2012 NFL Draft: 3 Defensive Tackles Denver Broncos Could Select in 1st Round

Jason Muckley@@jamuckleySenior Analyst IIMarch 29, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: 3 Defensive Tackles Denver Broncos Could Select in 1st Round

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    The Denver Broncos are likely to use their first-round draft pick on the defensive side of the ball.

    Since my first musings as to whom the Broncos might use their draft picks on at the end of February, there have been a lot of changes to the Denver Broncos.

    Peyton Manning has been welcomed in as the Broncos starting quarterback for 2012, and Tim Tebow has been shipped off to New York.

    One of the best prospects for the Broncos at defensive tackle this season, free agent Brodrick Bunkley, was swept up by the New Orleans Saints. The Broncos have Ty Warren returning and hope he can be a major contributor in the middle.

    However, coming off a season-ending triceps injury during training camp last year, Warren is 31 years old and may never be the same defender that the Broncos were hoping to get last year after signing him in free agency.

    Because of the obvious hole in the middle, the Broncos must use their first draft pick on a defensive tackle.

    Here are the top three candidates for the Broncos' first pick.

Dontari Poe, Memphis

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    Dontari Poe had a dazzling 2012 NFL Combine.

    He surprised scouts and teams with his strength and speed.

    He had a combine-best 44 reps at the bench press and turned heads with a 4.98-second 40-yard dash.

    Poe’s time matched Ndamukong Suh's time of two years ago. The Detroit Lions snatched him up with the No. 2 overall pick.

    His awesome combine, however, may have moved him up beyond the Broncos' reach at the 25th overall pick in the 2012 draft.

    He is a beast of a man at 6'5" and 346 pounds. Adding Poe would make the Broncos front line instantly better.

Michael Brockers, Louisiana State

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    Michael Brockers might be a more realistic pick for the Denver Broncos if Dontari Poe is snatched up early in this year's draft.

    Brockers is slightly smaller than Poe and a touch slower.

    He is 6'5" and weighs 322 pounds. What turned heads at the combine, however, was his massive wingspan. His hands measured 9 1/8 inches, and his arms were 35 inches, each of which contributed to his 83 7/8-inch wingspan.

    The biggest concern for the Broncos was that he was only a one-season starter at LSU, but he did manage to make 47 total tackles and two sacks in 2011 as a redshirt sophomore.

    BroncoTalk had some commentary on the potential of the Broncos landing Brockers:

    He’s a big boom-or-bust, high-risk, high-reward prospect. But he was considered the top defensive tackle in the draft heading into the heavy draft scouting season, and it’s been said that “few players carry as much potential and upside as Brockers."

     "High-risk, high-reward"...it seems like that is the case for most first-round draft picks.

Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State

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    Fletcher Cox had a solid NFL combine, and his pro day likely has him as a lock for the first round of the NFL draft in April.

    Cox is 6'3" and is the lightest of the three potential first-round defensive tackles at only 299 pounds.

    He had a 26-inch vertical jump and a nine-foot broad jump during the combine.

    During the agility drills at the combine, he showed off a lot of quickness. However, Cox was upstaged in both quickness and strength by Poe, which has likely sent him down the draft board nearer to where the Broncos will pick in 2012.

    Having a lighter, speedy defensive tackle would go a long way for the Broncos in generating pressure on the quarterback in the middle; Fletcher would be a guy who could spark that type of pressure.