George Paton has hit a house run throughout his first free company interval. With that mentioned, this roster is way from completed and there are nonetheless a number of needs remaining that Paton should repair via the draft.
Let’s check out these positions and why precisely they are such urgent needs.
No matter which aspect of the ‘Drew Lock debate’ you’re on, the quarterback is the best remaining want on this roster and it’s not even shut.
You have high quality starters at each different place on the roster, with the lone exception doubtlessly being proper sort out. Quarterback can also be an important place in all of the American staff sports activities.
That easy equation proves it’s the Broncos’ biggest want.
Maybe you consider that Lock can flip it round in 12 months three, however the historic information over the previous 10 years suggests it’s extremely unlikely. Using an EPA (anticipated factors added) + CPOE (Completion share over expectation) composite reveals that in that point span solely Jared Goff, Josh Allen, and Derek Carr have ever had a prime 10 quarterbacking season after struggling to the diploma Lock has via 18 begins.
Also, solely Goff skilled that season of top-10 play within the stretch following that first handful of begins. It took Josh Allen and Derek Carr two extra years to achieve that stage of play, and we nonetheless haven’t seen Allen or Carr play at that prime stage from season-to-season.
Meanwhile, in that very same span of 10 years, there are 4 examples of rookies getting into the league and instantly enjoying like one of many 10 finest quarterbacks in line with EPA+CPOE composite (Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III, Deshaun Watson and Dak Prescott).
If you need to change the scope to “ever having a top-10 quarterbacking season” as we did for Lock, there are 17 quarterbacks who’ve been drafted over the previous decade who’ve had top-10 quarterbacking seasons. That may not sound like a lot, however that’s a fee nearly thrice as excessive as the speed of quarterbacks worse-than or similar to Lock ever having a top-10 season (32.1% to 12%).
All that goes to indicate that trying to resolve the quarterback downside via the draft won’t solely have a greater long-term payoff than rolling with Lock, nevertheless it’s additionally prone to have a greater short-term payoff as nicely.
Any means you slice it although, quarterback is the best remaining want on this staff, and it is going to be as much as both Lock or a to-be-determined rookie to fill that hole.
Outside of quarterback, one would argue an important place in soccer is both sort out or edge-rusher, and the Broncos might use an infusion of younger expertise at each positions.
Starting with the sort out place, Garett Bolles lastly blossomed into the kind of expertise Denver thought they have been getting once they drafted him within the first spherical of the 2017 draft. However, Ja’Wuan James on the opposite aspect has performed simply 65 snaps since signing his contract two seasons in the past.
It’s unfair to knock James for opting out of the 2020 season attributable to COVID-19 issues, however availability has been an issue all through James’ profession as he’s handled nagging accidents.
As a outcome, the Broncos want to take a position closely in an insurance coverage plan at proper sort out via the draft. There’s a great probability James might miss one other 10+ video games this season and Denver doesn’t need to get caught with their pants down.
Even for those who consider in James’ potential to remain wholesome for the 2021 season, it’s unlikely Denver retains him round previous that, as they stand to save lots of $8 million in opposition to the cap by shifting on subsequent low season.
It must also be famous that the Broncos misplaced substitute tackles Demar Dotson and Elijah Wilkinson to free company this 12 months.
You might argue for linebacker being the highest spot on this listing, because it is likely one of the solely positions (quarterback arguably being the opposite) that’s missing each beginning expertise and depth.
Alexander Johnson is an above-average linebacker, however having him as your finest inside-linebacker in Fangio’s linebacker-dependent protection isn’t ultimate. Especially when Johnson’s companion within the linebacking core, Josey Jewell, is athletically restricted.
Behind them, the Broncos solely have the undrafted Josh Watson and final 12 months’s fifth-round choose Justin Strnad at linebacker. Don’t sleep on Strnad, however as of now, he’s an entire unknown.
Adding an athlete via the draft like LSU’s Jabril Cox, Ohio State’s Baron Browing, or Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah to deal with a few of these protection duties — which aren’t Johnson’s sturdy swimsuit — might elevate this protection to a stage of elite play we solely get to see as soon as each few years within the NFL.
It’s additionally a future want as each linebacker apart from Strnad is ready to develop into an unrestricted free agent subsequent low season
Honorable Mention: Edge Rusher
As it stands now, with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb beginning and Malik Reed within the wings, edge isn’t a lot of a urgent want. However, all three of these guys are set to develop into unrestricted free brokers within the subsequent two years and Denver would possibly need to put together for the worst.
On this listing, edge is relegated to the honorable mentions sections although as Chubb is prone to be locked up long-term, and the Broncos might simply select to signal Miller to an extension, particularly seeing how badly they needed to maintain him round this low season.
While drafting a possible Miller substitute is one thing the Broncos ought to completely do that low season, they might discover themselves able the place that eventual substitute goes the best way of a Shaquil Barrett.