What Offseason Moves Are Next for Denver Broncos with the Draft Complete?
As for the roster, the Broncos have one of the best in the league. Their challenge this offseason will be to put the right players in the right spots.
Yet, there are still a few holes to fill in order for them to get on the right path to a championship.
Create the Best Possible Offensive Line
This one goes without saying, but the offensive line will be a key factor in whether the Broncos reach their goals in 2014 or fall short of them. They have to get it right.
Through free agency and the draft, Denver brought in center Will Montgomery and tackle Michael Schofield. These two players give the team the depth they are looking for.
But several questions still remain, and the player that could be the answer to many of them is Orlando Franklin.
It was reported in April that Franklin will be making the switch from tackle to guard. His performance at his new position will dictate what Denver does with the rest of the line.
Will Chris Clark move into the right tackle position, or does the rookie Schofield have what it takes to beat him out?
Is Manuel Ramirez the best option at center? Or does either Montgomery or sixth-round draft choice Matthew Paradis help give the Broncos the best combination on the line?
The Broncos got muscled around by a physical Seattle team in the Super Bowl. Putting together the best possible offensive line will ensure they are better prepared for another encounter like that.
Release Jacob Tamme or Joel Dreessen
With the emergence of tight end Julius Thomas, the Broncos simply don't need both Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen any longer.
In fact, they could stand to let them both go before the season starts if they see enough out of Virgil Green for him to be a solid backup.
Dreessen saw a huge drop in production last season, catching just seven passes compared to 41 in 2012. He would be the most likely of the two to be cut.
Tamme caught 32 fewer passes in 2013 than he did in 2012, while Thomas enjoyed a Pro Bowl season.
Green will have to show he can stay on the field and make plays when called upon. As long as he can be a solid blocker, Tamme and Dreessen are just about expendable.
Find a Return Man
As Percy Harvin proved in the Super Bowl, having a great kick returner who can make game-changing plays is a huge asset.
The Broncos had one in Trindon Holliday, but he signed with the New York Giants this offseason as a free agent. Denver loses Holliday's electric return ability, but it will no longer have to worry about the issues with ball security that came with him.
Denver must now find a suitable replacement.
Wes Welker is generally dependable on punt returns, but do they want to put one of their main offensive weapons, who has a history of concussions, in that spot?
Omar Bolden may be a good option, and making the team as a special teams contributor may be the only way he makes the roster.
Ronnie Hillman could be another player the team puts back on kick returns, and then there's dark-horse candidate Isaiah Burse. The undrafted rookie free agent was an effective returner in college at Fresno State.
Decide on a Middle Linebacker
When the Broncos chose not to use a high draft pick on an inside linebacker, it showed they still have some faith in Nate Irving.
Irving will be entering his fourth year in the league, and the former third-round draft pick has just 58 tackles and one sack over the course of his entire career.
This is truly a make-or-break season for him.
The Broncos did select Lamin Barrow from LSU in the fifth round of the draft, and he will likely push Irving hard for the starting spot this summer.
Regardless, Denver needs one of these players to step up in a big way.
Find out If There Is a Successor to Manning on the Roster
The Broncos used a second-round pick in 2012 and a seventh-round selection in 2013 on a quarterback. Neither player has played one significant down in the NFL.
That is largely due to the fact that they play behind the reigning NFL MVP Peyton Manning. However, as much as many Denver fans might not want to think about it, Manning's career won't last forever.
Is his successor on the roster? Will Brock Osweiler be able to help sustain the success Manning has helped create in Denver? Does Zac Dysert have a future with the team?
The Broncos need to find these things out this offseason. If they aren't the guys, they need to be willing to move on from them.
If not, they could be stuck with a player who isn't as good as they hope. Remember when Brian Griese took command of a two-time defending Super Bowl champion team in 1999?
Who Is the No. 2 Running Back?
If it wasn't clear before that the position of running back in the NFL is becoming less of a focal point with each passing day, take a look at the fact that no running back was chosen within the first 53 picks of the most recent NFL draft.
That doesn't mean that you don't need one, two or even three solid running backs on your team.
Montee Ball has been anointed the workhorse running back for the coming season, but the Broncos need to figure out who the best option behind him is.
Ronnie Hillman was declared the starting running back before the season kicked off last year, but because of ineffectiveness and an inability to hold onto the ball, he was rarely used by season's end.
C.J. Anderson saw limited action as a rookie, but he was able to show flashes of being a special player for the Broncos.
Whether it's Hillman, Anderson or someone like undrafted rookie free agent Kapri Bibbs, Denver needs to identify the best option to complement Ball.
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