Chubb is a start for Broncos, but more help needed
John Elway may have dodged a bullet/lucked out on Thursday, April 27, during the first round of the NFL Draft.
The first three picks went to form — Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, Penn State’s Saquon Barkley and USC’s Sam Darnold— and then the Cleveland Browns defied most mock drafts by selecting Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward.
That left Elway and the Broncos with their choice of quarterbacks — UCLA’s Sam Rosen or Wyoming’s Josh Allen.
Naturally, Elway took North Carolina State’s defensive-end Bradley Chubb.
And we should be OK with this.
I’m not sure about No. 7’s pre-draft statements about drafting a quarterback, perhaps some misdirection, given that Denver signed Case Keenum to try to solve the post-Peyton Manning conundrum.
Yes, Keenum is probably not the long-term answer under center, but he’s gotta be better than Trevor Siemien (now a backup to Kick Cousins in Minnesota), Brock Osweiler (who is backing up Jay Cutler; hey, Broncos reunion!) and Paxton Lynch (who is nearing draft-bust status).
Of course, that’s what every Broncos fan is telling him or herself after the last two years of QB roulette.
With the exception of Mayfield — who wasn’t dropping to No. 5 and the Broncos — I don’t think there was a can’t-miss quarterback in this draft. Sure, Mayfield’s got an attitude, but he can make big-league throws.
Darnold, Rosen or Allen didn’t make sense.
Since we weren’t in the war room or within Elway’s gray matter, we don’t know if he really was thinking quarterback, but we’re glad he didn’t.
As for Chubb, hey, I’m fine with defense. Broncos fans should know that defense wins championships, like Super Bowl 50. While Denver’s D has been the team’s strongest unit, a reinforcement never hurts.
More work needs to be done. The Broncos have to address the offensive line and running back. While Siemian, with a good sample size, showed he just wasn’t an NFL quarterback, there were times he was running for his life.
The offensive line has been a quandary the last two years. The Broncos went with left-tackle Garrett Boles with their No. 1 last year and have a hypothetical line, from left to right, of Bolles, Ron Leary (new from Dallas), Matt Paradis, Connor McGovern and Jared Veldheer with Max Garcia and Menelik Watson contending for playing time.
Yes, Bolles will have year under his belt, but Broncos fans probably want some more talent here.
The synergistic third part of this combo of o-line and quarterback is running back. The Broncos surprisingly only have two on their roster — Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson. Presumably, Denver’s picking up another running back or two in Round Nos. 2-7.
Is the clock ticking?
In most places, going from Super Bowl to 9-7 to 5-11 would put the general manager on the hot seat. That isn’t the case for Elway. Winning back-to-back Super Bowls to cap his career in orange and blue buys you a certain status. Winning Super Bowl 50 adds to said goodwill.
My bet is that Elway is safe as long as Pat Bowlen is alive. While Bowlen, who has Alzheimer’s, has ceded team operations to Joe Ellis, it’s just hard to see the team making a move on the face of the franchise, be it as a player of a front-office icon. It would be a messy divorce.
But a few more seasons out of the playoffs, particularly in a wide open AFC West, and we may be talking about Elway’s future. He started well with some guy named Von Miller. Subsequent drafts have been busts or are incomplete. (https://www.denverpost.com/2018/03/02/john-elway-denver-broncos-draft-pick-history/). Vance Joseph’s selection as head coach has not been an overwhelming success. Free agency early with the Manning guy was good, but Donald Stephenson?
A lot is on the line — address the offensive line, the backfield and hope that Keenum is the answer at QB, and Denver can extend its run. Compounding draft miscues, and the Broncos may be in for a rebuild and then all bets are off with Elway.