Round 2, Pick No. 63: Donte Moncrief, WR, Mississippi
The Broncos could have selected a wide receiver in the first round of the draft. It would have been a bit of a surprise but far from outlandish. This is a talent-rich class at wide receiver, and the Broncos could take advantage of that in Round 2.
Wes Welker is in the final year of his contract with the Broncos. The team needs to be ready if he moves on in 2015. They also have to be ready in case Welker battles more concussion problems this year. In addition to durability issues for Welker, they must be concerned with free-agent addition Emmanuel Sanders as well. Sanders has stayed healthy over the last two years, but he struggled with foot injuries in his first two seasons as a pro.
Earlier this offseason, the Broncos hosted Donte Moncrief at Dove Valley for a predraft workout. He’s a big receiver with a large wingspan that gives him an enormous catch radius. This makes Moncrief a great target for Peyton Manning in the red zone.
Sanders should take the place of former Broncos receiver Eric Decker on the outside. However, it will be difficult for Sanders to duplicate what Decker did in the red zone. The Broncos could help themselves by adding a big receiver like Moncrief.
Round 3, Pick No. 95: Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State
The interior of the offensive line needs help in Denver. The team lost starting left guard Zane Beadles in free agency to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and it has yet to find a replacement. The NFL draft is the perfect spot to find more help at guard.
In the third round, a guy like Gabe Jackson could be the right pick.
Jackson is huge, measuring in at 6’3” and 336 pounds. He plays with a great combination of size, power and athleticism. Jackson can drive defenders out of the way when run-blocking, but he also has the footwork to mirror rushers when protecting the quarterback.
He plays with a nasty disposition, and this helps him win battles on the inside. Jackson is a competitive player who will keep fighting until the end.
Jackson does seem to lose awareness at times as he focuses solely on the man in front of him. This leads to missed assignments when facing complex fronts.
The raw natural tools are there with Jackson, and he would be a fine pick at the end of the third.
Round 4, Pick No. 131: Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia
With Knowshon Moreno moving on in free agency, the Broncos have a need at the running back position. They have their likely starter in second-year pro Montee Ball. They have a power back behind him in C.J. Anderson. They also have a speedy change-of-pace back behind Ball in Ronnie Hillman. The Broncos could use an all-purpose runner added to the mix.
Charles Sims from West Virginia is a great fit.
He is a dual-threat back who can contribute as a runner or receiver out of the backfield. Sims has the speed to get to the edge at the second level of the defense, and he’s very comfortable when running inside. He does a good job of running through trash at the line of scrimmage, and Sims is careful where he places each step. This helps him maintain his balance as defenders try to trip him up.
As a receiver, Sims can be a mismatch on wheel routes. While not an ankle-breaker in the open field, Sims is smooth with his cuts and he can pick up yards after the catch. Sims does a good job of looking catches into his hands, and he can even track passes over his shoulder. Sims also puts forth good effort as a pass-blocker.
If Ball misses time due to injury, the Broncos need a back that can do it all. Anderson gives them power, but he’s not the receiving threat that Sims is. Hillman is faster, but he can’t run as effectively inside as Sims can.
Look for Sims to be on the Broncos' radar if he’s available in the fourth round.
Round 5, Pick No. 171: Avery Williamson, ILB, Kentucky
The Broncos have had quite a bit of success plucking linebackers from the Kentucky Wildcats. Impact players like former Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard and current Broncos starter Danny Trevathan played their college ball at Kentucky. The next late-round gem from the Wildcats could be Williamson.
He can fly to the football, and Williamson will consistently find his way to the play. His speed allows him to beat the blockers to the point of attack. Williamson can get behind the line of scrimmage quickly, and he will run down plays that go away from him.
His speed immediately jumps out on film, but Williamson needs to be more physical when facing larger blockers. He can get run out of the play if an opponent gets his hands on him. He is far from a “thumper” inside, and teams can run right at him to move the ball.
Round 6, Pick No. 207: Jonathan Dowling, FS, Western Kentucky
The Broncos may be looking for safety depth later in the draft. Adding a player like Jonathan Dowling would be a strong pick.
He’s a versatile player with experience playing multiple positions in the defensive backfield. Dowling started his college career at Florida, but he was kicked off the team due to attitude issues. General manager John Elway will weigh all facets of a player’s ability as a prospect.
Before the draft, Elway talked about how the team handles players with character concerns.
“What we do, is that we look at every player and we look at the full package that each player has to offer. One issue or another—we try to put them as a group as what he has to offer us with the Denver Broncos and if he can come in here and help us." Elway continued, "That goes into evaluating each player. Whether it be character, mentality, football mentality—that all goes along with the player.”
Dowling is known as a big hitter who is constantly looking for the big play. This gets him in trouble at times, as he plays out of position. He'll bite regularly on play fakes and double moves, so he'll need to play with more discipline as a pro.
Round 7, Pick No. 246: Stephen Morris, QB, Miami
The Broncos are likely to add a quarterback late in the draft. A player they brought out to Dove Valley for a private workout during the predraft process is Stephen Morris (Miami).
Morris is an athletic quarterback who can keep plays alive with his feet while keeping his eyes downfield. He’s mechanically sound when the pocket is clean, but Morris loses his discipline when forced to move in the pocket and throw on the run.
He has a strong arm, and he can make every throw required in the NFL. Morris can fit the ball into tight windows, and this helps him because his anticipation can be late at times. He doesn’t abandon the play too quickly, but Morris instead holds onto the ball too long. This gets him in trouble as pressure mounts around him.
Morris is inconsistent and struggles with accuracy at times. He’s a quarterback who can run hot or cold from game to game, drive to drive or play to play. This makes him a maddening quarterback to decipher. Morris is a lot like current Titans starter Jake Locker in that regard.
As a late-round quarterback, Morris is well worth adding to the roster in order to push Zac Dysert for the third-string developmental job.
All quotes and injury/practice observations obtained firsthand. Record/statistical information provided via email from the Denver Broncos. All draft grades provided by NFLDraftScout.com.
Cecil Lammey can be followed on Twitter @CecilLammey.