Denver Broncos: Projecting the Impact of the 2013 Draft Class
The Denver Broncos made seven overall selections in John Elway's third draft as the executive vice president of football operations.
Key positions of need were along the defensive line, at running back and at linebacker.
The Broncos addressed all positions of need: drafting a running back in the second round and addressing both the interior and the edges of the defensive line with the selections of defensive tackle Sylvester Williams in the first round and Quanterus Smith at defensive end in the fifth round.
The Broncos also signed former Pro Bowl linebacker Shaun Phillips over the weekend.
Denver was a team entering the draft looking to improve upon an already elite collection of talent. The Broncos accomplished that goal over the weekend.
How will Denver's 2013 draft class impact the 2013 Denver Broncos' season?
QB Zac Dysert
Selection: Seventh Round, 234th Overall
It never hurts to stockpile on quarterbacks, especially when your franchise QB is 37 years of age. The Broncos did draft QB Brock Osweiler in the second round of the 2012 raft, but Osweiler is actually a few months younger than Dysert, who redshirted in college.
Look for Dysert to compete with Osweiler for the backup job to Manning in 2013. The more likely route for Dysert this upcoming season is one of either two options.
The first, if the Broncos choose to keep three quarterbacks on the roster (as they did most of last season), Dysert is on the roster either as Manning's backup (if Osweiler has a bad training camp) or as the third-string quarterback (inactive for the most part, as Caleb Hanie was in 2012).
The second, Dysert is released before the start of the regular season, only to be brought back on the practice squad.
The Broncos have shuffled quarterbacks from the practice squad onto the roster before (Matt Mauck). Dysert wouldn't be the first.
Having said that, Dysert's impact in 2013 will be minimal.
As far as the future when Manning is out of the picture?
Anything is possible.
OT Vinston Painter
Selection: Sixth Round, 173rd Overall
Vinston Painter was a virtual unknown entering the 2012 football season, having switched around from left tackle to defensive line and finally back to offensive line, where he settled in as Virginia Tech's starting right tackle in his senior season.
The Broncos figure to use Painter as depth for the 2013 season. With Ryan Clady having been franchise tagged to protect Peyton Manning's blind side, and with Orlando Franklin entrenched as the starting right tackle, Painter is a project who could make an impact down the road. But barring injury, his impact in 2013 figures to be the same as tackle Chris Clark's was last season.
Assuming he even makes the roster that is.
WR Tavarres King
Selection: Fifth Round, 161st Overall
Tavarres King was drafted after having started for Georgia for parts of the past four seasons.
The Broncos' wide receiver lineup is already set, with three receivers coming off of 1,000-yard seasons in 2012—Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker.
Entering the draft, most scouts' take on King was that he would have a future in the NFL as a complementary option, rather than a starter. Basically, with his stature and skill set, King is projected to be a slot receiver in the NFL.
If it wasn't for the addition of Welker, I would have projected King to be Denver's slot receiver entering the season.
The University of Georgia product doesn't figure to be a huge part of Denver's receiving core in 2013. But the fact that he runs a 4.47 40-yard dash (per NFL.com) makes him almost a lock to make the roster as a special teams player, with the chance to figure prominently in Denver's future plans at wide receiver.
DE Quanterus Smith
Selection: Fifth Round, 146th Overall
The Western Kentucky product was drafted with Denver's first overall selection in the fifth round.
Smith was well-known for being a tremendous pass-rusher at a small school. The Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year led the nation in sacks per game at a clip of 1.25. Not only that, but he racked up three sacks against the future national champion Crimson Tide in the season opener, while forcing 18.5 tackles for loss.
What's the issue? He suffered a torn ACL to his left knee with a couple of games remaining in the 2012 season, forcing his stock to drop.
Many scouts consider his weakness is stopping the run. Whether or not Smith will develop into a two-way player remains to be seen. Having said that, the Broncos drafted Smith with a fifth-round selection with the hope that he would fulfill the void left by Elvis Dumervil—a similarly one-dimensional pass-rusher.
The Broncos signed Shaun Phillips and drafted Smith over the weekend with the hope that both/either of these guys will fill the void of the former Broncos Pro Bowler, Dumervil.
Smith has tremendous upside, and out of all of Denver's late-round selections, he has the best chance of making an impact in 2013.
CB Kayvon Webster
Selection: Third Round, 90th Overall
The biggest surprise of the draft as far as Broncos selections. Cornerback Kayvon Webster was projected by many to be a late-round selection at around the sixth or seventh round.
The Broncos decided he should be drafted in the third round.
I understand why the Broncos drafted Webster, but cornerback just wasn't that big of a need. Especially in the third round when inside linebacker was such a pressing concern.
Yes. Champ Bailey is 35 years of age and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a toss-up as a franchise cornerback. However, Chris Harris was one of the league's top cornerbacks last year starting opposite of Bailey, and Tony Carter proved to be an effective nickelback. Both Harris and Carter are young corners.
The Broncos spent a draft selection on cornerback Omar Bolden last season, who figures to compete with Webster this year for playing time.
I don't know how Webster fits in to Denver's plans in the future, but considering Denver is pretty stacked at corner, it's hard to envision Webster making an impact on defense in 2013.
Selection: Second Round, 58th Overall
Montee Ball was probably the most "well-known" name of Denver's draft selections over the weekend. The University of Wisconsin product holds the record for total touchdowns in NCAA history. He was a Heisman finalist in 2011.
The Broncos currently have four "major" names at running back on the roster—Ball, Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman and Willis McGahee.
It's hard to envision Hillman being cut this year, being just 21 years of age and having been given more carries as the season progressed. Denver will not keep four running backs on the roster, which means either Moreno or McGahee have to go.
Ball likely won't be Denver's feature back in 2013. What that means is Ball might be Denver's starting running back in 2013, but the Broncos will feature a running back by committee as they did in 2012 with Moreno and Hillman.
Peyton Manning has a history of utilizing several running backs in the backfield in the offense, whether that's based upon running, pass blocking or receiving skills.
Ball will be one of those backs featured in the offense in 2013.
DT Sylvester Williams
Selection: First Round, 28th Overall
Denver's first overall selection of the 2013 draft, Sylvester Williams will likely start on Denver's defensive line come the season opener versus Baltimore.
The Broncos allowed incumbent starter Justin Bannan to walk into free agency, while re-signing incumbent starter Kevin Vickerson and signing ex-Jaguars defensive lineman Terrance Knighton.
At Williams' size (6'3", 311 lbs.) and skill set, the UNC product is a three-technique tackle who has drawn comparisons to former Broncos defensive tackle Gerard Warren.
The Broncos ranked No. 4 at stopping the run in 2012 with Bannan and Vickerson as starters, but the facts are, those guys are nothing more than stopgap options.
The Broncos hope Williams will be their franchise defensive tackle for many years to come. Of all of Denver's draft selections, Williams—like Derek Wolfe the year before him—looks to make the biggest impact of Denver's 2013 draft class this season.