With Denver losing the coin flip for the tenth overall pick, they are now in a position, to comfortably select Idaho Guard, Mike Iupati with the eleventh overall pick. In taking Iupati, Denver would add great quality to its changing stable of offensive lineman, moving away from the Shanahan/Turner/Dennison zone blocking scheme.
Iupati would be an instant starter at left guard and posses the strength, speed, and athleticism that is necessary for the oft pulling guards in the power running system. His massive frame and long arms also have some scouts projecting him to have future ability at the tackle positions.
We know that McDaniels loves “versatile, smart, character” players, so Mike Iupati should be rated fairly highly on Denver’s draft board. One of the most popular arguments in draft strategy is taking “the best player available” or addressing the biggest needs of your team.
This seems like the perfect combination of both of those strategies. At pick number eleven, the guaranteed money drop off from the top ten picks should be great enough to consider the guard prospect “affordable” especially in an uncapped year.
With Denver signing DE/NT Justin Bannan recently to a five year deal, it looks as though Denver will rotate he and Ronald Fields, who has been tagged as more of a “rotational” player, at the nose tackle position.
This would imply that we aren’t THAT high on (one year wonder?) Tennessee’s Dan Williams, and would prefer veteran leadership over a “high ceiling” rookie. Williams seems to be the only first round Nose Tackle taken in most mocks with Terrance Cody or Cam Thomas maybe sneaking into the late first in some. With this in mind, and coupled with the fact that ONLY Broncos fans think McClain will fall out of the top ten, I think that McDaniels would like to get the offense squared away to better compliment our at times dominating defense of last season.
Some, if not most Denver fans are griping that the tiring defense of last year is to blame for the 2-8 finish to a 6-0 start. While agreeing slightly, I think that the offensive running game is mostly to blame for our “tired” defense. I can’t remember ever being so disappointed in the short yardage game and I’m sure most of you agree. If we could have kept some drives going and bettered our time of possession our defense might not have been so “tired”.
Denver has great, if not elite talent on the defensive side of the ball right now when you consider Elvis Dumervil, D.J. Williams, Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey. Renaldo Hill, Andre Goodman, and Andra Davis had great years last year as well in terms of their production.
Say what you will about them, but we should all be excited about Smith, McBath, and Bruton as well, considering their veteran leadership in their respective positions. Seems like it will be a pretty seamless transition whenever those starting four decide to hang them up. Robert Ayers has the chance to excel opposite Dumervil in his second year, under new D-coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale whose specialty in an aggressive 3-4 scheme are the linebackers, and if unable to do so, Mario Haggan is a serviceable leader.
On the defensive front I like Kenny Peterson and thought he played a good five technique last year. As for McBean and Fields, while I like them as players, I like them as situational and rotational players who need starting help. This is why Denver was quick to sign Bannan and has a visit scheduled with Nose Tackle Jamal Williams, formerly of the San Diego Chargers. Michael Lombardi of the NFL network is high on Bannan, who versatile in that he can play both the five tech and nose tackle.
Our defensive front showed flashes of good play last year, but down the stretch our size on the D-line hurt us as we were unable to establish gap control and let our linebackers fly to the ball. I think the combination of Williams and Bannan would create quality veteran depth and competition in area that most certainly needs that.
The main point in all of this is that the defense can simply wait when it comes to the draft this year because of what we already have in place and the fact that this years draft is such a deep one. I also expect Denver to move Scheffler for a second, or at least a third and fifth. Whether or not Marshall returns, seems to be in the hands of a team willing to surrender a first round pick Xanders and McDaniels really like. If not, expect us to match the offer and retain Marshall. We do have the ability to go out and get more high round picks if we choose to do so in this uber deep draft.
The need on the offensive line is the most crucial area to address. We have no true center right now and Rex Hadnot just left Denver without a contract. We need Hadnot to sign with us. Hamilton is gone. Period. Now, what to do about Kuper? He’s young and has a first round tender, so either McDaniels believes he can transition to the power run scheme, or he’s telling the Shanahan and Kubiak squads to bring the heat if they want to discuss a trade for Kuper. I would really prefer the first of those situations.
Iupati is a physical freak with a mean streak for the running game, he stated in his combine interview that he loves to pull and get into the second and third levels of the defense. Knowshon Moreno needs this type of blocker and scheme to be the three down back the team drafted him as. Buckhalter was impressive last year apart from his absences due to injury which seem to curse him as a professional athlete. Securing the offensive trenches will help provide the balance that is needed in the pass, run, and screen games.
Not only does a strong running game keep our aging defense off the field, but it obvious that Kyle Orton needs it to be more productive for his own sake. I understand that Josh loves the spread but you simply cannot throw it every down in this league and he knows that. If we can get Hadnot signed, Kuper retained, and Iupati drafted, we will have a highly touted offensive line to protect Orton, launch our stagnant running game, and thrust this offense into the elite category that McDaniels hopes to one day return to. You can debate defense being the best offense, but no one can deny that football teams need to score points, just look at the Saints.