State of the (Broncos) Nation

A work in progress

Result: Missed Playoffs

2019 Regular season record: 7-9

2019 Scoring Offensive Rank: 28th 17.6 PPG 

2019 Scoring Defensive Rank: 10th 19.8 PPG

2020 Draft First Round Pick: 15

Coach: Vic Fangio

The Offseason Scenario:

In 2019, three different quarterbacks started for the Broncos: first veteran Joe Flacco, who played in nine games, then Brandon Allen, who started three, then rookie Drew Lock finished the season off.  The Broncos were a top ten unit defensively, but there’s simply no way to win consistently in the NFL when you’re playing quarterback roulette.

The Broncos scored a few nice wins in 2019, including shutting out Tennessee in the game that got Marcus Mariota benched permanently and a late season win over Houston, but they also lost a lot of winnable games, including Oakland, Chicago, Jacksonville and Indy. 

Vic Fangio has spent his entire career as a defensive coach, so it comes as no surprise that he’s rejuvenated that once fearsome Bronco defensive front. With some savvy moves this offseason, that defense could easily be elevated into a top five unit. What remains to be seen is if he can orchestrate an offense that can put them in the mix for the AFC West with the Super Bowl champs. From all reports, this is Drew Lock’s team going forward, so at least they’ve gotten that sorted out.

Free Agent Frenzy: 

Without many huge splashes, the Broncos have addressed a number of issues in free agency.  The biggest name for the Broncos in free agency is clearly Melvin Gordon, the disgruntled ex-Charger who’s sure to bring a little extra spark to an offense that will pound the ball.  He’ll be paired in the backfield with Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, a rotation that will take plenty of pressure off of the shoulders of Drew Lock. Speaking of Lock…protection is the name of the game with young quarterbacks, so it makes sense to bring in a guy who can do just that from all sides. 

The Broncos upgraded along the offensive line with the addition of C/RG Graham Glasgow from Detroit. Glasgow isn’t a flashy top-end offensive lineman, but he’s steady and can play all over the line. I also like the pickup of cornerback A.J. Bouye to bolster the secondary. He was a square peg in a round hole in Jacksonville, but Fangio will know how to get the most out of his versatile skill set.  Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey will be a far more disruptive interior presence for the Broncos than they’ve fielded in recent years, a run stopper that can help collapse the pocket as well.

It seems like Vic Fangio is building a solid defensive unit that can give his run-based offense a chance to win some games.  

Seriously Premature Draft Hunches: 

Less of a hunch and more of an almost sure thing here.  Denver will be salivating at this wide receiver class. There are simply too many impact players available at the position, and the prospect of bringing in a scintillating sideline threat to pair with young gunslinger Drew Lock will feel like a sure thing.  With the fifteenth pick, Denver will have a solid shot at a few of the top receivers in the draft.

That might be either of the top Alabama receivers, Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs, Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, or Baylor’s Denzel Mims depending on how the first fourteen teams value this year’s crop.  There’s no need for Denver to trade up to go after one specific guy. They’ll have the luxury of sitting back and waiting to see who falls into their laps.    

For more thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.

Image Source: USA Today

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