Kiper's Summer Audits: AFC West

Breaking down the offseason and needs of each AFC West team

Originally Published: June 20, 2012
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN Insider
Peyton ManningRon Chenoy/US PresswirePeyton Manning going to the Broncos was the biggest move of the offseason in the AFC West.

Every summer, with the NFL draft and free agency in the rearview mirror, I take a look at each team. What did it accomplish in terms of added personnel? How did its draft fill holes? What voids remain? Let's jump around the league, addressing three things for each team:

• Help added: What the team has done this offseason to improve its prospects. Given my greatest area of expertise, I put a particular emphasis on the draft.
• Questions that remain: A look at what voids must be filled.
• Next year's help, now: With an eye toward next year's draft class, what player from 2013 could seemingly help the team in 2012? This is meant to be hypothetical, a quick look at prospects to keep an eye on.

Here is the version for the AFC West:


AFC West

Denver Broncos

Help added: Only the presence of Jacksonville spared the Broncos from being alone at the bottom of the NFL as one of the worst passing teams in recent memory in 2011. As a team, they completed just 49.8 percent of passes, and it's not true to say they gave up accuracy by piling up yards in bulk with deep throws. They still averaged a weak 6 yards per attempt. This isn't some veiled shot at Tim Tebow, it's just a statement on how the addition of Peyton Manning could create one of the biggest makeovers for an offense (and maybe a team) that I can recall.

Consider that Manning hasn't completed fewer than 65 percent of his passes in more than 10 years. People can question what the Broncos have for talent at the skill positions, but I think they'll be just fine. Demaryius Thomas has plenty of talent (and speed), and Eric Decker can thrive with Manning. Andre Caldwell adds depth and Jacob Tamme familiarity. Remember, the Indy system Manning ran was not a complex scheme run by a QB who can deal with complexity. It was a simple scheme with a basic combination of routes run by a QB who nearly always made the right reads and put the ball where it needed to be with great timing and accuracy. I don't expect Denver's offense to struggle for weeks to pick things up.

Elsewhere, Mike Adams and Tracy Porter provide some bandages to a secondary that needed help. Two players from the draft I look forward to seeing in 2012: Derek Wolfe of Cincy can create pressure from the DT position, and Ronnie Hillman could be a threat if he gets his carries.

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst