Position-by-Position 2013 NFL Draft Big Board for the Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos have had a very successful 2012 season to this point and with their record currently sitting at 8-3, they are positioning themselves for a deep run in the playoffs.
Peyton Manning has been nothing short of incredible for the Broncos and is likely on a short list for NFL MVP contenders.
Still, the Broncos, like most every NFL team, have room to improve. It remains to be seen how this campaign will turn out for the team, but it's never too early to start looking ahead to the NFL draft.
The Broncos will have some needs come April and these are some players that could be on their radar.
This was a need last year and Denver did draft a defensive lineman in Derek Wolfe, but even if they move him from defensive end to tackle, he'll still need help.
Kevin Vickerson, Justin Bannan and Mitch Unrein will all be free agents at year's end, as well.
Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Richardson is a player that could be gone once Denver's pick comes around; he is flying up draft boards, but if they can get him it would be an excellent selection.
At 6'4" and 295 pounds, Richardson is quick for his size and never gives up on a play. He is a player that will give 100 percent at all times.
Jonathan Jenkins, Georgia
Jenkins is a huge player at 351 pounds but still very athletic. He is great at clogging up the middle and would serve as a tremendous run stopper for the Broncos.
Depending on other teams' needs, he too could be gone by the time Denver gets on the clock.
Other Players to Consider: Kawann Short, Purdue Louis Nix, Notre Dame
Whether the Broncos choose to select a cornerback or safety first, they can use both.
Champ Bailey will be 35 years old next summer and while he is still playing at a high level, they'll need to find a replacement at some point. Tracy Porter has been somewhat of a disappointment; Tony Carter and Chris Harris have done an admirable job filling in, but the team needs more depth. Carter is a free agent at season's end, as well.
Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State
While the team would probably love to get its hands on Xavier Rhodes of Florida State or David Amerson of North Carolina State, they'd likely have to use their first round pick to do it.
Poyer has had a very good senior season at Oregon State, with three interceptions against Washington State. He has the size to play the position (6'0", 190 pounds) and would be a nice fit in Denver.
Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Trufant is an interesting player as he is projected to be taken anywhere between rounds one and three. He has been one of the best players on the Huskies defense this year and had a very big game in their upset of Stanford, making an interception that sealed the victory.
He has good size and is solid in man-to-man coverage.
In last year's Alamo Bowl he had a good game in what was otherwise a shootout. The quarterback he was up against? Robert Griffin III.
Matt Elam, S, Florida
Elam is only a junior, so it remains to be seen if he'll declare for the draft, but he has been a solid piece of what is a very good Florida Gators defense. On the season, he has 65 tackles and four interceptions. He is a fast player and has done well against quality SEC opponents, having big games this year against LSU and Texas A&M.
TJ McDonald, S, USC
McDonald has all the tools to be a great NFL safety. At 6'2", he is very athletic and versatile enough to play either free or strong safety. He is also a big hitter and has been in the lineup at USC since his sophomore year under the tutelage of Monte Kiffin, a man with 25 years of NFL experience.
The Broncos drafted Ronnie Hillman in the third round of last year's draft, but asking him to be the full time starter—at least right now—seems unlikely.
The Broncos are experiencing life without Willis McGahee, 31 years old and lost for the season with a knee injury. Beyond him and Hillman, they have Knowshon Moreno, Lance Ball and newly signed Jacob Hester, who will probably play a lot of fullback.
The Broncos need a long term answer, or at least a player who complements what they already have. Ball will also be a free agent at the end of the season and Moreno's status has been up in the air all year.
Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State
Bell is a powerful runner accustomed to a heavy workload. At Michigan State this season he was the offense, averaging 27 carries per game and over 1,000 yards rushing.
He'll need to prove he has the quickness to play at the next level; if he can, he would make for a dangerous change of pace running back from Hillman, Moreno or whoever lines up in the Denver backfield.
Rex Burkhead, Nebraska
Drafting Burkhead would make a lot of sense and would be along the same lines as the Bell selection, adding strength and straight-ahead running to the team.
In addition to averaging over eight yards per carry this season, Burkhead is also a very good receiver coming out of the backfield.
Other Players to Consider: Stepfan Taylor, Stanford
Prior to the injury that ended the season for Joe Mays, he had found his way into the doghouse in Denver as Keith Brooking was given more playing time and eventually the starting job.
With Brooking turning 37 years old last month, will he or Mays be in a Broncos uniform next year? Denver will have a lot of questions at the linebacker position with D.J. Williams still in the mix, so stocking up seems like a necessity.
Michael Mauti, Penn State
Mauti has had a good career at Penn State, capped off with a strong senior season. He has nearly 200 tackles in his time as a Nittany Lion, and earlier this season against Illinois he brought an interception back 99 yards for a score.
Mauti is a semi-finalist for the Butkus award and ranks in the top 10 in the Big 10 in tackles on the season.
Jonathan Bostic, Florida
Bostic has been a defensive leader on a Gators team that has had one of the best defenses in the nation.
On the year, Bostic has made 61 tackles to go with three sacks and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Other Players to Consider: Shayne Skov, Stanford Nico Johnson, Alabama
Chris Kuper is one of the best guards in the league, but he's also been lost due to injuries two years running. Behind he and Zane Beadles, the Broncos just have Manny Ramirez.
If they don't find someone to give them some more depth at the position through free agency, it would be a good idea to look for one in April.
Braden Hansen, BYU
Hansen is a key piece of the BYU offense who can play both guard and center. At 6'6" and 310 pounds, he would be a little bigger than both Beadles and Kuper and could slowly be integrated into the offense.
He could go as early as the third round or as far back as the fifth or sixth, but he is definitely a guy the Broncos should have an eye on.
James Wilson, Florida
No, I don't have any ties to Florida. They just have a lot of players who the Broncos should be looking at.
Wilson is only 6'3" but weighs 315 pounds and has been an exemplary run-blocker for the Gators this season. If the Broncos plan to use one of their late picks on a guard, Wilson could be their man.
Other Players to Consider: Anthony Steen, Alabama Spencer Long, Nebraska
The Broncos can never have too many targets for Manning, can they?
Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas have emerged as one of the best wide receiver tandems in the league, but they don't have great depth at the position.
Due to his familiarity with Manning, Brandon Stokley is putting together a nice season with 36 receptions for 449 yards and five touchdowns through 11 games, but Matthew Willis has just five catches and Andre Caldwell has been a total bust to this point.
Here are a few guys the Broncos could get, assuming they use a late pick on a wideout.
Emory Blake, Auburn
Blake is a solid receiver for a team that is predicated on running the ball, which bogs down his stats. But at 6'2", he has 4.5 speed and good hands. He is the type of player who could be molded into a solid NFL receiver inside a Manning-led offense.
Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
Another quick receiver with size, Patton could be one of those draft day steals.
He comes from a small school, but he's loaded with potential. He has 104 receptions for 1,392 yards and 13 touchdowns on the year. He has put up solid stat lines against teams like Virginia and Illinois, both games Louisiana Tech won.
Remember this name. Hopefully the Broncos are already aware of it.
Other Players to Consider: Ryan Swope, Texas A&M Keenan Davis, Iowa