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Position by Position Review – Offense

March 4, 2010

Garrett here. In this post,  Bronco Madness contributer Jon Krause is going to do an overview of all the positions on the Broncos roster, examining where the team needs depth, and where things are looking good. First off, Quarterback – of course. Enjoy!

Quarterback: On the roster: Kyle Orton, Chris Simms, Tom Brandstater. Nowhere in the NFL is the back-up quarterback the favorite player on the team more than Philadelphia, but Denver is definitely in the top 10. Coming off his first season with the Broncos, Orton has many fans, yet Tom Brandstater probably has more. Not many will deny that Brandstater is the Broncos future, even though he’s never even played in a regular season game. There is another QB – Simms. I would guess (and all other fans would hope) that Chris is done in Denver. Orton probably has one year left before the Broncos move on. Let’s review the stats from 2009;

Orton: 336 of 541 attempts were completed, for 3,802 and 21 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. It all added up to a rating of 86.8. Overall Orton did about as well as expected. Look for him to only improve in 2010.

Simms: 5 of 17 attempts were completed, for 23 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 1 interception. That rounded out to a QB rating of 15.1. In summary, many have been too quick to judge Simms (myself included). He never got the reps in practice that Orton did, and fans expected him to have the same rhythm when called upon. Simms did far less than expected of him in 2010, I’m not sure if Denver will keep him. If they do the only direction he could possibly go is up.

Brandstater: The rookie didn’t play in any regular season games, but started the final pre-season game. In that game he was 16-of-30 for 187 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Those stats look, if anything, bad. Yet, in some weird way, when watching Tom he looked very good. He made some great throws, and didn’t have very many bad decisions. Summary: The Broncos will keep Brandstater, and he could have a very bright future.

What it boils down to is this, the Broncos need some more depth at the quarterback position. I don’t think the Broncos should draft a QB, unless they have something up their sleeve like drafting a franchise type QB (e.g. Stafford, McCoy, Clausen). There are so many talented veteran free quarterbacks out there, I think it would be a waste of a draft pick to get a backup QB.

Offensive Line: On the roster: Chris Kuper, Ben Hamilton, Tyler Polumbus, Russ Hochstein, Ryan Clady, Seth Olsen, Ryan Harris, and Brandon Gorin. On paper, Clady sticks out  on the offensive line, as he is far superior in skill. You’ve probably read on many sites how the Broncos guards are trash, and that the Tackles have held the line together. (Maybe you haven’t. I have many times.) I would like to point out that the whole line struggled, not just the guards. Denver’s rushing attack was at times awful, (watch film from the home game against the Raiders).

With McDaniels switching to a power running scheme many changes will have to be made. Not only were the Broncos “Dirty boys” poor in rush blocking, they allowed 34 sacks in 2009! That is 22 more sacks allowed than 2008. The tackles allowed 15 sacks, while the guards allowed 8.5. Let those stats sink in . . . Did the guards or tackles do better in 2009? What is more shocking, after allowing just .5 sacks as a rookie, Ryan Clady allowed 8 sacks in 2009! Is he really that bad? Or has the entire line fallen apart? I hope the latter, although that is hard to take in, as well.

What it boils down to, the Broncos really need depth on the O-line. Ryan Harris’ injury hurt, and the Broncos could use another Tackle. The Guards were not superb, and they need help too. Then there are the centers, oh wait, there aren’t any centers. Casey Wiegmann started all 16 games at Center for the Broncos last year, and just a few days ago he was released. Ben Hamilton was his back-up. It is safe to say the Broncos need depth at center!

The whole line needs depth, and I believe Denver will fix that through the draft, and free agency. New England Patriots Guard Logan Mankins comes to mind. He is 27-years-old, he is skilled, and he played under McDaniels. He would be a great off-season pick up for our offense. Guard Mike Iupati–who is entering the draft as one of the top offensive linemen–would be another great add to a shattered line. But more importantly than the Tackles and Guards, the Broncos need a Center (or two). Josh McNeil of Tennesse is probably my favorite center in the draft, but he thrived in a zone blocking scheme in college, the scheme the Broncos are running away from. Of the free agents out there, Center Casey Rabach of the Redskins is my favorite. He is 32 years old, yet has 3-4 years left in him. He only allowed 1 sack last season, and is a good run blocker.

The Broncos look to totally revamp the O-Line, look for many players to be cut before, during and after the pre-season. Expect the Broncos to address the line in the draft, and free agency. Denver could use depth at Guard, Tackle and Center – all three positions on the line.

Wide Receivers: On the roster: Brandon Stokley, Jabar Gaffney, Eddie Royal, Brandon Lloyd, Kenny McKinley, and Brandon Marshall.

Nearly all the “experts” on ESPN, NFLN, Fox Sports, Yahoo! and everywhere else will tell you that the Broncos “really need depth at Wide Reciever.” If I were their boss I would fire them. Even if Brandon Marshall is traded, the Broncos would only need a mediocre WR to join what they already have. I don’t understand all the Dez Bryant love from fans, and “Experts”. Why draft a WR in the first round when your defensive line recorded so few sacks the previous year?

There are always great WR’s in the second rounds of drafts to be found, so we should look there to replace our Receivers. There are some good free agent Wide Outs on the market, and I would suggest to the Broncos to sign one of them, and not shake up the WR Depth Chart. Check out these highlights of Jabar Gaffney. If Josh McDaniels used Eddie Royal more, he would be a Pro Bowl WR, here’s proof. Brandon Stokley still has a lot left in his tank, in my book he is the best 3rd down Wide Receiver in the NFL. Kenny McKinley had a quiet rookie debut, but I believe he can get it done when called upon. There’s all those guys, and I haven’t even mentioned Brandon Marshall. I don’t think the Broncos will let Brandon go and instead I think he will receive a short contract extension.

With all that said you’ve probably gotten my point, the Broncos are pretty secure with depth at WR. Yet, I think it would be a good idea to sign a free agent for just a little more depth. Jason Avant of the Eagles is a 27-year-old free agent who woudn’t cost too much. I don’t expect the Broncos to make a big splash in the Wide Receiver market this off-season via Draft or Free agency.

Tight Ends: On the Roster: Daniel Graham, Tony Scheffler, and Richard Quinn.

Graham is hard to take down when the ball is in his hands, Tony Scheffler is very skilled as a receiver, and while Quinn is a blocking TE, he does have hands as well. Graham is getting older, and that’s probably why McDaniels drafted Quinn last year. It is still to be seen if Scheffler will return to the Broncos. Combined, the three Tight Ends only caught 3 touchdowns in 2009, and it was obvious catching Tight Ends were not part of McDaniels game plan. If all three stay in Denver they won’t have a need to pick up another one. There is no shortage of Tight Ends in the draft, or in free agency.

What it boils down to is that the Broncos are good for now, but another receiving Tight End would be a good asset.

Running Backs: On the Roster: Knowshon Moreno, Correll Buckhalter, Peyton Hillis, and Spencer Larsen (Full Backs included.)

I personally have a man crush on all of the four backs. Moreno had some struggles (like all rookies do) but he showed flashes of true greatness. When you put the skill of Moreno and Buckhalter together, they are unstopable. Peyton Hillis is just a pure Beast. You may be wondering who this Special Teamer/Linebacker/Fullback Spencer Larsen is? He was drafted in 2008, and has already done some amazing things in the NFL. He was the first player to start on offense, defense and special teams since 1999, and he is a hit machine. He also has some nice blocking skills. In 2009, he missed about half the year with an injury, and the Broncos rushing attack hurt without him. When he returned the Broncos started using more FB formation boot leg and rushing plays. The Broncos offense is much better when Spencer Larsen is on the field. The same goes for Peyton Hillis, both players are simply very talented. All Bronco fans hope to see more of them in 2010, especially Hillis. Let’s take a look at the RB’s stats;

Knowshon Moreno rushed 247 times for 947 yards, and 7 touchdowns, an average of 3.8 yards-per-rush. Those numbers are not very flashy, and frankly Moreno really disappointed as a rookie. But let me remind you, he did all that while rushing behind the trashed line I mention above. Moreno also added 28 receptions for 213 yards and 2 touchdowns. Look for Moreno to definitely stay on the team, and become the full time starter in 2010.

Correll Buckhalter rushed only 120 times, but still managed to pound out 642 yards, and a score. Bucky added over 30 receptions for 240 yards as well. Buckhalter did about as much as was expected of him as far as stats go. But as for overall performance he way over achieved. The Broncos will probably keep him on the team. Although he’ll see the field, expect his role to shrink in 2010, as more balls will be going Moreno’s way.

Peyton Hillis only rushed 13 times in 2009, but he gained 77 total yards, and scored a touchdown early in the season. As a rookie, Hillis led the Broncos in rushing yards, and scored a Touchdown in almost every game he started. His role was really shrunk in 2009. The Broncos should keep Peyton on the team, and his carries should majorly rise in 2010.

What it boils down to: The Broncos have some great backs, but could use a some depth. There are vets like LT and Westbrook on the market, and rising stars such as Ronnie Brown and Darren Sproles. I wouldn’t put my money on the Broncos signing any big name running back in free aceny. Come April the Broncos will have plenty of options as far as skilled backs go. I’m predicting the Broncos will part ways with either Buckhalter or Hillis and draft another Running Back.

Overall, the Broncos could use a lot of Depth on offense. Don’t expect a lot of free agent signings by the Broncos so they’ll probably use the draft to help out on the offense. I’m excited for 2010, and I’m looking forward to see what changes McDaniels will make to get our offense back on the right track. That’s my position by position review for the offense, check back on the site for my Defense position by position review!

Jon Krause is a contributor for Bronco Madness, you can also find him on Broncos Zone.

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