With the 2011 NFL draft fast approaching, there have been so many mocks, predictions and "expert" articles and comments that I thought I might take a slightly different approach and see what would happen if the Denver brain trust was really smart and wanted to do what is needed to bring this team back to the glory days.
And that begins with the very first pick.
In looking at the options available, I am going to say that a likely trade partner for Denver will be the Houston Texans. There are personal and professional ties to this organization and they are in need of a lot of help on the defensive side of the ball, as well as the Broncos.
As much as I would love to have Dareus as a Bronco, I think there are some very good players a little later in the first two or three rounds that will be of more help than one player at the No. 2 slot.
This will give the Broncos the 11th pick in the first round and the 10th pick in the second round (42nd overall) and Denver will give up its seventh-round compensatory pick (247th).
Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
6'1", 205 pounds
For all those folks that wanted the Broncos to take Patrick Peterson with the second pick, I have the perfect solution. Prince will give us another shutdown CB and we pick up another high second-round pick.
Amukamara was a true four-year player, having played in most of the games his freshman season as a nickelback and backup duty at CB. He was ranked nationally his last three years in passes defended and was a very strong tackler.
The fact that he was a Big 12 Academic All-American to go with his national athletic All-American ranking says you have a great man and a great player.
Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
6'1", 300 pounds
With all the movement in the first round of front seven players, I see this as a great pick at No. 36.
Paea may be a bit short, but he has a motor similar to Ndamukong Suh and can bull rush the passer and change the pocket. He can also play the run as well as almost anyone in this year's draft.
Paea finished his 2010 season with 45 tackles, including 10 for losses. And he had six QB sacks. Oh, and he also caused four fumbles.
He was a consensus All-American and was named the Pac-10 Pat Tillman Award recipient as the best defensive player in the conference.
Although I don't put a huge amount of credence in combine stats, he did set a combine record with 49 bench presses at 225 pounds. So he does have just a bit of upper body strength to go with his never-stop motor.
And he was a rugby player before he played football, so he truly is a man's man.
Paea could very well turn out to be the best DL taken in this draft.
Rahim Moore, S, UCLA
6'0", 205 pounds
Moore, although a bit undersized, has the skill set to play free safety and cover the TEs and WRs with his great hips and ability to play the ball. He had 10 INTs in his 2009 season at UCLA.
His closing speed and his ability to play either FS or in a nickel package adds to his value.
Will also be a leader on the defense.
Quan Sturdivant, LB, North Carolina
6'2", 237 pounds
Sturdivant may not be the best athlete at his position but he brings a fierceness that reminds me of another LB that played in Denver: Al Wilson.
He is another college player that was no one-year wonder. He played in 12 games in his freshman year and has improved each year. He can stuff the run inside, cover TEs out of the LB position and can and has played OLB.
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 for injury. His size, 6'2", 237 pounds, will also plug some holes in the middle
He will be a great pick, especially with D.J. Williams missing the first 4-6 games next season.
Luke Stocker, TE, Tennessee
6'6", 255 pounds
Now that we have added depth and quality to the defensive side of the ball, we can take a look the offense. The major areas of need are at TE, OT and RB.
Luke Stocker may be the next big thing at TE for the Broncos. While he had a great career at Tennessee, he didn't set the world on fire. Stocker finished with 85 receptions, 956 yards and eight touchdowns. His best seasons, not unexpectedly, came as a junior (29 catches, 389 yards, five touchdowns) and as a senior (39 receptions, 417 yards, and two scores).
NFL scouts won't care about the stats much because the bottom line is Stocker has plenty of potential for success at the next level. He has great size at 6'6'' and 255 pounds, no doubt being able to serve as a perfect red-zone target.
He doesn't have explosive speed but has what every offensive coordinator is looking for: the ability to gain yards after the catch. Once he gets his hands on the football, he is tough to bring down. He is an adequate blocker in both the running and passing department, but he should still be able to improve in that regard based on his size.
And with Daniel Graham released, I see another potential Shannon Sharpe on the horizon here.
Derek Hall, OT, Stanford
6'5", 305 pounds
Although he didn't get a lot of press protecting Andrew Luck, Derek Hall did a pretty good job of it. He played RT and this is an area we need help, assuming that Ryan Harris leaves through free agency.
Hall has very good footwork and has good upper body strength. He can be both a force at run blocking but also is a strong pass blocker that can only get better.
And as a Stanford grad, he will have the eye of Mr. Elway as well as being a smart player that will learn quickly.
Darren Evans, RB, Virginia Tech
6'0", 220 pounds
This is a selection that may not cost a lot in terms of a high draft pick but could be a high reward on return.
Evans had a very good career at Virginia Tech and proved to be a bruising runner and blocker. He averaged over five yards per carry in his two seasons and also had 22 TDs in those seasons as well.
I see him as a potential rotating RB with Moreno but a tougher inside guy, plus he can play FB as well.
With the seven players just selected by the Broncos, we will be well on our way to regaining the swagger of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
We will have picked up a shutdown corner in Prince Amukamara, who will continue to learn and develop under the guidance of Champ Bailey.
We have the great inside rusher and run stopper in Stephen Paea, a slightly smaller version of Suh but with the same motor.
A versatile LB and a leader in Quan Sturdivant.
A safety that can step in and play right away in Rahim Moore.
An insurance pick with Derek Hall at RT who can fill in if Ryan Harris leaves or be a great backup on both sides of the offensive line.
And last but not least, a RB/FB with potential that didn't cost us much and could be productive on day one as well, both in the backfield but also on special teams.
Not a bad two days' work, if I do say so myself.
And a great start on our way back to the Super Bowl!