For me, the NFL Draft is never too far away. If I have said it once, I have said it dozens of times. This is the single greatest event of the sports year in my opinion, and it's one of the most fun to speculate on.
The Denver Broncos' recent struggles have given way to lofty criticism, and they have exposed various obvious weaknesses on the team as well. As of now, this team has five draft picks. They own the rights to Chicago's first round pick, and they traded away their own to the Seattle Seahawks.
I firmly believe at this point that the Broncos need to look to an elite quarterback prospect with this pick, and this is the perfect year to do so. This year's quarterback class is very talented at the top end, featuring four or five legitimate potential first round picks.
As it stands, the teams that could potentially be looking for a quarterback who would theoretically be picking ahead of the Broncos are the St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks, and the Washington Redskins.
To get a moderately accurate idea of what the Broncos could be looking at in terms of prospects, let's mock the draft until the proverbial 11th overall pick, in which the Broncos will be selecting in this case.
2. St. Louis Rams: Jake Locker, Quarterback, Washington
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ndamukong Suh, Defensive Tackle, Nebraska
4. Detroit Lions: Gerald McCoy, Defensive Tackle, Oklahoma
5. Buffalo Bills: Russell Okung, Offensive Tackle, Oklahoma State
6. Kansas City Chiefs: Rolando McClain, Middle Linebacker, Alabama
7. Oakland Raiders: Carlos Dunlap, Defensive Lineman, Florida
8. Seattle Seahawks: Jimmy Clausen, Quarterback, Notre Dame
9. Washington Redskins: Taylor Mays, Safety, USC
10. Tennessee Titans: Joe Haden, Cornerback, Florida
The Denver Broncos are now on the clock.
A lot of really good prospects off the board, and quite a few of which the Broncos will be keeping a close eye on come draft day. Still, this draft is extremely deep at almost every position, and the Broncos need to take advantage. Here are some of the top available prospects they could be looking at in this situation.
- WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State
- RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson
- DE Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech
- OLB Navorro Bowman, Penn State
- QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
Ultimately, general manager Brian Xanders and Josh McDaniels have the final call of which player is picked. McDaniels has not been known to be part of a team which selects a quarterback very high, but the only constant in this world is change.
McDaniels and the Patriots never picked a quarterback very high, but they never really had to either. Drew Bledsoe was the quarterback of the team early in the 2000's, and he was a former first overall pick. He was replaced by Tom Brady, who is a once in a lifetime gem found late in the sixth round.
The Broncos picked quarterback Tom Brandstater in the sixth round in 2009, but it's unhealthy at best to assume he is the long-term answer at the position. He seems to have the tools to potentially excel at this level, but you can't really bank on it.
Thus, this pick is an absolute no-brainer.
With the 11th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select...Sam Bradford, quarterback from Oklahoma University .
I love the sound of that, and Broncos fans would too. Bradford has a great head on his shoulders, and because he suffered a season-ending injury this season, he could wind up as the biggest steal of this draft.
Bradford is a near perfect fit for the Broncos' offense. He is the most accurate quarterback in the draft with above average arm strength, and he is a great leader on and off the field.
The Broncos likely will part ways with Chris Simms after this season, and if the price is reasonable they could retain Kyle Orton. In fact, they probably should. That way, Orton could be good insurance in case Bradford's development is slow, or if the Broncos simply do not want to start a rookie quarterback. Denver would then hold three quarterbacks in Bradford, Orton, and Brandstater.
After this pick, the Broncos have to wait a little while to select again. They would be in line for a mid-late second round pick with their 6-4 record. As it stands, that pick would fall somewhere in the early 50's, and right now at exactly 51st.
Using Scout's Inc.'s rankings, the top available prospects are:
- G Jon Asamoah, Illinois
- TE Aaron Hernandez, Florida
- DE/OLB Jerry Hughes, TCU
- G Mike Iupati, Idaho
- RB Joe McKnight, USC
- DE Corey Wootton, Northwestern
At this point, there is no real standout prospect the Broncos have to have. A wise decision here would be to trade down for a second, fourth, and sixth round pick.
Let's say the Broncos move down ten spots, to the bottom of the second round. They have acquired an extra fourth and sixth round pick to potentially maneuver again if they wish.
In this case, the Broncos still get the guy I would have taken with the 51st pick.
With the 61st pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select...Corey Wootton, Defensive End, Northwestern.
This is a player I really like for the next level. He has outstanding size for a defensive lineman at 6'7" 280 pounds, and he could be a good five-technique prospect. The Broncos are a little thin on depth and youth at the defensive end position, and Wootton would be an ideal addition at this point in the draft.
The Broncos' next pick would come a little way past the middle of the third round, somewhere around the 83rd overall selection.
This pick may be a bit of wishful thinking on my part, but I'm going to go for it. Scout's Inc. rates this kid as the 75th best prospect in the draft, but the one thing I know about the NFL Draft is that the 75th best prospect could go in the first round, and the 10th best prospect can sometimes fall to the third.
With the 83rd pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select...Vince Oghobaase, Defensive Lineman, Duke.
What in the world? A Duke football player?
You heard it here first. Vince Oghobaase is a very solid defensive lienman who is athletic enough to play inside in a 4-3 or as a five-technique in the 3-4. He and Wootton would give the Broncos a good pair of young defensive linemen with great athleticism, versatility, and intelligence, something which is valued very highly by this coaching staff.
In the fourth round, the Broncos have, as this situation has played out in this mock draft, two picks. This is a place where they can certainly address a wide variety of areas.
After taking their quarterback of the future and solidifying their defensive front, the Broncos can now focus on other areas of the team.
With their two fourth round picks, I like the Broncos to take Florida State safety Myron Rolle and Oregon cornerback Walter Thurmond .
Myron Rolle is a very intriguing prospect to me. He was a top prospect for the Seminoles coming out of high school, and showed why in his first three years at Florida State.
He graduated from FSU in 2009 and accepted a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University, and has been studying there for what would have been his senior season at Florida State. According to Rolle, he planned on maintaining football shape in his time in England, and he would return to the United States for the NFL Scouting Combine and a career in the NFL.
This is a man who has very lofty goals and dreams, and one who is inspiring. He gave up millions of dollars in the NFL to research in England a potential cure for cancer. He is an outstanding student who would have an opportunity to learn from the very best in Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey.
Thurmond is a very underrated prospect. He has been a four year starter for the Ducks and he will go later in the draft than he should because of a knee injury he suffered earlier this season. He is a very good tackler and has 12 career interceptions, and when he gets the ball he certainly knows what to do with it, scoring six career touchdowns.
In the sixth round, I think the Broncos will turn back to the offensive side of the ball.
Since they have two picks in this projected situation, they have a lot of flexibility in the earlier rounds.
With their first sixth round pick, I think the Broncos should take Iowa tight end Anthony Moeaki.
Moeaki has been oft-injured in his Iowa career, but head coach Kirk Ferentz calls him, "The best tight end I have ever coached." Those are some high praises considering Dallas Clark once roamed Kinnick Stadium.
Moeaki is undoubtedly a complete tight end. He could very well go higher than the sixth round, and he probably should simply based on his skill set. His biggest asset is his ability to run block, which often goes unnoticed. That being said, he is also a very good pass receiver. He does not have great speed, but he finds a way to get open.
The need for a tight end could come up if the Broncos lose Tony Scheffler to free agency.
With their other sixth round pick, I think the Broncos need to address the center position. I think the best senior center prospect in the draft is Baylor's Justin Walton, and the Broncos could go after him. Walton has good size for the center position, and would help the Broncos greatly with inside pass protection which is really lacking at the moment.
To recap, here are my projected draft selections at the moment if this situation were ever to play out.
- Sam Bradford, Quarterback, Oklahoma
- Corey Wootton, Defensive End, Northwestern
- Vince Oghobaase, Defensive End, Duke
- Myron Rolle, Safety, Florida State
- Walter Thurmond, Cornerback, Oregon
- Tony Moeaki, Tight End, Iowa
- Justin Walton, Center, Baylor
I think this would be a very solid draft for the Broncos. Not only do they get their quarterback of the future, they solidify their defensive front as well as add much needed depth, speed, and youth to their secondary.
Obviously, this is all just my speculation and maybe a little bit of wishful thinking. The holiday season will do that for a guy.