The Broncos won a playoff game with a run-first quarterback, but that wasn’t the identity John Elway and John Fox wanted for their football team. Cutting ties with last year’s offensive formula, the Broncos believe their future is now following the acquisition of Peyton Manning. They head to next week’s draft trying to upgrade around him.
Defensive tackle: Denver is shorthanded on the interior defensive line after losing a bidding war with the Saints for Brodrick Bunkley. Left behind are injury-plagued 31-year-old Ty Warren, 33-year-old Justin Bannan, and journeyman Kevin Vickerson, who’s only still on the roster because he took a pay cut. The Broncos seem to be a lock to invest an early-round draft pick on a defensive tackle. Penn State’s Devon Still would be a logical fit at No. 25 overall.
Running back: The Broncos’ rushing attempts will go way down in the “Manning offense,” but the backfield still requires an upgrade. Willis McGahee is entering his age-31 campaign and doesn’t contribute in passing situations. Knowshon Moreno likely isn’t a part of Denver’s long-term plans, and Lance Ball, Jeremiah Johnson, and Mario Fannin are all replacement-level talents. Like Still, Boise State’s Doug Martin should be in the mix at the 25th pick.
Quarterback: Manning is 36 years old with a three-times surgically repaired neck. Currently, Caleb Hanie is his backup. The Broncos can’t feel comfortable about the depth chart behind their aging, injury-risk starter, and it’s likely they’ll use an early- to middle-round draft pick on a quarterback to bring along slowly. They’ve shown interest in Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler and Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson.
Cornerback: Champ Bailey turns 34 in a couple of months, and No. 2 corner Tracy Porter only has a one-year deal. Likely nickel back Chris Harris flashed potential as an undrafted rookie last season, but there is very little long-term stability at this position.