With mere hours until the 2013 NFL draft gets underway and the Kansas City Chiefs go on the clock, the Denver Broncos are in their war room preparing for the first round.
Plenty of options sit on the board, but many of them will be gone by the time the Broncos come up at No. 28 on Thursday night.
The team has a few needs. They could use depth in the secondary, at running back and even maybe along the offensive line. But they also could use another solid pass-rusher.
After the departure of Elvis Dumervil, who signed with the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens (ESPN), Denver has a huge hole on the defensive line.
Currently, the starters are Derek Wolfe, Kevin Vickerson, Terrance Knighton and Robert Ayers. When the season starts, there is a very good chance it will be those same four players.
But of those names, Ayers sticks out—and for the wrong reasons. In four seasons, the former first-round pick has averaged just 28 tackles a year and has a total of 6.5 sacks in the 57 games he has played in.
With Dumervil gone, it certainly gives Ayers the chance to step up and show the organization that he can be the player they drafted in the first round. At the same time, what's the harm in having a backup plan?
Beyond Ayers, the Broncos have Malik Jackson, Jeremy Beal and Ben Garland at the defensive end position. They're a young crop of players, two of whom have never played an NFL game.
In order to allow players like Wolfe and Von Miller to be even bigger factors as pass-rushers, the Broncos need to have another threat—a player who will make opponents think twice about double-teaming Miller.
That could certainly be Ayers, but it will be hard for him to produce at the level of Dumervil, who averaged more than 10 sacks a season in his six years in Denver.
Margus Hunt, one of the draft's most interesting prospects, could be the perfect weapon.
As a senior at SMU, Hunt had eight sacks, including two in the team's 43-10 romp over Fresno State in the Hawaii Bowl.
At 6'8", Hunt is a towering athlete with a 92-inch wing span. Perhaps due to his background as a discus thrower, he has a very impressive first step off the snap and is able to overpower offensive lineman with his bull-rush abilities.
He has a lot to learn as far as technique goes, but from an athletic standpoint, he is solid. A strong defensive coordinator such as Jack Del Rio would be able to mold him into a very effective defender.
Hunt could sit behind Ayers and the two could become a solid combination on that side of the line. If Hunt were to come in on obvious passing downs, it would make the opposition very uncomfortable, if nothing else.
Last year, the Broncos traded out of the first round in order to get Wolfe, who, at the time, seemed like an odd choice to most Broncos fans. He turned in a very good rookie season and will only get better.
The same could be done with Hunt, who just needs to get into the right defense to potentially become a star. That could very well be in Denver.
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