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Denver Broncos: Why They Must Trade Down in the 2014 NFL Draft

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Denver Broncos: Why They Must Trade Down in the 2014 NFL Draft
Ed Andrieski/Associated Press

In the NFL draft, if a team covets a player, it makes sense for the team to do everything in its power to select that player.

Unfortunately, not every team can just wait for other teams to pick and still have its desired target on the draft board. Often, trades have to be made.

Teams make trades on draft day all the time. Usually, they involve two teams swapping draft picks. However, because one team would trade down in that scenario, that team would receive extra draft picks to balance the trade.

In 2012, the Denver Broncos did just that. They held the 25th pick in the draft, but they didn't crave a certain player like other teams did. So, they traded with the New England Patriots.

Denver received New England's 31st pick and the 126th pick in the draft, and New England selected 25th. However, the Broncos still didn't desire anyone so much that they could resist another trade. They moved down five spots and acquired the 101st pick in the draft in exchange for the 126th pick and the 31st pick.

These deals didn't exactly work out for the Broncos, which selected Derek Wolfe 36th and Omar Bolden 101st. Bolden is primarily a special teams player who was abysmal on defense this season, and Wolfe hasn't been extremely productive.

But in 2014, the Broncos could do the same thing. And if they do, it would pay off.

For starters, the 2014 draft is incredibly deep. According to CSN Chicago, Mike Mayock, NFL Network's draft expert, said he was told that having a top-20 draft pick this year is like having a top-10 pick last year.

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This shows that there is talent across the board, and it shows that even if the Broncos were to move down a few spots, they could find a talented second-round player and a late-round gem.

The Broncos have had success with late-round selections in the John Elway era. Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan were picked in the fifth round and the sixth round, respectively, in 2012, and Julius Thomas was picked in the fourth round in 2011.

If Denver traded into the early second round, it could secure a talented player and a later pick. This would give the Broncos more depth, which is exactly what they need. Denver doesn't need a star to save the franchise; it already has Peyton Manning and a wealth of spending money this offseason.

However, it needs quality depth.

It could draft a cornerback to play in the nickel package. Darqueze Dennard and Justin Gilbert should both be off the board early, but Kyle Fuller, Jason Verrett and Bradley Roby, all of whom are talented, should last a while. At least one corner should be available in the second round.

The Broncos could trade down a bit and still get one of these five players. If the Broncos know they wouldn't be able to get one if they traded down, they should think twice about trading down. However, if they only trade down a few spots, they should be fine.

 

They should be fine at other positions, too. Denver could sign Daryl Smith, Karlos Dansby or D'Qwell Jackson at linebacker, and it could add T.J. Ward, Donte Whitner or Chris Clemons at safety. The Broncos will likely lure in one of these players, and if they do, it would benefit them immensely.

With the 2014 salary cap projected to end up around $132 million (according to ESPN's John Clayton), the Broncos should have ample spending money. Jeff Legwold of ESPN estimates that Denver will have approximately $19 million to play with, and the Broncos can inflate that total by releasing players such as Champ Bailey, Joel Dreessen, Chris Kuper and Jacob Tamme.

That would give Denver plenty of money to re-sign its two cornerbacks, guard Zane Beadles, a defensive end (likely Shaun Phillips or Robert Ayers) and a cheap wide receiver (such as Hakeem Nicks or Kenny Britt). It would also allow Denver to make a splash by signing a star in the secondary.

In other words, the Broncos would have a talented roster and would be able to trade up.

Even if Denver doesn't land a star at safety or middle linebacker, it could still trade down. It certainly shouldn't trade up, which is what Cecil Lammey of Bleacher Report suggested the Broncos could do (likely if they don't land their desired free-agent target).

C.J. Mosley and Calvin Pryor, two talented defensive stars, are thought of as potential targets of the Broncos. However, both will be off the board when Denver picks (if it remains still). To get one, it would have to trade up.

Mosley is a solid middle linebacker, but the Broncos have free-agent options and the perfectly capable Nate Irving. Irving was drafted with the hope that he could fill Denver's hole at middle linebacker, and given another opportunity, he could cash in.

Plus, there is a decent amount of depth at the position in the draft and in free agency.

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As for Pryor, while he has the necessary physicality, he is a free safety. Denver needs a strong safety to complement, not replace, Rahim Moore. Plus, Pryor only forced seven turnovers in his college career. A strong safety such as Jimmie Ward or Deone Bucannon could fill Denver's need capably at strong safety, and Denver wouldn't even need to trade up.

The Broncos shouldn't make desperate moves for these players when they currently have adequate replacements and the potential to add stars at key positions in free agency. Denver made the Super Bowl, so it doesn't need a major overhaul.

However, as the injury-riddled Broncos learned last season, depth comes in extremely handy. The Broncos have their savior in Peyton Manning, and they now need to support him.

Adding a wide range of talent by trading down and adding more options is a smart way to improve the team's chances of reaching the pinnacle next season. And in this deep draft, that's exactly what the Broncos should do.

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