Best-Case Scenarios for Denver Broncos in 1st Round of 2014 NFL Draft

Travis Wakeman@@traviswakeman10Featured Columnist IVMay 1, 2014

Denver Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway watches during warmups agains the Seattle Seahawks before the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game at MetLife Stadium Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Seahawks won 43-8. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

The NFL draft will open in just over one week, and teams around the league are starting to zero in on the players they want.

The Denver Broncos hold the No. 31 pick in the first round, meaning they will be waiting most of the night next Thursday waiting to see who falls into their lap.

With that said, the Broncos need to realistically target three players in the first round who could logically be on the board toward the bottom of the first round.

Kyle Fuller, Cornerback, Virginia Tech

For teams looking for defensive backs, this is a good draft to find one in. The Broncos could certainly use some help in that area despite adding Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward in free agency.

While Justin Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard will get most of the headlines, Kyle Fuller could be a steal at the end of the first round.

At 6'0", 190 pounds, Fuller has great length to go with his physical game play. He is always around the ball making plays and is more than capable of coming up to put hits on ball-carriers in the running game.

He showed his versatility in college, playing safety and even some linebacker. He has very good awareness and, along with Talib and Chris Harris, would give the Broncos a very strong player to add to their rotation.

There are teams in front of Denver such as the San Diego Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers that may have their eye on Fuller, but if he is still on the board at No. 31, Denver needs to seriously consider selecting him.

Jason Verrett, Cornerback, TCU

The big knock on Jason Verrett seems to be his size (5'9"), but teams that do their homework will recognize that he plays much bigger than that.

Verrett was a three-year starter in college and for good reason. He is a very alert player who has tremendous ball skills, probably even better than Fuller's.

Despite his stature, Verrett is productive in run support. In the passing game, he has the skills to undercut routes and make plays on the ball. He is an aggressive defensive back who could come in and contribute immediately.

It will be interesting to see where he falls.

In their most recent mock drafts, ESPN draft gurus Mel Kiper, Jr. (subscription required) and Todd McShay (subscription required) agree that Verrett will be taken toward the end of the first round.

McShay has him going to the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 24, while Kiper believes the Broncos will be the team that grabs him.

Ryan Shazier, Linebacker, Ohio State

Ryan Shazier is a name that has shot up draft boards in recent weeks, and the Broncos would have to consider themselves very fortunate if he is still on the board when their pick comes up.

Shazier plays with a high motor and could be the linebacker the Broncos sorely need in the middle of their defense.

Shazier's versatility and his ability to make plays all over the field are what teams have likely fallen in love with while assessing him.

He can pressure the quarterback and disrupt plays, even if he doesn't get his hands on the passer. He is very productive as a blitzer, showing great timing as he rushes the passer.

He is equally effective against the run and pass. Shazier quickly diagnoses the play and can fill the hole to stop a running back in his tracks. Against the pass, he displays the ability to drop back into coverage against a tight end or slot receiver.

On top of that, Shazier covers the entire field, defending from sideline to sideline. This would make him a three-down linebacker, something the team would greatly benefit from.

The Green Bay Packers sit at No. 21 and will likely show a heavy interest in Shazier, especially if Alabama's C.J. Mosley is off the board. If he gets past the Packers, the Broncos may get a shot at selecting him.

What Should the Team Do if All These Players Have Been Chosen?

John Elway has shown he isn't afraid to move out of the first round, but he needs to be careful. The jury is still out on his decision to move down in 2012 to select Derek Wolfe, especially when the team could have chosen Doug Martin, the running back who had a huge rookie year for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

However, trading down is not the right choice for one major reason—this is a very deep draft.

If Fuller, Verrett and Shazier are all off the board at No. 31, Elway should trade down into the second round.

Stockpiling picks in a draft like this would not be a bad thing, and if the Broncos can find the right trade partner, they could give up the No. 31 pick for a couple of extra picks and still get players to help in positions of need.  

If the Broncos decide to draft the best player on the board, regardless of who has been selected, they need to be careful with that too. The player they selected in the first round last year, Sylvester Williams, was more of a developmental prospect than an impact player.

Over the last two seasons, Elway and the Broncos have been very good in free agency. It's time they have a great draft to go with it.


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