NFL Draft 2012: 4 Picks the Denver Broncos Got Right
The Denver Broncos had a successful draft weekend; they picked players that provided good value and filled a need on the roster.
As the draft progressed, it became clear that the Broncos' front office was intent on trading down and stockpiling picks when possible.
Although it is too early to truly grade the draft, it appears that the Broncos got it right with at least four of their selections.
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Derek Wolfe was the first player selected by the Broncos in this year's draft with the 36th overall selection.
Wolfe is a 6'5" 295-pound defensive lineman who played college ball in the Big East at Cincinnati.
The departure of Brodrick Bunkley in free agency created a massive hole in the middle of the Broncos' defense. Wolfe will be expected to help solidify the middle of the defense.
This pick surprised much of the audience because at the time of the selection, other higher-rated defensive tackles were available, most notably Jerel Worthy and Devon Still.
ESPN's Mel Kiper had been saying that Wolfe was the most productive defensive tackle in this year's class.
The selection of Wolfe shows how serious the front office is about getting pressure on the opposing passer.
Wolfe has the ability to create pressure up the middle, while Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil will generate pressure on the outside.
The addition of Wolfe makes an already formidable pass rush even better. On third down, the Broncos will be able to unleash Wolfe, Miller and Dumervil on opposing quarterbacks and the results should be excellent for Denver.
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Ronnie Hillman was the Broncos' third selection. He's a crafty running back with breakaway speed that will be able to contribute immediately.
Hillman declared for the NFL Draft after his sophomore season and there were some people who felt he should have stayed in school another year.
If he had chosen to do so, Hillman would have been vulnerable to suffering a major injury that would have killed his draft stock.
Also, running backs can only take so many hits. Few RBs in the NFL today are over 30 years old and it may be the most physically taxing position in the league.
It is smarter for running backs to spend the small window that they have getting paid in the NFL.
Hillman was a very productive back at San Diego State University. In his two years there, he compiled 3,243 yards, 36 touchdowns and averaged 5.7 yards per rush.
One of the key reasons that the Broncos drafted Hillman was to use him on third down.
Last season, Hillman caught 24 passes for 270 yards. He will be a dangerous receiver because of his agility, which makes him difficult to take down in the open field.
Peyton Manning will be able to count on Hillman to be a reliable receiver out of the backfield. His versatility and speed will be key to running successful draws out of the shotgun, and he'll provide a nice change of pace from Willis McGahee's bruising style.
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The Broncos selected cornerback with good ball skills in Omar Bolden in the fourth round.
Bolden tore his ACL during spring practice at Arizona State in 2011. It turned out that Bolden would never really get back to full strength while at school.
However, Bolden was drafted for a reason. He should be able to step up and play nickelback for the Broncos next season
Some feel that if he had stayed healthy he would have been a second-round pick.
Bolden was among the strongest cornerbacks at the combine, where he had 24 reps on the bench press. He also has good speed, clocking in with a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash.
The return of Bolden's speed is a very promising sign coming off his knee injury.
Passing is what wins games in today's NFL. Thus defending the pass is just as important.
If Bolden reaches his full potential then he'll be a steal.
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The Broncos picked Phillip Blake in the fourth round. Blake was the center at Baylor, meaning he was the guy snapping the ball to Robert Griffin III.
Blake has good size for an interior lineman at 6'2", 312 pounds. He also played right tackle for Baylor in 2009, showing that he has the versatility to move along the line.
JD Walton, the Broncos' starting center, has yet to develop into a consistent player.
After last season, Pro Football Focus ranked Walton as the worst center in the league. This clearly illustrates that at the very least, the Broncos needed to bring someone in to push Walton.
The arrival of Peyton Manning makes the quality of the offensive line even more important.
The health of Manning will go a long way in determining how successful the Broncos will be next season.
In Blake, the Broncos get a player that can play every position on the interior of the offensive line.