ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A closer look at the positions the Denver Broncos could target at the NFL combine in Indianapolis:
Positions of need: With two left tackles coming off injured reserve (Ryan Clady and Ty Sambrailo) to go with two starters from this past season who will be unrestricted free agents (guard Evan Mathis and tackle Ryan Harris), it’s clear the Broncos’ top need position, even before the sometimes choppy performance of the offense is considered, is the offensive line. The Broncos entered the offseason a year ago trying to assemble a young line that they could keep together. And while that plan was shoved off the drawing board by injuries and other circumstances, it is again their goal this time around. The Broncos will also look hard at running backs, inside linebackers and, if Malik Jackson departs in free agency, every-down defensive ends.
Three players the Broncos could focus on at combine:
Taylor Decker (T), Ohio State: He’s durable, has shown quality movement skills and is just the kind of big-program prospect the Broncos like, especially early in the draft. Decker is a quality drive blocker who will need some work in pass protection, but he is a potential scheme fit for the Broncos. He played left tackle for the Buckeyes but might initially project better at right tackle. He was the Big Ten’s offensive lineman of the year and closed out his career with 42 consecutive starts.
Cody Whitehair (G), Kansas State: There is always a leaguewide discussion about how high to take a guard in the draft. But with Mathis a free agent and Louis Vasquez having spent much of the season battling knee troubles, the Broncos do have a need on the interior. They like what Max Garcia brings and are looking at Robert Myers Jr., a rookie whom the Broncos signed off the Ravens’ practice squad this past season, as a player who could potentially get into the starting lineup at some point, but Whitehair offers proven versatility. He started 50 games for the Wildcats, both at guard and tackle.
Alex Collins (RB), Arkansas: He had three 1,000-yard rushing seasons and performed well in the Razorbacks’ pro-style run game. The Broncos have used some draft capital at running back in John Elway’s tenure, with Montee Ball in the second round and Ronnie Hillman in the third. Hillman is a free agent, and a decisive runner like Collins fits their mold. He doesn’t waste time getting up the field and finishes runs with purpose. He also proved to be a reliable receiver when given the chance. He did have 16 lost fumbles in his career, but the game video shows a correctable technique issue when he’s battling for additional yardage in traffic.