2014 NFL Draft: 5 Names Denver Broncos Fans Should Know for Day 2
The first round of the draft gets the most media buzz, but the second day is just as important.
In this deep draft, the second and third rounds could make a monumental impact on the Denver Broncos and on 31 other teams. These talented rookies will be thrust into big roles, and because of the overwhelming talent this year, many of them will thrive.
Because of all the potential, fans need to know these names. Whom should Broncos fans pay attention to on the second day of the draft?
Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
The evolution of the passing game has created the need for a third cornerback. Right now, the Broncos still need that third corner.
Chris Harris and Aqib Talib, Denver's two top cornerbacks, both have injury concerns, and Kayvon Webster and Tony Carter are unknowns.
This makes cornerback a priority for the Broncos. If Denver doesn't select one in the first round, it will almost certainly pick one in the second or third round. There are a few ideal fits for the Broncos, and one of those is Stanley Jean-Baptiste.
The Nebraska product has decent measurables, and he fits the mold of a corner general manager John Elway would want. After watching the physical Seattle Seahawks bully the Broncos in the Super Bowl, Elway went out and signed the physical Talib.
He clearly wants physicality at the position.
Jean-Baptiste can also be physical. He weighs 218 pounds, and, as Nolan Nawrocki of NFL.com noted, he can reroute receivers with his size and physicality.
He can also force turnovers and defend passes capably. He intercepted four passes and defended 11 last season.
Unfortunately for Jean-Baptiste, his speed isn't phenomenal (4.61-second 40-yard dash). However, his other attributes are desirable. He fits the mold of a corner the Broncos would want, and he would fill a need.
In other words, don't be surprised to see the talented Jean-Baptiste (or a different corner, such as the lanky Keith McGill) donning a Broncos uniform next year.
Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
Wes Welker could be playing in his last NFL season, so the Broncos are in need of a long-term replacement.
Paul Richardson could be that replacement. He has the top-notch speed to make plays in the NFL, as evidenced by his 1,343 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013. He averaged a tremendous 16.2 yards per catch.
With Peyton Manning's uncanny ability to put receivers in position to make plays after the catch, Richardson could thrive. With Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders catching passes as well, Richardson could blow by mediocre corners due to a lack of attention.
Wide receiver isn't Denver's biggest need, but the Broncos are in a great position overall. They can draft the best player available, and Richardson could fit that description in the second or third round.
His 4.40 40-yard dash and his solid height of 6'0" show that his physical attributes are on point. If he's available at the end of the second round and the Broncos don't like anyone else more, Richardson could be selected. If he's available at the end of the third round, the Broncos could definitely scoop him up.
Denver is likely to draft a wide receiver at some point, and Richardson could be that receiver. He has the speed and big-play ability the Broncos crave, and he could be a stellar long-term replacement.
Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina
DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller will form a lethal pass-rushing combination, but the Broncos could still use depth at the second defensive end position.
It's not worth a first-round pick, but if the Broncos encounter a prospect they covet on the second day, they could scoop him up. An example is North Carolina defensive end Kareem Martin.
They could pursue Martin or another pass-rusher, such as Stanford's Trent Murphy, as a luxury pick. Martin would be a good fit. He piled up 11.5 sacks and 82 tackles last season.
He has adequate strength, as he benched 225 pounds 22 times at the combine. He outperformed the projected first pick, Jadeveon Clowney in that regard, and he also ran a respectable 40-yard dash (4.72 seconds).
His size is also intriguing. His height (6'6") will allow him to knock down passes, and while he's a bit underweight at 272 pounds, he could always add a bit of muscle to his frame.
Martin could be a nice pick at the end of the second round. If he somehow falls to Denver's spot in the third round, he would be a great choice. Either way, he could add valuable depth and pass-rushing potential to the defensive line.
There might be better fits and bigger needs for the Broncos, but Martin is a stellar option. He is unlikely to end up in Denver, but he could become a Bronco if no other desirable players are there.
Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State
Sometimes, the sexy pick isn't the best pick.
If the Broncos were to draft Weston Richburg, it wouldn't excite casual fans. However, it could prove to be great for the Broncos. Richburg is attainable, and he has the potential to improve the offensive line.
Denver could trade back and secure Richburg early in the second round, or it could snatch him up if he's available at the end of the second round.
The latter is unlikely, but it could happen. If Richburg falls for whatever reason and is available when Denver selects, it's likely that it would take him. He might not be of much use in his first year, as the Broncos have their offensive line filled out.
However, he could be a nice long-term solution.
The offensive line isn't a big need, but Denver is in a position to upgrade it. Plus, the Broncos are in a luxury situation and can afford to draft the best player available. There's a good chance Richburg would fit that description if he's available at the end of the second round.
If the Broncos are willing to keep Orlando Franklin, who could move to guard, at tackle, Richburg would be a good fit. In this scenario, Richburg could compete with new guard Will Montgomery for a starting job in his first year and take over completely in 2015.
As Nawrocki notes, Richburg has upside as a developmental project. He benched 225 pounds 25 times at the combine and ran a 5.10 40-yard dash, showing his solid athleticism and strength.
Richburg almost certainly won't be picked in the first round, but he will be off the board in the second round barring a monumental slide. If he's there for the Broncos, look for them to choose him.
Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin
Middle linebackers are inching closer to becoming obsolete, but they still have some value.
If John Elway wants to address the need for a middle linebacker, he could pick Chris Borland. Borland is likely to be available at the end of the second round, and he could even slide to the third round. He has the hustle to fly around the field making plays.
In 2013, he averaged 9.3 tackles per game. His skills in coverage are underwhelming, but he could do a nice job in the 4-3 base defense. If there's no one else Denver wants, it could add Borland to start.
He has been compared to the talented Zach Thomas, the former Miami Dolphins linebacker who also raced around racking up tackles. He weighs 248 pounds, and his strength is also above average—he benched 225 pounds 27 times.
Borland's coverage skills are mediocre, but the Broncos can find a way to keep him off the field in the nickel package. If they move strong safety T.J. Ward into the box to cover tight ends, Borland could be off the field on passing downs, and the Broncos could be fully functional in coverage.
That would decrease his value, but he's still worth picking. We'll see if Borland's available, and we'll see if the Broncos want to draft him. They have survived with Keith Brooking and Paris Lenon during the Elway era, so the Broncos don't exactly prioritize the position.
But if they like Borland enough, he could become the Broncos' starting middle linebacker.
All combine results via NFL.com.
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