With 17 free agents on the roster, more than most teams, the Denver Broncos have a lot of questions to answer in the coming two months. John Elway has said that many, if not all of them will hit the market in early March to help determine their value. That approach only made last week’s NFL Scouting Combine more important for the team.

Several NFL prospects performed well at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and as things shape up for the Broncos it seems that nine or more positions will need fresh blood next year. Luckily for the team, the offensive line crop has several talented big men ready to start and some other key positions had players add value to their draft stock this weekend.

La’el Collins entered the combine with some high praise by his former coaches at LSU and draft experts alike and Friday he did not disappoint. At 308 pounds, he clocked a solid 40-yard dash time of 5.12 with a 1.8 second 10-yard split. What was more impressive was his nimble footwork on the cone drills and the impressive nature of his lateral movement for a guy of his stature.

The Broncos will be in need of several new linemen and Collins has shown he is versatile. He started 38 games for the Tigers while playing his sophomore season at left guard and his remaining two years at left tackle. He played with a tenacity and leadership that many teams like while also becoming an impressive power-run blocker. Collins would be an exceptional candidate at either left guard or right tackle for the Broncos next season.

The Denver Post’s Troy Renck reported Wednesday that the Broncos had scheduled a meeting with Collins along with 21 other teams. His performance in Indianapolis may have boosted his stock and placed him more in the mid-first-round range. If he falls to the Broncos pick at No. 28 it should be no surprise if he trades his Tiger stripes for orange and blue.

Several other linemen increased their draft stock and undoubtedly caught the Broncos eye. A.J. Cann, Mike Mayock’s fourth ranked interior lineman, had a nice combine while the early surprise of the 2015 talent pool may have been Ali Marpet. The 305 pound right tackle from Division-III Hobart College had the fastest 40 time among the lineman after displaying solid technique against the countries best in the Senior Bowl. He will likely be a great value in third round of the draft.

Malcom Brown was the standout for the interior defensive linemen on Sunday as several edge rushers got the rest of the attention. Brown had incredible footwork for a man of his size, had a surprising 29.5 inch vertical jump and ran the 40 in 5.03 seconds. The former Texas Longhorn’s short burst and brut 6’2”, 319 pound frame would be a great addition to the interior of the Broncos defensive line.

If Terrence “Pot Roast” Knighton hits the free agent market as is expected, it will be highly unlikely that the Broncos match offers he receives around the league. With that said Brown could be the answer. His hand work and versatility makes him NFL ready but his strength may be the issue that drops him in the draft. He only reached 26 repetitions on the 225 pound bench press. If the Broncos can get him in the middle rounds of the draft it would be a very nice addition to an already talented unit.

Lastly, as the Broncos continue to try and place the best talent available around Peyton Manning and an upgrade at the slot receiver position maybe in order. Tyler Lockett, coming out of Kansas State University improved his value last week with his workout. He ran an impressive 4.4 40-yard dash and his broad jump was just over 10 feet. He also had the best 60-yard and 20-yard shuttle times for his position. The 5’10”, 182 pound return specialist also showed Saturday that he has great ball skills and very sharp, explosive route running ability. In the Gauntlet drill he also displayed that he has been working on fixing his propensity to catch balls in his chest as he caught all 14 passes away from his body.

The Broncos are likely parting way with Wes Welker and will need some more talent at wide receiver. Emmanuel Sanders and the likely franchise tagged Demaryius Thomas are locked in at their positions but the slot remains wide open in Denver. Cody Latimer, Andre Caldwell and a few reserves will be in the mix for playing time but a true slot-receiver is needed.

According to Kansas State’s site he is the team’s only four-time All-American and now holds 17 school records. His ability in the return game cannot be understated and his skills as a wide receiver are impressive as well. His competiveness and experience makes him a perfect candidate for the Broncos if he falls in the draft. His performance may push him into the second round but don’t be surprised if someone gets a steal in the mid to late third round of the draft.

The draft, beginning April 30th is far away but as the huge questions in free agency loom for the Broncos, several positions are in dire need of attention. These NFL prospects not only made a splash but may have also earned themselves some extra money when they hear their names called in Chicago. The Broncos have a lot of work to do but now they have a better idea of what free agents they want to stay on the roster or who can be replaced by the young talent that was displayed at the Combine.

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