To me this is one of the teams I can see performing a whole lot worst than most people will think. In today's NFL the windows for championships close really quickly and I think it has for the Broncos. Actually, I think it closed since they won their last Super Bowl and once Peyton Manning officially retired. I know he was not as good as Peyton normally is, but I think his intelligence and ability to audible and game plan against defenses helped this team immensely during their Super Bowl run. Now this team will be lead by a glorified back up quarterback Trevor Siemian or greatly overwhelmed Paxton Lynch who is having a rough time learning the playbook according to sources. This defense should still be solid, but I do not think it will ever be as good as it was years prior. A lot of their stud defenders in the secondary are aging and that's one position where the bottom falls out on a guy fairly quickly. Plus, they have not really ever fixed that defensive line after losing a few good defenders like Sylvester Williams and Malik Jackson. To me this team may be landing in the top 10 of the draft to the surprise of many around the league.
The saying when you have two many quarterbacks you have none is definitely taking shape over in Denver. Neither Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch is giving John Elway enough confidence to name one of them the starter. I am sure they would rather have Lynch beat out Siemian since they did trade up in the first round to land him. However, the former 7th round pick is still a steady produce thanks to his intelligence in my opinion, but his arm and skill set to me is just not good enough to be a starter. Meanwhile, Lynch seems to be kind of a knucklehead with how poorly he has put in the work to get better. According to many beat writers in Denver and a former one in Adam Schefter have trashed Lynch's work ethic. I kind of think the rumors may be true since a guy as talented as Lynch should be able to beat out Siemian easily. It also does not help either of these guys that their offensive line is still a work in progress. Even after drafting a potential franchise left tackle in Garrett Bolles, but I am slightly skeptical about his upside due to his age. Right tackle Menelik Watson is a turnstile who has never filled out like people expected and the rest of the line with Max Garcia, Matt Paradis, and Ronald Leary are very mediocre. This run game I also think is very overrated led by C.J. Anderson who looked good prior to getting paid and when he had a good rotation with Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball during their Super Bowl run. I doubt Jamaal Charles has anything left with his bad knees and Devontae Booker looked bad as a rookie and has been on the injury report more often than not. Their receivers are top notch with Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and good depth behind them. However, without a good quarterback or line they will not be able to make the sort of impact they are truly capable of doing.
I know everyone still touts that the Broncos have the best defense in the league and trust me I agree. However, I can see them slightly declining or more as their key players continue to age. They have also lost a few pieces over the years like the aforementioned tackles to free agency, Danny Trevathan, as well as, DeMarcus Ware to retirement. I think their front seven will be weaker than normal now with their only stud on the line left is Derek Wolfe who is oft-injured. The depth behind him is a bit weak too with young Adam Gotsis and rookie DeMarcus Walker who may need to take on larger roles. Their tackle spot is even worst with old Domata Peko as the only quality player there. Their edge rush should be fine still with Von Miller, but he is partly why they keep losing guys due to his huge contract. However, across from him is a mystery now with Shane Ray hurt and still trying to find his groove in the NFL. I expect Miller's play to drop a bit due to offenses keying in on him on blocking schemes due to the lack of surrounding talent. The inside linebacker spot is also weak in my opinion where Brandon Marshall was exposed on his own without Trevathan to help in coverage. Their secondary should still be solid with Chris Harris and Bradley Roby developing. I am bit skeptical on Aqib Talib's future though and he is one of the guys I worry about with his age since older corners lose their ability fairly quickly. Their best spot is the safety position where T.J. Ward will give them one more great year before he leaves in free agency, but their depth behind him is pretty solid and they will still have Darian Stewart another underrated defender in the league.
In the end, I will not be shocked if this team ends up as one of the worst in the league with how bad their quarterback position is. If I was the Broncos I would have brought in Colin Kaepernick to compete against their current two. I know he needs a specific system to really thrive, but his talent and experience could have pushed the other two for a starting spot. Right now, it's too late to bring in Kaepernick due to his scheme specific skill set that needs to be built around. I think they will be stuck until next year and even a strong defense will not help them in the end. I did have them at a solid 9-7 record prior to camp, but now I have dropped them to 5-11 due to their quarterback issue. They play in a difficult division where I think all three are better than them. As well as, match ups against the Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, Patriots, Dolphins, Colts, and Redskins who all should be capable of beating the Broncos.
1 (20) - Garrett Bolles OT - Let me just get this off my chest, the worst thing the Broncos did was hire John Elway as a GM. Yes, he was able to work the books to buy a great defense and convince Peyton to come in on a successful Super Bowl run. However, once he had that success it would take a whole lot to convince the fan base that he should be fired. I am not saying he should be fired, but his drafting has not been the best. That should have been obvious since he has never been a true scout or talent evaluator so that's not a surprising flaw. However, it may end up being his downfall due to his cap space being eaten up by a few top defenders and not on enough key positions like the line or at quarterback. With that out there I think Bolles was a bad pick. For one he is still behind the terrible Ty Sambrailo on the depth chart, which is already a bad sign. He also does not have good technique or football IQ, which would not be so bad if he was not already a 25 year old rookie. His upside to me was not good enough to pass on better players on the board or even trading down and gathering a few picks would have been a smarter choice.
2 (19) - DeMarcus Walker DE - You know who Walker compared to coming out of the draft? Jonathan Bullard who was drafted by the Bears a year prior and still has no defined skill set or position. If I need to figure out where to put you when I draft you I am already skeptical about your success. A player should just be able to be put in a spot right away for immediate and fast success. Walker is a tweener who cannot play inside well due to his short stature, but he also cannot play outside due to his lack of explosive speed. That is just all a recipe for a wasted pick and the same looks to be said about Bullard for the Bears.
3 (18) - Carlos Henderson WR - This was a fine selection due to how much upside Henderson has as an inside pass catcher. He has a ton of speed and should be able to make an impact right away on most teams. However, for the Broncos I think this was a wasted pick due to already having Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Benny Fowler, Jordan Taylor, and Cody Latimer who are all on the depth chart ahead of him. To me it was a luxury pick for a team who needed to improve other spots on the roster like their o-line, defensive line some more, or even finding a new pass rusher to develop.
3 (37) - Brendan Langley CB - What the hell was John Elway doing in this draft I know the best player available approach is usually the right way to go. However, when you have a lot of players already at the position who can play you are better off moving to a position of need. Langley was a player I liked coming into the draft who had nice size and athleticism. It may take him a bit to develop after playing exclusively off man in college, but he should be a nice special teamer to start his career. It is hard to see him getting on the field on defense however, with Aqib Talib, Chris Harris, Bradley Roby, and Lorenzo Doss all ahead of him on the depth chart.
5 (1) - Jake Butt TE - I think Butt got glorified due to how he ended up getting hurt in their Bowl game and the media hyped him up as a possible first rounder if not for that injury. However, to me it was a blessing for the young man since he was not able to be nitpicked in the work outs. Butt is not the most athletic player nor is he overly big. I think he will have a difficult time being a consistent blocker at his size and his routes in the passing game are very rudimentary. Under Jim Harbaugh he was only used on seam routes down the middle taking advantage of the smaller defenders other than that Butt has not shown the skill to do much else. Plus, he probably will be red shirting this year and again this pick for the Broncos could have been used at a position of higher need and with a player who could play right away.
5 (29) - Isaiah McKenzie WR - Insert what I said on Carlos Henderson here. Not that McKenzie is a bad prospect, but I doubt he will see the field if at all this season. He could be a nice return man, but so could Henderson with his better speed. To me Elway is continuing to show how bad of a drafter he can be.
6 (19) - DeAngelo Henderson RB - I actually love this pick. Good job Elway you finally drafted the best player available and at a position of need. C.J. Anderson to me has been a disappointment as a full time starter and the guys behind him are a mixed back. Henderson is more of a change of pace guy at his size. However, his speed and explosive ability coming out of the back field makes me believe he can play on offense from day one.
7 (35) - Chad Kelly QB - This was a total bro move by Elway to draft Jim Kelly's nephew and avoid a big family disappointment for Kelly. It may have been with the Mr. Irrelevant pick, but this one may actually make the team. Kelly will probably end up on the practice squad coming back from his wrist surgery, but to me he has enough talent to push for a starting spot past Siemian and Lynch if he keeps his head on straight.
2018 Off Season:
I think this is going to be a restart season at the quarterback position for the Broncos. Even if the Broncos have a solid season and play themselves out of a chance for one of the top quarterbacks I think Elway is willing to pull the move to trade up for one of them. However, even with a better quarterback I think this offensive line will do them no favors. They need to fix that issue from left to right. Maybe Bolles proves to be a quality left tackle, but even then the rest of the line needs improvements. This defense to me also needs to be retooled a bit on the line and with their pass rush. You cannot be a good defense with just one good pass rusher even if it is Von Miller and the Broncos know that since they were at their best when they had Miller and Ware. I also hope Jim Elway can learn how to draft better or maybe he has too much power since his earlier years he did a better job. Now it's gone completely off the rails.
My 2018 Mock:
(This was made back when I thought they had a shot at a 9-7 season.)
1 (23) - Quenton Nelson OG Notre Dame
2 (24) - Derrick Nnadi DL Florida St