Plugging the Holes: AFC West

The biggest remaining needs for Broncos, Chiefs, Raiders and Chargers

Updated: June 5, 2014, 10:16 AM ET
By Tom Gower | Football Outsiders

Nate Irving, Jermaine KearseRonald Martinez/Getty ImagesNate Irving is the front-runner to start at middle linebacker for Denver, and that could be a problem.

NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West
AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC West

In this post-draft edition of Plugging the Holes, Football Outsiders will look at the largest remaining personnel needs of every team, division by division.

Thursday's edition examines the AFC West.

Denver Broncos: Middle linebacker

Without Von Miller last year, the Broncos had the worst pass defense in football. The Broncos had a minus-10.0 percent pass defense DVOA with Miller, which would have ranked sixth over the entire year. (DVOA is Football Outsiders' Defense-adjusted Value Over Average metric, explained further here.) Their 29.4 percent pass defense DVOA without Miller would have ranked dead last.

GM John Elway attacked the problem aggressively in free agency, signing DeMarcus Ware to provide more in the pass rush department, along with cornerback Aqib Talib and safety T.J. Ward to help in coverage. The Broncos also drafted cornerback Bradley Roby in the first round. Also, cornerback Chris Harris (torn ACL) and free safety Rahim Moore (leg compartment syndrome), both of whom missed the Super Bowl, should be ready for the start of the regular season. With Miller also in line to be back for Week 1, what was a weakness should instead be a strength.

With the secondary solved, the big question for the Broncos is at middle linebacker.