Denver Broncos Mock Draft: Instant Contributors Denver Can Find in Every Round
As we get closer to the NFL draft, clues are getting dropped around the NFL about the direction each team may go in the selection process. The Denver Broncos have spent big money in free agency, and they may have a few surprise picks in the draft.
General manager John Elway selects players based on a “best player available” philosophy. This means team needs may be pushed to the side if a value drops to the Broncos in any round.
The Broncos are in a Super Bowl window, so finding players who can make an instant impact will only make them stronger. This is considered a talent-rich class, so finding contributors throughout the draft may be easier than in other years.
Let’s examine the process if the Broncos can find instant impact players in every round. There’s no room for developmental players this time around.
1st Round: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Broncos need more competition at the cornerback position. One of the biggest moves they made in free agency was to add veteran corner Aqib Talib. He’s a talented player who will be an impact starter, but Talib has never played a full 16-game season during his six-year pro career.
The Broncos could add more depth—and add more insurance—by selecting Kyle Fuller out of Virginia Tech.
Fuller is a big, physical corner who can jam and reroute wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. He can play near the line of scrimmage to help in run support, but he also has the athleticism to turn and cover routes downfield.
He could immediately compete with second-year corner Kayvon Webster for the nickel spot behind starters Talib and Chris Harris Jr.
2nd Round: Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State
Denver is still looking to shuffle talent on the offensive line after losing left guard Zane Beadles (Jacksonville Jaguars) in free agency. They could shuffle some players they already have, but that might not be the best answer.
Adding a talented center like Weston Richburg out of Colorado State could give them added stability on the offensive line.
Richburg is a smart center who already has experience with changing line calls based off the audibles his quarterback is calling. He’s an athletic player who can get to the second level of the defense and be a sticky blocker in space.
If Richburg is their pick, that would move last year’s center Manny Ramirez back to his more natural position of guard. It would also give the Broncos a player who could be a 10-year starter at an incredibly important position.
3rd Round: Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming
This wide receiver class is incredibly talented and deep. Even though the team signed Emmanuel Sanders in free agency, they could not pass up a talent like Robert Herron if he falls to them in Round 3.
Sanders has had durability issues at times during his pro career, and Wes Welker struggled to stay healthy last year. The Broncos need to have a reserve receiver who could play outside or in the slot. That receiver is Herron.
Herron is fast, clocking in at 4.36 during the 40-yard dash at Wyoming’s pro day. In addition to speed, Herron has a little Marvin Harrison to his game when getting off the line of scrimmage. He can use multiple moves to beat the jam at the line of scrimmage, and Herron’s speed and quickness means he gets open in a hurry.
If added, Herron would compete with Andre “Bubba” Caldwell for the fourth-string position on the depth chart. He could also give them a big-play option as a return man.
4th Round: Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford
The Broncos failed to address the middle linebacker position in free agency. They missed out on players like Daryl Smith (Baltimore Ravens) and D’Qwell Jackson (Indianapolis Colts). Denver is likely to finally add more talent to the position at some point in the draft.
Adding a player like Shayne Skov in the fourth round makes a ton of sense.
Skov is a seek-and-destroy player who loves to initiate contact. He’s your classic two-down thumper with elite instincts to find the ball quickly and attack the line of scrimmage.
Nate Irving and Steven Johnson will compete for the starting middle linebacker job, but the Broncos need a true impact player at the position. Skov would have to come off the field on passing downs, but he would certainly make a difference as a run-stuffer.
5th Round: Isaiah Crowell, RB, Alabama State (Georgia Transfer)
With Knowshon Moreno (Miami Dolphins) moving on in free agency, the Broncos have an opening at the running back position. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Broncos believe in second-year back Montee Ball, and he should be their lead back in 2014.
Behind Ball, the Broncos have power back C.J. Anderson and change-of-pace back Ronnie Hillman. They could certainly use a player is Isaiah Crowell on the third day of the draft.
Crowell is arguably the most naturally talented runner in this draft class. He’s got the size and power to grind down a defense, and Crowell has the determination to make his living between the tackles. He also has enough speed to get to the edge at the second level of the defense, and Crowell can break off a big run with moves in the open field.
Red flags for character concerns will cause Crowell to fall in the draft. With his natural talent and determination, Crowell could compete for playing time behind Ball with Anderson.
6th Round: Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon
The Broncos could use more depth on the defensive line. On the final day of the draft, defensive end Taylor Hart should still be available.
He’s a perfect fit for defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio’s “big seven” defensive front. Hart measures in at 6’6”, 285 pounds. Hart shows good burst off the line of scrimmage, and he does a good job of anticipating the snap. This helps him get to the quarterback in a hurry. His length also helps him make up ground quickly when going after the passer.
Hart could work well as a part-time rotational pass-rusher during his rookie season.
7th Round: Denicos Allen, OLB, Michigan State
The NFL is a copycat league. Many teams are trying to find a safety/linebacker hybrid like the Seattle Seahawks have in strong safety Kam Chancellor.
One player the Broncos could consider late in the draft is outside linebacker Denicos Allen from Michigan State.
Allen is listed as an outside linebacker, but at 5’11”, 225 pounds, he’s built more like a safety. He can fly to the football in the blink of an eye, which immediately makes him a standout player in coverage. His instincts are elite, and he does a good job of diagnosing plays quickly as they unfold in front of him.
His size restrictions will limit him to being a nickel linebacker at the next level. With a little development, Allen could be an impact player as a part-time rookie.
Note: All quotes and injury/practice observations obtained firsthand. Record/statistical information provided via email from the Denver Broncos. Draft grades courtesy of NFLDraftScout.com. Cecil Lammey can be followed on Twitter @CecilLammey.