There are few bigger issues in the NFL right now than what the Denver Broncos plan to do with the second overall pick. Opinions vary. Some analysts think they will select Marcell Dareus, the outstanding defensive lineman out of Alabama.
Others believe that it’s possible that the Broncos will select a quarterback. One thing we can be sure of is this: There has been no more important draft in the team’s history. John Elway, John Fox and the rest of the Broncos staff need to find at least three or four quality starters in this draft, and they only have seven total picks to work with.
Who will they select in the first round?
It’s my belief that the Denver Broncos have done everything they possibly can to make it appear that they are not set on Tim Tebow, and are seriously considering a quarterback in the first or second round.
This deception, or smoke-screen if you will, has led to the perpetuation of this assumption by respected analysts like ESPN’s John Clayton. Others followed suit, and it's almost become a foregone conclusion that the Broncos are truly interested in Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert or another top quarterback in the draft.
First Round, No. 7 Pick, Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
But that was the plan all along. The hype surrounding this issue will be enough for the Broncos to increase the value of the No. 2 pick, then find a trading partner like San Francisco, and move down to the No. 7 spot and select Patrick Peterson.
There has never been a more bold and crafty move, not if you consider that Peterson is still considered to be the best overall player in the draft. Peterson has inexplicably fallen from first to somewhere around the seventh and eighth spot on many draft boards.
How could such an amazing coup be pulled off by the Broncos? Is this divine intervention? Probably not. But it will definitely be a remarkable accomplishment for Elway and Fox.
The trade sends the Broncos' No. 2 pick to San Francisco, and in exchange, the Broncos receive the sevent, the 45th (second round) and 76th (third round) overall picks from the 49ers. This leaves the Broncos with three picks in the second round.
Second Round, 36th Overall, Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina
If the season were to start today, Mitch Unrein and Louis Leonard might be starters at defensive tackle. That's how bad things are at this point. Marvin Austin has good size, a great initial burst and is explosive enough to disrupt running plays. He’s a solid tackler, and a tremendous athlete.
He would have gone higher in the draft had he not missed the entire 2010 season due a suspension. There may be some concerns about his “off-field” issues, and he has also been described as talented but “selfish,” yet the Broncos need best available DT and a guy who can come in and start immediately. Austin would be an automatic upgrade over Mitch Unrein.
Second Round, 45th Overall, Dontay Moch, OLB, Nevada
John Fox wants his defense to be fast and versatile. He wants guys who can fly around the field, swarm the ball-carrier and create turnovers. Linebacker is not a primary need for the Broncos, considering their lack of depth at other spots, but Dontay Moch is just too talented to pass up at this point.
Draft analysts agree that Moch had a “freakish” performance at the combine, where he showed off his amazing speed and athleticism. Moch is a defensive end transitioning to linebacker, but Fox will appreciate his overall versatility.
There are some concerns about his ability to play good run-defense, but Moch can flat-out play. I can see him becoming a starter and helping the Broncos create a new defensive identity. Fast and disruptive, this guy can get after the quarterback, and that is exactly what the Broncos need.
Second Round, 46th Overall, Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
The Broncos will have Tim Tebow starting at quarterback next year, and as with any developing quarterback, you always need a good tight end to serve as a safety valve. Tebow will enjoy dumping the ball off the Kyle Rudolph, the most complete tight end in the draft, who also will serve as a solid blocker.
Teams will pass on Rudolph because of the hamstring injury he suffered last season, and as crazy as it sounds, the Broncos need to take chances with their picks. They cannot afford to swing and miss, but they can also not afford to not come away with a handful of gems.
The Broncos team may have the most lackluster roster in the NFL. Rudolph has star potential and can therefore help change that. Oh, that and the Broncos don't really have a tight end at this point in the offseason.
Third Round, 67th Overall pick, Kendrick Ellis, DT, Hampton
Ellis is massive (6'5" and 346 pounds), but just as talented as he is big. Scouts describe him as playing on another level from the competition, similar to how some describe Nick Fairley’s game.
The best way to describe Ellis is that he is just a massive force that shows great movement for his size and is capable of dramatically changing a team’s defensive front. The problem is that he has had his share of off-field issues, so there are character concerns.
But again, the Broncos will need to take some chances. Ellis is the definition of high risk and high reward. The Broncos should not come away from this draft with one potentially great defensive tackle. They should come away with two. Trading down in the first round allows the Broncos to have more flexibility and employ more risk. Ellis is their man.
Sixth Round, No. 189 overall, Jaiquawn Jarrett, FS, Temple
The Broncos are not likely to bring back both of their starting safeties from last year, Brian Dawkins and Renaldo Hill. Dawkins would be owed too much money and has lost more than a step, so he may be the odd-man out.
Then again, maybe both players are let go. Jarrett will fit in nicely as a Broncos. Unlike the previous pick there are no character issues with Jaiquawn. He is a cerebral player, with great instinct, a hard worker and just a stand-out athlete and person. He loves to tackle, and loves to fly around the field and make plays. Also, good in run-support, he could compete right away for a starting role, and that’s exactly what the Broncos need.
Seventh Round, No. 205 Overall, Da’Rel Scott, RB, Maryland
The Broncos need another back to complement Knowshon Moreno. And if Moreno struggles or is hampered by injury, which unfortunately is a good possibility, the Broncos can use this speedster out of Maryland.
Scott isn’t getting a whole lot of love going into the draft, but he should be getting more: His forty time (4.34) made him the fastest running back at the combine. Scott would be a nice change of pace back, and a serious threat catching the ball out of the backfield. He could be more.
The Broncos would be happy to get Scott this late in the draft.
Seventh Round, No. 249 Overall, Markus White, DE, Florida State
At this point in the draft the Broncos need to find a player who can stick. The team has so many needs that every choice counts. Markus White will be selected because of his work ethic, great motor and tenacious level of play.
The guy doesn’t stop, and you can tell that he just plans to out work everyone else, on every play. He is also a play-maker and a disrupting force. The Broncos can use smart guys with a mean side on the field, and White fits this mold perfectly.
Elvis Dumervil may be too under-sized to play defensive end on every down, and Robert Ayers will hopefully work out at the other end, but White can serve as the guy who fills in.
Those are my projections. How did I do?