The Broncos have been preparing for the combine like a college student crams for an important final. The team not only has had to get its own players evaluated in recent weeks after John Fox's hiring and the addition of his staff, but the process of going through potential free agents and meeting with area scouts to fill out a preliminary draft board in preparation for the combine all were on the docket. Denver's staff did meet as a whole for the first time at the Senior Bowl and have been entrenched in Dove Valley offices since, trying to formulate the franchise's plan for restocking the roster ever since.
The Broncos' reticence to commit long-term to CB Champ Bailey should it turn into his departure will leave another crevasse in an already thin roster.
It opens the real possibility Denver could target LSU's Patrick Peterson with the No. 2 pick or trade down slightly to nab him. Peterson's size-speed ratio would fit any scheme and in Denver's case, provide a raw replacement for Bailey.
A possible Bailey departure, coupled with Denver cornerback Perrish Cox facing a possible suspension under the personal conduct policy and starting right cornerback Andre Goodman coming off an injury-ravaged year, is big trouble for a defense already ranked No. 32 in 2010.
VP John Elway did come out publicly in support of keeping Bailey and working towards a resolution but that may turn out to be more PR than reality at this point.
Overall, the Broncos will concentrate on rebuilding its front seven both in the draft and in free agency, while keeping tabs on right-tackle prospects with Ryan Harris due to hit free agency and seemingly on the outs with the organization.
A couple of free agents to potentially keep an eye on are running back DeAngelo Williams, who would help take some of the pressure off Knowshon Moreno while adding a playmaker to the backfield. They also desperately need a dual-threat tight end, with Owen Daniels and Mercedes Lewis two of the top names available.
1. Defensive tackle: The Broncos have tried a long line of patchwork fixes in the middle of the front four for years. Now is time to get serious about rebuilding from within. If Auburn's Nick Fairley doesn't go to Carolina at No. 1 in the draft, he'd have to be considered near the top of the team's list.
2. Safety: Denver has gone the free-agent route several times since 2000 and few have lasted for the long haul. Brian Dawkins remains a top-notch leader but doesn't have the speed-athleticism combination that Allen is looking to infuse within the defense. Free safety Renaldo Hill is a heady player but doesn't consistently make big plays and is limited in coverage.
3. Middle linebacker: D.J. Williams has moved around from strong to weak to middle linebacker and back again over the last five years. But in a base 4-3 alignment, he lacks the desired thump with which to build a defense around.
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