The Broncos started the 2013 off-season free agency period standing out from the rest, signing big name free agents in DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib. With those player holes have certainly been filled on both sides of the ball. Even with a productive off-season, the Broncos still find themselves with a hole that they need to fill and that is middle linebacker.
Denver has had a tough go at filling the linebacker role the last couple of seasons with players like Wesley Woodyard, Paris Lenon and Joe Mays. In 2011 they drafted Nate Irvin with the 67th pick overall but 57 tackles in 46 games does not make for a solid starter at the position. Especially when nearly half of his game time came out of special teams.
To have a decent defense there needs to be trust in the middle linebacker as he is the one that calls the plays on defense, but to have a formidable one you need an all-pro middle linebacker. Teams like the San Francisco 49ers with Patrick Willis and the Carolina Panthers with Luke Kuechly are those such formidable defenses. The is certainly no doubt that Denver has a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball, but it seems that middle linebacker is the missing piece between an AFC Championship and the Super Bowl Championship, they need to fill this void to take the next step.
There is little money for John Elway to spend in free agency so he will need to address it in the draft and actually be as aggressive there as he was in free agency. Here are some middle linebackers to keep an eye on:
C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Excellent technique player with feet that never stop. Strong ability for read recognition that makes him excellent in coverage. He takes complete charge of the defense making checks to get out of stunts and into another blitz. He is patient and knows how to find the ball exploding through ball carriers and wrapping up.
Shayne Skov, Stanford
Prototypical size that plays nasty and extremely physical. He is constantly on the move and has a high IQ for the game. Out of all the inside linebackers he comes with the best speed. He plays with tremendous instincts and know how to plug holes in the running lanes.
Chris Borland, Wisconsin
Plays on pure instinct and is a strong leader on the line. He is fluid in coverage and comes with an explosive lower body that makes him dangerous to opposing offenses. He never gives up on a play and is always on the hunt for a tackle.
C.J. Mosley is my top choice even though he has been sliding down the draft board purely based on his combine results as well as needs of other teams. I think he will still be available in the 20-25th selections and Elway can once again show his aggressive side and move up to get him. He is by far the best middle linebacker on the draft and if there is a chance that the Broncos have a shot at him, i can see John Fox and John Elway making a play for him.
In the past John Elway has said that he will not mortgage the future of the Broncos, but he knows, the team knows, and fans know that their window is small and the time to win is now.