The Denver Broncos have had a very successful 2012 campaign thus far, and have Super Bowl aspirations. However, one hole has emerged at the running back position after RB Willis McGahee was placed on the Injured Reserve list.
There are multiple collegiate prospects that would be very productive for Denver in 2013 and beyond. With Peyton Manning at the helm, the Broncos are in win-now mode and have to draft using that mentality.
Manning has been fantastic this year, but nobody knows how long he can stay in his prime and at an MVP level. To alleviate some of the pressure off of his shoulders, here are five prospects that would boost Denver's chances to secure a ring next season.
RB Rex Burkhead, Nebraska, 5'11" 210 Pounds
RB Rex Burkhead is a powerful downhill runner who would complement speedback Ronnie Hillman, who is currently a rookie. Burkhead is also a fantastic receiver out of the backfield.
The elusive Cornhusker could be the next McGahee after No. 23 decides to hang up the cleats. He suffered an excruciating leg injury in college and rebounded, so he has a shot to climb back to 100 percent. McGahee, however, is 31 years old.
Burkhead runs a lot like McGahee. Both are powerful runners with decent outside speed.
The combination of Burkhead and Hillman in the future would be smash-and-dash, and when the backs are shuffled there would be a change of pace.
WR Ryan Swope, Texas A&M, 6'1" 206 Pounds
Ryan Swope is a productive slot receiver. In 2011, Swope hauled in 89 receptions for 1207 yards.
Broncos WRs Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker have stepped up immensely in 2012. Both have served as consistent targets to Manning and have caught for many yards and touchdowns.
Swope would be a fourth or fifth WR option in his early years, but when Brandon Stokley retires, and depending on how long Andre Caldwell stays a Bronco, Swope will emerge as the third option.
Swope likely will not make a big impact while Manning is around, but he adds depth and talent to the receiving core.
DT Bennie Logan, LSU, 6'3" 295 Pounds
The Broncos spent a second-round pick on Derek Wolfe, and Wolfe has been a valuable presence on the defensive line thus far. However, Wolfe has switched off from defensive end to defensive tackle depending on the offensive personnel.
The Broncos need a defensive tackle who can play that specific position on base, nickel, and dime situations.
Logan would make an instant impact, especially in the run defense. If he can plug up the middle and wreak havoc, the Broncos will be a much better squad defensively.
ILB Shayne Skov, Stanford, 6'3" 242 Pounds
From watching about one minute of game tape, Shayne Skov looks like an all-around middle linebacker. He plays well in pass coverage and run defense.
Skov is athletic and elusive, two major characteristic that scouts drool over for middle linebackers.
Along with the defensive unit, Skov's athleticism would be very helpful on special teams. He could serve on multiple units including field goal block and punt.
The Broncos would benefit immensely from Skov.
CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State, 6'2" 217 Pounds
If the Broncos select Xavier Rhodes, things will get interesting on the Broncos defense.
They would not have to re-sign CB Tracy Porter, who is on a one-year contract. Rhodes could replace Porter on the depth chart, and also add some more youth to the Broncos cornerback core.
Denver has a young CB duo of Chris Harris (who mostly plays nickelback) and Tony Carter. Both have stepped up in 2012. Add a developing Omar Bolden and Rhodes, and Denver will have a scary secondary in the future.
CB Champ Bailey has continued to play at a Pro Bowl level despite being 34. In a couple years, Bailey might move to free safety, so Rhodes would be even more important.