I’m not a big grade guy when it comes to the NFL draft. We won’t know how much a player will impact an organization for at least a season or two. Is it safe to say Garett Bolles, thus far, is a D or an F? After 3 seasons of below average o-play, that’s obvious. Have we seen enough of Courtland Sutton to determine if he’s a B to an A grade? Assuming there’s not a rapid decline, absolutely. But saying Jerry Jeudy is an A or a C is premature…..but it gives us something to chat about, I suppose. Instead, I like to look at what the draft says about the future of a football team and determine whether or not It’s the right one. In 2015 the Broncos won a SB thanks in large part to the drafts prior to that magical season. 2011 saw the Broncos select a future SB MVP in Von Miller. 2012 yielded several starters on that top defense like Derek Wolfe, Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathon. The following years would supply big time role players like Sylvester Williams, Bradly Roby and Kayvon Webster. The addition of Peyton Manning and key free agents cannot be ignored but the foundation of one of the Broncos best defensive units in their history began in Aprils.
Elway has said in the past that focusing on their defense would be a priority while continuing the search for a QB to replace Manning. Based on 5 games last season, it would appear Denver has found its QB but has the defensive focus wavered? While Denver acquired defensive end Jurrell Casey and A.J. Bouye via trade, it appears they ignored upgrading their defensive unit in free agency and the 2020 draft. Casey and Bouye are both fine players but essentially, they just replace two other fine players in Wolfe and Chris Harris Jr..
Defensively, there are still glaring holes that were virtually ignored this offseason. They need another cornerback to pair with Bouye as Issac Yiadom and injured Bryce Callahan are not ideal #2 db’s. After 2 WR’s in a row, they did draft a need at corner in Michael Ojemudia at number 77 but according to Athlon sports, he was the 24th ranked corner going into the draft, behind guys like Trevon Diggs and Kristian Fulton, both still available in a second round that saw them snag another receiver. I can’t imagine Ojemudia will be anything more than a nickel and dime back next year.
Inside linebacker was also considered to be a need for the blue and orange but instead, the Broncos selected 2 outside guys in Justin Strnad and FCS superstar, Derrek Tuszka. Todd Davis is solid but covering tight ends and running backs going out for a pass is a weakness. Alexander Johnson surprised a lot of fans last season but it’s fair to be skeptical heading into 2020. Both in free agency and the draft, the Broncos favored offense over any sniff of improvement at ILB.
Let’s take a look at the offense vs. defense scoreboard this offseason:
Offensive highlights: Melvin Gordon (FA), Graham Glasgow (FA), Nick Vannett (FA), Jerry Jeudy (1st round pick), K.J. Hamler (1st round pick), Lloyd Cushenberry (3rd round pick), Albert Okwuegbunam (4th round pick), Netane Muti (6th round pick) and Tyrie Cleveland (7th round pick.
Key offensive position additions between free agency/trade and draft: 3 Wr’s, 3 O-linemen, 2 Tight Ends and 1 running back.
Defensive highlights: Jurrell casey (trade), A.J. Bouye (trade), Michael Ojemudia (3rd round pick), McTelvin Agim (3rd round pick), Justin Strnad (5th round pick), and Derrek Tuszka (7th round pick)
Key defensive position additions between free agency/trade and draft: 2 CB’s, 1 DE and 2 OLB.
I get it; it’s time to build around Drew Lock. I support that. I’ve said from day one that the Broncos need to verbally commit to Lock as the QB of the future and to take steps in upgrading the offense around him. Gordon, Glasgow and 1st round pick Jerry Jeudy achieved that goal but they doubled down in the draft adding several unnecessary pieces on offense while ignoring the unit that has been the lone bright spot the past few years post SB 50. Elway needed to give Lock a nice vehicle that he could slowly learn to drive but instead went all in and purchased a Jet while barely airing up the tires of what has been a pretty dependable F-150 on defense. I am as hopeful as the next guy when it comes to Drew Lock and the offense, but failing to address the need on defense might very well be what costs John Elway his job……