7 Hidden Gems Denver Broncos Should Have Noticed at the Combine
The 2014 NFL Scouting Combine is complete, and several young prospects showed the 32 organizations in the league some of what they can do.
John Elway and his staff were in attendance in Indianapolis, hoping to find the pieces that could lead them back to the Super Bowl.
The NFL draft is usually the easiest way to find those missing pieces, but the teams that can find the best value in the later rounds are usually the winners of the annual collegiate selection process.
Some of the better players in the history of the Denver Broncos were unheralded, late-round draft choices.
Shannon Sharpe was selected in the seventh round in 1990, and the team found Terrell Davis in the sixth round in 1995.
While it's hard to believe the team will find a player that productive this year, there are several players the team could obtain in the middle or later rounds who could fill holes on the roster.
Here are seven players the team should have had a close eye on at the combine.
All combine results via NFL.com's results tracker.
Marqueston Huff, Safety, Wyoming
2014 Scouting Combine Stats: 4.49 40-yard dash, 15 bench press reps, 35.5" vertical jump, 118" broad jump, 7.26 second cone drill, 4.19 second 20-yard shuttle.
Marqueston Huff played safety during his senior season at Wyoming, but his real talent is at cornerback, and that's where he should play at the next level.
Huff has a skill set that the Broncos should be very interested in.
First, he is a very fast defensive back who is all over the field. He has great ball skills and an attacking style. He will not be afraid to come up and help defend the run.
In the 2013 season opener for Wyoming, Huff had a huge game against Nebraska, recording 18 tackles.
In Denver, he could be an instant contributor on special teams with the potential to become a starter at cornerback down the road.
The Broncos need to improve the secondary this offseason. If they are able to re-sign Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Chris Harris makes a full recovery from the injury that ended his season, they'll be able to take a shot on a guy like Huff.
Max Bullough, Linebacker, Michigan State
2014 Scouting Combine Stats: 4.78 40-yard dash, 30 bench press reps, 31" vertical jump, 112" broad jump, 7.22 second cone drill, 4.30 second 20-yard shuttle.
The Broncos clearly need a force in the middle of the defense, something they have been sorely lacking since the days of Al Wilson.
Paris Lenon started at middle linebacker for the Broncos in the Super Bowl. One of the team's challenges this offseason will be to create an identity on defense.
Though a player like Shayne Skov would be an excellent choice for the team, Max Bullough is a guy they can get if they miss out on him or Wisconsin's Chris Borland.
Bullough is strong against the run and is a very good tackler when he gets the runner in his sights. He will need to be better in defending plays on the outside and he'll need to show he can play the pass in order to be a three-down linebacker.
Last season, Michigan State allowed just 13.2 points per game, and Bullough was the leader of that defense.
Kapri Bibbs, Running Back, Colorado State
2014 Scouting Combine Stats: 4.67 40-yard dash, 24 bench press reps, 29" vertical jump, 106" broad jump.
Will the Broncos be able to retain Knowshon Moreno? If not, they should be in the market for more depth at the running back position.
It may have been a bit of a surprise to see Kapri Bibbs after just one year at Colorado State, but he comes into the league after a stellar season.
Bibbs had 31 rushing touchdowns which was tied for the most in FBS. He also had 1,741 rushing yards to go with that.
He scored multiple touchdowns in nine of the Rams' 14 games last season. On Nov. 16, he had six touchdowns against New Mexico.
Despite the impressive stat line, Bibbs will have a lot to prove for teams to take a shot on him in the NFL. Can he catch passes out of the backfield? How are his pass-protection skills?
Bibbs does show good vision and a solid burst once he hits the hole, and he could be a nice fit in Denver's rotation behind Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson.
If he is still sitting on the board late in the draft, he may be worth a flier as a developmental project for the team.
Deone Bucannon, Safety, Washington State
2014 Scouting Combine Stats: 4.49 40-yard dash, 19 bench press reps, 36.5" vertical jump, 125" broad jump.
If the Broncos are going to become a more physical team, selecting Deone Bucannon out of Washington State would be a good place to start.
Bucannon is a hard-hitting safety that is very good in diagnosing the run. He wants to punish the man who has the ball each chance he gets.
Last season, he led the Pac-12 conference in tackles and was a solid special teams player. He also had six interceptions and 11 or more tackles in four games.
This capped off a solid collegiate career for Bucannon in which he was a four-year starter for the Cougars.
The Broncos used to be known for having hard-hitting players in their secondary such as Steve Atwater, Dennis Smith and Mike Harden.
Bucannon would remind Denver fans of those guys.
Cassius Marsh, Defensive End, UCLA
2014 Scouting Combine Stats: 4.89 40-yard dash, 14 bench press reps, 32" vertical jump, 108" broad jump, 7.08 second cone drill.
Cassius Marsh has an infectious style in which he never takes a play off. He is an intense player who could help inspire the Denver defense, even as a rookie.
Marsh has good technique with his hands and can set the edge. He is also good at defending the run from the defensive end position.
Robert Ayers and Shaun Phillips are scheduled to become unrestricted free agent this offseason, and Derek Wolfe played in just 11 games last season.
The Broncos need to look at adding multiple players to help create a pass rush, but Marsh would contribute in other areas as well and would be a solid mid-round pick.
Jaylen Watkins, Cornerback, Florida
2014 Scouting Combine Stats: 4.41 40-yard dash, 22 bench press reps
Jaylen Watkins will watch his brother, Sammy, become a likely top-10 pick in this year's draft. Still, teams should not sleep on the talent of the other Watkins brother.
Jaylen actually ran a faster 40-yard dash at the combine than his brother and has a lot of skills to go with his speed.
Watkins is very athletic and has the ability to create fireworks with the ball in his hands.
Much like Marqueston Huff, Watkins would be very valuable as a nickelback if the team has Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Chris Harris to start the season.
If Watkins were to be put in the right system, he could really blossom into an excellent NFL defensive back.
Tyler Gaffney, Running Back, Stanford
2014 Scouting Combine Stats: 4.49 40-yard dash, 36.5" vertical jump, 116" broad jump, 6.78 second cone drill, 4.18 second 20-yard shuttle, 11.36 second 60-yard shuttle.
Tyler Gaffney running the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds has to be one of the biggest surprises of the entire combine. Because of it, he probably put his name on several team's draft boards,
The Broncos could use a tough, between-the-tackles runner, and Gaffney could be their guy.
Playing his college ball at Stanford where coach David Shaw employed a physical style, Gaffney ran for 1,709 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2013.
On top of being a tough runner, Gaffney is also solid in protecting the passer.
Inside the five-yard line, Knowshon Moreno was almost automatic at getting into the end zone last season. With Montee Ball, that wasn't the case.
If Denver loses Moreno, Gaffney would be a nice option to come in on short yardage and goal-line situations.
Though he didn't get a chance to show it often at Stanford, Gaffney does have the ability to catch passes out of the backfield.
Taking all of this into consideration, he would be an excellent choice if Denver can find him in one of the later rounds.
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