5. DENVER BRONCOS (5-11)
LAST SEASON: Coach Vance Joseph’s first season was a debacle in every phase. Denver’s anemic offense cycled through three QBs during season that included franchise’s longest skid (eight games) in 50 years and featured eight double-digit losses. Joseph eventually replaced offensive coordinator Mike McCoy with Bill Musgrave. An exhausted defense led by first-time coordinator Joe Woods surrendered 29 TD passes after allowing average of 16 in Wade Phillips’ two seasons in Denver. Joseph stuck with rookie special teams coordinator Brock Olivo despite awful season that included six fumbles by rookie returner Isaiah McKenzie and game against New England in which Denver’s blunders in kicking game led to astounding 24 points by Patriots. Olivo was among six assistants Joseph fired after season — once GM John Elway had decided to keep Joseph rather than embark on search for fourth head coach in five years.
THEY NEED: OG, DE, CB, QB, ILB, PR.
THEY DON’T NEED: S, K, P, OT, C, DT.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: DE Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State; G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame; CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State; RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State; QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma.
OUTLOOK: Joseph knows he has to bounce back in big way, so it would seem he’d push for non-QB with team’s first pick, player who can help right away rather than another quarterback who wouldn’t get on field this year after addition of Case Keenum in free agency. Chubb would help LB Von Miller, who missed DeMarcus Ware’s presence last year. Ward would give Broncos four outstanding cornerbacks like group that led them to Super Bowl in 2015. Nelson would solidify line that’s been Elway’s bugaboo for six years. Barkley would give Broncos kind of running back they haven’t had since Hall of Famer Terrell Davis was helping Elway win consecutive Super Bowls in 1990s.
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