Hello Bronco Nation, it has been a while since I last wrote an article about the Broncos and with good reason. I have spent a lot of time now trying to decipher what the recent moves for the Broncos mean and where are they headed.
While I'm still unclear about some of the intentions of our head coach, there are a lot of similarities between last year's offseason and this year's, including they type of player our coach seems to be going for and how he is addressing some of the needs of this team.
The Broncos came into the offseason with some holes in their roster and this is mostly due to the continuing change from the Shannahan system to McDaniels' preferred system.
Perhaps the biggest question mark for the Broncos this offseason is WR Brandon Marshall, and the "will he stay or will they trade him" talk. I have been on record stating that we should definitely keep the star wideout instead of trading him.
While most think that Marshall has already shown all of his ability, I think he still has some areas in which he could improve, but none the less, Marshall is a great weapon who has proved himself in this league and I think it would be wise to keep him instead of drafting an unknown.
When the Broncos placed the first round tender on Marshall it opened the flood gates to speculation, and rightfully so. Placing such a tender on a player reveals a team's willingness to entertain offers but does not necessarily mean that he will be traded. Marshall's apparent availability has sparked interest in the league most notably from the Seattle Seahwaks, but no other team has shown the level of interest that Seattle has, as of yet.
This has many believing that the Seahawks might be able to land the wideout at a lower price than originally intended as the draft draws nearer. While this is possible, I think it is more likely that Marshall stays put, if the Bronco brass doesn't get what they want.
It is now apparent that the Broncos are looking for a higher level pick than their original which they traded to Seattle last year. There have also been rumors that the Broncos might want a few players to go along with the trade, making it more likely that Marshall stays put.
While it is not out of the realm of possibility, that Marshall is traded as we get closer to the draft, I think it is more likely for Marshall to stay in Denver since it seems the asking price for him just might be too high.
I have given some thought to this situation, and the more I think about it the more I am convinced that, the first round tender was placed on Marshall to see if they could get one of the teams above them to bite. As this has not been the case, save for Seattle, the Broncos just might resign the stand out WR to a long term deal and keep him in the Mile high city.
I know most of us Bronco fans have been divided on this issue and seeing how none of this is set in stone, this is just my opinion on the Marshall situation. Certainly anything can happen in the NFL, but I really hope we keep Marshall. His level of talent is seldom seen around the league and I certainly think we will be better with him than with out him.
Another area of need this offseason, is that gaping hole we have at Center and left Guard. The Broncos have made some moves to addressed them, but are they enough? The Broncos have Dustin Fry at center, re-signed Hotchstein, and acquired guard D'Anthony Batiste.
Fry is a second year player out of Clemson who has spent time on the practice squad of the Browns, Rams and Panthers and has seen some action in four NFL games and has played well. While he has not received many opportunities in the league watching video of his college days shows that there is talent there.
At 6'3" and 330 lbs Fry has the size and strength to be a good Center in this league, regardless, if he does in fact proves to be the starter at Center he should be an improvement over the undersized Weigmann. The Broncos could still choose to address this need through the draft and if so, I still hope we might get our hands around Pouncey, the Center from Florida, although it is highly unlikely.
Another option might be to switch Seth Olsen from Guard to Center and let both, Fry and Olsen, fight for the job. This would be my prefer method since after watching video of Fry and Olsen during their careers in college, they show great promise as Centers in this league.
I want to mention that Olsen played at G in college but he has all the necessary tools to be a dominant lineman in this league. However I still think he might be best suited to play C where his lack of athleticism and quickness will not hinder him as much as at G. Also at C his strong upper body and ability to drive defenders of the ball will be more of an asset.
Moving Olsen to C will leave a spot vacant at G. That is where the resigning of Hotchstein and adquisition of Batiste come into play. Batiste has spent time in this league and has been rleased a few times. So you must be asking yourselves, why on earth would this guy be any better here in Denver?
Well, the answer is not so simple, Batiste came undrafted out of college and signed with Dallas as a Tackle, and that is how he has been used so far. He has played some G, mostly for Carolina, and has shown flashes of dominance at that position. However, even with the time spent in the NFL Batiste is still raw and will need training in order to make the switch to G.
After watching some of his video clips, I can say that Batiste has definitely played out of position and he truly belongs at G. He reminds me a bit of Robert Gallery, not good enough to play tackle but could be great at guard. Having Hotchstein, a player who is not only good at G but is very familiar with what McDaniels wants to do, will serve as insurance and to mentor the young Batiste, all the while providing depth.
Of course as with the other positions they could always address it via the draft, and it would be a good time to do so as this draft is particularly deep along the front lines. I however, have started to loose interest in draft prospect Iupati, I have watched a lot of video on the guy and I must say I am very disappointed.
I got cought up on all the hype around this guy, but after that subsided and I sat down to watch as much film as I possibly could on the guy, I noticed some very troubling tendencies. For all the hype surrounding him Iupati seems to lack athleticism, quickness and his footwork leaves a lot to be desired. I saw a Guard that is caught out of position at an eyebrow rising rate and gets hit with a ton of holding calls.
He might be the best prospect at G this draft, but he does have a lot of question marks. If they choose to address the G position through the draft, the Broncos might be better suited to look at prospects like Vladimir Ducasse, John Asamoah and Zane Beadles. This prospects all have amazing potential and will add depth and talent to the position.
After much consideration I must say I'm pulling for Zane Beadles, the guy plays with a huge mean streak and is very technically sound and never quits. However, they all could use some work and coaching, but then again that is true of most draft prospects.
Then there is the LB core and front three. Contrary to popular believe I don't think that the Broncos will draft a NT, the signing of Jamal Williams will prove valuable, not so much for his play, but for the invaluable mentoring he will provide to the young NT in training Chris Baker.
Baker looks very similar to Williams on paper and the little bit we have seen of him on the field shows that he has what it takes to be the anchor of this line for years to come.
It is my belief that we will see a rotation at the NT position this year and Chris Baker will be a significant part of it. This rotation of Baker, Fields and Williams will allow Marcus Thomas to slide to the edge, where his incredible athleticism will be better suited. That is of course if we keep Thomas.
If we do keep him, Thomas will not be a starter, those positions will probably belong to the likes of Jarvis Green and Ryan McBean. Out of those two I think McBean might be in for some competition from Le Kevin Smith and Marcus Thomas. I truly believe that Thomas's combination of size, strength and speed are custom made to play DE in the 3-4.
Last year a lot of people were disappointed with Thomas's play, therefore bringing up his potential release, but if you watched closely you would've seen that most of the mistakes he committed were due to the fact that he was playing out of position.
By moving him to the outside, the Broncos would be doing Thomas a favor, the outside is where his skill set is better suited as the area that he will be responsible for would have been shrunk. This would allow Thomas to use his best asset, which is his instincts, to get to the ball. Again, that is if we keep him.
Beyond that I really don't see the Broncos addressing the front 3 through the draft this season, as it seems they have the necessary pieces in place, but you never know. If a guy like Brandon Deaderick from Alabama is there in the later rounds, the Broncos just might snatch him up.
And speaking of Alabama, I think that is pretty much common knowledge that the Broncos are targeting Alabama LB Rolando McClain with the number eleven pick in the draft.
Great move if you ask me; However, lately there have been some rumors that the NY Giants are very interested in the LB and are looking to trade up to get him. As of right now it is being said that a team like Jacksonville is looking to trade down in order to get either more picks or players.
Jacksonville is in desperate need of DEs since the two they picked up in the draft a couple of years ago have yet to pay dividends, and with the Giants having a surplus of talent in this area, one could see how a deal could be made. This presents a possible hiccup in the Broncos plan to get McClain wearing orange and blue come the start of the season.
If that happens the Broncos might want to consider trading down the first round to acquire more picks in the later rounds. Specially in the second round, where they could possibly land the LB from Florida Brandon Spikes.
Spikes is clearly the number two rated LB behind McClain and some believe that he is just as good with better athleticism. There are other prospects in this area as well, that I would be very happy with, prospects like Sean Lee, Roddrick Muckelroy, and Sean Weatherspoon.
Make no mistake about it, LB is a great area of need for the Broncos since they released Andra Davis, however I do feel confident that this is something that will be taken care of through the draft.
Then there is Brady Quinn. Some of the fans will say that Quinn has shown absolutely nothing in his time in Cleveland and was not worth the trade and they would be right, but the guy played in Cleveland. If there is a team that could match the wreck that is the Raiders, it is the Browns.
Quinn had nothing to work with in Cleveland, and if you even think about mentioning Braylon Edwards I will have to recommend that you check yourself into a mental institution. Edwards drops more balls than he catches and seems to be a one season act. Nothing in Cleveland seemed to work including the running game, it did show some life towards the end of the season but nothing that can take the pressure off of a young QB.
I thinks its needless to say that I liked this trade but I will say it anyways, I like this trade. If for no other reason than, this provided the perfect opportunity to get rid of Sims. Don't get me wrong, I think Quinn's got a ton of potential and is now playing in a system that he is familiar with, but I don't think he beats out Orton, at least not yet.
McDaniels will have to rebuild Quinn as I'm sure his time in Cleveland has sapped out his confidence, never the less, I think the addition of Quinn is great specially for the price we got him for.
With the addition of Quinn comes the question of what will happen with Brandstater and his chances of being the future starter. Brandstater was brought in as a project for McDaniels to groom and maybe be the starter down the line, and this remains the same. Brandstater its still a project, but now he will compete with Quinn to be the starter of the future.
If nothing else, probably have our future QB and a great backup in the making already on the roster.
Now the draft looms large I will not pretend to fully comprehend what McDaniels and the rest of the Broncos' brass is thinking, but one thing is clear, McDaniels is not just content with planning for the future, he wants to rebuild this team and win while doing it.