Now that the confetti has fallen and the everyday (hour, minute, second) discussion of Ray Lewis’ retirement is finally over (thank God), we can put the 2012 season to bed and start looking forward to the 2013-14 NFL draft later this month.
What better place to start than the Mile High Magical city of Denver?
The Broncos have certainly been no stranger to the headlines this offseason. “Fax gate”, “Dramaville”, and the signing of some guy named Welker have sparked conversations near every water cooler in North American office spaces since free agency kicked off earlier in March. With all of the recent transactions, it’s safe to say Mr. Elway believes the championship window in Denver is now. But are the Broncos seriously ready to make a push towards the Super Bowl in New Jersey next year?
One noticeable, gaping wide-open hole is the loss of defensive end Elvis Dumervil, who will be heading to join Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens. The Bronco’s top priorities this offseason are clearly on the defensive side of the ball and finding someone (hopefully sooner than later) to fill the loss of “Doom.”
Dwight Freeney and John Abraham were on Denver’s short list as potential replacements for Dumervil; however, the likelihood of bringing either of those appears to be cooling down. According to the NFL Network’s Michelle Biesner, Freeney essentially wants $6 million guaranteed and wants to sign on his own terms. I just don’t see Denver throwing that kind of money at a veteran who hasn’t put up great numbers the last two seasons (13.5 sacks, 25 tackles).
Conversely, while Abraham’s numbers are better (19.5 sacks, 60 tackles) — especially coming from a 4-3 like in Denver, his 35 year old frame is undoubtedly a concern.
Without a reasonable free agent veteran to bring in, Denver most likely will be looking for a veteran already in place such as fifth year man Robert Ayers or Malik Jackson and drafting an understudy with an early pick. (Denver’s first three picks are at 28, 58, and 90). Luckily, the draft has a plethora of defensive end stock to choose from this year. Let’s briefly look at a few that are most likely on the short list for Denver:
- Damontre Moore (Texas A&M): Former teammate of Von Miller’s at Texas A&M, he didn’t do well in the interview during the combine (raising character issues) and only ran a 4.95 (among the slowest of all available DE’s). Would be a nice mentoring project for Von. Expect Moore to still be on the board when the Broncos make their first selection.
- Tank Carradine (Florida State): Not a ton of Division one experience and is coming off of a torn ACL. Historically, Elway hasn’t been a big fan of injured players in the top 3 rounds.
- Alex Okafor (Texas): Would fit a 4-3 defense nicely. Very powerful and athletic,however, he lacks pass rushing skills that Dumervil had.
- John Simon (Ohio State): My dark horse. Simon was the heart and soul of Ohio State’s 12-0 season. His pro day in Columbus on Tuesday went well. He was unable to make the combine due to a shoulder surgery. He’s quick, aggressive and has even been called “Tebowish” by Urban Meyer.
Elway and company definitely have some decisions to make, but there are plenty of viable options on the table. Dumervil will surely be missed, but with a little homework, the Johns in Denver should be able to recoup most of the loss.
BY AARON BRATKA ON MARCH 29, 2013