The Denver Broncos ended Round 1 of 2012 NFL Draft empty-handed. No players were added to the Broncos roster, but they did manage to move down twice and pick up an early second- and fourth-round choice to increase their total number of picks from seven to eight.
The Denver Broncos look to make some key additions on Day 2 of the draft, with two picks in the second round and one pick in the third.
John Elway, the executive vice-president of football operations, told the media following Round 1 that "Our board looked the same, and we have the same players at No. 36 that we would have had at No. 31."
That essentially means that the Broncos could get the same player they wanted at 36 that they could at 31, but they have an extra pick early in the fourth to wait for the later pick.
So now that we know who the Broncos won't be getting in 2012, let's look at who are the best fits for the Broncos in Rounds 2 and 3.
Courtney Upshaw is a special talent. He has the tools to become an elite pass-rusher in the NFL. After the first round of the draft, he remains on the board. The Broncos have a shot at taking him with their 36th overall pick, which they received from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Robert Ayers made some improvement last season, but he may never be an elite pass-rusher on the opposite side of Elvis Dumervil. Adding a guy like Upshaw would be huge for an already ruthless pass rush.
Upshaw has a powerful bull rush, has a natural pad level, generates a lot of leverage and is NFL-ready. He has a strong repertoire of rushing moves and techniques. He is listed as either an outside linebacker or a defensive end.
He could really help the Broncos on the side opposite Dumervil or Von Miller.
Rumors about Jerel Worthy landing with the Broncos have been swarming since before the NFL combine.
Worthy is a top prospect at defensive tackle, a position the Broncos desperately need to fill. At times in 2011, he looked spectacular. He showed off his top pass-rushing skills against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game and against Georgia in the Outback Bowl.
But, at times, it seemed his conditioning wasn't where it should be. He struggled to produce consistently from week to week. But at his best, he is a game changer and could make an immediate impact.
I have been high on Kendall Reyes all offseason. I think he is underrated and could be selected by Denver with its second pick in the second round at No. 57 overall.
He had an impressive Senior Bowl, where he consistently beat offensive linemen in one-on-one drills. He also has a powerful bull rush and undeniable speed to blaze past defenders and get to the quarterback.
He's also a top prospect at defending the run, which remains an area of great need for the Broncos. There were huge holes in the middle of the run defense last season that need to be filled. Reyes could do that.
One of the surprises of the first round is that Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill is still on the board.
The Yellow Jackets have started a trend of producing star wide receivers, with Calvin Johnson maturing into one of the best receivers in the league, and Demaryius Thomas starting to show his true potential with the Broncos after his first season in 2010 was marked with injuries.
Hill is a playmaker. With All-Pro Peyton Manning tossing him the ball, he could be a difference-maker for the Broncos.
Adding a dynamic weapon on offense like Hill would be huge.
Vanderbilt's Casey Hayward is a sleeper prospect who could be available as late as the third round.
Hayward is the definition of a cover corner. He play tight, man-to-man coverage and has a knack for interceptions. In his first four games of 2011, Hayward had four picks. In the Liberty Bowl against Cincinnati, he had two interceptions.
Hayward has all of the skills needed to be an elite cover corner in the NFL.
He ended 2011 with seven interceptions, 60 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss and 10 passes defended. He has the size and ball skills to be an impact player in the NFL.
Hayward is also aggressive against the run. He could be a diamond in the rough for the Broncos.
Right before the draft, center Peter Konz was being mentioned as a potential first-round choice for the Broncos.
Denver didn't pull the trigger on him, but he remains a possibility in the second round, where the Broncos have the 36th and 57th picks.
Konz was an essential cog in the superior Wisconsin running attack in 2011. Konz excels at run blocking. He seals holes well, gets to the second level and produces lots of pancake blocks. Konz also did a solid job in pass protection for quarterback Russell Wilson.
Keeping Peyton Manning upright will be a top priority for the Broncos. Many have questioned Broncos center J.D. Walton's ability to handle blitzes up the middle, especially in the passing game, and his mediocre blocking in general.
Brandon Thompson is a huge defensive lineman at 6’2” and 311 pounds. He excels in stopping the run and is disruptive at the line of scrimmage. He routinely blows up plays right from the start.
He’s rated a bit lower than some of the top prospects already off the board, but will still have huge impact and potential upside for Denver.
His pass rush needs some work. That remains one of the few knocks against him.
Alshon Jeffery is another top wide receiver who demands a look from the Broncos.
Due to poor quarterback play, South Carolina struggled to get him the ball. There are some who believe his ability to separate from NFL defensive backs at the NFL level is in doubt. This would warrant him falling down the boards to potentially the third round.
However, in the final game of his college season, he seemed to get everything working, torching Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard with four receptions for 148 yards and a touchdown. He toasted Dennard on a 78-yard reception on a deep post, but was pulled down a few yards short of the end zone.
Jeffery appears to be a player who needs more time to develop before he can make an impact in the NFL. He would be a good choice in the third round.
As a return man, Brandon Boykin is a special talent on special teams. After releasing Eddie Royal, the Broncos need someone to fill that role.
Boykin's senior season was a productive one. As a cornerback, he made 55 tackles, 11 for a loss, defended nine passes, intercepted three interceptions and forced two fumbles. He even scored three touchdowns on offense (two receiving, one rushing).
On special teams, Boykin averaged 22 yards per kick return and 13 yards per punt return. He is speedy and would project as a nickel cornerback for the Broncos. But he'd be a nice addition to the Broncos because of his versatility.
Lamar Miller is a playmaker. Every time he touches the football, he is a threat to score. He reminds me Darren Sproles or Reggie Bush.
He would be the perfect complementary back to Willis McGahee, a fellow Hurricane alumnus. In open space, he is nearly impossible to run down. A threat out of the backfield, Miller would further boost the increasingly dynamic Broncos’ offense.
As a redshirt sophomore in 2011, he ran for 1,272 yards and nine touchdowns. There is still room for improvement, but his upside is undeniable. He would be a great fit in Denver.
There is so much talent still available in the next two rounds. The Broncos will have their choice. even if a few of these players are scooped up.
Here is just a sampling of the prospects who the Broncos may be considering on Day 2:
Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana
Devon Still, DT, Penn State
Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State
Derek Wolfe, DT, Cincinnati
Reuben Randle, WR, Louisiana State
Mychal Kendricks, ILB, California
Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati
DeQuan Menzie, FS, Alabama
Brandon Taylor, SS, Louisiana State
Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida
The Broncos are in a prime spot to add some special talent despite passing on the first round.