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Joshin’ Around: Broncos Sign 9 Players, but Still Have Work to Do

February 28, 2009

29400_featureThe Denver Broncos have been by far the busiest team in the NFL during the 2009 free agency period, acquiring nine new players in the first two days. But, the Broncos should be far from done with signing new players.

So far, the Broncos have agreed to terms with Correll Buckhalter, J.J. Arrington, Lonie Paxton, Renaldo Hill, Jabar Gaffney, David Anderson, Darrell Reid, Andra Davis, and Brian Dawkins. These acquisitions completely fill the needs at running back and wide receiver, but do not enough to fill some glaring holes on defense.

Sure, the Broncos have begun to address their needs at safety, but they have not done enough work just yet. They picked up two solid players in Renaldo Hill and Brian Dawkins, but both are on the tail ends of their careers, being 30 and 35, respectively. On top of that, outside of Josh Barrett, they have no depth at that position.

Other than that though, the Broncos have done little to no work towards fixing their many defensive problems. They have many positions to fill across the defensive line and the secondary. Luckily for team McXanders, they will have plenty of opportunity to do so.

The key to this process is to, drum roll please, is to continue to do exactly what they’re doing, except do it five years younger. While the Broncos have added three expected defensive starters in Davis, Dawkins, and Hill, they are 30, 35, and 30, something that does not bode well for the future.

To counter this trend, McXanders (Anyone else love that name?!?) must look in the free agent bargain bin to find young, unproven players just looking for a shot to get more playing time. If the Broncos are set on signing unheralded yet consistent veterans to start on defense, they must do what they can to add as much youth and depth as they can.

On the defensive line, the Broncos have Tim Crowder; someone who they believe has the tools to be a solid 3-4 lineman, and Marcus Thomas, an undersized DT that could get a shot at end in the new scheme. To fill out the line through free agency, there are plenty of young guys with a lot of upside waiting for their shot.

One player the Broncos should take a hard look at is Cardinals DT Gabe Watson. Watson, 26, is a 6-4, 340 pound DT that, with proper coaching, could develop into a very solid DT. Two other guys they should look at are Patriots DT Mike Wright, and Igor Olshansky, a 3-4 DE from San Diego. Both are just 27 years old, and could easily become integral parts of the defensive line rotation for relatively low prices.

In the secondary, the Broncos have incumbent starter Champ Bailey, and two new starting safeties in Renaldo Hill and Brian Dawkins. All these players are over the age of 30, however, and the young trio of cornerbacks Jack Williams and Josh Bell and safety Josh Barrett are not ready to be thrust into starting roles. That is why the Broncos should not consider themselves done with signing secondary players.

To find themselves a second corner to start opposite Bailey, the Broncos should look no further than Jabari Greer and Bryant McFadden. Both are 27 years old, and have experience playing the number two cornerback. Both of these players would benefit greatly from playing next to Champ Bailey, and could help mentor Williams and Bell while they work to be the eventual number one corner in Denver.

To add some depth and youth to the safety position, the broncos should pursue Sean Jones, Dawan Landry, Jim Leonhard, James Sanders, or Josh Bullocks. All of these players are under the age of 27, and have all played very solidly in their careers. Any one of these guys would be a perfect fit to play under Dawkins and Hill and develop into a starter.

I know many Bronco fans are very excited about the free agency, but be aware that the Broncos are not, and should not be, done. They have made progress in fixing their defense, but there is much work left to be done.

Be sure to check out “Joshin’ Around” next week to see how similar Josh McDaniels is to his mentor in New England.

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