The Broncos have announced their preliminary preseason slate:
Time’s running shorter. There’s still free agency time to work, and the draft is giving Denver 10 picks. But the offensive line needs help in a big way. I’m not talking about Gino Gradkowski and Shelley Smith here. They’re good depth. Losing Orlando Franklin and Will Montgomery meant the last season’s top two graded linemen are now gone.
Denver’s still about where it was when head coach Gary Kubiak said, "We have to get better up front." It wasn’t a shock, and he’s right. It’s the time of year to fix it. Denver does need to be better up front. One piece of that puzzle is already on the table. It depends on whether Michael Schofield can handle right tackle in the NFL.
Broncos corner Aqib Talib and his brother are under investigation for aggravated assault at a Dallas nightclub, according to WFAA in Dallas. Per Rebecca Lopez, a shot was fired during a fight involving the two men, who were questioned by police but allowed to leave the premises.
Talib signed with Denver last offseason, and his $5.5M salary for 2015 became fully guaranteed on March 12.
Wes Welker is visiting with the Dolphins on Wednesday, according to Ian Rapoport, who notes that it's Welker's first visit of free agency. Greg Jennings met with Miami on Tuesday but left without a deal.
When the Chargers dumped him after just one game in 2004, Welker signed with Miami and proved a jack of all trades. He caught passes, carried the ball, returned punts and kickoffs, and even placekicked. New England threatened to sign Welker to a poison-pill-laden restricted offer sheet in 2007, and the Dolphins sent him northward for two picks, one of which became Samson Satele.
Yesterday, we discussed Denver's worst first-round picks during the 25-year period between 1990 and 2014. The people of Broncos Country have spoken - or, 266 of them have, as of this writing - and Marcus Nash is the clear "winner" with 98 votes (36.8%). Jarvis Moss (73 votes, 28.2%) and Tommy Maddox (50 votes, 18.8%) are the runners up.
I'd love to know how the vote broke down by age, because I have to think that anyone old enough to remember the ridiculousness of the Maddox pick voted that way. Taking a 20-year old sophomore quarterback just months after John Elway had led Denver to its fourth AFC title game in six seasons was purely horrifying.
Colorado State's Ty Sambrailo would like to be Denver’s answer at right tackle. He might fit as a left tackle instead, although not necessarily for the Broncos. The reason? He may have Chris Clark Syndrome.
Ty is a very athletic lineman, just as Clark is. Chris will draw a $1.4M salary this year if he makes the 53-man roster, and he'll become a free agent after the season. He was athletic enough to take over for Ryan Clady in 2013 and do a good job at left tackle. But when Clady returned in 2014, Clark moved to right tackle, and the house fell in.
It was one of the biggest mistakes of the offseason.
Each draft, it seems like there’s a certain guy who can play any position along the offensive line. Last year it was Zach Martin, who went to Dallas and made the leap to the NFL look easy. He quickly locked down his position, playing right guard. It could have been other slots - he’s that versatile. He reminds me a lot of Cameron Erving.
Given the lack of cohesion along the Broncos line, a man who can move from tackle to center is a very good investment. Erving can, and he's expected to go between rounds two and four, according to walterfootball.com. Guesstimating in which round a player will go this far before the draft is often a fool’s errand. Even so, from watching film I’d say that this fool thinks he’ll be gone by the end of round two. Erving could be worth a higher or lower draft pick, but it’s a numbers game. There just aren’t that many talented offensive linemen.
Gino Gradkowski passed his physical on Thursday to complete his trade from Baltimore to Denver. The Broncos sent their 2016 fourth-rounder to the Ravens in exchange for Baltimore's fifth-rounder that year.
The Broncos agreed to a one-year deal worth a reported $2M with defensive lineman Antonio Smith (6-3, 290) on Thursday. Smith was cut by Oakland on Tuesday and was reportedly also pursued by Houston, his previous team.
In Denver, Smith will be reunited with Gary Kubiak, Wade Phillips, and line coach Bill Kollar, and figures to rotate in along with Vance Walker and behind starting ends Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson.