With the NFL draft quickly approaching, teams are looking at their own rosters closely. It’s time to determine whether or not free agents will be retained. It’s also time to look at the incoming draft class to put together the draft board based off team needs and which players could be available in each round.
However, there is another thing every team is considering right now—trades.
General manager John Elway has made over 600 transactions since he was hired as an executive in early 2011. He has made some trades during that period, most notably when he traded away quarterback Tim Tebow to the New York Jets in 2012.
Elway must now self-scout the Broncos to determine if there’s anyone who could be worth dealing. He also must look across the free agency and draft class to determine whether or not an adequate player can be found to plug any existing hole.
In order to put someone on the trade block, that player must have value to another team. Looking over the Broncos roster, it’s easy to find players who could be put on the trade block.
Finally, the Broncos also need to consider adding extra draft picks. As it stands right now, Denver has seven picks in the upcoming draft—one in each round. If they want to make another run at the Super Bowl, then adding more selections may be an option.
Here’s a look at possible draft-day trade scenarios that Elway needs to examine.
The Broncos have a few players they could put on the trade block to see if another team bites. Von Miller is arguably at the top of that list.
Miller’s trade value is not as high as it could be for a couple of reasons.
First, his six-game suspension in 2013 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. If Miller were to test positive again, he could be looking at a year-long suspension. Any team interested in trading for Miller would have to take on that risk.
Second, Miller suffered a knee injury in the team’s Week 16 contest against the Houston Texans last year. His recovery from knee surgery could last up to (and perhaps into) training camp. His status for Week 1 of the 2014 season is very much in question.
Miller has a $6.6 million cap number in 2014. He’s set to hit free agency after this season, and Miller will be playing in 2014 for a new contract.
So long as he’s healthy, Miller can still be one of the best pass-rushers in the game today. That makes him an asset the Broncos could consider trading.
A draft-day trade of Miller seems highly unlikely—but in the NFL anything can happen.
Denver has a great need in the middle of their defense. They haven’t had an impact middle linebacker since the days when “Smoke Dog” Al Wilson roamed the field. Wilson was forced to retire after the 2006 season due to a neck injury, and the Broncos defense hasn’t been the same since.
I’ve often said teams shouldn’t draft a middle linebacker with a premium pick unless he’s Patrick Willis (49ers) or Luke Kuechly (Panthers). A prospect who could be similar to those two is Alabama’s C.J. Mosley.
Mosley is quick to diagnose plays as they unfold in front of him. He can fly to the football, and Mosley will forcefully bring a ball-carrier to the ground. His elite-level athleticism allows him to be good in coverage as well.
He’s smart, can cover and is known as a big-hitter. Mosley is exactly the type of linebacker a team should move up for.
Right now, Mosley is seen by most as a top-15 pick. That’s a move that would require around 500 “value” points, according to WalterFootball.com. In my opinion, Mosley is easily worth that price.
The Broncos need more help rushing the passer. Dee Ford from Auburn could certainly help that. However, if the Broncos want him then they are likely to have to move up to get him.
Ford was one of my favorite players to watch during the week of practice for the 2014 Reese’s Senior Bowl earlier this year.
He has long arms that help him close quickly on the quarterback when attacking from the edge. His length and strength make him a tough matchup for offensive linemen charged with blocking him.
Ford also showed the athleticism to cover in space. He’s quick enough to backpedal then drive to the target on a route in front of him. Ford’s long arms also help him swipe at the ball and drag down ball-carriers.
Right now, Ford is seen as a top-20 pick. Moving up around 10 picks to acquire a pass-rusher like Ford makes a lot of sense. That type of move would only require about 200 “value points” for the Broncos, according to a draft-pick chart from WalterFootball.com.
That means the Broncos could move up to get Ford for the low price of a first- and third-round pick. In order to build a better defense, that price tag doesn’t seem too steep.
The secondary is still a position the Broncos need to address. They may re-sign Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in free agency, but the team also needs help at the safety position.
An impact safety would do this defense a world of good.
Calvin Pryor is arguably the best free safety in this draft class. He’s known as a big hitter who can separate the ball from the ball-carrier.
Pryor is willing to throw himself into an opponent in order to make the big play. He’s not afraid of contact, and Pryor can intimidate opponents early and often.
He also has the athleticism to fly around in coverage. Pryor has the ball skills of a wide receiver. He can make interceptions that have an incredibly high level of difficulty.
Currently, Pryor is seen as a top-25 pick.
That’s right in the neighborhood of the Broncos pick. If they want him, then all they have to do is find a partner willing to trade down a few picks in front of them.
For an impact player like Pryor, this sounds like a no-brainer.
Under John Elway, the Broncos have traded out of the first round. They did just that in 2012 when they moved down twice at the top of draft.
The Broncos originally had the 25th overall pick in the first round. They traded with the New England Patriots and moved back to the 31st pick. Traded 2012 first-round pick (No. 31—Doug Martin), 2012 fourth-round pick (No. 126—Jared Crick) to Broncos for 2012 first-round pick (No. 25—Dont’a Hightower).
Sitting at 31, the Broncos decided to move back again to assemble more picks. They traded with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and moved out of the first round. The Buccaneers traded 2012 second-round pick (No. 36—Derek Wolfe), 2012 fourth-round pick (No. 101—Omar Bolden) to the Broncos for 2012 first-round pick (No. 31—Doug Martin), and 2012 fourth-round pick (No. 126—Jared Crick).
Their first pick that year came at 36th overall, and they selected defensive end Derek Wolfe out of Cincinnati. Based on a trade pick value chart (via WalterFootball.com), the Broncos got 10 more value points (646 to 636) when doing that deal.
If the Broncos don’t feel they have a player graded properly for drafting with the 31st overall pick this year, then they could move down. They are aided by the fact that a potential second-round quarterback like Zach Mettenberger (LSU) may be there for teams who passed on that position earlier in the draft. Perhaps some team will want to jump ahead of the pack for that next tier of quarterbacks.
The Broncos have experience with this type of trade as well. In 2011, the team moved out of the 36th overall pick at the top of the second round. Denver received a second-, fourth- and fifth-round pick from the 49ers so they could select Colin Kaepernick. A similar scenario could unfold this year as well.
Note: All quotes and injury/practice observations obtained firsthand. Record/statistical information provided via email from the Denver Broncos. All contract information for individual players is from Spotrac.com. Draft grades all from NFLDraftScout.com. Cecil Lammey can be followed on Twitter @CecilLammey.