When you talk about nose tackles and nose guards, it’s easy to get confused. Traditionally, the guy in the middle in an odd-front defensive line was called the nose guard. The nose in an even-front line is generally called the nose tackle. You’ll still run into those terms when you read materials from coaching seminars and such.
Denver’s scheme is very much a hybrid, so it won’t matter much what you call this player. Either way, the Broncos currently lack someone there who looks like a long term starter in the role of a run-stopping, blocker-absorbing, three-down player who has the ability to collapse the pocket and even pressure the QB, optimally.
Justin Bannan confounded a lot of people in 2012 by outplaying Brodrick Bunkley’s production of the previous season, and at considerably less cost. Both of them are basic two-down linemen - guys who can absorb double teams, stop the run, and leave the field on most passing downs. That’s great - but with the league-wide move to more no-huddle offenses, I believe that Denver will need a three-down NT at some point.
For a few weeks, following Kansas City's acquisition of Alex Smith, the AFCW has been home to three number-one-overall pick quarterbacks (Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer) and a fourth-overall choice QB (Philip Rivers) who was acquired in return for another one who had been taken first overall (Eli Manning).
That division-wide lofty pedigree is about to be downgraded a bit though, as the Raiders are reportedly nearing a deal to acquire one-time seventh-rounder Matt Flynn from Seattle to replace Palmer. Flynn had been the Seahawks' booby prize of last year's free agency, after the team's brass had flown to Colorado, only to be rebuffed by Peyton Manning.
Happy Tuesday, friends. Today, we get back into the 2013 Draft class with some more superlatives and rankings. This time, we’ll focus on the running back class. I suspect that it will be of more interest to Broncos fans than the QB group was on Thursday.
If you ask some people, (mostly those who take Jeff Legwold’s word for it), the Broncos need a “big, durable power back.” If you ask me, the Broncos have a guy like that, named Willis McGahee. Recency bias may make him seem like he’s not durable, since he got injured last season, but over his career, he hasn’t missed much time due to nagging injuries. A torn ACL (like the one Willis had in college) can happen to anybody, and so can a torn MCL; they’re most often a function of randomness, and not durability.
Beyond McGahee, the Broncos have a versatile pro and good team guy in Knowshon Moreno, a young speedster in Ronnie Hillman, and a backup/special-teams type in Lance Ball, whom the Broncos just tendered at $1.3 million, which suggests that they value him.
With Ryan Clady locked up on a franchise tag and Orlando Franklin having taken a giant step upward last season, why spend time, money, or a draft choice on an offensive tackle?
Denver has a backup blocking TE/OT in RFA Chris Clark, who’s a decent lineman on run plays but who is not capable of handling any prolonged starting snaps. Since Clady’s cost may have to again be dealt with next season, Denver is still short one viable OT - the guy who can cover if Franklin or Clady go down. There are options on the roster, but it’s not a stretch to say that with Clady potentially playing on a one-year franchise tender and Franklin still being talked about as a guard, bringing in a top OT might be wise.
How would that work? I think it’s pretty simple. If Denver does move Franklin, it’s likely to be at the position he usually played in college - left guard. They didn’t pay right guard Louis Vasquez, with his pass protection skills, to sit out. With Zane Beadles making the Pro Bowl as an alternate (and earning it), though, how would that work? Here’s an option:
According to Mike Klis's original article, the Broncos will turn their attention to signing former Falcons DE John Abraham, who has been a rumored target of Denver's for much of his career. Ex-Colts DE/LB Dwight Freeney would reportedly be the fallback plan beyond Abraham; both players visited Dove Valley on Thursday.
NFLN's Michelle Beisner cites a source who says the Broncos are "making a hard push for Freeney."
Updated 7:00pm ET
With the Broncos set to host aging vets John Abraham and Dwight Freeney tomorrow as potential replacements for Elvis Dumervil, another decorated thirtysomething defender is in the news tonight.
Ed Reed will reportedly bid Baltimore adieu and head to Houston on what is expected to be a three-year deal worth around $4M/year. If true, he'll be accepting a salary far below the $7M figure he was said to be seeking.
There's been some speculation that losing Reed would prompt the Ravens to up their offer to Dumervil, but landing the defensive end wouldn't solve their vacancies at safety. Baltimore had previously cut Bernard Pollard loose, and they will reportedly meet soon with ex-Raiders safety Michael Huff, who has drawn interest from Green Bay, Dallas, and Tennessee.
According to ESPN's Ed Werder and Adam Schefter, the Broncos are set to host Colts DE Dwight Freeney and Falcons DE John Abraham on Thursday.
Abraham has been characterized in recent days as Denver's fallback to re-signing Elvis Dumervil, with Freeney the next contingency.
John Elway announced yesterday that the team had presented an offer to Dumervil, but as we'd expected, it was apparently a lesser proposal than the one verbally agreed to by the two sides on Friday.
Updated 4:22pm ET
Just interviewed John Elway, he said "we've made an offer to Elvis." Will post video to the site soon.— Chris Hall (@BroncosTV) March 19, 2013
Here's the corresponding video mentioned by Hall. We've transcribed what Elway says in the clip:
Updated 2:52pm ET
The Broncos and Elvis Dumervil's new agent, Tom Condon, recently appealed to the league office to have the defensive end's reworked three-year, $30M contract recognized. As anyone familiar with how the Ginger Hammer operates might expect, the NFL turned down the request.
But as Mike Klis suggests, honoring the verbal agreement between Denver and Dumervil would set a precedent the league would like end up regretting.
Klis says the Ravens - whose linebackers coach is Don Martindale, the former Broncos LB coach (2009) and DC (2010) - have already been discussing contract parameters with Condon for Dumervil's services.
Updated 6:29pm ET
Happy Monday, friends. I was out of pocket all weekend, watching the Mets get beat in two spring training games down in Port St. Lucie. During my baseball-focused couple days, I gave the Dumervil situation some serious thought.
The first question I’ve been pondering is whether the Broncos really specifically need Elvis Dumervil to play open-side DE. The answer I’ve been mostly coming to is no. Remember, if Dumervil hadn't accepted the pay cut, he was going to be released anyway - drama aside, the Broncos had a plan to move forward without him. They may need somebody to be a threatening pass rusher on sub package downs, but Robert Ayers is perfectly capable of playing there in base situations, and doing a good job.
I think that’s what the Broncos have been thinking, to be honest, and even if Elvis is back in 2013 (which strikes me as less and less likely all the time) I don’t think his stay would be any longer than the one season. It’s probably in his best interest to go find a team that would view him as their primary pass rusher, and invest in him as such.