Broncos’ Free Agency, Draft Shopping List

DENVER (The Sports Xchange) – As they wade through free agency and prepare to evaluate draft prospects at the Indianapolis Scouting Combine (March 1-6), the Denver Broncos must decide which players to keep as they seek to improve upon their 9-7 record from last season.

The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com evaluated the Broncos’ roster and created a shopping list to use in free agency and to reference during the Combine.

Much will be different in Denver after the retirement of head coach Gary Kubiak and the staff shakeup that followed with a new head coach (Vance Joseph), offensive coordinator (Mike McCoy) and defensive coordinator (Joe Woods).

The defense should again be a strength even with the departure of coordinator Wade Phillips. On offense, the line needs shoring up, and the new brain trust (along with general manager John Elway) must decide if they will hitch their wagon to one of their young quarterbacks, Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch, or take the plunge and pursue Tony Romo.

THE BREAKDOWN

2016 finish: 3rd in AFC West (9-7)

STATISTICS

TOTAL OFFENSE: 323.1 (27th)

RUSHING: 92.8 (27th)

PASSING: 230.3 (T21st)

TOTAL DEFENSE: 316.1 (4th)

RUSHING: 130.3 (28th)

PASSING: 185.8 (1st)

NEEDS, SHOPPING LIST

&=Released

*=Vet who may be released or option not exercised

TOP THREE NEEDS

OFFENSIVE LINE

Free agency could yield some immediate help, but the Broncos need multiple long-term reinforcements to take pressure off the defense.

UFA TARGETS (Age, previous contract’s average annual salary)

OT:

Rick Wagner, Baltimore (28 in October, $576K)

Luke Joeckel, Jacksonville (G; 26 in November, $5.3M))

Matt Kalil, Minnesota (injury; 28 in July, $4.94M)

G/C

T.J. Lang, Green Bay (G/injury; 30 in September, $5.2M)

Ronald Leary, Dallas (G; 28 in April, $2.55M)

JC Tretter, Green Bay (C; 26, $644K)

DRAFT TARGETS (Rating pos/overall, Player, School, Ht., Wt., 40 time, Proj. Rd.)

OT:

1/14 Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin, 6-5, 314, 5.29, 1 (underclassman)

2/25 Cam Robinson, Alabama, 6-6, 310, 5.28, 1 (underclassman)

3/38 Garett Bolles, Utah, 6-5, 296, 4.97, 1-2 (underclassman)

OG:

1/33 Dan Feeney, Indiana, 6-4, 304, 5.09, 1-2

2/35 Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky, 6-4, 305, 5.12, 1-2

C:

1/64 Ethan Pocic, LSU, 6-6, 307, 5.18, 2

2/80 Pat Elflein, Ohio State, 6-2, 300, 5.22, 2-3

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

The Broncos need more push and a stouter presence on the inside. With defensive coordinator Wade Phillips gone, there likely will be adjustments up front.

UFA TARGETS (Age, previous contract’s average annual salary)

Kawann Short, Carolina (28, $1.16M)

Dontari Poe, Kansas City (27 in August, $2.83M)

Domata Peko, Cincinnati (33 in November, $4.5M)

Vince Wilfork, Houston (possibly retiring; 36 in November, $4.5M)

Nick Fairley, New Orleans (29, $3M)

Alan Branch, New England (33 in December, $2.15M)

DRAFT TARGETS (Rating pos/overall, Player, School, Ht., Wt., 40 time, Proj. Rd.)

1/2 Jonathan Allen, Alabama, 6-3, 291, 4.82, 1

2/22 Malik McDowell, Michigan State, 6-5, 276, 4.89, 1 (underclassman)

3/50 Caleb Brantley, Florida, 6-2, 297, 5.05, 2 (underclassman)

4/56 Carlos Watkins, Clemson, 6-4, 312, 5.06, 2

5/66 Chris Wormley, Michigan, 6-5, 297, 4.92, 2-3

6/71 Elijah Qualls, Washington, 6-1, 321, 5.37, 2-3 (underclassman)

TIGHT END

Jeff Heuerman and A.J. Derby came on late, but this year’s tight end class is the best in recent memory.

UFA TARGETS (Age, previous contract’s average annual salary)

Martellus Bennett, New England (30 in March, $5.1M)

Jared Cook, Green Bay (30 in April, $2.75M)

Jordan Cameron, Miami (29 in August, $7.5M)

Vernon Davis, Washington (33, $2.4M)

DRAFT TARGETS (Rating pos/overall, Player, School, Ht., Wt., Proj. Rd.)

1/11 O.J. Howard, Alabama, 6-6, 249, 4.57, 1

2/30 David Njoku, Miami (FL), 6-4, 240, 4.53, 1-2 (underclassman)

3/45 Evan Engram, Mississippi, 6-3, 236, 4.64, 2

4/72 Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech, 6-6, 245, 4.78, 2-3 (underclassman)

5/75 Gerald Everett, South Alabama, 6-3, 227, 4.68, 2-3

UFA KEEPERS

DT Sylvester Williams (29 in November, $1.895M)

OLB DeMarcus Ware (35 in July, $10M)

ROSTER REVIEW

MAJOR COACHING CHANGES

–Head coach Vance Joseph replaces Gary Kubiak

–OC Mike McCoy replaces Rick Dennison

–DC Joe Woods replaces Wade Phillips

DEPTH CHART

Starters and backups are listed according to their status at the end of the season, but players who were starters before being injured are included.

* Indicates player who ended 2016 season on reserve.

& Indicates player released since the Super Bowl.

QUARTERBACKS: Starter — Trevor Siemian. Backup — Paxton Lynch.

RUNNING BACKS: Starters — *C.J. Anderson, FB *Andy Janovich. Backups — Devontae Booker, *Kapri Bibbs, FB/RB Juwan Thompson, Justin Forsett (UFA).

TIGHT ENDS: Starter — Virgil Green. Backups — A.J. Derby, Jeff Heuerman, Henry Krieger-Coble.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters — Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders. Backups — Jordan Taylor, Bennie Fowler, Cody Latimer, Jordan Norwood (UFA), Kalif Raymond, *Marlon Brown.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters — LT Russell Okung (option not expected to be exercised), LG Max Garcia, C Matt Paradis, RG Michael Schofield, RT Donald Stephenson. Backups — C James Ferentz, G/T Ty Sambrailo, G Billy Turner, *G/C Sam Brenner.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters — DE Derek Wolfe, NT Sylvester Williams (UFA), *DE Vance Walker (UFA). Backups — DE Jared Crick, DE Billy Winn (UFA), DE Adam Gotsis, NT Kyle Peko.

LINEBACKERS: Starters — OLB Von Miller, OLB *DeMarcus Ware (UFA), ILB Brandon Marshall, ILB Todd Davis. Backups — OLB Shane Ray, OLB Shaquil Barrett, ILB/OLB Dekoda Watson (UFA), ILB Corey Nelson, ILB Zaire Anderson, ILB Quentin Gause.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters — CB Aqib Talib, CB Chris Harris Jr., SS T.J. Ward, FS Darian Stewart. Backups — CB Bradley Roby, *CB Kayvon Webster (UFA), S Will Parks, S Justin Simmons, CB Lorenzo Doss, CB Taurean Nixon.

SPECIAL TEAMS: K Brandon McManus, P Riley Dixon, KOR/PR Kalif Raymond, LS *Casey Kreiter, LS Thomas Gafford (UFA).

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