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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Denver Broncos 2010 Preview and Prediction

Last Years Record            8-8
Wins: Bengals, Browns, Raiders, Cowboys, Patriots, Chargers, Giants, Chiefs
Losses: Ravens, Steelers, Redskins, Chargers, Colts, Raiders, Eagles, Chiefs
Biggest Playmaker            Champ Bailey
CB, Georgia, Drafted #7, 12th Year
Champ Bailey is a nine-time pro bowler and was chosen to the 2000s All-Decade Team.  Bailey has been consistent throughout his whole career recording 46 interceptions including three in his 2009 pro bowl campaign.  Considered one of the leaders of the Broncos’ team and defense he will have to prove that his age is not slowing him down and that he is still a top-3 corner in the league, which is how he is being paid.   
Impact Player            Brian Dawkins
Safety, Clemson, Drafted #61, 15th Year
Brian Dawkins is an incredibly fun player to watch, known both for his hard hitting and tenacious play (and also his “double personality”).  He can completely turn the pace and momentum of a game with one hit, and he is absolutely a leader of the Broncos.  Click the link, you will see why he is an impact player.
Biggest Offseason Addition            Jamal Williams
NT, Oklahoma State, 2nd Round (Supplemental Draft), 13th Year
Jamal Williams will provide a big, dominating presence on the defensive line that was missing a year ago.  At roughly 350 pounds, Williams, a three-time pro bowler with the Chargers, can stuff the middle in the Broncos’ 3-4 defense and open holes for their inside backers.  Denver was ranked 26th against the run last year and the addition of Williams will certainly help.
Biggest Offseason Loss            Brandon Marshall
WR, Central Florida, Drafted #119, 5th Year
Brandon Marshall is without question a huge loss for the Broncos.  He made the pro bowl each of the past two seasons, during which he caught 205 balls for 2,385 yards and 16 touchdowns.  (He caught 102 balls for 1,325 yard and seven touchdowns in 2007.)  Not only is Marshall a tough player to lose because of his talent but also because of the lack of proven talent the Broncos are left with at wide receiver. 
Biggest Draft Steal            J.D. Walton
Center, Baylor, Drafted #80, Rookie
The Broncos were able to draft an immediate starter in the third round by drafting J.D. Walton.  Walton is a mean player and team leader who finishes his blocks, and to grab a first day starter in the middle of the third round is a great pickup.  It will be interesting to see how he can command the Broncos’ offensive line as a rookie, likely starting next to second-round pick Zane Beadles.
Biggest Draft Mistake            Tim Tebow
QB, Florida, Drafted #25, Rookie
Tebow is very possibly the most talked about prospect of the last ten years, and not because of his NFL talents.  Tebow comes out of Florida’s spread-option attack where he was essentially a passing running back.  He did put up great numbers, but his mechanics are not NFL-ready.  Tebow deserves credit for his work ethic and his passion for the game, but he very likely could have been picked up later on, and in the first round teams should not be interested in “projects.”  The first round is where you find players to build your franchise around, not players to build special short-yardage packages for.               
Offseason Grade            B-
I am not a fan of either of the Broncos first two draft picks, WR Demaryius Thomas from Georgia Tech or QB Tim Tebow.  Demaryius Thomas and Tim Tebow are both NFL projects…not to mention that Dez Bryant was on the board when Thomas was picked (and Dez Bryant is going to be a stud).  The Broncos also lost pro bowl WR Brandon Marshall and received just a second round pick in return (and a conditional 2011 second-rounder).  They did well in drafting Beadles and Walton who are listed as starters thus far in training camp to bolster their offensive line, and adding Jamal Williams is a plus.  The fact that they drafted two projects in the first round hurts their grade here and also puts a lot of pressure on head coach Josh McDaniels. 
X-Factor            Pass rush
The NFL’s 2009 sack leader, Elvis Dumervil, tore his pectoral muscle in training camp and will likely be out for the season.  Dumervil accounted for 43.5% of the teams’ sacks a year ago.  In his presence the Broncos’ will look to Jarvis Moss (when he returns from injury) and Robert Ayers, who have 3.5 sacks combined in their careers.    Even with Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins in the secondary, without a consistent pass rush receivers will be open eventually.  If Moss and Ayers can step in and provide even half of the production of Dumervil the Broncos can have a decent defense. 
Name You Should Know            D.J. Williams
ILB, Miami (Fla), Drafted #17, 7th Year
D.J. Williams was chosen as a pro bowl alternate a year ago after making 122 tackles, 3.5 sacks and forcing 3 fumbles.  With the addition of NT Jamal Williams in front of him D.J. Williams will have an even bigger season.  
Rising Star            Ryan Clady
LT, Boise State, Drafted #12, 3rd Year
Ryan Clady has started all 32 games of his career and is already considered a top 3 left tackle by essentially every NFL expert.  Clady is an excellent athlete and his leadership will be crucial with two rookies starting to his right.
Offensive Outlook            C
Kyle Orton can have a big impact on the success of this offensive unit.  During their six game win streak to open the 2009 season Orton threw 9 touchdowns to just one interception, but went the last 10 games with a mediocre 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.  Orton will likely be playing with two new, young offensive linemen, without Brandon Marshall and with a backfield that has been touched by injuries in training camp (Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter).
Defensive Outlook            B-
The loss of Elvis Dumervil was a huge blow for the Broncos’ defense and they really need Jarvis Moss and Robert Ayers to break out and provide a pass rush for them.  They do have a solid core of veterans in Dawkins, Bailey and Jamal Williams who will likely lead a mediocre defense this year.   
Special Teams Outlook            B+
The Broncos have a very solid kicker in Matt Prater who hit on 85.7% of his field goals and tied for second in the NFL in touchbacks (28).  Punter Britton Colquitt is untested as his did not appear in a game in 2009.  Eddie Royal will likely handle most of the kick and punt return duties after returning a punt and kickoff for a touchdown in 2009 with a very healthy 11.2 yards per punt return.
Projected 2010 Record            6-10
The loss of Elvis Dumervil is going to have a bigger impact than people imagine.  The trade of Brandon Marshall, the inexperience on the offensive line and injury problems early at running back will definitely hinder the Broncos’ rebuilding attempts.  Adding Jamal Williams to lead a defense will allow D.J. Williams to have a breakout year and Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey, although aging, will continue to perform at a high-level.  The Broncos’ may finish at 7-9 given the weak conference they are in.  I think the Broncos will finish third in the AFC West behind the San Diego Chargers and the much-improved Oakland Raiders.

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