The Broncos let the 2012 draft come to them and added an immediate starter in the second round in defensive end Derek Wolfe.
The Denver Broncos will be good again in 2013 as long as Peyton Manning and Von Miller are healthy. Getting over the hump and winning a Super Bowl is the goal and to do that the Broncos have a little work to do.
When improving a roster there are three tools a team can use: the draft, free agency and trades. The cost to sign an impact free agent is usually prohibitive, and that’s why teams prefer to add impact players through the draft. When players are traded it’s usually for extra mid-round draft picks.
John Elway deserves a lot of credit for putting together a team of good core players with salary cap flexibility to make tweaks. Since the Broncos have very few pressing needs, most of the draft scenarios work in their favor. The Broncos can address their immediate needs in free agency which allows them the freedom to draft the best player regardless of position.
Drafting the best player available is a catchphrase that is often used. We all know that there isn’t a team in the league who wouldn’t say they got the best player available. In the case of the Broncos, they actually have the luxury to draft the best player they can find at any position.
Trading the Pick
If the Broncos want to move up in the draft to get that player, they can spare the picks since the roster is already deep. Many teams simply can’t afford to trade away draft picks even if the player they want isn’t going to fall. The Broncos are one of the few teams that can move up and take risks.
The Broncos can also move down like they did in 2012 and acquire extra picks. This is a strategy that the Patriots have used for years. Acquiring more picks and future picks allows the Broncos to stockpile picks for when they are actually needed.
One common strategy is trading a second-round pick for a future first-round pick. It can be worth picking up that extra first-round pick for a future year when the team needs it. This is a strategy that might serve the Broncos well and enable them to load the team with young talent as Peyton Manning gets older.
Draft Depth and Broncos’ Need are a Perfect Fit
The draft is also well-stocked at the few positions the Broncos could be looking to upgrade. The Broncos could be looking for a defensive tackle, safety or cornerback. This is quite fortunate for the Broncos because there is a good chance they will be able to get a quality player at a position of need without having to reach.
The Broncos are in the unique situation of being able to let the draft come to them. Some of this was great planning by the Broncos and some of it was just dumb luck. The Broncos will certainly take it either way.
Even positions that might not be especially deep align nearly perfectly with the Broncos’ draft position. The Broncos could be looking for a middle linebacker and might be in a position at the end of the first round to draft the best one. It’s possible that will not be the case, but the Broncos have to like the possibility.
Part of the reason the draft aligns with the Broncos’ need so perfectly is that they don’t need a quarterback, receiver, pass rusher or offensive tackle. The Broncos are set at the key positions and that means they don’t have to force the issue to try and address a key position.
Predicting the Unpredictable
There probably hasn’t been a year with such diverse opinions about the top 100 prospects in a long time. It’s hard enough to predict the top five picks let alone the entire first round. Predicting who the Broncos will target is one thing, but predicting the actual pick is nearly impossible.
Free agency often clears things up at the top of the draft, but that isn’t likely to be the case with the Broncos unless they sign a big-name free agent. The only position where that seems possible is at defensive tackle where several veteran players will be free agents.
The only thing that seems certain at this point is that the Broncos will not draft a quarterback. The Broncos could certainly use depth at just about every other position on the team. Depth has many positive impacts on the team including creating good competition and enabling the team more flexibility when it comes to re-signing unrestricted free agents.
At the moment it appears likely that the Broncos will focus their attention on defensive tackles, linebackers and safeties early and shift their attention in the middle rounds to adding high-upside offensive players who can be groomed by Manning.
While the draft process is not nearly as exciting when you aren’t drafting near the top of each round, the Broncos are in a better position than just about any team in the league. Broncos fans have to be happy that their team is in a great position to compete for a Super Bowl without the pressure of adding a rookie who has to make an immediate impact.