2012 NFL Draft: Denver Broncos Latest News, Rumors and Storylines

DJ Siddiqi@@DJSiddiqiCorrespondent IIIApril 16, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: Denver Broncos Latest News, Rumors and Storylines

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    With the 2012 NFL draft quickly approaching, the Broncos enter having signed the biggest free agent in free agency-history—four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning.

    You would be hard pressed to find a single NFL team that had a better offseason than the Broncos.

    Denver not only signed Manning, but also signed cornerback Tracy Porter to replace the inconsistent Andre Goodman. He will start alongside Champ Bailey.

    Along the way, the Broncos also signed the likes of Joel Dreesen and Jacob Tamme.

    Due to the signing of Manning, the Broncos traded away incumbent starter Tim Tebow to the Jets for a fourth-round draft pick.

    The Broncos hold the 25th overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, after having won the AFC West for the first time since 2005. One of the Broncos' pressing needs of concern with the 25th overall pick, will be to address their lack of talent and depth at defensive tackle.

    Brodrick Bunkley signed with the Saints as a free agent. Ryan McBean was released today, leaving Denver with even less depth at the position.

    The Broncos had an offseason for the ages.

    Now it's up to John Elway and company to shore up the missing links in the draft and ensure the Broncos have a great season.

Latest Broncos Draft News, Rumors and Speculation

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    As already stated in the intro slide, the Broncos desperately need a defensive tackle.

    Bunkley was a solid starter at DT, providing stability at a position Denver lacked for many years prior to his acquisition in 2011.

    With McBean also being released, Denver has seven defensive tackles on the roster, all of who, with the exception of Justin Bannan, don't appear to be quality starters heading into the 2012 season.

    Most experts agree that the Broncos will take a DT at the end of the first round. Due to selecting 25th overall, it's highly unlikely the Broncos draft a defensive tackle the magnitude of Fletcher Cox.

    However, Jerel Worthy of Michigan State seems to be a likely option. Both Rob Rang and Dane Brugler agree that the Broncos will select Worthy with their first-round pick.

    On NFL.com, three of the four experts seem to be in agreement that the Broncos will draft Worthy with their pick.

    Only Albert Breer, believes Denver will go in a different direction with their selection. He believes Coby Fleener, tight end out of Stanford, will be the Broncos' first-round pick.

    The Broncos have entered the last few drafts in desperate need of depth and talent on the defensive line. Entering 2012, the defensive end position looks adequate enough with Elvis Dumervil healthy. The same cannot be said for the defensive tackle position.

    If the Broncos don't want to be involved in high scoring affairs week after week in 2012, it would be wise for the Broncos to finally address the defensive tackle position.

Who Will the Broncos Take with the 25th Pick?

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    It doesn't seem to be that big of a debate as to what position the Broncos will draft on draft day. However, you never know what is going on in the heads of the Broncos' front office brass.

    The Broncos need a defensive tackle. Hell, maybe even a couple of defensive tackles.

    Some also think Denver needs a playmaker at tight end to fully maximize Peyton Manning's ability to spread the field. This does make sense.

    During Manning's playing career in Indianapolis, he had tight ends with excellent hands—Ken Dilger, Marcus Pollard and Dallas Clark. If Denver were to draft a tight end similar to Clark, who knows how far Denver's offense could go?

    That's the reason there's a debate as to who Denver will draft.

    The majority of pundits think it's defensive tackle with Jerel Worthy. But there's also a minority out there who think Coby Fleener, tight end out of Stanford will go to Denver with the 25th overall selection.

    Joel Dreesen and Jacob Tamme may not be the most prolific tight ends out there.

    Dreesen is a talented receiving tight end, but he's never really been a full-time starter in the NFL. He has always played second fiddle to Owen Daniels in Houston.

    Tamme, on the other hand, is best suited to be a blocking tight end. However, when Clark went down to injury in 2010, Tamme responded with career highs across the board in every major receiving category.

    Denver can always look for a receiving tight end after the first round. The true position of need is defensive tackle.

    It would only make sense for the Broncos to draft a player such as Jerel Worthy with the 25th overall selection.

What Are Other Positions of Need Entering the Draft?

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    The Broncos' positions of need not only include defensive tackle and tight end, but running back and wide receiver are also options.

    Willis McGahee will be 31 years old in October. For the first time in four years, McGahee proved to be a good starting running back.

    However, the point remains that McGahee is reaching the end of his rope. Who knows how much longer he can continue to perform like he did 2011, when the Broncos were the top-ranked rushing team in the NFL.

    Backup running back Knowshon Moreno was arrested for a DUI recently. Nobody knows how much longer Moreno has in a Broncos uniform, until he's finally canned.

    Lance Ball remains the primary backup and has proven to be solid in spot duty.

    With McGahee bound to deteriorate at any second, Moreno being released at any point in time and Ball being nothing more than a solid backup, it would be wise for the Broncos to draft a running back at any point during the second and third rounds.

    Possible options include running backs LaMichael James and Cyrus Gray.

    With WR Eddie Royal signing with San Diego as a free agent, there is a need for a slot receiver who can not only stretch the field but also possibly provide contributions in the return game.

    According to Sayre Bedinger of Mile High Report, FIU receiver T.Y. Hilton is an option in the fourth round. Hilton ran a 4.34-second 40-yard dash during his pro day.

    With the Broncos signing Manning, Denver has a lot more options in the passing game than they had in 2011 with Tim Tebow at quarterback.

    It's time to fully maximize those options by surrounding Manning with the proper talent to give the Broncos the best chance at competing for a Super Bowl.

Who Should Denver Draft at Running Back?

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    With every NFL draft, there are a plethora of running backs to look at after the first round.

    This year, it's LaMichael James, Cyrus Gray, Bernard Pierce, Robert Turbin, Ronnie Hillman and Isaiah Pead to name a few.

    Obviously, out of those names, James and Gray have the most name appeal.

    James was a stud at Oregon, finishing as a runner-up in the Heisman voting in 2010. LaMichael decided to skip his senior season to enter the 2012 NFL draft.

    The concerns about LaMichael are that he's too small to be a full-time back. At just 5'8" and 194 pounds, nobody doubts that LaMichael can make an impact in the NFL, but it's hard to assess his value as a player.

    Gray, on the other hand, has a somewhat prototypical look at running back. At 5'10" and 206 pounds, he's about average size as far as running backs go.

    Gray led Texas A&M in rushing with over 1,000 yards, despite missing two games due to a stress fracture. He surprisingly has top-end speed, running the 40-yard dash in just 4.47 seconds.

    Whichever direction Denver decides to go, they should utilize this draft to find their franchise running back over the next several seasons.

    Knowing Denver's penchant for finding and developing quality running backs, that shouldn't be a problem.

Who Should the Broncos Take at Wide Receiver?

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    T.Y. Hilton was already mentioned as a possibility at receiver due to his versatility as a receiver and a returner.

    What about the other receivers in the draft?

    Joe Adams of Arkansas is another possibility. He's of a similar stature as T.Y. Hilton and former Bronco Eddie Royal at 5'11" and 179 pounds. He has experience being a slot receiver and a punt returner. And he was named SEC Special Teams Player of the Year in 2011 with four returns for scores.

    Devon Wylie out of Fresno State is also a wild card. Also of a small stature, Wylie was an honorable mention All-American pick as a returner and was also named second-team All-WAC as a special teams performer. He finished fifth in the nation with a 15.4 punt return average.

    With 28 receivers going in last year's draft and 27 going in 2010's draft, the Broncos should have no shortage of receivers to choose from in 2012.

Will Denver Select a Quarterback in the Draft?

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    The Broncos are going to bring in quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Ryan Lindley for visits this week.

    Denver also flew down to Arizona State to watch a private workout of Brock Osweiller.

    With Manning 36 years old, Caleb Hanie acting as a temporary backup and Adam Weber likely heading nowhere as an NFL quarterback, it would only make sense for Denver to at least think of drafting a quarterback with one of their late-round selections.

    All three quarterbacks are seasoned by college standards, having been starters for a good portion of their college careers.

    With an extra fourth-round selection acquired in the Tim Tebow trade, it wouldn't be a bad selection to possibly draft Denver's future starting quarterback.

John Elway Has Set the Broncos Up to Be Contenders

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    With the signing of Manning and all of the complementary parts like Porter, Dreesen and Tamme, it's only fair to conclude that Elway is trying to win a Super Bowl as soon as possible.

    Manning is 36 years old and maybe has two or three years left in him. After Manning retires, it wouldn't shock anybody to see Denver go through a short rebuilding phase.

    Denver enters 2012 as the defending AFC West Champions, having hosted a playoff game and having defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers for their first playoff win in six years. Denver can be considered on the short list of true AFC contenders alongside the Texans, Patriots and Ravens.

    Denver's goal entering this draft should be to further solidify the belief that they will contend for a Super Bowl in 2012. That means shoring up the defensive tackle, running back and wide receiver positions.

    Every Super Bowl team has depth and is "53-strong." The Broncos need to look at this draft with that mentality and enter the 2012 season as strong as possible.

    Who knows?

    Maybe it'll result in a Super Bowl championship.

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