As much as everyone—including myself—have been preaching defense, defense, defense in this year's draft, I think the Broncos need to address a few major positions on the offensive side of the ball, as well.
Not like last year when they wasted their first two picks on offense when the defense was in shambles, but I think there is some talent available deeper in the draft that can help both sides.
And, given this talent, several of the positions the Broncos need to shore up will allow them to have their defensive cake and some offensive frosting as well.
Let's take a look.
Unlike last season under Josh McDaniels, I see the Broncos' opportunity to use their first-round pick on a player that will contribute immediately. And unlike last season, this has to be a "can't miss" and a player that is fully healthy and offering the skills to step right in.
With the signing of Kevin Vickerson at DT, a 6'5", 321-pound anchor, who also has athleticism shown by his INT last season, they have one of the pieces in place.
His teammate will be Alabama's Marcell Dareus, 6'4", 310 pounds, with the ability to add 10-15 pounds and not lose his quick feet. And a telling statistic that I have mentioned before was his 40 solo tackles last season at Alabama, 20 of them were for a loss. In other words, he can fight off defenders and disrupt the running or the passing lanes.
Dareus has played at a high level all three seasons and has the strength and footwork to step in and be a run stopper, but also can blow up the offensive line and move the pocket.
With the aging of Brian Dawkins and the lack of run support the Broncos have had from all over the field, I see them looking at a playmaker/run stopper at safety. Rahim Moore, a safety at UCLA, is very athletic and has great reflexes, but will need to work on his tackling fundamentals.
At 6'1", 195 pounds, he has the athletic ability to cover, as well as attack the run. He will be able to mentor under Dawkins and will be the bookend to the safety position when Champ Bailey moves back there. He also has the basic cover skills to play CB or as a nickel, which adds great versatility to his value proposition.
He is a safe pick and one that will add depth and immediate help to the defensive backfield.
With the injury bug that seems to have found a permanent home with Knowshon Moreno, I see the Broncos and head coach John Fox looking for a dependable RB that can break the outside run, push the pile and be a big target catching passes out of the backfield.
And at 6'2", 230 pounds, Daniel Thomas from Kansas State has also proven the ability to block, something Moreno seems unable or unwilling to do. He also has more pure speed than Moreno and will break some tackles for long gains. He runs a bit straight up, but that can be coached and I see him as a potential Darren McFadden-type with Fox's running game.
He may be a slight reach by five-to-seven picks, but I see it as a risk worth taking.
So long, Correll Buckhalter and Laurence Maroney.
With the lineman position and the backfield position addressed on the defensive side, I am taking a flyer on a reach at ILB with Quan Sturdivant from North Carolina. He has the size, speed and cover ability to play all over the field and will shore up a somewhat weak depth at LB.
He led the Tar Heels in tackles for two years and would have for three if not injured. His size, 6'2", 237 pounds, will also plug some holes in the middle.
He has a motor and will be a great fill-in for D.J. Williams, as he sits out his four-to-six game suspension for his second DUI.
Jah Reid, G, 6'7", 325 pounds, out of the University of Central Florida is a man-child in the mold of Ryan Clady. He has the raw size and basic physical skills to step in and cover the RT spot, assuming that Ryan Harris leaves for greener pastures.
Reid has shown quick feet and raw power to help his team in the run game, an area that will be the focus of Fox's new offense. He does a great job of sealing the edge and has good power. Reid may have some work to do on his pass blocking, but with good feet and a great attitude, I think he can be coached.
He is a potential steal in the sixth round.
Rounding out the 2011 Denver Broncos draft is a pick to fill the hole left by the giving away of Tony Scheffler last season—and that is a pass-catching TE.
Nebraska's Mike McNeill, 6'4", 237 pounds, has the early similarities of a Dallas Clark. He can catch the ball and also run and gain YAC, as well.
Coming from Nebraska, he knows how to block both at the line of scrimmage, but also down field. A key component in Fox's running attack.
He also has the ability to play H-back or slot, as he also played WR and slot in college.
I also see him working his weight up to 245-250 pounds without compromising his speed.
He is a relatively safe pick at 194, with a lot of upside.
Looking back at the completed mock draft, we have seen a lot of improvement in raw talent and athleticism.
With a few exceptions, all of these picks have the ability to step in and contribute in their rookie year.
The Broncos have solidified the interior defensive line with the addition of Marcell Dareus, who will become a force on both the run, as well as destroying the pocket.
They have added needed skills and playmaking at the safety position with the insertion of Rahim Moore. A smart player who will hold down the "last line of defense" for years to come.
They have upgraded an aging and small RB roster with Daniel Thomas, who can provide a big change of pace to Knowshon Moreno and could turn into the featured back in Fox's offense. Assuming they can't get a certain free agent RB with the initials of D.W. from Carolina.
They have added depth and a safety net to D.J. Williams' suspension, as well as versatility with the addition of Quan Sturdivant, who has and can play both inside and outside at the LB spot.
They have added beef, and potential at the OT position, as well as insurance, assuming that Ryan Harris leaves with Jah Reid's drafting. And his frame allows them to add size with the ability of pushing his 320 pounds to 330-335 pounds and creating a bruising offensive line to power the running game.
And last but not least, we have addressed the pass-catching capability at the TE position with Mike McNeill's skill set and provided depth at the slot and H-back and even WR.
With these significant roster additions and with the hard-nosed approach of Fox, we have seen a big step up in the defensive talent, but also have addressed some weaknesses in the offensive talent pool, as well.