5 Creative Moves the Denver Broncos Can Pull on Draft Day
The Denver Broncos are working hard out at Dove Valley in preparation for the 2014 NFL draft. Players are making private visits to the team facility, and the team is trying to find the right prospects to add on the roster.
There are many ways the Broncos can add picks. They can sit tight and select players where they are scheduled to. They can trade away players currently on the roster to add more picks in the draft. The Broncos could also trade up or down during the process.
Here are five creative moves the Broncos could pull on draft day.
Trade 1 of Their Tackles
The Broncos have a tackle-heavy roster right now. With the return of left tackle Ryan Clady, the Broncos have strengthened their line without making any transaction.
Clady was lost for the season in Week 2 of 2013 after sustaining a Lisfranc injury in the game against the New York Giants.
On Wednesday, Clady talked about his health status. “I’m not quite sure on the percentage [of his recovery], but I’m getting there. I’ve just been working and trying to get my foot right and ease back into things.”
Without Clady in the lineup, the Broncos turned to veteran Chris Clark to protect Peyton Manning’s blind side. Clark did a fine job as a starter for most of the season, but this year he’s out of a starting job at this time.
The Broncos could have Clark compete with Orlando Franklin for the starting right tackle position in training camp. There has been speculation that Franklin would be moved inside to left guard to take the place of Zane Beadles (Jaguars) in the lineup.
Behind Clark, the Broncos have a player to keep an eye on in 2013 sixth-round pick Vinston Painter. He originally began his rookie season on the practice squad but was activated to the 53-man roster later in the year. According to The Denver Post’s Mike Klis, the Broncos had to activate Painter or risk losing him to the 49ers.
Painter has good strength, athleticism and aggression. He could develop into a quality swing tackle for the Broncos.
Behind Painter, the Broncos have a strong group of tackles which includes Winston Justice, Ryan Miller, Paul Cornick, Ramone Harewood and Mike Farrell. Justice is a seasoned veteran who provides valuable veteran depth and the ability to be a spot starter if necessary.
If healthy, Miller comes back to Colorado (where he played both high school and college football) to give the Broncos an intriguing developmental prospect with upside.
It’s clear the team has tackles falling out of its pockets at this time. It could easily trade a tackle away to add more draft picks.
Trade Brock Osweiler
As a believer in Osweiler’s upside, it hurts to type this. Osweiler has the ability to be the future of this franchise at quarterback. He’s a talented player with a lot of upside—he just has to wait in Denver for his opportunity.
Osweiler was a controversial second-round pick by the Broncos in 2012. Instead of selecting an impact player at a position of need (like inside linebacker Lavonte David), the Broncos added a player who may not see significant snaps in Denver.
Coming out of Arizona State, Osweiler wowed scouts with his strong arm and athleticism. However, there was plenty of room for improvement. During his time as a pro, the Broncos have shaped and improved Osweiler’s game.
Osweiler had sloppy footwork in college. Now, he is light on his feet when dropping back to pass. He’s incredibly athletic, and now Osweiler can escape the pocket even faster, as he’s not standing flatfooted.
In college Osweiler had a bad habit of dropping his elbow when throwing the ball. Now, his release point is high and above his head. Standing at 6’7”, it would be difficult for J.J. Watt (Texans) to bat down a pass from Osweiler and his improved throwing motion.
The NFL is a quarterback-driven league. Teams who don’t have a franchise quarterback are desperately searching for one. Osweiler has Ben Roethlisberger-like upside if he hits on his enormous potential.
We’ve barely seen him during the regular season, but Osweiler does get a larger spotlight in the preseason.
During the 2013 preseason, Osweiler completed 38-of-58 passing attempts (65.5 percent completion) for 368 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. With those type of numbers it is difficult to see any team giving up much for his services. The Broncos selected him in the second round, and they would likely be looking for at least that in return.
Mike Klis from The Denver Post believes that Peyton Manning will outlast Osweiler on the roster. The Broncos might as well try and get something for Osweiler if they believe they could lose him as a free agent in two years.
They are working out quarterbacks in the predraft process. This could be to add more competition for Zac Dysert, but it also could be to add a replacement for Osweiler if he’s traded during the draft.
Move Up for Justin Gilbert
The Broncos have a need at the cornerback position. They added Aqib Talib in free agency, but they could still use another player or two at corner. Talib has never played a full 16-game season during his six-year pro career.
Chris Harris Jr., the Broncos' other starting corner, is coming off a partially torn ACL he injured in the playoff game against the Chargers. They need insurance in case the injury bug strikes again in 2014.
Per Troy E. Renck of The Denver Post, the Broncos are going to host a private workout for Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert.
With shutdown corner ability, many in the scouting community consider Gilbert to be the best player at his position in this draft class. He ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at the scouting combine, and he measures in at 6’0", 202 pounds.
Gilbert not only uses his track speed to be a smothering cover corner, but he also can contribute as a big-play return man on special teams. With Trindon Holliday (New York Giants) moving on in free agency the Broncos are certainly in the market for a returner.
With good hip swivel, Gilbert can transition from his backpedal to a sprint smoothly and quickly. This skill prevents him from biting on early moves in the route tree.
He’s a playmaker when the play winds up in front of him. Gilbert has outstanding “click and close” ability when attacking the line of scrimmage. He has a nose for the football, and he’s not afraid to get physical in the middle of the field.
Moving up for Gilbert would require the Broncos move up around 15 or more spots. This would require an incredible commitment.
Per WalterFootball.com, the 31st overall pick is worth 600 points on the draft value chart. Gilbert could go off the board as early as 10th overall to the Detroit Lions. In order to move up that far, the Broncos would have to give up about two first-round picks.
Many will scoff at that price, but if the Broncos feel Gilbert is worth it then they’ll make that move.
Move Up for C.J. Mosley
There is a huge need to find a middle linebacker who can play all three downs in Denver. The Broncos failed to address the position in free agency despite inquiring about a few different veterans.
All signs point to the Broncos selecting a middle linebacker in the 2014 NFL draft.
C.J. Mosley (Alabama) is largely considered the top inside linebacker in this class. He arrives at the ball-carrier violently, and Mosley has the speed to excel in coverage.
He can diagnose the play quickly as it unfolds in front of him. Mosley is smart, and he understands pursuit angles when finding his way to the ball. He’s already fast, but his nose for the ball gets him to the ball even quicker.
In coverage Mosley has the recovery speed to break on the ball when a pass is coming to the target. He will fight to knock away passes, and Mosley will immediately drag down the receiver if the catch is made.
This rare skill set might be worth moving up for in the draft.
In order to move up that far, the Broncos would have to likely give up a first- and second-round pick. That price is more than fair if the Broncos feel Mosley could be the next great inside linebacker in the NFL.
Trade out of the 1st Round
There are quite a few quarterback-needy teams at the top of the draft. There may be teams that choose to pass on a quarterback early in the process with the hopes of trading back into the late first round to acquire one.
Quarterbacks like Derek Carr (Fresno State), Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois), AJ McCarron (Alabama) and Zach Mettenberger (LSU) may be available when the Broncos are on the board with the 31st overall pick. They could (and should) get phone calls about trading down in the draft.
This move would not be foreign to Broncos fans. The team moved out of the first round in the 2012 NFL draft. In fact, it moved down twice during that draft before selecting defensive end Derek Wolfe with the 36th overall pick.
With quarterback-desperate teams trying to find correct value, there may be some players at positions of need for the Broncos who fall slightly in the first round. They could easily move back into the early second round and maybe still find a player like cornerback Bradley Roby (Ohio State) or offensive guard David Yankey (Stanford) waiting for them.
By moving back, the Broncos would add more draft picks. This will help them add more quality talent with developmental upside. They have probably factored this scenario into their draft plan.
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. Draft grades provided by NFLDraftScout.com. Cecil Lammey can be followed on Twitter @CecilLammey.
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