A year ago, the Broncos’ offseason strategy was to add veterans to the roster, quick fixes to plug spots on the depth chart they were unable to address in the draft. RB Willis McGahee, DT Ty Warren and TE Daniel Fells were all signed, as management hoped they would step right in and improve a team that was 4-12 the previous season and had a new head coach in John Fox.
The plan worked, as the team improved to 8-8 and won the AFC West. McGahee made the Pro Bowl after rushing for nearly 1,200 yards, and Fells was a solid blocker who cleared a path for him. Warren missed the entire season after sustaining a preseason triceps injury, but he hopes to return in 2012.
This offseason, the Broncos have the opposite plan in place. Other than going from a 24-year-old quarterback in Tim Tebow to 36-year-old Peyton Manning, the team has looked to get younger at several key areas, hoping to build a core that can be successful for a long time. We hear that trend will continue come draft time, as the Broncos will look to find impact players who can both contribute immediately and be part of the future of the team.
At no position was that more obvious than cornerback, where the team was in desperate need for some young legs. Although starters Champ Bailey and André Goodman both were solid last year, the team was concerned that both players will be 34 when the 2012 season begins. To address that, Denver signed one of the top young corners on the market, Tracy Porter, formerly of the Saints, who will be 26 when the season kicks off. The team will likely start Porter in place of Goodman and keep Chris Harris, who will be just 23 at the start of the year, as the nickel corner. There is a good chance Denver will select another young cornerback in the draft, as well, to add to the depth.
The strategy also extends to the offense, where the Broncos have brought in three targets for Manning — WR Andre Caldwell and TEs Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen — who will be 30 or younger when the season begins. In the draft, the team is expected to target a running back who can take some carries from the 30-year-old McGahee, perhaps even in the first round, along with a young quarterback to groom behind Manning.