Mel Kiper, ESPN (subscription required)—Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report—C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Rob Rang, CBSSports.com—Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA
Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com—Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com—Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
There’s a bit of mixed opinion here from the experts in the first round.
Kiper is the only one to have the Broncos selecting a cornerback in Round 1. Even with the addition of Aqib Talib in free agency, the Broncos need to add more depth at the position. Talib has never played a full 16-game season and their other starter, Chris Harris Jr., is coming off a partially torn ACL injury he suffered in the playoff win over the San Diego Chargers.
Verrett is on the small side, measuring in at 5’10”, 175 pounds. He makes up for his lack of size with a ferocious attitude. Verrett is best playing off his man at the snap, but he has the closing burst to arrive as passes are coming in.
Rang is the only expert who has the Broncos addressing the offensive line in the first round. With Zane Beadles (Jacksonville Jaguars) moving on in free agency, the Broncos have a huge hole they need to fill at left guard. Su’a-Filo is an experienced blocker who is tough to move. He anchors well as a pass-blocker, and he is not fooled by twists and stunts.
Brugler believes the Broncos will add a pass-rusher in the first. Ford is an amazing player with plenty of speed and quickness to get around the edge. He plays a lot like former Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil. Ford doesn’t add much as a run-defender, but he can constantly create pressure on an opposing quarterback.
Both Miller and Jeremiah predict the Broncos will add talent to the linebacker corps.
Miller is going for the home run pick in Mosley. He might be the player on top of the Broncos board. Mosley is arguably the only three-down inside linebacker in this draft class. He can close quickly on the run, plus he can also turn to cover in the open field. Adding Mosley would be a dream-come-true for many Broncos fans.
Jeremiah goes with an outside linebacker in Shazier, but it’s likely with the expectation that the Broncos will move him to the inside. Shazier is incredibly athletic and attacks the ball on each snap. His speed and instincts help him beat blockers to the point of the play. Shazier is always around the ball, and he can also be relied on as a blitzer to create middle pressure.
My pick: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
I’m on the same page as Kiper here—the Broncos should take a cornerback in the first round. However, I have Fuller instead of Verrett. The reason is simple—size.
Fuller is bigger than Verrett, and he can play press-man coverage because of it. This allows him to harass opposing receivers at the line of scrimmage and break up the timing of the play right at the snap.
Once a receiver gets into his route, Fuller has the speed to stick with his man. He also has the wingspan to knock away contested passes. This will make him a better player than Verrett in the red zone.