Hello ladies and gents, welcome to part two of this AFC West breakdown. Today I will rating the second place team in the division, the Denver Broncos.
I will be using the same system as before, I will break the Broncos down as follows, HC, QB, RB, WR, OL, DL, LB, DBs, ST and rating them in a scale of 1-10. 1 being terrible and 10 being perfect. Once again I will try to be completely un-biased and show no favoritism. I sincerely hope that once again you enjoy this article.
HC: Josh McDaniels is an unknown, unproven and so far confusing (although some might say lying) young coach. So far Josh has made some great off season acquisitions, and gotten rid of part of the reason why, according to him, he took the job.
When you take into consideration, that in the eyes of many, he had a sub-par draft and did not adequately fill the team needs through such medium as expected, Josh is off to a rocky start.
Not so fast.
While it is true that Josh has made some head scratching moves, he has also, in my humble opinion, made the team better all around. While at the same time he sent his newly acquired team, a strong message. Scoring him at this point, is both hard and compromising.
There is no way of knowing at this point, if anything he has done, has truly made the team better, albeit on paper some might argue that it is better, we have to wait until at least, the half-way season mark to truly measure some of the moves.
I will admit, I have liked most of the moves he has made. That said, I also have to admit, that he has left me scratching my head as well. When you take into consideration all of the above, plus the fact that no coach from the Belichick tree, has had any substantial success in the NFL, it does not bode well for the Broncos.
Taking all this into consideration I have given the HC the following grade.
QB: This position was fairly easy for me to grade. While I have stated in the past, that I never was a big Cutler fan, his talent is undeniable. At this time, I feel that the Broncos have downgraded at this position by, sending Cutler away and having Orton and Sims compete for the position.
Orton's recor as a starter cannot be ignored, neither is Sims promising start for the Buccaneers, but, that aside, neither have the talent or ceiling that Cutler had. Both Sims and Orton played in lack luster offenses' with their previous teams.
Sims was in a constant state of looking over his shoulder, do, to coach Gruden's, small patience in developing QBs. Orton lacked major talent at the WR position while in Chicago.
Whoever wins this battle is moot point in my opinion. Both are a major downgrade at the position in terms of, arm strength and athleticism.
RB: Talent is abound in this position for the Broncos, especially after the team drafted Knowshon Moreno during the draft. Moreno has the build, quickness, vision and toughness to be a three down back in the NFL.
While the Broncos have stockpiled at this position during the off season, not all of them will make it onto the final roster. I believe that the RBs that make the team are, Moreno, Buckhalter, Torain and Hillis.
Hillis will be at FB, while Moreno and Buckhalter share backfield duties. Torain, I believe, is too talented not to make the team, the only problem for him is to stay healthy.
With all this talent at the RB position and a new starting QB, the Broncos look to be a running team, at least until the QB and WRs build some chemistry and learn the system well.
WR: This group is actually pretty solid for the Broncos. It looks like the league has taken a wait and see attitude towards Marshall, which is good news for both Marshall and the Broncos. Marshall had off season hip surgery and the reports are excellent coming from both the Broncos and the doctors.
Eddie Royal was, in my opinion the best rookie receiver last year, ahead of the Eagles' Jackson. He should take another step forward, this coming season, specially when it looks like the team will take some of the return duties away from him.
Stokley, is solid at the slot, but don't overlook Gaffney or McKinley. Overall the starting WRs for the Broncos is among the best young WR combination in the league.
OL: In this area, the Broncos have gotten bigger and better. The Ryans, are lock down tackles, Kuper and Hamilton are big athletic bodies and Wiegman is the veteran leadership for the line. That said there is not much depth behind them.
A couple of rookies and a third-year player round out the depth for the Broncos. If this line can remain healthy, it is one of the best in all of football, at both, running and pass protection.
DL: This is where the Broncos, according to the experts, did not do enough. I disagree. The addition of Baker at NT and Fields as a mentor to said young man, coupled with the rumors that Marcus Thomas, a promising DT out of Florida, is putting on weight, per coachs' instructions, leads me to believe that the Broncos will have a very nice rotation at NT.
Peterson will kick out to DE in the 3-4, and the acquisitions of some prototypical 3-4 DE as RFA, points to the Broncos upgrading at the DL. Now, at this point, all of the players mentioned or acquired by the team ar either unproven, career backups or rookies.
It is up to Nolan and McDaniels to coach all this young talent and prove that the Broncos' DL has been upgraded, until then, this is all speculation. For this reasons I have given the DL of the Broncos the following score.
DL: 4 (unproven players and a new system brings down the score)
LB: I will take the advise of a reader, that suggested I separate scores for ILB and OLB since they play in a 3-4. I did not do this for part one, but will correct that.
The ILB for the Broncos look to be Andra Davis and DJ Williams. They are both more than capable to be really solid LBs. DJ has the chance to truly be special. It looks like Woodyard and Greisen will push Davis for playing time.
Davis is solid against the run but lacks in the coverage department. Williams is solid (with a chance to be special) at both. Woodyard proved last season that he belonged at LB and not at SS like some people believe.
If he can add bulk to his frame, which he can handle, and not loose that speed and quickness, Woodyard can eventually be the future for the Broncos along with Williams.
Now to the outside. Dumervil, Ayers (R) and Moss are all trying to make the transition from DE to OLB. Rumor has it that they are all making the transition effortlessly, but, the prove is in the pudding, and until we can see them drop back and cover, at least at pre-season, I will hold my score for this unit.
OLB: N/A (I would give them a 5 if you push me)
DB: Champ. Need I say more. While he was hurt last season, and therefore missed a few games (seven), this might have been a blessing in disguise. This gave Champ a chance to heal multiple nicks he had acquired through out the last few seasons, and gives him a chance to truly come back healthy.
The additions of, Smith and Goodman, round out a solid, if not excellent group of cover corners for the Broncos.
At safety, the Broncos also Upgraded with the additions of, Dawkins and Hill. More than their play on the field, these veterans were brought in to mentor a couple of young men, Barrett and McBath.
Barrett showed flashes last season, but was highly inconsistent, enter Hill, one of the most consistent FS in the NFL. Dawkins will mentor a young man very much in his image, at least physically, McBath. Bruton was drafted to push Barrett but he will be mainly a special teams ace.
DBs: 7 (8 if Champ can stay healthy and, Smith, Burrett and McBath develop into their potential)
ST: At punter the Broncos uncovered a gem last season with Brett Kern, he was in the top three in almost all punter categories, he will have another solid season, barring injury. At PK is a different story, Prater has a gifted leg no question, the problem with Prater is accuracy.
Rumor has it, he has spent all of the offseason working with a private instructor to better his accuracy. Still this is a wait and see affair, even with his accuracy problems, he did not miss an EP and was a beast in kickoffs, putting him as a prospect but a good one.
Returner is the real issue here. Royal proved to be a dangerous returner last season, but was unable to as effective as he would of liked, due to his increased roll in the offense.
Arrington was signed during the offseason to alleviate the return duties from Royal, but was released, due to a failed physical. McKinley does have return skills and experience he could take over for Royal.
Well, hope you enjoyed the second edition of this series.