5 Names Every Denver Broncos Fan Needs to Know Before the 2014 NFL Draft

Jonathan SchlosserContributor IIMay 8, 2014

5 Names Every Denver Broncos Fan Needs to Know Before the 2014 NFL Draft

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    The draft is so close now that you can feel the excitement in the air. Sure, it might not be as big as the start of the season, but it is arguably the most important thing a lot of teams will do in the offseason. Some would even argue that drafting well is the main key if a team wants to sustain success.

    While most of the draft after the first five picks just turns into a huge mess, with all speculation thrown out the window based on how players drop and how teams reach, it's good to have a list of possibilities to keep your eye on to know what your team might do. For Broncos fans, who have to wait until the 31st pick to find out what is going to happen, that list should be more extensive than just two or three players.

    A short list like that might work for a team in the top 10 since one of those guys will probably be there, but Broncos fans should keep their eyes on at least five players. Some of the later picks, after the first round, could even prove to be more important than that first pick.

    The following names are some that you should certainly know before the 2014 NFL draft kicks off. You never know when they will get called, but you know that the Broncos brass will be watching.

Ryan Shazier

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    In many ways, Shazier is probably the most likely pick at linebacker for the Broncos if they address the position on the first night. C.J. Mosley may be an even better player—and we'll discuss him in a moment—but he's probably going to be long gone by the end of Round 1. If Denver does not want to trade halfway up through the draft order, Shazier makes more sense.

    If Denver takes him, he can come in and solidify the linebacker position across from Von Miller. He's not the perfect pick since he plays outside—though he could be converted—but he's athletic enough to play in the fast, aggressive defense that Denver is building. He gets a ton of tackles, he makes plays and he would even be fast enough to play a bit of coverage in pass defense schemes. He's not the fastest linebacker in the draft, but he'd be fully capable in that regard.

    Most of all, he's a playmaker. He just has that knack for being in the right place and running someone over. You have to love that.

C.J. Mosley

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    Mosley has gotten a lot of talk in recent weeks from those looking at Denver's options, and it's fairly clear that he'd be a good fit. The one knock against him is that he misses tackles, but he also makes a lot, putting up 319 at Alabama. He also plays in the middle, which is more what Denver needs, and he could transform quickly into a leader on that defense.

    Again, the problem with him is that he's probably going in the first 20 picks. It seems unlikely that Denver would move up that far, but you never know.

    On top of that, his is a name that you should certainly know if he begins to slide. The closer he gets to Denver's pick, the more likely it is that they'd trade up and get him. Someone always slides, and it could be great for the Broncos if it is Mosley.

Xavier Su'a-Filo

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    Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

    This is another name that fans should certainly know just because it is showing up on countless mock drafts, such as this one on Bleeding Green Nation. Denver does have something of a need on the offensive line after losing Zane Beadles, who went to play for the Jaguars. The thought is that Xavier Su'a-Filo could step right in and fill that need.

    If they did this, I wouldn't be crushed, but I don't think it will happen. For one thing, Ryan Clady is coming back from injury, and he's certainly the best lineman the Broncos have. They lost him for most of last season and the line still did well. He bolsters the ranks and helps to make up for the loss of Beadles right away. They don't play the same position, but it allows for some potential shuffling.

    It also seems more likely that Denver could get similar production levels by having other linemen step up, rather than drafting one. The team has plugged in a few different linemen over the last few seasons, and it seems to work well. Why spend a high draft pick doing the same thing?

    Even more convincing is the fact that Orlando Franklin already indicated that he is moving to the guard position from tackle, as reported on the Denver Broncos' website.

    Denver will certainly take an offensive lineman in the draft, but the team already seems to be solving the immediate issue, so there is no reason to take one so early.

Max Bullough

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    Max Bullough looked like he was in a position to see his stock plummet after missing the Rose Bowl, but that storm seems to have blown over a bit. While he has not publicly said what happened, it appears not to have been anything too major since there have been no other repercussions.

    On top of that, it does not take away from Bullough's size and strength, which are his main assets on the field. It could detract marginally from his perceived status as a leader, but that's doubtful at the NFL level.

    Still, Bullough looks like he could hear his name called in Round 5 or Round 6. If he does sit there for that long and Denver misses out on guys like Shazier and Mosley, Bullough could be a great sleeper pick. That's not to say that he'd start right away, but based on how dominant the defense that he led in college was, it's not out of the question, either.

De'Anthony Thomas

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    This is another potential sleeper pick that Denver fans should certainly watch for. Thomas is projected to go in Round 5, despite being such an electric player that he could take over games in college. The issue is his size. He's a small, fast back, and he could get beat up at the NFL level.

    While that's true, he's not the type of guy who is going to carry the ball 20 times a game. He'd be the ideal complement to the battering ram that is Montee Ball. He'd offer an insane change of pace. He could catch the ball anywhere on the field, with pretty fresh legs, and potentially take it to the house.

    He does need to bulk up. If he can put on some muscle, though, think of him like a Darren Sproles. You're just waiting for him to make that big play that sparks a comeback or seals a victory. You never know when he's going to strike.

    To get the ball in his hands, they could also use him to return kicks. He'd be way faster than anyone else on the field.

    And, seeing as how Denver could get him pretty late, the risk is low even if he just ends up being too small for the NFL. With an upside like that, why not gamble a bit?