The Broncos still have more work to do in free agency and then the draft
The Denver Broncos have made quite a few moves in free agency this new league year. Of the several moves they’ve made in free agency; the Broncos have handed out over $100 million in contracts over the last week.
Broncos general manager George Paton has found some good players to help make the team better in 2022. However, there are still some holes on the roster and in the starting lineup that need to be addressed – either through the rest of free agency or in the 2022 NFL draft.
The Broncos still aren’t done making moves. Which holes should be filled first, and what is the best way to fill them? I believe three spots remain critical for the Broncos to fill. Let’s take a look at which ones and what are the best options for the team.
Yes, the Broncos added Tom Compton last week and he could start at right tackle, but I think they still need to be looking for a better starting option. They did keep Calvin Anderson around to compete for a starting position, but I think he might be best suited to be the team’s swing tackle this season.
The right tackle spot has been a problem for the Broncos for years. They haven’t had a good right tackle since Tyler Polumbus started off and on during their Super Bowl 50 run. They haven’t had a steady right tackle since Orlando Franklin last manned the position in 2013. This position has been a trouble spot for the Broncos – and they’ve tried many ways and tried many players to fix it but to no avail.
Best Option: If the Broncos stay put in the draft, their first selection will be no.64 overall and that’s too late to get a quality tackle who could step in and start as a rookie. That means free agency is the best option for the Broncos. On Tuesday, they are bringing in Seattle Seahawks right tackle Brandon Shell for a visit. He started 21 games over the last two seasons for the Seahawks and helped protect quarterback Russell Wilson. If his shoulder checks out (it was injured but did not require surgery), then expect the Broncos to sign him and expect Shell to be the starter at right tackle.
Is Alex Singleton the answer at inside linebacker or not? How about Josey Jewell? Is second-year pro Baron Browning going to stay inside or outside linebacker in 2022? As you can see, there are plenty of questions remaining about the Broncos inside linebacker position. Gone are the days of the “thumper” ILB who attacks fullbacks and running backs in the hole. Today’s NFL is about linebackers who can stuff the run but more importantly cover these athletic tight ends who are basically big-bodied wide receivers.
The Broncos would be okay if any combination of Singleton, Jewell and Browning start at the two inside linebacker spots. Reports indicate Browning is going to get a chance at outside linebacker (as I suspected when Singleton was signed). However, I think an upgrade at inside linebacker can be found in the draft – although I fear they may have to move up from No. 64 overall to get him.
Best Option: In the late second round the Broncos should be considering Chad Muma from the University of Wyoming. I will be in Laramie next week for Muma’s pro day, and I’m excited to see what kind of show he can put on for scouts and media in attendance. Muma may not be as good as Logan Wilson (Bengals) was – a player I wanted the Broncos to draft in 2020 – but I think he can develop into a do-everything linebacker in the NFL. He had the tenth most coverage stops in 2021, so staying with more athletic players over the middle (something Singleton and Jewell struggle with) is not a problem.
Even with the addition of Randy Gregory in free agency, I think the Broncos still need to add some talent to the EDGE. You can never have too many pass-rushers in the NFL, and the Broncos may not be as strong at the position as some think. Gregory is great when healthy, but he has never played a full season in the NFL, yet the Broncos paid him like he’s been highly productive. On the other side, the Broncos will line up Bradley Chubb – a first-round pick from the 2018 NFL draft who has not stayed healthy or looked dangerous since his rookie season.
The Broncos have talent if Gregory and Chubb stay healthy and produce. If either one or both gets banged up, the Broncos could be in trouble quick. They can head that off at the pass if they add better depth and at least one more pass-rusher. In fact, I would like if the Broncos added two more young EDGE players to develop behind Gregory and Chubb.
Best Option: I can find quite a few quality players with great upside in the mid rounds of this draft. The Broncos have five draft picks in the meat of this class – from picks 50 to 120. With two of those five picks, they should take two pass-rushers. Myjai Sanders (Cincinnati) is one of my favorite players in this draft (I have him graded as a third-round pick with upside), and he reminds some in the scouting community of Yannick Ngakoue (Colts). DeAngelo Malone (Western Kentucky) is a fine developmental player the Broncos could get in the fourth round.