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2010 B/R Featured Columnist Mock NFL Draft: Broncos Bag Bryant at No. 11

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 30:   Wide Receiver Dez Bryant  #1 of the Oklahoma State University Cowboys jumps up to catch the ball as Free Safety T.J. Ward #2 of the University of Oregon Ducks breaks up the pass during the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium on December 30, 2008 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
Lou DiPietroAnalyst IFebruary 22, 2010

Being an NFC guy, I didn't see as much film on a team like the Broncos as I want to.

So, in order to be as effective as possible while stepping in to make Denver’s pick in our Bleacher Report FC Mock Draft, I went to someone who did have that handle—my housemate, a lifelong Broncos fan.

His immediate response? “Dude, we need to replace (Brandon) Marshall.”

And so, with the No. 11 pick in the FC Mock, I’m tabbing the Broncos to select Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant.

Now, fan sentiment aside, I did do my homework. And when I did, it became apparent that offense clearly is the weak spot.

Yes, the defense fell apart in the second half, and new coordinator Mike Nolan could use some “better” players for his defensive scheme—specifically in the linebacking department. But even with that collapse, they still finished third in pass defense and seventh in total yards allowed, so they're not badly hurting per se.

Plus, with Rolando McClain off our board at No. 5, there are only two other backers that are really potential first-round prospects, those being Texas’ Sergio Kindle or Clemson’s Ricky Sapp—and it’s entirely likely that one of them, or Penn State’s Navorro Bowman, will be available when the Broncos pick again at No. 45 overall.

They could also look at a quarterback, as many are convinced that Kyle Orton is a nice piece but not a franchise quarterback. Those people forget that Orton set career highs in completions, attempts, rating, yardage, touchdowns, completion percentage, AND rushing yards.

He also had more yards and a better passer rating than playoff-bound Carson Palmer, AFC Pro Bowlers David Garrard and Vince Young, and his own predecessor, Cutler.

But yeah, he’s awful.  

What really stinks is that he did it with Brandon Marshall getting more coverage than the Olympics, Eddie Royal missing half the year with head issues and scrap-heapers like Brandon Stokley, Brandon Lloyd, and Jabar Gaffney actually having to see significant snaps.

Take away Marshall from that equation, and what does Orton have?

Not a chance in hell.

So when Marshall leaves—either via a trade this season or free agency in 2011—they’ll be pretty far up the creek. That’s where Bryant fits in.

Yes, he missed three-quarters of last season with eligibility issues. But in two-and-a-quarter years in Stillwater, he proved that he was an elite receiver in the making, and was a consensus All-American in his 1480-yard, 19-touchdown sophomore season.

He has good size (6’2”, 220 lbs.), great hands, above-average strength, and a touch of elusiveness—showing the ability to make moves rather than use straight speed.  Bryant is also a great punt returner, and the Broncos weren’t very good in that department once Royal went haywire in the middle of the season.

Dez Bryant fills a need both now and in the future, and with no blow-away defensive player left on the board, he’s the best choice for the Broncos at No. 11.

Next up on the clock is the Miami Dolphins, and you can read about our previous FC Mock selections here:

10. Jacksonville Jaguars — Jimmy Clausen (QB, Notre Dame)

9. Buffalo Bills — Bryan Bulaga (OT, Iowa)

8. Oakland Raiders — Anthony Davis (OT, Rutgers)

7. Cleveland Browns — Joe Haden (CB, Florida)

6. Seattle Seahawks — Derrick Morgan (DE, Ga. Tech)

5. Kansas City Chiefs — Rolando McClain (LB, Alabama)

4. Washington Redskins — Russell Okung (OT, Okla. St.)

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Eric Berry (S, Tennessee )

2. Detroit Lions — Gerald McCoy (DT, Oklahoma)

1. St. Louis Rams — Ndamukong Suh (DT, Nebraska)

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