What direction will the Broncos take in the 2020 NFL Draft?

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - FEBRUARY 25: President of Football Operations and General Manager John Elway of the Denver Broncos interviews during the first day of the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 25, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - FEBRUARY 25: President of Football Operations and General Manager John Elway of the Denver Broncos interviews during the first day of the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 25, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

What direction will the Denver Broncos and general manager John Elway take in the 2020 NFL Draft with a potential franchise QB in place?

This 2020 NFL draft class will go a long way in revealing who the Denver Broncos will be moving forward. Running an organization begins with the organizational culture within the building. For instance, when a new employee is chosen at successful organizations, such as Google, you already understand what type of person that company is looking for. As the movie The Internship famously quoted, they are looking for someone “Googly”.

General Manager John Elway and Head Coach Vic Fangio putting a stamp on what type of team the Denver Broncos will be now and moving forward. As most of us are anxiously waiting for Denver to make their first selection, the question often gets asked, “What should John Elway do early in the draft?”

This subject has buzzed across the airways of Denver radio while flooding through our favorite Broncos-focused sites. We all have a take, some spot-on and others, well not so much. What most can agree on is the desire for Elway to take a player who can contribute in helping the team win, and ideally sooner. An easy statement to process I am sure but hitting on each draft pick is not as simple.

Beginning with the opening of free agency, the Broncos have effectively filled the holes created by departing contributors bringing in A.J. Bouye (Chris Harris Jr.), Jurrell Casey (Derek Wolfe), and Graham Glasgow (Connor McGovern), while also adding an offensive skill player (Melvin Gordon) and bringing back contributing players (Justin Simmons, Jeremiah Attachou, Shelby Harris, Mike Purcell, Elijah Wilkinson, and De’Vante Bausby). Addressing holes within the team’s starting 22 has been the M.O. for Elway since he arrived in 2011.

Positions left that need immediate attention are a wide receiver opposite of Cortland Sutton, an interior offensive lineman (ideally a center), a corner opposite Bouye (or if Bryce Callahan is healthy a nickel corner), and many in Broncos Country would argue offensive tackle is a priority as well. The one area the Broncos have missed on over Elway’s tenure is offensive tackle.

Players such as Bradley Roby, Sutton, McGovern, and Matt Paradis, have shown that the Broncos can hit with players playing out their first contract, shows some degree of success. However, misses such over the years such as Ty Sambrailo, Michael Schofield, and to many Garrett Bolles, have shown a poor track record leading the subsequent overspending for less than ideal talent in free agency (Donald Stephenson and Menelik Watson come to mind).

Do the Broncos take another swing at the tackle position early and hope Offensive Line Coach Mike Munchak can be the difference? Or do the Broncos bank on his ability to get more out of the young crop of linemen including Patrick Morris, Austin Schlottmann, Jake Rodgers, Quinn Bailey, and Wilkinson?

What many Broncos fans lose sight of is what is the organizational philosophy of the team? How does John Elway and Head Coach Vic Fangio believe the Broncos should be built and what players are a fit? John Elway provided additional insight into the organizational philosophy during his pre-draft press conference.

John Elway said he, “had a couple misses back there,” during the draft due to perceived character concerns. He went on to discuss the team’s strategy of focusing on players who provide leadership and maturity. Coach Fangio verbally minimized the importance of culture upon his hiring in 2019, but his actions, demeanor, and message of “death by inches”, speaks to something so much more.

How does culture or philosophy impact the team’s direction? By all indications, it appears the Denver Broncos General Manager and Head Coach are in lockstep, and whomever the Broncos select, that player will fit the mold of Coach Fangio’s team. Alignment at the top goes a long way in creating a culture the entire organization can buy in to.

In the past, both men have shown to pay attention to defensive players early in the first three rounds. One would believe that the focus of the organization is primarily on the defensive side of the ball based on how the Broncos won their last championship, and how Fangio has cut his teeth throughout his career. Currently, the Broncos allocate $66,288,056 of their $215,716,415 available cap on the offensive side of the ball, while utilizing $123,202,906 on defense (per Over The Cap).

Of the positions seen as areas of need, wide receiver and offensive line seem to be the focus of most in Broncos Country. While Elway has only drafted one wide receiver in the first two rounds (Sutton), as an assistant coach, Fangio has been seen that position be addressed early and often. Though Elway and Coach Fangio have shown less focus early on the offensive line, during Coach Munchak’s time in Pittsburgh, the offensive line often received premium pick investment as the only real contributors selected outside of the top three rounds were Alejandro Villanueva (UFA) and Kelvin Beachum (7th round) were selected outside of the top three rounds (Pro Football Reference).

In the short time together, the actions of the Coach Fangio and John Elway suggest the organizational philosophy has been to spend on free agents and draft offensive talent. This is not news to some but is telling in identifying the likelihood Denver focuses early and often. This does not mean that if a talent falls into their lap like Jeffery Okudah or Isaiah Simmons, they would not pounce (i.e. Bradley Chubb in 2018).

However, it does reveal how the team will respond shortly after with Sutton and Freeman in 2018 and Noah Fant, Dalton Risner, and Drew Lock all being selected with selections in the top 100 during the last two drafts. What fans can recognize is the direction the Broncos go during the 2020 draft will show the team’s long-term vision.

dark. Next. Final 2020 Denver Broncos mock draft

Do they combat the defending Super Bowl Champions with Defense and draft talent to match-up with the Chiefs high octane attack? Or, do the Broncos select high-end offensive talent and attempt to match Patrick Mahomes and company score for score? Whether the Broncos select a wide receiver, offensive line, or defensive player, the organizational culture will begin to truly take shape. Right now, only John Elway and Coach Fangio know what that will be.