Few teams have the glowing prospects of success in 2013 more than the Denver Broncos. Even so, they have some issues to address, especially on defense. Could they make a bold move in the NFL draft for Sheldon Richardson?
Manti Te'o and Margus Hunt rumor prove Broncos in the hunt for defense
It isn't hard for fans to see where the experts continue to point when it comes to the NFL draft for Denver. With Peyton Manning, Wes Welker, Ryan Clady and DeMaryius Thomas running the offense there is little sense using the 28th overall pick on that unit. Meanwhile, it was the defense that gave up 38 points and the spirit crushing Hail Mary against Baltimore in the divisional playoffs last season. Head coach John Fox knows he can't let such a breakdown happen again in an offensively stacked AFC. That is why rumor continue flying around Denver, not about whether they take offense or defense, but what kind of defender they will take. In truth they could use help at every level from defensive line, to linebacker and the secondary. Two prominent names in the discussion are Manti Te'o and Margus Hunt. Te'o has watched his draft stock plummet for a variety of reasons. Most scouts think it has nothing to do with the girlfriend hoax or poor national title performance but instead the simple fact his upside inside very high. Hunt, on the other hand, has incredible upside given his size and strength at defensive end. His problem though is he's still new to the position and he's already 26 years old. That doesn't give a team much time on a first round investment. Then again, is there a chance Denver could move up if the right player became available?
Richardson could do more that replace the loss of Elvis Dumervil
Finding a pass rusher at defensive end became a critical need for the Broncos the second Elvis Dumervil left for Baltimore after the infamous fax machine incident. A lot of draft experts think the team will eye his replacement early in the first or second round. However, there is a small chance they do even better. One about John Fox is he likes to run a 4-3 defense with two defensive end and two defensive tackles. A big key to such a scheme is having at least one tackle who can get up the field and rush the passer. Denver did not have that in 2012. The reason such players have so much value is that they collapse the pocket around a quarterback. Top passers like Tom Brady and Drew Brees find it easy to avoid ends by simply stepping up after their drop back. That becomes impossible when the pressure comes straight into their face. That is why the Broncos must consider a strong look at Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. Physically, he is probably the best interior pass rusher in the NFL draft. His explosion off the snap already has scouts impressed and with some good coaching they feel he can become an annual Pro Bowler. Adding him to the mix could become one of the key pieces that puts Denver on top. The key is where he will land. Mock drafts have him going anywhere from Carolina at 14th to Atlanta at 30th. Given his talent it isn't likely he will fall past pick #20. That means the Broncos would have to move up at least eight spots to get him.
Regardless, Sheldon Richardson is worth the investment. He fills two needs for the Denver Broncos at defensive tackle and in the pass rush. Manti Te'o brings nice skills and a big name, but star power doesn't lead to success on draft day.
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