The 2012 NFL season is now in the books.
For Bronco fans, the offseason began way too early. Losing in the divisional round of the playoffs to the Ravens has been a very tough pill to swallow.
The NFL draft and training camp cannot begin soon enough.
This Denver Bronco team has talent. They have a quarterback who is capable of winning it all and a defense that is improving.
But they do have holes to fill, and there are improvements that need to be made.
Let's take a look at what the 2013 NFL draft can do for the Broncos.
With Brandon Stokley set to turn 37 this summer and Matt Willis becoming a free agent, the Broncos need a wide receiver in this draft.
You don't have to select a wide receiver high in the draft to get a productive player.
Brandon Stokley was a fourth-round pick.
Pierre Garcon was taken in Round 6.
Peyton Manning can turn a late-round pick into a household name.
Keenan Davis has the potential to be a possession receiver, and at 6'2" and 215 pounds, he would be a nice large target.
Davis caught 47 passes for 571 yards and a touchdown in 2012.
He could top that in his rookie year in Denver.
The Broncos need some help at the safety position, and Duke Williams may be just what the doctor ordered.
Jim Leonhard and David Bruton will both be free agents this offseason. Bruton should be retained for his special teams ability alone.
Mike Adams is an average safety at best and is 31 years old.
Williams had 106 tackles in his final season at Nevada and is a player who does not mind being physical.
He will come up and support in the run game and has shown very good instincts in the passing game.
The Broncos defensive line struggled to do much in their playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens.
The defensive tackle position must be improved.
Justin Bannan, Mitch Unrein, Ty Warren and Kevin Vickerson are all free agents.
Expect Bannan and Vickerson to be priority signings.
Denver still must bolster this group significantly.
Jordan Hill is a very strong defender against the run and will clog up the middle. Hill is 6'1" and 294 pounds and will be very tough to block one-on-one. He will be a valuable addition to the defensive line, especially at this stage of the draft.
Who knows what to make of Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno?
McGahee is getting long in the tooth, and Moreno is injured more often than not.
Denver will go grab a running back and once again not have to waste a high pick to do so.
Jonathan Franklin is a game-changer. He averaged over six yards per carry as a senior.
If running for over 1,700 yards and 13 touchdowns doesn't impress you, he also caught 33 passes for over 300 yards.
He is a quick, shifty runner but runs very effectively between the tackles and is far more physical than he looks.
Plug him into a Peyton Manning-led offense, and imagine the possibilities.
The Broncos offensive line was a very solid unit in 2012, but they do need to address their lack of depth in the draft.
Justin Pugh is a player who can play both the tackle and the guard position, thus providing depth to a few spots. Pugh is being projected as a tackle, and he is capable of playing the position with high intelligence and good feet.
I think he will be a little better suited at the guard spot, and he could even end up being a mainstay on the inside.
This may not be a sexy selection, but it is a developmental pick that could pay solid dividends.
Take a look at Ray Lewis with the Baltimore Ravens and Patrick Willis with the San Francisco 49ers, and you can see just how valuable a very good middle linebacker is.
When Joe Mays struggled early in the 2012 season, defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio turned the defense over to veteran linebacker Keith Brooking. Brooking had a superb season, and the defense began to improve. But at 37 years old, how many more seasons does Brooking have?
Steven Johnson has shown promise backing up Brooking, but if Denver does not view him as the long-term answer, don't be surprised if they take Manti Te'o from Notre Dame.
Will he fall this far? It is more possible than people think.
It isn't the girlfriend situation that is going to hurt his draft status. NFL teams have drafted players with far more baggage than this. This wasn't a legal issue or a health issue.
No, it is his subpar performance in the national championship game that is going to drop his stock.
The Alabama offensive line pushed Te'o and his teammates around, and when they didn't, Te'o missed tackles and showed poor play-reading ability.
But understand that Alabama's offensive line was a top notch unit and capable of making many players look bad.
Manti Te'o is still highly intelligent and has very good instincts. He had 113 tackles and seven interceptions as a senior.
This pick could be a steal for the Broncos.
Imagine a Broncos defense that has an interior pass rush to go along with Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil on the edge.
Imagine a defense that can both clog running lanes and disrupt a quarterback's vision.
Kawann Short can help make that a reality.
Short is 6'3" and 308 pounds and doesn't just block the middle of the line of scrimmage. He can blow it up. During his final season at Purdue, Short had 43 tackles with 15.5 of those being for a loss.
He totaled seven sacks and broke up four passes.
This is exactly what this Denver Bronco team needs.
Short will be a shot in the arm of a team that now has all the tools to make a deep run into the postseason in 2013.