Drew Lock is the Broncos’ guy. Now its time to build around him

NFL: Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Broncos’ approach to the offseason is simple: help Lock, and get Vic Fangio’s defense up to par.

The Denver Broncos finished with a 7-9 record in head coach Vic Fangio’s first year. That was only one win more than in 2018, and it didn’t tell us much we didn’t already know about the team — at least until the final weeks of the season.

It was in those final weeks that the Broncos named rookie Drew Lock the starter. Lock went on to lead the Broncos to a 4-1 mark, guiding the offense much more efficiently than Joe Flacco or Brandon Allen had earlier in the season.

While Lock is still somewhat unknown at quarterback, he’s the guy moving forward and the Broncos have to be able to build around him. Denver is now facing an offseason in which it has plenty of draft picks (12 total, with five within the first three rounds) and cap space, and a dearth of playmakers.

Denver Broncos (7-9), missed playoffs

The top order is making sure that Lock gets help, both with new weapons and new blockers. Some key decisions will also have to be made to get Fangio’s defense up to snuff.

Before free agency:

  1. Offensive line: The unit was one of the worst in the NFL for most of last season, though they improved down the stretch. Still, there is a long way to go, with holes at tackle and guard. Garett Bolles is entering his fourth year in the league and hasn’t lived up to his first-round status at tackle. Even if the Broncos aren’t ready to give up on him, they need more linemen and can add them in free agency and the draft.
  2. Cornerback: Chris Harris will be a free agent, and that’s a major concern. He is a sure thing in coverage and one of the best run-support corners in the league. The team added A.J. Bouye via trade, which boosts one cornerback spot, but the other is still a big question mark if Harris doesn’t come back.
  3. Wide receiver: The Broncos traded Emmanuel Sanders to the 49ers last season, but they needed some help at the position before they made that move. While Courtland Sutton is a good receiver and will only be entering his third year, he can’t be the only guy that defenses pay attention to. This year’s draft is stacked at receiver, so this is as good a year as any to find players there.

What Mile High Report wants most this offseason: John Elway needs to maximize the resources available to take advantage of both the strengths of this draft and free agent class to try to close the gap between Denver and Kansas City. That means being aggressive to find a No. 1 corner and depth across the roster before the draft, so the team can go with the best player available in April. — Tim Lynch

After free agency:

The Broncos have had a very active offseason even before the draft. Their biggest moves included signing running back Melvin Gordon, who also helps Lock quite a bit, and making trades for cornerback A.J. Bouye and defensive lineman Jurrell Casey. Finally, they also got some much-needed offensive line help with Graham Glasgow on a four-year deal.

  1. Wide receiver: This is Denver’s biggest need. Courtland Sutton is a great player, but Lock needs another reliable target. The Broncos didn’t sign any receivers in free agency, which isn’t surprising given how strong the draft class is at the position.
  2. Offensive line: Glasgow should bolster the interior of Denver’s offensive line, but they still need a long-term solution at tackle. They would do well to draft a tackle in the first few rounds and develop them behind the underwhelming Garrett Bolles.
  3. Linebacker: The Broncos are set on the edge, and even on the inside they’re faring pretty well. But both Todd Davis and A.J. Johnson are free agents next season, while Davis carries a significant cap hit. They could use some depth on the inside, and some insurance in the event

We’ll check back on the Broncos after more free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft.

Read more at SB Nation.

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