7 Late-Round Sleepers Who Would Be Perfect for Denver Broncos
Free agency and the NFL draft will be the next orders of business, and the Broncos will be looking to either defend their title or get back to challenge for another championship.
Each year, teams make some of their best picks in the second half of the draft. Over the course of team history, the Broncos have certainly dug up some late-round gems.
Terrell Davis was a sixth-round selection. Shannon Sharpe was taken in the seventh round. Rod Smith went undrafted. Those three players are among the best to ever put on a Broncos uniform.
Whether it's to add depth to a particular position or to add a player the team can mold into a future starter, there are several players who could potentially help Denver if they are selected in the later rounds this year.
Here is a look at seven players the team could obtain between the fifth and seventh round.
Deion Belue, Cornerback, Alabama
The Broncos will almost certainly need to address the cornerback position in the draft.
Not only could Champ Bailey be playing in his last game Sunday, but as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie explained to the media on Monday, via Brendan Maloy of SI.com, it could be his final game as well.
If they lose both of them, shoring up the secondary would become one of the biggest priorities of the offseason. This would require the team to look at addressing the position in free agency as well as the draft.
Deion Belue, who played his college ball at Alabama, would be a good player to pick.
Belue has good ball skills and can be an aggressive playmaker. He possesses above-average coverage speed. But he would need to improve his tackling abilities.
Belue would be a nice piece to add in the later rounds. He could be used as a situational player on passing downs right away.
Max Bullough, Linebacker, Michigan State
The inside linebacker position does not seem to be very deep in the upcoming draft, with Alabama's C.J. Mosley the only player likely to be selected in the first round.
If the Broncos can land Stanford's Shayne Skov, they need to make that happen. If not, Michigan State's Max Bullough would be a nice alternative.
The Broncos are in need of a true middle linebacker, and in time, Bullough could be that guy. He is strong against the run and solid at the point of attack.
After a violation of team rules, Bullough was suspended for the Spartans' Rose Bowl victory over Stanford, and that could cause him to fall in the draft.
Calvin Barnett, Defensive Tackle, Oklahoma State
This would be a steal if the Broncos could get him in the later rounds.
Calvin Barnett was a force in the middle of the line for Oklahoma State. He is very fast for his size (6'2", 300 pounds), and on top of defending the run, he can get after the quarterback.
As a senior in 2013, he recorded three sacks and 6.5 tackles for a loss. Selected to the All-Big 12 first team in 2012, Barnett would be ideal in a 4-3 system.
Cassius Marsh, Defensive End, UCLA
Cassius Marsh has the ability to play multiple positions along the defensive line, but he projects as a defensive end at the next level.
He has a quick first step and is an adept pass-rusher, and he can defend the run.
Robert Ayers and Malik Jackson both stepped up as pass-rushers this year, but the team totaled 11 sacks fewer than last year without Elvis Dumervil. Von Miller also missed multiple games due to suspension and injury.
The Broncos can use an extra pass-rusher in their rotation, and Marsh could be their guy as a selection in Round 5 or 6.
James White, Running Back, Wisconsin
If the Broncos are able to re-sign Knowshon Moreno, their need for another running back will drastically decrease. However, if they can't come to terms with him, another runner to complement Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson would be a good move.
James White was never the featured back at Wisconsin, and he sat behind Ball on the depth chart at one point. However, he has big-play ability and could be a key contributor on third downs, especially as a receiver.
White finished his career at Wisconsin with 4,015 yards rushing and 45 touchdowns. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry and added 73 receptions.
White won't be a featured back in the NFL, either. But in the right system, he could be very valuable.
Kapri Bibbs, Running Back, Colorado State
Kapri Bibbs played just one year for Colorado State, but what a season it was.
He ran the ball 281 times for 1,741 yards while scoring an incredible 31 touchdowns. He helped CSU defeat Washington State in the New Mexico Bowl by gaining 169 yards on the ground and getting into the end zone three times.
Wanting to take advantage of those numbers, Bibbs declared for the NFL draft. Though many fans around the country may not be familiar with him, he has a ton of potential.
Bibbs is both agile and powerful. He keeps his legs moving and is tough to bring down. He can be trusted in short-yardage situations as well.
Bibbs will be able to improve his draft stock when he takes part in the NFL Scouting Combine, but if he is available when Denver comes up in one of the later rounds, the Broncos should consider taking him.
Michael Campanaro, Wide Receiver, Wake Forest
There isn't anything flashy about Michael Campanaro, but he could be a very reliable receiver at the next level.
Over the course of his final three seasons at Wake Forest, he hauled in 219 passes for 2,399 yards. He is very good at finding the open area on the field and settling in, providing a solid target for his quarterback.
He has good hands and understands the game very well, displaying a high football IQ. Though he won't blow by many NFL cornerbacks, he does have some speed. He is similar to what New England has in Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola.
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