The Best and Worst Moves of the Denver Broncos' 2013 Offseason

Travis Wakeman@@traviswakeman10Correspondent IIMay 21, 2013

The Best and Worst Moves of the Denver Broncos' 2013 Offseason

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    After falling short in the 2012 NFL playoffs, the Denver Broncos are piecing together a solid offseason that has put them amongst the elite teams in the league, at least on paper.

    Denver has used free agency and the NFL draft to bolster their secondary, which was torched by Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round.

    They have also added a few valuable players who could be the difference between a divisional round loss and a run to the Super Bowl.

    Here, we will take a look at the best decisions the team has made in the offseason along with some that haven't been so good.

Best: Signing Terrance Knighton

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    It was no secret that the Broncos needed to find an upgrade at the defensive tackle position.

    Terrance Knighton spent the first four years of his career in Jacksonville where he was originally drafted by current Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.

    Knighton now comes into a spot where he can rejuvenate his career as part of a much better team and compete for a starting position.

    Knighton is solid in run support and adds a big, 330-pound body to the middle of the line. On top of that, he is also able to put pressure on the quarterback, as evidenced by his 7.5 career sacks.

    The signing of Knighton made a lot of sense.

Best: Placing Franchise Tag on Ryan Clady

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    This was one of the team's biggest priorities going into the offseason and a move they really had no choice but to make.

    By placing their non-exclusive franchise tag on Clady, the team ensured they would have the All-Pro left tackle for at least one more season. After giving up just one sack last season, Clady hopes to get a long-term contract that keeps him in Denver for the duration of his career.

    The Broncos would like to get a long-term deal done with the man who protects Peyton Manning's blind side before the season starts, but much of that will rest on whether or not Clady can return to his Pro Bowl form following offseason shoulder surgery.

Worst: Middle Linebacker Position

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    Middle linebacker was not the best position for the Broncos in 2012.

    Joe Mays started the season, but promptly lost the job to the aging Keith Brooking before being suspended for a vicious hit on Matt Schaub. Following that, he was lost for the season with an injury.

    Brooking did what he could, but he and anyone else who lined up at the position was routinely taken advantage of in the passing game. Tight ends specifically hurt the Broncos.

    Stewart Bradley was brought in as a free agent, but beyond him, the team just has Mays, Nate Irving and Steven Johnson. Any of these men could win the job, but there may have been better options out there, especially in the draft.

    John Elway and the coaching staff must like what they have in the players mentioned above. Irving and Johnson have just 28 career tackles between them, so one of them will really have to step up if they want to take the job from the veterans in Mays and Bradley.

Best: Drafting Sylvester Williams

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    It remains to be seen what the Broncos will get out of the seven players they selected in the 2013 NFL draft. However, if they have one sure thing in the draft class, it might be Sylvester Williams.

    A player who easily could have been selected much higher, Williams was on the board when the Broncos came up at No. 28 in the first round, and they simply could not pass him up.

    Williams will bring a physical presence to the Broncos' defensive line, but one who is very quick and agile as well. He can dominate games from the defensive tackle position, slowing down the run and putting pressure on the quarterback.

    This may end up being one of the better picks of the entire draft.

Worst: Not Bringing Back Dan Koppen

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    The Broncos have several centers on their current roster, but Dan Koppen isn't one of them. After starter J.D. Walton went down for the season last year with an injured ankle, Koppen did an excellent job filling in.

    He brings a veteran leadership to a relatively young offensive line, but Denver has chosen to go with Walton, Philip Blake, C.J. Davis, Quentin Saulsberry and Justin Boren instead. Of them, only Walton and Davis have NFL playing experience.

    Hopefully, Koppen is still in the back of their minds as a player they could sign in a pinch.

Best: Bringing in Shaun Phillips

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    This signing would make a list of best offseason moves of any team.

    As the NFL draft was going on, the Broncos added the veteran pass-rusher and brought his 69.5 career sacks to Denver. Phillips can line up all over the defensive formation, giving Del Rio plenty of options.

    As a linebacker, Phillips can come off the edge and attack the quarterback, yet he is athletic enough to drop back in coverage and follow the opposing tight end, a glaring weakness of the Denver defense in 2012.

    As a defensive end, Phillips has great technique and will put plenty of pressure on the quarterback. The addition of Phillips makes a guy like Von Miller even more dangerous.

Worst: Signing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

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    Some may be surprised to see this, but it all depends on how Denver intends to use him.

    If he is used in nickel and dime packages, fine. He should absolutely not be starting over Chris Harris. Yes, Denver was destroyed in the playoffs by Joe Flacco's deep ball, but the team finished the regular season third in the league in pass defense, giving up less than 200 yards a game through the air.

    The signing of Rodgers-Cromartie isn't a terrible one, but he should only be used as a situational defender. In two seasons in Philadelphia, he had a total of three interceptions.

    Harris is one of the most underrated players in the entire league, and he should be starting opposite Champ Bailey.

    Rodgers-Cromartie is nowhere near the tackler that Bailey and Harris are, so he will have to show he can cover the slot much better than he did in Philadelphia.

Best: The Signing of Wes Welker

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    This one goes without saying, but how dangerous do the Broncos have the potential of being on offense this year?

    Wes Welker has caught over 100 passes in a season five times in his career. By lining him up with Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas, the Broncos will be presenting many problems for opposing defenses.

    If Denver can get a consistent running game going, they could become basically unstoppable on the offensive side of the ball by spreading teams out in the passing game. You know Peyton Manning is salivating over that thought.

    For those out there who weren't sure how serious of a contender the Broncos would be in 2013, it was made crystal clear when they jumped up and snagged Welker.