Among the Broncos biggest needs in the 2014 NFL Draft is a revamp of their offensive line. Denver fans who can stomach watching the February 2014 Super Bowl tapes (oh, the agony) do doubt have seen how the impressive defensive line of the Seahawks owned the Bronco’s O-Line from the first snap onward. The NFL is a copy-cat league, so expect many teams to load up on defense, imitating Seattle, and making Denver’s offense a little more human in the coming year.
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Admittedly, Denver was in a strange situation after losing multiple starters to injury during the season – but now they’ve lost one of their stronger lineman, Zane Beadles, to free agency. They are planning on a healthy return for Ryan Clady, who played just two games last season. If that’s the case, Denver will have four of their five starters set for the 2014 season. However, they’re going for broke in Peyton Manning’s final years – and this off season the Bronco’s big money has been spent on the defensive side of the ball. That means building depth on the offensive line through the draft, and potentially finding a starter there as well.
Since Offensive lineman are not usually the sexiest pick high in the draft, several options should fall to the Broncos within the first three rounds. Xavier Su’a-Filo (UCLA) and David Yankey (Stanford) are the highest rated guards across many draft boards, and if either are available at the end of round 1, the Broncos may consider finding Zane Beadles’ younger and cheaper replacement early on the first night of the draft. The Broncos don’t have another pick until number 63 in round 2. If they don’t fill their guard gap on their offensive line in round 1, they could be hoping for Gabe Jackson (Mississippi State) to fall into their lap in the second round.
Of course, Guard isn’t the Broncos only need on the O-Line, they also should be on the lookout for a center as well. I do think that the Broncos will address their needs at guard before attempting to add depth to the center position, but two early round centers have Denver’s eye. Travis Swanson (Arkansas) has been the point lineman in the SEC where intelligence and brute strength are at a premium, facing high-end defensive lineman on a regular basis. The Broncos could also draft from within the state, and pick up Weston Richburg (Colorado State) who is accustomed to altitude and should be available in the third round.
All things told, the Broncos are going to keep their foot on the gas as long as Peyton Manning is at the quarterback position. They’ll need to find depth for their offensive line to avoid repeats of the Seahawk Super Bowl beat down – watch for a guard or center to go to the Broncos in the first three rounds of this year’s draft.