A lot of people have assumed that we're going to draft a middle linebacker early this year. There are several reasons it wouldn't be a bad idea, including:
- Joe Mays, after being paid quite a bit, is coming off an injury. Even before his injury he was not playing well. The Broncos could save a lot of money by just letting him go.
- Keith Brooking is ancient. He likely isn't coming back.
- Nate Irving hasn't really developed.
- The Broncos seem to always take the best player available regardless of need in the draft.
However I was listening to Tom Nalen and Les Shapiro on the radio today and I am beginning to think the Broncos are more optimistic about the Mike position for a variety of reasons.
- DJ Williams wants to stay. What? How could he? Well he said he likes the Broncos. He thinks this is his best shot at getting a ring, and he has come forward recently and said while he would like to continue to compete with Woodyard for the weak side linebacker position, he is open to moving to the middle. He said it would be a good way to deal with the loss of speed he is dealing with, and it is not an entirely unfamiliar position to him. If the Broncos want to keep him, it makes the most sense with Miller and Woodyard on either side.
- Nate Irving. What? How could he possibly be in the mix? Well word 'round the camp fire is the mental aspect of the game is slowing down for him. There could be a point where if the Broncos staff feels he's finally "got it" that he could compete and even start this next season - and at the very least will receive a good look their during preseason. If Nate does develop well, it could shift concerns during the draft to throw a pick at another position.
- Steven Johnson. Who? He was a college free agent that has actually really started to raise eyebrows recently. Apparently some players and coaching staff think he has more than a decent chance to compete for the starting middle linebacker position and his good play is what helped him get onto the final 53 last season. He allegedly grew a lot and many on the staff are excited to see how he'll progress.
So while it might seem "horrible" to us right now, the Mike position has some options. And a couple have been on the back-burner for some time. It would be nice if one of those young guys emerged as a legit starter and that allowed us to dedicate resources elsewhere.
However I am reminded that last year the Broncos said they didn't think their defensive tackle position was thad bad and then proceeded to take one with their first pick. So who knows?