Welcome to the Podcast AF offseason review series, astutely titled “The Probe” – the unofficial official NFL offseason review series of the Vegas Golden Knights. Here, like most NFL “writers”, I will regurgitate takes I read or heard somewhere else and pass them off as original thoughts. Will Ryan Tannehill breakout in 2018? Was Mike McCarthy abandoned by the run game as a child? Does Saturn have a playoff atmosphere? Your questions, answered! Sponsored by “Ready Player One”, in theaters now!
#15 – The Denver Broncos (5-11, Last AFC West)
My favorite aspect of the Broncos is the media coverage. I don’t know a whole lot about the beat, but I do know two things: Adam Schefter is a member of the Broncos Beat Media Tree, and the reporters love to fuck around.
I typically don’t read everything they write, but as the years have gone on it’s become more and more apparent that they’re messing with the sector of the fanbase that still worship John Elway as some omnipotent general manager. At first they may have believed it, but some time between the end of the 2016 regular season and the reacquisition of Brock Osweiler it become a big joke.
I could’ve sworn I tweeted something along these lines back in 2016, but a quick Twitter advanced search found nothing. Could’ve done it with a different QB, but the idea was that if the Broncos had traded whatever it took a the time, which was probably a 5th-round pick, for Case Keenum, they would’ve at least made it to the AFC divisional round in 2016.
What I did find was this;,;;
The immediate question I have about the Broncos offense is whether the offensive line is at least last year’s Vikings offensive line, which wasn’t great. We know Denver has the receivers in Damaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, and even though the newly-cut CJ Anderson is a tough loss, the platoon of Devontae Booker and last year’s 6th-round pick De’Angelo Henderson is actually pretty good, hence the justification for releasing CJ Anderson. And even at TE, it seems like the Broncos finally have a TE in 2nd-year guy Jake Butt in whom they can instill some degree of confidence.
As I described in my hard-hitting look at the Kirk Cousins contract, the Vikings OL really wasn’t great, and it’s incredible how Case Keenum produced behind it (of course, give plenty of credit to Pat Shurmur’s scheming).
So what about Denver’s OL? Last year’s first-round pick, LT Garret Bolles, struggled for the most part, but that’s not to say he doesn’t take a step in year two. LG Ronald Leary is top-10 OG in the NFL, but he missed a lot of time last year and the fill-in platoon behind him was ineffective. C Matt Paradis is back and is also top-10 at his position. The right side of the line is the issue here, where RG Connor McGovern and newly-acquired RT (via trade from the Cardinals) Jared Veldheer have not performed well thus far in their careers. If healthy, the floor here is a 2/5 OL and the ceiling is probably 4/5 if Veldheer performs better in this new system.
This might be a good place to address John Elway putting the 5th overall pick up for sale. The biggest need on the Broncos’ OL is RG, and there’s a fella by the name of Quenton Nelson who will undoubtedly be available at #5 that everyone and their mother has said is a layup to start for your team for 15 years.
Movie Comparison: “Avatar.” Really good but there’s something left here to be desired.
Denver’s defense is like the 2017 Patriots’ “bend don’t break” defense aside from the fact that they’re actually good. They allowed the 9th-most yards but the 3rd-least points, were 4th against the pass and 5th against the run. That was IN SPITE of the injuries they sustained.
LDE: Derek Wolfe
NT: Domata Peko
RDE: Adam Gotsis
ROT: Shelby Harris
This is a very well-rounded group, aside from Peko being nearly 34-years old. But, age doesn’t matter if the player is…good. Last year, Peko was good. The rest of these guys were at least average, which in the NFL “average” means they’re good.
SLB: Shane Ray
ILB: Brandon Marshall
ILB: Todd Davis
WLB: Von Miller
I’ve described the phenomenon in the past: because a team was good at something in previous season and that idea has been instilled in people’s minds so much, when the opposite is true the following season people tend to use the old knowledge. This happened last year with the Broncos defense: everyone would say their run defense was good even though it wasn’t, because it had been elite the past few years. The opposite was true this year; it was back to elite but the accepted take flipped because of people being corrected on it so much for the season before.
That being said, Brandon Marshall and Shane Ray had criminally bad seasons. Todd Davis is still pretty good and I shouldn’t even have to address Von Miller.
CB: Bradley Roby
SS: Justin Simmons
FS: Darian Stewart
CB: Chris Harris, Jr.
NCB: Will Parks/Su’a Cravens
Roby, Simmons, and Harris are all really good. Darian Stewart is a question mark and could have the shortest leash; FS is pretty important spot on this defense since the Broncos run so much cover 3. Will Parks is also a bit of a question, but the biggest question is Su’a Cravens.
I just used the word “question” way too much and I apologize for boring you. Here’s a visualization of that sentence:
Cravens is a SS by trade but notably went AWOL from the Redskins last season (there’s a chance any player in that organization could go AWOL in any given season tbh). He’s currently listed as the backup SS and the backup nickel CB. That tells me the Broncos see versatility in Cravens, and makes me wonder if he could potentially play FS if Darian Stewart slips further.
MAJOR DRAFT NEEDS:
Nothing is necessarily “major” as of now, but the season may start, someone might suck, and people will look back and think it was major. So I’ll try my best here:
RG/RT, WR depth (3rd/4th string?), ILB/OLB (Marshall & Ray spots), NCB, FS, future QB?
In honor of Pete Prisco telling me I’m dumb and that I’ll fail, here’s this entry’s edition of “Prisco’s Pickanosis,” where I highlight something the Tom Brady of acting like an infant on Twitter was completely wrong about.
If he was a heck of GM, he would’ve given up at the most a 4th or at the least a 6th to get someone like Case Keenum after Peyton Manning retired and Osweiler left. Now they’re paying $18M for Keenum. Just because Peyton Manning wanted to sign with the team that had the best roster doesn’t mean Elway is a great GM.