well in the open field.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!