The 2014 NFL Draft is officially a wrap, which means offseason additions are just about complete. There will be some small free agent additions here and there, but training camp rosters are just about set. With that in mind, we are back to review each of the 49ers 2014 opponents. Each team has gained and lost numerous players, so this series will help get you more familiar with the rosters of each opponent.
Ouch. In thinking back on the last Super Bowl, that' s pretty much the only response one could have. A buddy of mine is a hardcore Broncos fan, but is out of the country for work, so he had to watch it at a different time than the American broadcast. I remember how excited he was for the game, and he told me not to spoil anything because he was going to watch it the second he physically could. I really wanted to spoil the game for his own sake. Watching that must have been a very painful experience for him.
But, if Peyton Manning is on your team, then there is always a reason to be hopeful. In addition, if Von Miller can play on your team for a full season, there is always a reason to be hopeful. There are, in fact, a lot of reasons to think that the Broncos are probably a better team than they played in the Super Bowl. There are legitimate reasons - starting with Manning and Miller - to think that the Broncos can and will remain a top team in the AFC.
There are, as we will see below, reasons why one might be suspicious. This has been an odd offseason, and though the Broncos have made some really savvy moves, they might have lost just enough talent on an already teetering defense to set them back.
Losses: OG Zane Beadles, WR Eric Decker, LB Wesley Woodyard, DE Jeremy Mincey, CB Champ Bailey, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DE Robert Ayers, RB Knowshon Moreno, WR Trindon Holliday, DE Shaun Phillips.
Obviously the big name one both lists is Decker. Decker had an excellent season last year and was a huge part of the offense's success. The addition of Sanders obviously offsets the loss a bit, and they did draft a WR in the draft (as we will see below), but I think it is reasonable for Bronco fans to wonder if their otherworldly offense might just become an offense of demi-human capabilities instead.
Defensively, the big loss is Rodgers-Cromartie. Again, the Broncos attempted to fix this a bit in the draft, but Talib is also a potential solution to DRC's departure. Is he a step down? Yeah, probably. But, the defense was never going to outright win games for Denver. They just need to get the ball back to the offense enough for it to do its thing.
31. Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
56. Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
95. Michael Schofield, OT, Michigan
156. Lamin Barrow, MLB, LSU
207. Matt Paradis, C, Boise State
242. Corey Nelson, LB, Oklahoma
The Roby pick in the first round is really quite interesting. From what I've read, it's a high-ceiling type of pick. He had an inconsistent 2013 season, but it was on the heels of a much stronger 2012 season that Denver is clearly hoping Roby will replicate in the NFL. He, like Talib, will likely try to replace DRC. On the other side of the ball, the Broncos selected Latimer, a jump-ball type of guy who can go vertical down the sideline. He will likely compete with Sanders to replace Decker's spot on the offense.