NFL Draft 2015: AFC West Analysis

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Denver Broncos

I’ll start by looking at the reigning champions, and the benchmark for the AFC West in recent years; the Denver Broncos. Ever since future hall of famer Peyton Manning joined the Broncos, they have dominated the AFC West division. However, the back end of last season displayed a few chinks in the Broncos’ armor.

Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Free agency also hit Denver hard; Julius Thomas and Terrance Knighton left without being replaced, Rahim Moore departed to the Texans, and perhaps most significantly, head coach John Fox was replaced with Gary Kubiak, bringing a new offensive playbook with him.

Heading into the draft, the major needs for the Broncos were both offensive and defensive lines and inside linebacker, with a new 3-4 defensive scheme implemented. The draft picks of the Broncos are as follows:

1 23 Shane Ray DE/OLB 6’3″ 245 Missouri
2 59 Ty Sambrailo OT 6’6″ 311 Colorado State
3 92 Jeff Heuerman TE 6’5″ 254 Ohio State
4 133 Max Garcia C 6’4″ 309 Florida
5 164 Lorenzo Doss CB 5’10” 182 Tulane
6 203 Darius Kilgo DT 6’3″ 319 Maryland
7 250 Trevor Siemian QB 6’3″ 220 Northwestern
7 251 Taurean Nixon CB 5’10” 183 Tulane
7 252 Josh Furman S 6’1″ 210 Oklahoma State

Overall, the Broncos draft promised much after acquiring Shane Ray in round 1, but perhaps failed to deliver on Day 2 and 3 to complete their already impressive roster. Trading up to draft Ray (something that may not have been necessary) is a good move, and will allow the edge rusher to sit and learn from two of the best OLBs in the business: Demarcus Ware and Von Miller. Although off-field issues plagued Ray’s draft stock, the Broncos have picked up a top-10 talent.

Offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo is a nice pick in the second round, and can play all along the offensive line, and Jeff Heuerman is an excellent blocking tight end. However, the Broncos struggled to find any other impact players beyond that. In fact, other than Ty Sambrailo, I think all of the Broncos’ draft picks will struggle to have a significant impact in the 2015 season, however good a selection Ray and Heuerman are for future years.

“However, with Manning at the wheel and a pass rush that is as potent as any in the league, they will most certainly be there or there abouts come December.”

The main issue with the Broncos draft, however, is who they didn’t draft. After Terrence Knighton left in free agency, Denver should have prioritized a defensive linemen further up the draft (Malcom Brown was available in the first round) and the decision to wait until the sixth round is curious. Furthermore, the Broncos failed to acquire an inside linebacker, and if Gary Kubiak is to implement a 4-3 defensive scheme, the Broncos could be found wanting.

Therefore, although some of their early round picks were good, the Broncos struggled to address some of the holes left through a difficult free agency period. However, with Manning at the wheel and a pass rush that is as potent as any in the league, they will most certainly be there or there about come December.

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