Broncos' to-do list includes a better plan at QB

The Broncos need to better protect their quarterback, whether that's Case Keenum or someone they pick up in free agency or the draft. AP Photo/Seth Wenig

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos are already deep into the offseason reconstruction that John Elway outlined the day Vic Fangio was formally introduced as the team's new head coach.

Asked what would constitute a successful inaugural season for Fangio, Elway said simply:

"We've got to win, period. That's what it is. All the other different things that count, no matter what's said about everybody or whatnot, the bottom line is that we've got to win. Hopefully we're on the right track with Vic. I think we are. We've got a lot of work ahead of us still, but we still have to take it one step at a time. Next will be free agency and then we'll get into the draft. The bottom line is, we've got to win."

After 5-11 and 6-10 finishes over the past two seasons, the Broncos do indeed have plenty of work to do, from Elway's desk all the way down to the practice field.

Here are the big-ticket items on the to-do list:

Get a plan at quarterback: Elway showed a tinge of his frustration earlier this month with his "shake some trees" comment after being asked if he thought the team had a quarterback on hand right now to take them to a championship. The bottom line is this: Miss on a quarterback in the first round of the draft and the pain remains long after.

The Broncos missed on Paxton Lynch in the first round of 2016 and he was released last summer when he didn't win the backup job. Right now Case Keenum has one year left on his contract, and the Broncos don't have a prospect at the position that they have drafted on their current roster.

They may need to dip into free agency and use their first- or second-round pick on a quarterback to compete with Keenum and just see who wins.

Invest in the offensive line: The Broncos have four offensive linemen who started games this past season who are unrestricted free agents (center Matt Paradis, tackle Jared Veldheer, guard Billy Turner and guard Max Garcia) and three (Ron Leary, Paradis and Garcia) who closed out 2018 on injured reserve.

There is plenty of evidence that the erosion in the mechanics of the past four starting quarterbacks can be traced to the Broncos' inability to consistently block in three-wide receiver sets.

And for a team that used the three-wide look the most often in each of the past two seasons, that was a recipe for frustration.

In Elway's tenure, since 2011, the Broncos have selected an offensive limemen before the fourth round of the draft just three times -- two second-rounders (Orlando Franklin in '11 and Ty Sambraillo in '15) to go with a first-round pick on Garett Bolles in 2017.

New offensive line coach Mike Munchak will greatly help any group assembled, but the Broncos are a long way from being a team like the Colts, who started three former first-round picks and second-round pick up front in their playoff opener.

Retool at cornerback: Chris Harris Jr. is one of the best to ever put on a Broncos uniform at the position and is still playing at an elite level. Beyond Harris, however, there are question marks on the depth chart even as Isaac Yiadom, a rookie this past season, is on track to play plenty if the new coaching staff likes him as much as the last one.

Since the Broncos selected Bradley Roby, soon to be headed elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent, in the first round of the 2014 draft, the Broncos have taken just one cornerback in the draft who has gone on to start a game for the team -- and that's Yiadom, with one.

Von Miller and Bradley Chubb combined for 26.5 sacks this season -- the second-highest total for any tandem in the league -- but imagine what they could do if the Broncos win more matchups in coverage.

Too often opposing offensive coaches said they felt they could find the matchups they wanted away from Harris and the Broncos didn't win a game after Harris went to injured reserve in early December.