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Old 04-28-2009, 10:07 AM   #1
Bronco Rob
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Default Broncos' pieces put together

Defensive line still needs concrete middle man; coach says tinkering will continue


After spending the past three months dismantling and then slowly rebuilding the Broncos' roster, Josh McDaniels and his staff finally have most of the pieces of what ultimately will be the 2009 team. Denver added two players in the draft who could be immediate starters: running back Knowshon Moreno and defensive end Robert Ayers. Others, such as cornerback Alphonso Smith and tight end Richard Quinn, are expected to push veterans for playing time. But McDaniels said the team will continue to tinker with the roster through August, a statement that makes sense, considering the team still has plenty of needs. Here's a position-by-position look at where the Broncos stand and holes they still need to fill.

Linebackers

What they have:

The Broncos have two solid starters inside in Andra Davis and D.J. Williams, with Wesley Woodyard and Spencer Lar-sen expected to provide depth. The bigger question is outside, where the team lacks players with experience aside from Boss Bailey, who is in the midst of a lengthy rehab from knee surgery. Elvis Dumervil, Darrell Reid, Tim Crowder and Jarvis Moss will get a shot at playing outside in the new 3-4 scheme, but all are being converted from the defensive line.
What they need: Coaches are counting on the former ends, listed above, and particularly Dumervil, to quickly make the transition to outside linebacker. Dumervil was the team's best pass rusher when he was an end, where he was undersized. He'll need to learn to be even more effective in the new position.

Defensive line

What they have: Draft pick Robert Ayers could — and should — be an immediate starter at end. Coaches are looking at several players, including Ronald Fields and Carlton Powell, to compete at nose tackle. Marcus Thomas, entering his third season, could be tried at end and tackle.

What they need: This unit still has the most room for improvement, particularly in the middle. The best 3-4 defenses have a monster nose tackle, and the Broncos ignored the position in the draft.

Secondary

What they have: This group has received perhaps the biggest upgrade since the end of 2008 with the moves made in free agency and the draft. The unit has an interesting combination of veterans and talented young players, which should make for interesting competition at training camp.

What they need: Not much, if anything. The biggest thing that can help the secondary now is to fortify the pass rush.

Quarterback

What they have: With the addition of Tom Brandstater in the sixth round, the Broncos again have three quarterbacks. Kyle Orton likely will end up the starter, beating out Chris Simms, but look for lively competition in camp.

What they need: McDaniels seems confident in Orton and Simms. The need now is for McDaniels to coach Orton to play at least somewhat like Tom Brady. It's the only way folks will forget about the Jay Cutler fiasco.

Offensive line

What they have: Five returning starters. How about that? The team drafted some depth, with guard Seth Olsen and center Blake Schlueter.

What they need: Nothing now, except for the type of production and protection the line provided in 2008.

Tight end

What they have: With Daniel Graham, Tony Scheffler and Richard Quinn — the team's third second-round draft pick last weekend — the Broncos have plenty of depth. But will it stay that way, or will Scheffler be moved?

What they need: If McDaniels isn't going to use Scheffler, and Scheffler isn't going to be happy, maybe the team needs to consider trading him.

Wide receiver

What they have: Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal made up one of the best receiver tandems in the NFL last year and should continue to be that as long as Marshall gets healthy and is on the active roster. Throw in Brandon Stokley and Jabar Gaffney, and this is as solid a receiving corps as they come. Rookie Kenny McKinley adds depth and speed.

What they need: The Broncos need Marshall to get healthy and stay out of trouble. If he doesn't recover well from hip surgery or receives a suspension from the NFL, the team will need a physical No. 1 receiver.

Running back

What they have: This group just got a whole lot better with the addition of first-round draft pick Know-shon Moreno. But it's a crowded backfield with Moreno; free-agent acquisitions Correll Buckhalter, J.J. Arrington and LaMont Jordan; along with Mike Shanahan holdovers Peyton Hillis and Ryan Torain. A couple of those players won't make the final roster.

What they need: Conventional wisdom said the Broncos were set at tailback before the draft. So they really ought to be set now. The Broncos need Moreno to live up to the hype as a superstar running back and a high first-round pick.



http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci...372?source=rss

Last edited by Bronco Rob; 04-28-2009 at 10:09 AM..
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Old 04-28-2009, 10:09 AM   #2
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I have to give it to McDaniels. He has a plan. I'm bummed we lost Cutler, and I thought we didn't have to give up so much value for Alphonso Smith, but I can see this team potentially going 11-5 this year.
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Old 04-28-2009, 10:12 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by MightySmurf View Post
I have to give it to McDaniels. He has a plan. I'm bummed we lost Cutler, and I thought we didn't have to give up so much value for Alphonso Smith, but I can see this team potentially going 11-5 this year.

That is definitely in the realm of possibility.
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Old 04-28-2009, 10:19 AM   #4
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I agree.
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Old 04-28-2009, 10:25 AM   #5
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we'll see,, it all depends on the backfield. I am not worried about the pass, because you can plug anyone into new englands pass offense and it will work (i.e. matt cassle) but we need to get back the amazing rush and defense, that's how we won 2 in a row!
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Old 04-28-2009, 10:39 AM   #6
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I'm thinking 12-4 ... at least.
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Old 04-28-2009, 10:41 AM   #7
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It still will come down to how fast this team gels. Some good points we made in the original post, alot of positions are set.... But it is still the DL that is in question.

Can coach Nolan make a difference with them?
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Old 04-28-2009, 10:44 AM   #8
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Jay Cutler can kiss my ass, but losing him will cost this team big time. I don't see 11-5 being very realistic. I say 7-9.
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Old 04-28-2009, 10:44 AM   #9
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I think 9-7 to 10-6 is more realisitic, but as CB said, it depends on how the team gels.

People are putting too much emphasis on Jay Cutler.

The Broncos werent going to win the Super Bowl next year anyway, and frankly I'm glad we lost Cutler's attitude.

Orton is Cutler's polar opposite personality-wise, and I think people will be suprised that, while he might not be a Pro Bowler, he'll have better stats than Jay at seasons end.

I'm more optimisitc about this year than last.
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Old 04-28-2009, 10:45 AM   #10
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7-9. let the reconstruction begin
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Old 04-28-2009, 10:46 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bronco Rob View Post
Defensive line still needs concrete middle man; coach says tinkering will continue


Defensive line

What they have: Draft pick Robert Ayers could — and should — be an immediate starter at end. Coaches are looking at several players, including Ronald Fields and Carlton Powell, to compete at nose tackle. Marcus Thomas, entering his third season, could be tried at end and tackle.

What they need: This unit still has the most room for improvement, particularly in the middle. The best 3-4 defenses have a monster nose tackle, and the Broncos ignored the position in the draft.

http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci...372?source=rss
I guess I am failing to understand what the difference is between getting a guy like Chris Baker as an UDFA - who has equal or better measurables at often times equally unproven programs - than guys who would have otherwise checked this box off had we used an actual pick to get them.

Had we spent a 3rd on a guy like Moala, Miller, Irvin or Scott then I am sure most of the paper pundits would have assumed we met the need; but I don't see anything to indicate these players will be better/worse prospects than Baker who we are getting for next to no risk at all.

Baker was listed at 6'2" and 326lbs (4lbs less than Ron Brace) and aside from a weaker bench press he showed explosiveness and a much better athleticism. Seems to me that with a little coaching (which we can only hope has improved with the new regime) and additional time in the training room, this guy will be just as much a factor yet is completely ignored.
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Old 04-28-2009, 10:52 AM   #12
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I don't understand the articles foregone conclusion that the 3-4 is the ultimate goal. It doesn't look like that is the goal. They could have drafted Barwin and Kruger for cheap in round 2 if they wanted to go 3-4 really bad. Both of them seem to be good OLB types in the 3-4. Big, fast, agile. Orakpo also and they passed on him.
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Old 04-28-2009, 10:54 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Liquid Courage View Post
I guess I am failing to understand what the difference is between getting a guy like Chris Baker as an UDFA - who has equal or better measurables at often times equally unproven programs - than guys who would have otherwise checked this box off had we used an actual pick to get them.

Had we spent a 3rd on a guy like Moala, Miller, Irvin or Scott then I am sure most of the paper pundits would have assumed we met the need; but I don't see anything to indicate these players will be better/worse prospects than Baker who we are getting for next to no risk at all.

Baker was listed at 6'2" and 326lbs (4lbs less than Ron Brace) and aside from a weaker bench press he showed explosiveness and a much better athleticism. Seems to me that with a little coaching (which we can only hope has improved with the new regime) and additional time in the training room, this guy will be just as much a factor yet is completely ignored.

If only football was played on the track. Did you ever hear of Mike Kudla? you should look him up.

Weight, bench press and 40 yard times have absolutely nothing to do with how you are on the field. I bet you there are 400 lbs guys who can bench press a lot more than Casey Hampton but would look like pins on a bowling alley if you stuck them in the middle of the Steelers defensive line. Football is about skill and instinct, especially the defensive line. There is a reason why Ryan Clady isn't a DT, he has the size of a NT, he is strong and he is very quick, but his skill isn't DT.
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Old 04-28-2009, 10:58 AM   #14
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Baker will need to stay out of trouble and I think he will. Marcus Thomas, Kenny Peterson and Carlton Powell will play the 3-4 end while Ayers moves around in the set. On 3rd down passing situations I expect Powell will come out. Ayers and Marcus Thomas willl play in the middle and Peterson and Doom will play at end. Should get a pretty good pass rush on 3rd and long.

Honestly, as long as our CBs aren't playing 10 yards off the ball on 3rd and 4... I'll be fine with it!!!
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Old 04-28-2009, 11:01 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by broncsyanks View Post
7-9. let the reconstruction begin
Cause going 7-9 and reconstructing is soooo much worse than going 8-8 year in and year out, and going 10 years with one playoff win.

It's not even that dreary. The Broncos will have a strong running attack and a good short passing game.

We'll have beeter field position, a much improved defense and red zone offense. Granted, we might make it there fewer times, but we'll be a hell of a lot more efficient.

The Broncos will go 10-6 this year, but miss out on the playoffs, and IF McD plays it right, we could be contenders next year.

Last edited by Mogulseeker; 04-28-2009 at 11:03 AM..
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Old 04-28-2009, 11:04 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeniusatWork View Post
I don't understand the articles foregone conclusion that the 3-4 is the ultimate goal. It doesn't look like that is the goal. They could have drafted Barwin and Kruger for cheap in round 2 if they wanted to go 3-4 really bad. Both of them seem to be good OLB types in the 3-4. Big, fast, agile. Orakpo also and they passed on him.
Seems none of those were that high on Denver's board and aside from Kruger the other 2 ended up as basic DE's on base 4-3 teams.
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Old 04-28-2009, 11:05 AM   #17
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And the article said the conventional wisdom was the team was set at tailback before the draft. That is ludicrous.
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Old 04-28-2009, 11:12 AM   #18
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What they need: McDaniels seems confident in Orton and Simms. The need now is for McDaniels to coach Orton to play at least somewhat like Tom Brady. It's the only way folks will forget about the Jay Cutler fiasco.

http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci...372?source=rss
I like this quote... basically, we're to believe that if Orton = Brady, than the Broncos = Superbowl Champs!

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Old 04-28-2009, 11:21 AM   #19
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Seems none of those were that high on Denver's board and aside from Kruger the other 2 ended up as basic DE's on base 4-3 teams.
My point was all three could have done well at OLB if indeed Denver wanted to go 3-4 really bad. What do you think? Going into the draft I was thinking Nolan wanted to go to the 3-4 really bad like the article assumed. And that led me to believe Barwin, Orakpo, Kruger would fit in really well as OLB's.

It's a moot point now and not that important I suppose. I don't have a problem with Ayers, Smith, McBath, Moreno, Quinn. There are a lot of different ways to build a good football team, I agree with McD there.
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Old 04-28-2009, 11:23 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeniusatWork View Post
I don't understand the articles foregone conclusion that the 3-4 is the ultimate goal. It doesn't look like that is the goal. They could have drafted Barwin and Kruger for cheap in round 2 if they wanted to go 3-4 really bad. Both of them seem to be good OLB types in the 3-4. Big, fast, agile.
I have to disagree here a bit.

Kruger ran slow at the combine, I believe it was in the 4.94 range. Now personally, I know that Kruger is faster then that, but that really hurt his chances as a 3-4 rush lb. We have a player in ED who has NFL experience, and in my opinion fits that role already.

I was on the Barwin Bandwagon.
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Old 04-28-2009, 11:52 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeniusatWork View Post
My point was all three could have done well at OLB if indeed Denver wanted to go 3-4 really bad. What do you think? Going into the draft I was thinking Nolan wanted to go to the 3-4 really bad like the article assumed. And that led me to believe Barwin, Orakpo, Kruger would fit in really well as OLB's.

It's a moot point now and not that important I suppose. I don't have a problem with Ayers, Smith, McBath, Moreno, Quinn. There are a lot of different ways to build a good football team, I agree with McD there.
The problem is still that we had one of the worst defensive lines last years and have done little to improve it. Even if the other units are improved (and the secondary at least is) that may not matter much. It is the same story as on offense, you can have 10 hall of fame runningbacks but if your offensive line can't open holes it doesn't matter much. You can have 10 hall of fame receivers but if your QB has a noodle arm and can't get the ball to them it doesn't matter.

You can have 10 hall of fame cover corners, but if the QB has all day to find an open man it is not going to matter. You can have 10 hall of fame linebackers, but if they get blocked by guards all day, they are not going to stop the run.
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Old 04-28-2009, 12:10 PM   #22
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Old 04-28-2009, 12:19 PM   #23
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One thing I think we can agree on: this team is going to be amped and prepared to play every single week. No more of those 2-3 games each season where Shanny simply didn't have the team ready. Those games infuriated me, and they happened every season, like clockwork.
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Old 04-28-2009, 12:33 PM   #24
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I think we will be a better team this year for the following reasons:

1. Young talented offense is one year older so they will make up for some of the drop off between cutler and his replacement. Moreno will add more to the running game combined with the maturing of the rest of the young offense. Orton has less flash but he has been productive. Not as good as cutler but i think since it is a team game, he will have the best offense he has ever had and subsequently will have the best stats he has ever had.
2. Offensive time of possession will improve due to more emphasis on the run game or short pass game. We will still have "home runs" but the offense will stay on the field longer.
3. Defense can only improve. Not counting on the rookies much but do expect our secondary has dramatically improved. I see that teams will still be able to run on us but i see a lot less TDs scored against us. When they get in long yardage or closer to the goal line, i see us making more stops. Point 2 above will mean they are not on the field for 40 minutes too.
4. McD seems to be taking special teams seriously and can only improve.

Our schedule is tough so we may not see many more wins but i see a better team.
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Old 04-28-2009, 12:59 PM   #25
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I have to give it to McDaniels. He has a plan. I'm bummed we lost Cutler, and I thought we didn't have to give up so much value for Alphonso Smith, but I can see this team potentially going 11-5 this year.
i agree. this team is looking like it will either surprise and kick ass, or is going to completely suck.

i don't think there is any middle ground coming from this team, it is either boom or bust.
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