The Biggest Questions for Denver Broncos Heading into the 2013 NFL Draft
Positions of need for the Broncos include running back (RB), defensive end (DE), cornerback (CB), middle linebacker (MLB), safety (S), defensive tackle (DT) and wide receiver (WR).
The Broncos have talent at wide receiver and cornerback, but could use more depth at both positions. The five other positions mentioned need to be upgraded.
There are a few questions surrounding the team's draft plans—let's dive into them.
Will the Broncos Stay at 28?
Last April, the Denver Broncos owned the 25th overall selection before trading down twice, making their first selection in the second round. The team wanted defensive end Derek Wolfe, and knew he would fall into the second round, according to the The Denver Post's Tom Kensler.
This year, the Broncos own the 28th overall pick, and if the player they love isn't still on the board in the first round, they may trade into the second again, accumulating more selections.
Denver's plans will be fluid as the draft goes on, as teams reach for players and other players fall farther than expected. The option of trading down (or even up, if the Broncos fall in love with a prospect that much) will not be overlooked.
Who Will Replace Dumervil?
When the Broncos lost Elvis Dumervil to the Baltimore Ravens, it quickly made defensive end a position of need for Denver. Who will replace Dumervil?
Among the Broncos' options to replace him are Robert Ayers and Derek Wolfe (and perhaps they should be in the running for Olympian Lawrence Okoye?), but drafting another DE should be in the team's draft plans.
One of the top DE candidates to land in Denver is Sam Montgomery. If the Broncos do trade down from 28th overall, Montgomery is a player who could potentially still be available early in the second round.
The National Football Post's Russ Lande has mocked Montgomery to Denver in the first round. It wouldn't be surprising to see him wind up as Dumervil's replacement.
Will MLB Be Addressed?
The Broncos have said Nate Irving and Steven Johnson will be competing (per a report by Jeff Legwold of The Denver Post) for the starting middle linebacker gig in Denver (omitting Joe Mays' name, which could be very telling).
But neither Irving nor Johnson has starting experience—making it appear unlikely that the team is truly prepared to hand one of them the key's to Denver's 4-3 defense. The team may have been bluffing all along and planning to go MLB in the first round, only time will tell.
For what it's worth, ESPN's Todd McShay has the team selecting Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o in the first round, and NFL.com's Charles Davis has the team drafting Alec Ogletree with their first pick. A third MLB to watch is LSU's Kevin Minter.
If Denver is being honest, MLB won't be addressed early in the draft. Their depth chart suggests it should be.
Is RB a High Priority?
On paper, Denver's backfield seems to be fine.
There's veteran Willis McGahee, third-down back Knowshon Moreno and youngster Ronnie Hillman. Further review shows that RB should be addressed.
McGahee is 31 and coming off a five-fumble season that ended in an injury. Moreno is still young, but he cannot be counted on as a three-down back. Hillman remains a scatback in a rotational role.
What Denver's offense needs is a tough running back that can pick up a 3rd-and-1 without fumble and injury concerns coming into play. This year's draft has several RBs who would fit Denver's backfield.
Among the RBs to watch during the draft are Alabama's Eddie Lacy, Wisconsin's Montee Ball and Michigan State's Le’Veon Bell. All three should receive attention from the Broncos.
When Will CB Be Addressed?
The Broncos are looking at cornerbacks and will draft one within the first three rounds, according to The Denver Post's Mike Klis. So will it be in Round 1?
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has them selecting Washington's Desmond Trufant 28th overall, as do NFL.com's Gil Brandt, Daniel Jeremiah and Josh Norris and USA Today's Jarrett Bell. B/R's own Matt Miller has the Broncos going with Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks.
The experts clearly think the Broncos should (or at least will) draft a cornerback early. It will be interesting to see if the team actually does.