With the 2018 NFL Draft clearly in the rear view mirror, the 2018/19 Denver Broncos can move forward. With 8 picks increased to 10 by the end of Saturday night, Elway and the scouting department look to have done a fantastic job, and clearly coaching the senior bowl has influenced the draft.
It is no secret I wanted defense with our first pick whether we traded back or stayed at 5. I honestly thought the Browns would take Bradley Chubb, I would have bet my house on it, so to see him drop straight into the Broncos lap at 5, I was over the moon. Chubb was streets ahead of every other defender in terms of best player available so the pick was a slam dunk.
The Broncos selected 3 more defenders from this draft – Isaac Yiadom (99), Josey Jewell (106), and Keishawn Bierria (217). Safe to say special teams improved with the addition of Yiadom and Bierria, with Josey Jewell challenging newly re-signed Todd Davis for a starting spot next to Brandon Marshall.
Joe Woods and his defensive coaches have gone back in a time machine when drafting Jewell and Chubb. Chubb is our D-Ware and Jewell our Danny Trevathan. With the amount of pressure and disguises available to the front 7 this feels like the Super Bowl 50 team.
With Shane Ray not getting his 5th year option activated, it could go 2 ways for Ray: Bradley Chubb could take his place and Ray could leave, or Ray knuckles down and proves himself as the man to play opposite Von Miller and he gets a new deal through production on the field.
So, what could the Broncos base defense look like in the season opener vs Seattle Seahawks? Below is a graphic to show what I think they could look like in 3 different formations:
DB’s in White
LB’s in Orange
DL in Navy
Looking at the 236 package, Bradley Chubb slips into the defensive line along side Shelby Harris allowing Von Miller, Shane Ray, and Shaq Barrett to pin their ears back and go hunt a QB. Obviously players are interchangeable, but this is my default player package for this formation. Su’A Cravens can play man, QB Spy, or drop back to play 3 deep safety package. I’d expect to see this package 80%+ on 3rd and long plays.
I think with more and more teams leading with 3WR or 2WR 1TE split out packages, Nickel 335 should start becoming the base defensive package across the NFL. If that’s the case, I’d expect Cravens to substitute in for Tremaine Brock to cover the bigger WR or TE withChris Harris Jr covering WR1 and Bradley Roby WR2.
The Broncos are a 3-4 defensive unit so 3-4 normal is their base versus 12 personnel and I’d expect Todd Davis to be the starter quickly overtaken by Jewell midway through the season. This formation allows Brandon Marshall the luxury of playing run or pass with Jewell concentrating on run blitzing. Also Cravens could substitute in for Marshall vs set teams ( Pats, KC, Eagles ).
Overall, I believe this defensive unit could surpass the expectation of many and even become more productive than the Super Bowl 50 team.