Depth in offensive, defensive lines in draft will help Broncos

INDIANAPOLIS – Since the NFL’s scouting combine drew to a close when the last of the defensive backs invited completed their workouts on Monday afternoon, here are some items to consider for the Denver Broncos:

Right place, right time. The Broncos, with two offensive linemen coming off injured reserve in tackle Ryan Clady and tackle Ty Sambrailo to go with two more set for free agency in tackle Ryan Harris and guard Evan Mathis, certainly need help in the offensive line. And the team came away from Indianapolis feeling good about the depth of the board at tackle to go with the potential at guard as well. Tackles such as Ohio State’s Taylor Decker and Indiana’s Jason Spriggs are among the possibilities with their opening pick. Five of the offensive linemen at the combine were officially clocked at 5.01 seconds or better in the 40-yard dash, and four broke the 5.0 mark, also good for a team that prizes mobility in its prospects in the offensive front. So, while the Broncos are expected to look hard at offensive linemen in free agency in what will be a limited trek into the open market overall for other teams’ players, the Broncos left the combine with the belief the draft gives them flexibility.

More is better. Unless an unexpected deal is on the horizon, the Broncos are expected to lose defensive end Malik Jackson in free agency while Antonio Smith is an unrestricted free agent and not expected to be re-signed unless he’s still available later and the Broncos still need help. But the group of interior defensive linemen and edge rushers in this draft is considered the deepest in quite some time. There will be value at both positions for the Broncos, and everyone else in the league, all the way through the draft. Some team executives, before the on-campus pro days have even happened, already project as many as 16 or 17 defensive tackles, defensive ends and edge rushers combined to be selected in the opening round alone of the April draft.

Chris Harris Jr. is right. During Saturday’s on-field workouts for the wide receivers at the combine, Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. took to Twitter to say “Some slow Wrs coming in the league today lol,” and the Pro Bowl selection was exactly on point in his evaluation of the personnel he was seeing. This year’s group of receivers averaged 4.56 seconds in the 40-yard dash inside Lucas Oil Stadium, the slowest average in at least the last 11 years at the annual event. It’s why a player like Notre Dame wide receiver Will Fuller, who ran a 4.32, could end up being selected sooner than he may have in some other seasons. The top-rated receiver by many analysts, Mississippi’s Laquon Treadwell, did not run the 40-yard dash or do the cone drills at the combine. It means if the Broncos look for help at receiver, they probably will be looking in the middle to late rounds.

And if it ain’t broke … The Broncos have won five consecutive division titles and have made two Super Bowl trips in the last three seasons. And they also have had their top football decision-maker, John Elway, and the head coach, now Gary Kubiak, in attendance for the combine’s entire week-long run. While the combine drills for every player are available on digital video to watch at any point between now and the draft, there is plenty to be said for not only eyes-on work, but showing a team’s scouting and personnel staff what they do is important.