Denver Broncos Mock Draft: 6 Players They Must Target in 2012 NFL Draft

Nick HouserCorrespondent IIFebruary 27, 2012

Denver Broncos Mock Draft: 6 Players They Must Target in 2012 NFL Draft

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    The Denver Broncos have seven picks in the 2012 NFL draft in which they must wisely select players that can effectively fill their needs.

    Seven picks sounds like a lot, but when you have as many holes as the Broncos do, it makes each choice that much more important.

    On January 28, I defined the positions Denver must address in this year's draft. On February 14, I listed 20 players the Broncos should have on their big board.

    There are multiple directions Denver could go this year. They may look to surround Tim Tebow with weapons, drafting the running back of the future, another wide receiver or a dangerous tight end.

    They could keep adding to the defense with a beastly defensive tackle, the heir to cornerback Champ Bailey or a middle linebacker.

    Regardless of direction, there are no do-overs so they'll need to get it right on the first try.

    Unlike the big board, the following players are a more realistic crop of available players:

Round One: Defensive Tackle

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    One of the most recognizable holes in the Denver Broncos' defense lies right in the middle of the line.

    Denver needs a defensive tackle badly. There's not much out there in free agency either.

    They have to get the best defensive tackle possible in the draft.

    Dontari Poe is a beast of a player at 6'4'', 346 pounds. The Memphis player is consistently lauded for his surprising quickness and ability to stuff the middle.

    Poe could work to shut down the middle, stuff the run and collapse the pocket while the speedier ends such as Von Miller get to the quarterback.

    Another suitable candidate: Jerel Worthy or Fletcher Cox

Round Two: Quarterback

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    There are more pressing needs than quarterback. Especially with John Elway's recent comments furthering his commitment to Tim Tebow.

    The issue is at backup quarterback. Adam Weber is currently under contract but won't be a better option should the Denver Broncos decide to bench Tebow.

    There were talks about bringing Brady Quinn back, but a recent interview with GQ magazine may ultimately hurt his chances of remaining in Denver.

    With no free agent quarterback wanting any part of the Tebow-circus in Denver, the Broncos must fill the position through the draft.

    If Tebow isn't going to work out long-term, they might as well try to get the best available.

    By the 57th pick Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill will be gone.

    The Broncos became enamored with quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Brock Osweiler at the NFL Combine over the weekend.

    Sunday the Denver Post wrote:

    "Weeden and Osweiler figure to both go in the second round, no later than the top-half of the third. Each would make sense as back up to Broncos starting quarterback Tim Tebow."

    I don't foresee Weeden hanging around long enough either. But Osweiler would be a more than capable backup. The pick is very logical as both a short-term solution and a potential long-term if need be.

    Another suitable candidate:  Kirk Cousins in Round Three

Round Three: Running Back

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    There is overwhelming amounts of discussions concerned with the Denver Broncos drafting complementary pieces to build around Tebow.

    Running back should be one of them and the Broncos very well could take a Lamar Miller or Chris Polk in the first round.

    However, history seems to show there's less risk in taking running backs late and more reward.

    Clark Judge of CBSSports.com shows several fantastic finds such as undrafted Arian Foster and former 53rd pick LeSean McCoy among others.

    Instead the Broncos may get lucky in the third round with someone like LaMichael James.

    Before the combine, James was expected to be a third or fourth round lock. After blazing through the 40-yard dash, however, he may have moved himself higher.

    If teams still hesitate on James because of his size, he would be a fantastic pick for the Broncos in Round 3. His speed could work well with the quarterback option-keep Denver loves to run with Tebow.

    Willis McGahee turns 31 and Knowshon Moreno has been a bust so far.

    Other suitable candidates: Isaiah Pead or Cyrus Gray

Round Four: Cornerback

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    While most kept a keen eye on Alabama Crimson Tide cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, DeQuan Menzie stayed busy shutting down the other half of the football field.

    Together the pair contained offenses with a nation-leading 116 passing yards per game.

    Menzie has superb coverage ability and is a sound, physical tackler. Much like Champ Bailey.

    Another suitable candidate: Cliff Harris

Round Five: Offensive Tackle

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    The Denver Broncos already have a more than capable offensive line. But depth never hurts and there's always room for improvements.

    Boise State's Nate Potter is an intriguing candidate.

    Potter stands 6'6'', 298 lbs.

    Uniquely enough, one of Potter's most praised abilities is his quickness. At his size his pocket protection is efficient but with his foot speed his run blocking is superb.

    If a defensive lineman does get past him, Potter has the awareness and agility to recover quickly. If the pocket collapses he can kick out and provide a path for his quarterback.

    The Denver Broncos have two draft selections in Round Five.

Round Five: Defensive End

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    The Denver Broncos have two picks in the fifth round of the draft.

    This late in the draft, there's still potential to find steals.

    Take Utah's Derrick Shelby for example. At 6'3'', 271 lbs., Shelby is a decent combination of size and speed.

    More impressive than Shelby's five sacks during his senior year was his whopping seven passes deflected and interception return for a touchdown.

    Shelby has demonstrated ability to get his hands and body up in the air making it difficult for quarterbacks to see the field.

    Between being rushed from one side of the line and an inability to see over the other side, a one-two punch of Shelby and Elvis Dumervil could be very effective.

Round Seven: Secondary Depth

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    By the seventh round not only are the pickings slim but the options in free agency become more appealing.

    The Denver Broncos should add depth to the roster with the seventh round pick. They can go a variety of ways.

    They could hope to find a steal in a wide receiver or second defensive tackle.

    They could add yet another tight end should they decide not to re-sign Daniel Fells and Julius Thomas doesn't work out as expected.

    If adding solely for depth and not necessarily a future starter, the Broncos need to add another piece to the secondary, specifically at safety.

    They already have Brian Dawkins, Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter but the defensive backs were plagued by injuries the entire season.

    Extra bodies, just in case, won't hurt. They'd be wise to have, and in the seventh round they'd be really cheap.