The Denver Broncos went into the 2013 season with a solid, young duo of safeties in Rahim Moore and Duke Ihenacho, but things really took a dive as the season progressed.
Rahim Moore suffered a season ending condition where his leg needed emergency treatment, and while Ihenacho proved his worth as an in-the-box safety, he didn’t provide the Broncos with enough big plays on the back end.
It’s unfair to envy what the Seattle Seahawks have in their secondary, which is easily the best in the NFL, but the Broncos have to make some moves and I think one area where they’ll look early in the draft or potentially even in free agency is at safety.
Mike Adams is a free agent, Quinton Carter is coming off of injury, and the Broncos also have guys like Michael Huff, David Bruton, and Omar Bolden. I think Bolden and Bruton provide value on special teams, especially Bruton, but I don’t think anyone’s roster spot is overly safe outside of Moore and probably Bruton.
In my opinion, safety is a top three need for the Broncos, specifically the strong safety position and getting a guy who can come in, hit like a ton of bricks, and force turnovers. One such player who has done that throughout his collegiate career is Washington State star Deone Bucannon, one of my favorite prospects going into this year’s draft.
Bucannon has a great frame at 6’1″ 216 pounds with a 78-inch wingspan. Those are impressive measurables for a safety and Bucannon’s physical presence would be most welcome in Denver’s backfield. The Broncos have the 31st pick in the draft, and have shown in the last two drafts for John Elway that he’s not afraid to reach a bit for guys that he likes and guys that fit the mold of what the Broncos want to do defensively.
Derek Wolfe was a bit of a sleeper to be the team’s top pick in 2012, and Sylvester Williams certainly drew 1st round attention in the pre-draft process but wasn’t a lock to be a top 32 pick because he’s a bit older than some rookies.
In essence, Elway isn’t afraid to go get his guy, draft pundits be darned.
Bucannon is a guy who grades out as probably the top strong safety prospect in the draft, especially after a senior season where he racked up 114 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, six interceptions, and three forced fumbles.
This was following up a junior season where he had 106 tackles and four interceptions, so this guy has been consistently productive, a hard-worker, and people who pay attention to Pac 12 football and Washington State in particular feel like this guy is legit.
A player like this could really help out Denver’s defense, which ranked among the league’s worst against the pass in 2013. They also need to find ways to force more turnovers, and this could be a great move in that direction.