Denver Broncos: How Does the Signing of Champ Bailey Affect the 2011 NFL Draft?

Jason DanielCorrespondent IFebruary 23, 2011

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 20:  Patrick Peterson #7 of the Louisiana State University Tigers nearly intercepts a pass in the final seconds against Markeith Summers #16 and Korvic Neat #28 of the Ole Miss Rebels as time expired at Tiger Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

I have been on record as of late, saying the talent pool in the 2011 NFL Draft is less than stellar in regards to the defensive line prospects. Unfortunately, that just happens to be the Denver Broncos' biggest need.

John Fox will be looking to improve this defense from last year, when it was downright awful. The Broncos lacked any kind of pressure, as evidenced by their 23 sacks on the year—last in the league.

So, knowing they need to improve the defense as a whole, the Broncos went and did what everyone has been screaming for since the season ended: they re-signed Champ Bailey.

Now that the "shutdown corner" has been re-established, most fans are quick to eliminate LSU's Patrick Peterson off of Denver's 2011 NFL Draft board, to which I must say...

...not so fast.

Although drafting one of the bigger defensive lineman would likely serve as an immediate upgrade to Denver's pass rush, I am going to suggest that switching back to a 4-3 next season will already be an immediate upgrade.

Let me ask you this: If I told you that drafting Da'Quan Bowers of Clemson or Nick Fairley of Auburn would give you 8.5 sacks in a full year, would you take that?

Most of you would probably jump at that opportunity, as it would be about a 25 percent increase from the Broncos' previous season.

Now, what if I told you those numbers are half of what Elvis Dumervil brought us in a full season?

It's not completely unreasltic to think that Dumervil, coming off of a season-ending injury suffered in training camp, could return to Pro-Bowl form.

Knowing they are already going to have a groomed veteran joining the line, it isn't a bad idea for the Broncos to pass on risky players like Fairley and Bowers and secure their cornerback of the future in Peterson, who is also electric at returning kicks.

This notion has become even more valid, as wide receiver Eddie Royal is coming off of surgery and Demaryius Thomas is probably going to be out most of the year.

As Bailey ages and slowly regresses, Peterson will mature and grow into the roll that Bailey will likely vacate, giving him the opportunity to ease into the safety position.

The fact of the matter is that the Broncos are probably not going to make a run at the Super Bowl in 2011, so drafting Peterson this year would prove to be more beneficial in the long run.

Plus, Denver can always try filling voids in free agency.

For the time being, I don't think having Dumervil and Robert Ayers on the ends and Bailey and Peterson at the corners is the worst idea I've heard as of late.