With the Denver Broncos going “all-in” during Free Agency, one glaring need is at the forefront of every fans’ thinking; middle linebacker.
Denver — led by GM John Elway — went out and signed a hard-hitting safety in T.J. Ward, a shutdown corner in Aqib Talib, a pass-rushing pro in DeMarcus Ware and Eric Decker’s replacement with Emmanuel Sanders.
But what about middle linebacker?
Wesley Woodyard is gone, so is Paris Lenon; what will Denver’s D do in the middle?
Two fans asked similar questions this morning about just that:
— BRONCOSFAN559 (@cjcedillo1) March 19, 2014
@cover32_DEN Who fits MLB for Denver better Ryan Shazier OSU or Chad Borland MSU? Of their both still available.
— Mike (@dbmak) March 19, 2014
@cover32_DEN Yea sorry about that. Wrong first name and team.
— Mike (@dbmak) March 19, 2014
First and foremost let’s address the question of “Will the Broncos move up in the Draft?” That answer seems simple as “no.” Elway and Co. don’t like to move up, in fact, moving down seems more likely, just as they did in the 2012 Draft.
Near the end of the first round — Denver will pick 31st — some teams will see a player they really want at 31, a guy that maybe slipped 5-10 spots for one reason or another, and they’ll offer the Broncos a pick just a few lower (say, 35) as well as a later round pick (say 4th or 5th round). In 2012, the Broncos had the No. 25 pick, but traded down for the No. 31 and No. 126, then traded down again to Nos. 36 and 101. At those spots, Elway took Derek Wolfe and Omar Bolden.
What about prospects? According to Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks and his mock draft, there’s only one middle linebacker projected to go in the first round. That’s Alabama’s C.J. Mosely, who Banks says will go at No. 27 to the New Orleans Saints. If he’s still there at 31, the Broncos should take him, but it seems unlikely he’ll fall that far.
Onto Shazier and Borland; unfortunately, Shazier is an outside backer, but Borland could be the Broncos’ guy. Certainly not in the first round, though. Borland, at 6′ and 248 pounds, is a little undersized to play middle linebacker in the NFL and scouts worry his strength is a bit lacking too. A 4.83 40-yard dash time isn’t great, which is why he’s projected to go on the third day of the draft. If Denver can find him there, in the 5-7th rounds, he would add depth and possibly compete for a starting spot. Plus, the Broncos could possibly draft another MLB earlier, as well.
And no matter who they end up drafting, we can’t forget about Nate Irving. Our Chris Schmaedeke wrote yesterday that he believes the Broncos are banking on Irving to start in the middle, and with good reason, too.
With multiple injuries, Irving was called on to play a bigger role during the end of last season, starting in the Super Bowl. He had a great play in the game, knocking away a would-be touchdown, while also accounting for three total tackles. If there’s a way to get Irving — in the middle — Danny Trevathan, who was arguably the team’s best defender, and Von Miller on the field together as the linebackers, Denver’s D could make a lot of plays.
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