Denver Broncos Big Board: Final Pre-Draft Update
Positions of need for Denver include defensive end, defensive tackle, middle linebacker, cornerback and running back. On Monday, team executive John Elway indicated that the team will stay put at 28th overall.
"When you look at the depth of this draft, there are a lot of good football players, so as I stand here now, we'll get a good football player there at 28... that's our plan right now. We'll see how things go from here," Elway told the media at Dove Valley during a pre-draft press conference earlier this week (video available at DenverBroncos.com).
Elway went on to note that the draft is a fluid process, so it's hard to project if the Broncos will want to trade down (or up) later this evening. As of this morning, it looks like the Broncos are planning on selecting at the No. 28 spot.
So who are the top prospects to watch? Let's take a look.
Top 16 Overall
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16. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
17. Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
18. Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
19. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
20. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
21. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
22. Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
23. Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
24. Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse
25. Matt Elam, FS, Florida
26. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
27. Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
28. Eric Reid,FS, LSU
29. Kyle Long,OG, Oregon
30. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
31. Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
32. Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
The above list was compiled by NFL.com's Mike Mayock. These players have been commonly accepted as the top prospects that will be available in the middle of the first round.
Note that the top 15 prospects are not included because the Broncos do not own a high selection.
Top 6 Defensive Linemen
1. Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
2. Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
3. Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
4. Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State
5. Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
6. Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
Among those six defensive linemen, Carradine was the only one that worked out for the Broncos. But just because Denver didn't work out more defensive linemen doesn't mean they won't look to add one (or more) through the draft.
Last year, the Broncos never talked to Cincinnati Bearcat defensive end Derek Wolfe leading up to the draft. Wolfe ended up being their first pick (36th overall), so pre-draft interest (or lack thereof) should be taken with a grain of salt.
Top 5 RBs
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1. Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
2. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State
3. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
4. Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
5. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Much of the running back buzz on draft day will be focused on Lacy, Ball and Lattimore, but Bell remains one of the most intriguing prospects. Bell told me last week that he had a private workout for the Broncos and that they were impressed with his versatility.
Bell has been projected as a "perfect fit" for the Broncos by several analyst, and he can understand why.
“I think that would be a great situation for me, being a young player going in and having a great QB in Peyton Manning it would take a lot of pressure off me and at the same time it would take a lot off pressure of him, having a young RB able to carry some of the load," Bell said last week.
If Bell falls and the Broncos do not take a RB in the top two rounds, keep an eye on the Michigan State product. He may be landing in Denver.
Top 5 MLBs
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1. Manti Te'o, MLB, Notre Dame
2. Kevin Minter, MLB, LSU
3. Alec Ogletree, MLB, Georgia
4. Jon Bostic, MLB, Florida
5. Kiko Alonso, MLB, Oregon
Last month, ESPN.com's Todd McShay mocked Te'o landing in Denver (ESPN Insider required for link), and it wouldn't be surprising to see the Broncos address the position this weekend. Te'o met with the Broncos at the combine (per WalterFootball.com), and Elway has had nothing but positive things to say about the former Notre Dame star.
Be on the watch to see where all five of the MLBs noted above land—Denver had likely done their homework on all of them.
Top 5 CBs
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1. D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston
2. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
3. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
4. Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
5. Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Trufant has been heavily mocked to the Broncos in recent weeks, but I don't see him falling to 28th overall. An alternate option is Banks, a player who was mocked to Denver by B/R's own Matt Miller.
With Champ Bailey getting older, the cornerback position can afford to be addressed. Don't be surprised if the Broncos select a CB in one of the early rounds this weekend.