Denver Broncos 2014 NFL Draft Fact or Fiction
Their scouts have watched the film, pouring over the incoming crop of available players looking for star potential and late-round value. The most important part of a prospects grade will come from film study.
They’ve also attended the various all-star games like the East-West Shrine Game or 2014 Reese’s Senior Bowl. At these events, scouts are examining players up close to see how they respond to coaching in an unusual setting. Drills are ran and opinions are strengthened or swayed from what the film showed.
After the all-star circuit, scouts then head to Indianapolis for the scouting combine. This is the league’s biggest offseason event leading up to the draft. It gives these prospects a chance to test, get medically checked and interview with teams that are interested in selecting them.
Once the combine has wrapped up, it’s time for prospects to go through their pro day. These pre-scripted workouts can generate even more excitement for a prospect in the eyes of the media. By this time, most scouts have already finalized grades on these prospects. Any player that did not (or could not) work out at the combine can use his pro day as a chance to strut his stuff.
Now in the month leading up to the draft, teams will hold private workouts for certain players of interest. During this time there are plenty of rumors and buzz swirling around what a team might do in the draft.
Let’s cut through the mire to determine what is fact and what is fiction for the Broncos leading up to the draft.
The Broncos Will Draft a Middle Linebacker Early: Fact
The Broncos failed to add a middle linebacker in free agency.
Per the Denver Post’s Mike Klis, the Broncos are hoping beyond hope that C.J. Mosley (Alabama) falls to them in the first round. He’s said before in an interview on ESPN Denver that the Broncos would jump all over Mosley if he’s there at 31st overall.
Even if Mosley is not there in the first round, the Broncos will look for a middle linebacker in the next two rounds. The next likely target would be Chris Borland (Wisconsin). Some mock drafts have him going in the first round to the Broncos, but they may be able to get Borland at the end of the second.
Waiting until the third round to select a middle linebacker could yield the services of Shayne Skov (Stanford). Like Borland, Skov is a two-down thumper who can be a quality run defender.
The Broncos Will Draft an Offensive Lineman in the First Round: Fiction
When left guard Zane Beadles was lost in free agency to the Jacksonville Jaguars, it left a huge hole in the offensive line. Some mock drafts have the Broncos going after a guard with their first pick in order to fill that hole.
With the signing of free-agent center Will Montgomery, it looks like the Broncos aren’t going to go in that direction.
Yes, a player like David Yankey (Stanford) or Xavier Su’a-Filo (UCLA) could be a fine pro. However, the Broncos seem content to let players currently on the roster compete for that spot.
Montgomery is going to compete with last year’s starting center Manny Ramirez. No matter who wins the job, the other has the experience to be the team’s starting left guard.
If the Broncos do add a guard in the draft, it’s likely going to be late in the draft.
The Broncos Will Draft a Quarterback Late: Fact
In the seventh round of the 2013 NFL draft, the Broncos selected quarterback Zac Dysert (Miami, OH). With Dysert on the squad, it has been a bit of a surprise to some that Denver is holding private workouts for quarterbacks entering the draft.
Players like Stephen Morris (Miami) and Brett Smith (Wyoming) have drawn interest from Denver this offseason. Both could be mid- to late-round picks in the 2014 NFL draft.
This sudden interest may be a result of the way Peyton Manning is playing. Manning has three years left on his deal, while backup quarterback Brock Osweiler only has two years remaining on his contract. Mike Klis, from the Denver Post, believes Osweiler will hit free agency before Manning is done.
If Osweiler is not the quarterback of the future, then the team will need to add competition for Dysert.
In 2013, Dysert struggled in the preseason and during his limited practice reps (that were open to the media) he showed little improvement. The Broncos are likely to add more competition for Dysert’s spot by selecting a quarterback on the third day of the draft.
The Broncos Are Looking at Early-Round Running Backs: Fiction
Last year’s starting running back Knowshon Moreno moved on in free agency to the Miami Dolphins. Some feel this leaves a huge hole in the offense—one the Broncos may fill early in the draft.
Even though John Fox has a history of selecting early-round running backs in nearly succession, this might not be an option. Back in 2006, the Fox-led Carolina Panthers selected DeAngelo Williams in the first round out of Memphis. In 2008, the team went back to the well and selected Jonathan Stewart in the first round.
The Broncos selected Ronnie Hillman in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft, then followed that up by taking Montee Ball in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft.
It’s Ball’s time to shine, as he’ll likely be the featured back in Denver this season.
For the second year in a row there might not be a running back selected in the first round of the draft. This would only be the second time in the last 30 years this has happened, but it’s a reflection of how backs have been devalued in today’s NFL.
Arguably the draft’s best back, Tre Mason could be a star in the NFL. As good as he is, there are many who feel he won’t be selected until Round 2.
Mike Klis, from the Denver Post, reports the Broncos are unlikely to go after free-agent running back Chris Johnson. This means they are also unlikely to go after a back early in the draft.
The Broncos Will Add a Late-Round Running Back: Fact
The Broncos may not select a running back in the first three rounds of the draft. However, taking a back on the last day of the draft (Rounds 4-7) would make a lot of sense.
Denver is likely to turn the reins of the ground game over to Montee Ball. Behind Ball, the Broncos have an inexperienced backup in C.J. Anderson. He’s a true power back who can get to top speed in a hurry. Anderson is an interesting prospect, but the Broncos need to add more competition to the position.
Late in the draft they might be able to add a guy like Isaiah Crowell (Alabama State, Georgia transfer). He’s arguably the most naturally talented back in this class. Crowell was dismissed from the Bulldogs after weapons charges (later dropped) were placed on him after his freshman season.
He’s stayed out of trouble for two years with the Hornets, and Crowell is ready to prove that he belongs at the pro level. Almost 80 percent (79.7) of Knowshon Moreno’s carries came against six men (or fewer) in the box last season.
At the combine, Crowell was asked what he could do against a six-man front. “[Laughs] Anything I want,” was his response.
Other backs that could interest the Broncos on the third day of the draft include Kapri Bibbs (Colorado State), James White (Wisconsin), Tyler Gaffney (Stanford) and Tim Flanders (Sam Houston State).
The Broncos Will Take an Outside Linebacker in the First Round: Fiction
Denver could spend a premium pick on a middle linebacker. Spending a high pick on an outside linebacker doesn’t make sense.
Some mock drafts have indicated the Broncos would take a pass-rushing outside linebacker like Kyle Van Noy (BYU). While Van Noy is a quality prospect, finding a spot in Denver could prove to be difficult.
The Broncos will be getting strong-side linebacker Von Miller back from the ACL injury that cut his 2013 season short in Week 16. If healthy, Miller could be their top pass-rusher.
On the weak side, the Broncos found a diamond in the rough when they selected Danny Trevathan in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL draft. Trevathan stepped into the starting lineup last year, and he made several plays with increased opportunity.
Behind Miller and Trevathan, the Broncos have another potential steal in Lerentee McCray. He went undrafted out of Florida in 2013, but the Broncos picked him up as a priority free agent. McCray was a standout player in training camp, but he was put on season-ending injured reserve after a thumb injury in the team’s final preseason game.
The team is also set to get more pressure on quarterbacks since they added defensive end DeMarcus Ware in free agency.
Mike Klis, from the Denver Post, said in a recent interview on ESPN Denver that pass-rusher was probably not the way the Broncos would go in the first round.
The Broncos Could Move Up in the First Round: Fact
Under general manager John Elway the Broncos have not been a team that moves up in the draft. At the scouting combine Elway commented on the team possibly moving in the draft, saying:
We will assess that. We still have [three] months to get to that. We’ve only been out of the season for about three weeks now. We’ve been deep in the middle of free agency and then we’ll get the first look at the young guys in the next four days. We’ll look at all those possibilities as we get closer.
The Broncos are hoping for inside linebacker C.J. Mosley to fall to them at the 31st overall pick. If he gets within striking distance, the Broncos might decide to jump in front of other teams to secure his services.
Elway has built the team strong enough to be contenders in the AFC. Adding a guy like Mosley could put them over the top, and moving up to get him could be the move that helps bring Denver another Super Bowl championship.
The Broncos Could Move out of the First Round: FACT
While the Broncos may move up in the draft for the right player, they may also move out of the first round if the price is right. They did just that (twice) when they moved back—then back again to the 36th overall pick in 2012. With that pick they selected defensive end Derek Wolfe.
This year the quarterback class has a couple of late first- or early second-round players that teams will be interested in. If a team like the Jacksonville Jaguars does not select a quarterback with the third-overall pick, then perhaps they’d like to trade back into the end of the first round. Jacksonville is not the only team who might consider this strategy in order to strengthen other positions with a premium pick.
Quarterbacks who could be available at the end of the first round include Derek Carr (Fresno State), Zach Mettenberger (LSU) and Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois).
All three could attract interest at the end of the first. This makes Denver’s 31st overall pick a hot one. That means Denver could be moving down in the draft if they get a deal they like.
Note: All quotes and injury/practice observations obtained firsthand. Record/statistical information provided via email from the Denver Broncos. Transaction history provided by ProSportsTransactions.com. Contract information provided by Spotrac.com. Cecil Lammey can be followed on Twitter @CecilLammey.