You may or may not have heard, but this guy that played for the Colts for a number of years is now the Broncos new gunslinger. They say he is pretty good, so for all intents and purposes it sounds as if Denver has upgraded the QB position. Guess we will all soon find out who this new guy is…..:)……seriously though, the splash that the Broncos made by signing Peyton Manning is an enormous one. However, VP John Elway and GM Brian Xanders need to keep the foot on the gas when it comes to this offseason. As good as Peyton has been, he has just one Super Bowl ring. While we all have visions of him torching opposing defenses over the years (many times it WAS the Broncos), other teams from the AFC, like the Patriots and Steelers, were having more success in the playoffs. Indianapolis has won a ton of games the last decade or so, but always seemed to have holes at positions that ended up killing them. If Denver wants to maximize Manning’s stay here, they will continue to work the phones and watch college game tapes in order to fill out this roster. Last time I checked, Peyton does not play a lick of defense. The “Orange Crush” had some nice moments last year, but also gave up big yards and points at times too. This team is poised to win now, but there are 5 positions the team must address to make 2012 a memorable year.
1 – Defensive Tackle - Can you name who plays this position for Denver as of today? Maybe so, maybe not. Point being, this has been a problem for several years. Now granted, it is difficult to find a really good one, however there a couple in this years draft that should be available when the Broncos pick late in the first round. QB’s in the NFL hate, hate, hate pressure up the middle, as it disrupts their comfy pockets to stand in. Only a few teams have defensive tackles that can cause true havoc, and it is a huge advantage. Find a nice DT to match up with Dumervil and Miller, and watch the sack totals increase.
2 – Cornerback - News is hitting today that the Broncos have signed 25 year old Tracy Porter, who is leaving the bounty-laden Saints. Nice pickup considering there weren’t many corners available via free agency. Porter has been up and down, and is well known for intercepting Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl a few years back. Wonder what conversation those two will have when Porter hits Dove Valley. The Broncos have to get younger at CB, and this signing is good news. Adding one or two more wouldn’t hurt either, as old man Bailey is getting long in the tooth.
3 – Safety - Champ Bailey could move here eventually and thus extend his career a few years. Brian Dawkins has had neck issues, could very well be done playing, and is 53 years old…..just kidding, Brian…..add to this two young guys in Carter and Moore who looked lost most of 2011, and what we have is a mess at the safety position. This position HAS to improve, or teams with really good Tight Ends (Patriots, Chargers) will continue to dominate down the middle of the field.
4 – Running Back - Willis McGahee is a very good back, however he struggled staying healthy at times last year. Knowshon Moreno tore his ACL, and there is a good chance he won’t be back with the Broncos even when he does get back to 100%. This position needs an overhaul with some fresh blood. One guy that a lot of teams are undoubtedly looking at is Oregon’s LaMichael James. Because of his size (5’8″, 194 lbs), and speed (4.45 40 yard dash), he has been compared to Darren Sproles. In 3 full years at Oregon, he ran for over 1500 yards in each season. Because of his small size, he has been considered only a 2nd or 3rd round pick in this years draft. Denver should strongly consider this guy in the 2nd round, and trade some picks from the Tebow deal to move up in that round to get him. “Manning to James out of the backfield…..Touchdown!”…..sounds nice, huh?
5 – Tight End - This position has been critical for a Peyton Manning led offense, and will continue to be. Rumors still have Dallas Clark considering signing here, and that Manning to Clark combo has been deadly for years. The Broncos may actually have their TE of the future on this roster, and his name is Julius Thomas. This guy absolutely dominated training camp last year, and defenders were struggling to cover him. He became a starter, but in September got hurt and never truly recovered. Thomas has star potential written all over him, and with Manning in the fold, he could have a breakout year.
2012 is already a year that has Broncos fans buzzing. The fact that Peyton is signed, sealed, and delivered, makes Denver a team to watch. Players around the league would now be foolish not to consider the Broncos when they become free agents. Incoming rookies will know that they truly have a shot to win instantly if Denver calls their names in next months draft. Adding Peyton is a huge piece in the championship puzzle, but addressing the less glamourous positions will now be the key.