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Friday, February 7, 2014
MVP replacements: Denver Broncos

By Jeff Legwold

Whether it's a marquee QB or an interior defensive lineman, no team can afford to lose its most valuable player.

So, who steps in if the unfathomable happens? Our NFL Nation reporters and Scouts Inc.'s Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl have teamed up to identify each team's most important player and which player in the 2014 draft each team can target to groom as a potential replacement -- MVP insurance. For some teams, their future stars may be slightly younger than others as draft-eligible non-seniors are denoted with an asterisk.

Decker
No question the Denver Broncos' MVP is quarterback Peyton Manning, who has said he has every intention of playing in 2014. He will have a physical in the coming weeks, and if the doctors give Manning the thumbs up -- and the team expects them to -- Manning will play in ’14 with the possibility of 2015 on the table.

They Broncos have taken quarterbacks in the past two drafts -- Brock Osweiler in 2012 and Zac Dysert in 2013. They like Osweiler’s progress at Manning’s side. He has shown confidence when he’s been asked to run the offense, and has upper-tier arm strength. The Broncos believe he is a starter in waiting, but John Elway is also from the Ron Wolf school when it comes to quarterbacks and the draft -- he always believes you should think about taking one, no matter what your depth chart looks like.

But the Broncos do have some major questions to answer in free agency this year. Wide receiver Eric Decker and running back Knowshon Moreno are two of their regulars set for unrestricted free agency. Moreno tore an ACL in 2011 and had stem cell treatment on the knee before the 2013 season, so there is some concern there, and Decker might not find the payday he wants in Denver given Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas will both be scheduled as unrestricted free agents. So, with limited salary cap space, the Broncos will have to look at Decker and decide how much of a commitment they want to make at the position with the Thomases on deck.

Potential pick: Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama
Fresno State receiver Davante Adams would be a strong option early on, but if the Broncos wait to address the position, Norwood could be a late-round bargain. He lacks prototypical top-end speed and quickness, but he is a physical route runner who has above-average size and underrated ball skills. He also shows excellent field awareness and has consistently delivered in the clutch throughout his career. Norwood’s ability to read coverages and adjust routes on the fly, along with reliable hands makes him a strong fit for the Broncos' offense.

-- Kevin Weidl