The first part of this series focused on the Carolina Panthers and the #1 selection. I came up with their top three needs, what players were rated atop the board at those positions, and my prediction in regards to that pick.
The enclosed poll showed that 58 percent of the Niners Nation community agreed with me that Cameron Newton would be picked by Carolina with the first overall pick. With that in mind I am going to concentrate on the Denver Broncos and the #2 pick this morning.
Denver is desperate for defensive help, that much is well understood. However, there has been debate to what position they should target first. Patrick Peterson has come up a lot in regards to their pick, as has Marcell Dareus and Nick Fairley. I do think that they will target the defensive side with this pick, and after the jump I will get into detail as to why.
Denver Broncos 2010 Teams Statistics
Passing Yards: 252.4 (7th NFL)
Rushing Yards: 96.5 (26th NFL)
Passing Defense: 236.3 (25th NFL)
Rushing Defense: 154.6 (31st NFL)
Kyle Orton: 58.8 Completion %. 3653 Yards, 20 TD, 9 INT, 87.5 Rating, 34 Sacks
Knowshon Moreno: 182 Attempts, 779 Yards, 4.3 AVG, 5 TD
Brandon Lloyd: 77 Receptions, 1448 Yards, 11 TD
Denver ranked 25th in passing defense and 31st in rushing defense. Simply put, they stunk it up on that side of the ball all season. They gave up 24 or more points 13 different times, and more than 30 points another 8 times. This defense was so bad that it gave up nearly 60 against an Oakland Raiders offense led by Jason Campbell. In that game Oakland totaled over 500 yards and nearly 30 first downs. It was pretty much a tragedy of epic proportions when it came to Denver's defense last season. So, it doesn't come as a surprise that their top three positions of need is going to be on that side of the ball.
#1: Defensive Line: They ranked in the low end of the scale in nearly every defensive category in 2010. This is a direct result of a lack of a pass rush, and the inability to stop the run. You can blame the secondary all you want, but if a team doesn't get to the QB; there really isn't anything that the back four can do. Denver compiled 23 total sacks in 2010, some of this because Elvis Dumervil missed the season, but you cannot put the blame solely on that. There is a major issue when your two sack leaders are inside linebackers (D.J. Williams and Mario Haggan with 5 each). Additionally, Denver's starting defense line combined for only three sacks combined. Needless to say, this has to be considered their #1 need.
Top Defensive Linemen
1. Marcell Dareus, Alabama
2. Nick Fairley, Auburn
3. Robert Quinn, North Carolina (DE/LB)
#2: Outside Linebacker: As stated above Denver's two leading sack men were inside linebackers. Even with Elvis Dumervil returning to full strength in 2011 they need to find someone opposite him to get to the QB. Robert Ayers, who they selected with the 18th pick of the 2009 draft, has been a complete bust. Consequently, Denver's pass rush has been affected. The Broncos really have to up and coming players in the front seven and need to find some young blood at these positions. D.J. Williams is a stud on the inside, and Elvis Dumervil is a solid pass rush threat; adding another talented player at LB will help the Broncos a great deal.
Top Outside Linebackers Available
1. Von Miller, Texas A&M
2. Aldon Smith, Missouri (DE/LB)
#3: Cornerback: I personally think that both Perrish Cox and Syd'Quan Thompson are going to be solid contributors for the Denver Broncos over the course of the next few seasons; they both have a nice amount of upside. That said, I don't think either will ever amount to a #1 corner in the NFL. Champ Bailey is still extremely productive in the
ladder latter stages of his career, but Denver needs to start looking to the future. In understanding the struggle of Denver's pass rush I have to come to the conclusion that the secondary was left out to dry too often in 2010. However, Andre Goodman and Nate Jones are not players that should see time in any teams regular corner rotation. Both are #4 corners at best. It must be a target of the Bronco's to find a replacement for Champ Bailey, so that they can slide Cox into the #2 corner position and Thompson into the nickel position. Once that happens, the Broncos corner position could be set for the next decade or so.
Top Cornerbacks Available
1. Patrick Peterson, Louisiana State
2. Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
My Pick: DL- Marcell Dareus, Alabama: It is possible that Denver will surprise us all and not go with any of these three positions; but, that is highly unlikely. In fact, I think it would be pretty dumb for them not to. It is not that Dareus will compile double digit sacks every year; that won't be the case. But, at 319 LBs he provides a strong defense against the run and can open up lanes for linebackers to get to the QB. Dareus does have the ability to get between 6-8 sacks each season. Additionally, he is a player that can play on all downs, contribute against the run, and reek havoc in all phases of the game. I think that it would be special to have him playing on the same side with Elvis Dumervil. This would cause a ton of match-up problems for opposing defenses. We all know the secondary is only as good as the front seven, and if that front is unable to interrupt the offensive flow the result will not be good. On the other side, if Denver is able to fortify the front seven, the result will be good in the defensive backfield. The way I see it, they have more talent in the back four and need to add that talent in the front seven.
Niners Nation Poll Results
1. Carolina Panthers: QB- Cameron Newton, Auburn
2. Denver Broncos:
3. Buffalo Bills:
6. Cleveland Browns:
Keep in mind that the poll option will not include Cameron Newton. Of the nearly 600 votes received in the previous article, Newton received 58 percent. So, for the purposes of the following poll he is off the board.