2012 NFL Draft: Denver Broncos Must Use First-Round Pick on a Cornerback

Jason MuckleySenior Analyst IIOctober 14, 2016

2012 NFL Draft: Denver Broncos Must Use First-Round Pick on a Cornerback

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    The two starting cornerbacks for the Denver Broncos aren't getting any younger.

    Future first ballot Hall of Famer Champ Bailey has several years left in the tank, even at 33. However, Andre Goodman, his partner on the opposite side, looks much less serviceable at the same age.

    The Denver Broncos have to improve at cornerback by adding youth this draft. There are a handful of overachieving cornerbacks to draft in this year's pool, which the Broncos have to jump on early.

    A first-round cornerback selection is imperative for the Denver Broncos this season, and I have a list of the best options for Denver.

Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama

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    If's he's on the board when it comes around to the Denver Broncos turn on draft day, this is a no-brainer.

    However, based on most analysts' predictions, Dre Kirkpatrick would be a pipe dream for the Denver Broncos. He will likely be gone before the 15th pick of this draft.

    Kirkpatrick is long and physical. He has the ability to lift opposing players off the ground.

    In the final day of the NFL Combine, Kirkpatrick ran a mid to low 4.4 40-yard dash. That impressive time will likely be the tipping point for many teams with secondary needs and draft picks in the low teens.

    Kirkpatrick will be special in the NFL, no matter who pulls the trigger on him.

Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama

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    Janoris Jenkins is a mixed bag with huge upside and off-field concerns. Bert Breer of the NFL Network has reported that several scouts are comparing Jenkins with Darrelle Revis.

    He said, "He might be the best corner in the draft, I mean him and Morris Claiborne and Dre Kirkpatrick. I heard somebody compare him to Revis the other day, physically."

    That is some good company to be in.

    Some of his off-field character concerns might allow the Denver Broncos a shot at him in the first round. When addressing the media on Sunday, Jenkins was answering questions about his time at the University of Florida.

    He said, "I failed one drug test at Florida. I got arrested three times, one for a bar fight and two for possession of marijuana."

    Breer's fellow NFL Network analyst, Charles Davis feels that Jenkins athletically may be the best of this class, but it will be character that determines where he lands.

    Davis said, "Athletically, I think he's the best corner here. That part is no issue. It's the rest of it he's going to have to work his way through."

    Pro Football Weekly has him listed as a Pro Bowl-caliber talent who could start immediately either inside in the slot or outside.

    While Jenkins is definitely a high-risk player, the risk comes potentially with a major reward. It is possible that Jenkins could lock up the cornerback spot opposite of Bailey, and then be a No. 1 shutdown corner once the Broncos move Bailey to safety in the twilight of his career.

Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina

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    Stephon Gilmore really improved his stock during this season's NFL Combine.

    He impressed a lot of people with his sub-4.4 second 40-yard dash time. It was third among all cornerbacks.

    With his size and speed, Gilmore should be a solid cornerback in the NFL. Some believe teams might even convert him to the safety position.

    This would work out well for the Broncos who could use help in the secondary at both cornerback and safety, particularly in an NFL draft that is short on safety talent.

    Gilmore is listed at 6' 1" and 190 pounds. Gilmore appears to be an ideal zone-type corner, which would be a perfect fit for the type of defense the Broncos employ. 

    At the NFL Combine, he displayed good range in the deep half and tracked the football well.

    While he may physically may not be as talented as Dre Kirkpatrick or Janoris Jenkins, Gilmore doesn't have any character concerns like those ahead of him.