Broncos fans are a hopeful bunch now that John Elway and John Fox have replaced Josh McDaniels. Fans can expect less controversy, less absolutism (Josh seemed to have the first and last word on all roster moves) and more W's in the win/loss column.
The new guys in charge have started things off in the right direction. They made the first order of business re-signing fan-favorite Champ Bailey and then started cleaning house by releasing Justin Bannan and Jamal Williams. However, the latter moves seem to point the team in one direction for the draft: Marcell Dareus or Nick Fairley with the No. 2 pick.
But what if the Panthers draft Dareus with the first pick in the draft?
And what if the Broncos are not able to trade down and accumulate additional picks? What is the plan in place at Dove Valley right now, and how much will it change by the draft?
Those are the questions, and here is the second version of my mock draft.
Round 1, Pick No. 2: Von Miller, LB (Texas A&M)
At this point, it looks more likely that the Broncos will have to keep their No. 2 pick, so going off that assumption...
Von Miller is a very special player. He is a unique talent. He combines tremendous speed and agility with great technique. Most importantly, he never gives up on a play, never stops attacking the ball and/or quarterback and is just a freak athlete. He sounds like a smart kid who wants to work hard at his craft. In sum, Miller is just the complete package at linebacker.
And true the Broncos could really use two defensive tackles to replace the ones they released. That may be, but it’s just too hard to pass on such a uniquely talented guy like Miller. Miller’s ability to terrorize quarterbacks, and force them into making mistakes, can help the Broncos mask other deficiencies on that side of the ball.
My guess is that John Elway is convinced that Miller is a special talent that would be perfect in a Broncos uniform. I think that the Broncos will draft Miller, and look at adding interior lineman in later rounds.
How good would Von Miller crashing into Philip Rivers look in their week 5 matchup? Really good.
Round 2, Pick No. 36: Marvin Austin, DT (North Carolina)
In the first round, the Broncos chose a guy who is as close to a can’t-miss player as can be expected. In Round 2, the team should expect to make some concessions while still trying to maximize value. The Broncos desperately need help on the defensive line; they could use two players from this draft with the hope that both can be starters.
As a side note, if you can spare the time, try going to the official Denver Broncos web site and checking out who they have listed as their defensive tackles. Then try to keep yourself from laughing to death. Unfortunately, this is no laughing matter. The Broncos need players.
And Marvin Austin could be a great one. He has the size (6'2", 301 lbs), skill and athleticism that makes him an elite prospect for his position. In fact, he would probably be ranked at or near the top of most draft boards had it not been his suspension last year. Yes, there is a real concern about character issues, but listening to the guy, you want to believe that he has grown and matured.
More importantly, however, there are tangible reasons to believe that Austin will have a great NFL career: The guy was suspended a year but looked every bit as talented and athletic as the other top defensive tackles even with the time off. The biggest concern with any elite defensive tackle is will they stay motivated and keep working hard, since that is the biggest reason why so many of these guys are busts once they reach the NFL.
Didn’t Austin prove that to his critics by showing that he was dedicated to remaining a top player at his position?
I think so, and I also think that he would pay immediate dividends for the Broncos defense.
Round 2, Pick No. 46: Stephen Paea, DT (Oregon)
The Broncos would have loved to also have Rahim Moore, the safety out of UCLA, fall to them, but concerns about his tackling ability make him a risky pick at 36 and unavailable at 46. That’s okay because Stephen Paea manages to last this long in the draft, and the Broncos would love to pair him up with Marvin Austin.
With Austin you are getting a guy who can create disruption from the middle of the line. You are getting a play-maker. With Paea you are getting brute force. Paea would serve as a tremendous run-blocker for the Broncos, and while that’s his specialty, it’s not as if the guy isn’t fast (for his huge size) and extremely talented. He is both things, and he was once a very good rugby player. Paea can fill gaps like nobody’s business and would be a great addition to the Broncos defense.
He may not be the guy who runs down Philip Rivers, but he does other things very well, and the Broncos will have Elvis Dumervil, Von Miller and Marvin Austin to get after the quarterback.
Round 3, Pick No. 67: Taiwan Jones, RB (Eastern Washington)
It’s possible that a few of the highly rated running backs, including Taiwan Jones, can fall from the second round because teams will be too busy focusing on more in-demand positions. Mark Ingram is the top rated running back and even he may fall into the second round. Mikel LeShoure and Ryan Williams might be the next two names to get called in Round 2, and the Broncos, who have shown a lot of interest in Jones, would be thrilled to have him fall to them in Round 3.
Jones offers the Broncos something they haven’t seen in a long time: Outstanding speed, quickness and big-play ability at the running back position. Jones can not be expected to be an every-down back, which is fine since the Broncos will mostly rely on Knowshon Moreno.
Jones has similarities to Jamaal Charles, and while the Broncos cannot expect that kind of production, they can safely assume that they will be adding a new weapon to their offense. Broncos fans do realize that having an explosive play-maker is not at a bad thing at all. Who else will hit the home-runs on this offense?
Round 6, Picks No. 186 and No. 189: Ahmad Black, Safety (Florida) and Julius Thomas, Tight end (Portland State)
The best way to describe Ahmad Black is to say that he is Tim Tebow at the safety position. What I mean to say is that Black has wonderful intangibles and great heart. He is undersized and has had to put up with the nay-sayers throughout his football career. Yet, despite his apparent shortcomings the guy just makes a lot of plays and does a lot of winning. He is also a playmaker, and a player that you will find yourself rooting for.
At the very worst the Broncos would be getting a very reliable back-up and a guy who can be counted on for special teams duties. And with their second pick in Round 6, the Broncos will be hoping to find their version of the Chargers Antonio Gates: A former basketball player who has great hands and a lot of upside. Sure, Thomas is a project, but he is low-risk and high-reward at this point.
And most importantly, the Broncos recognize that safety and tight end are two good positions worth addressing in later rounds, since there always seem to be steals at those two positions in latter rounds of drafts.
Round 7, Pick No. 247: Richard Sherman, Cornerback (Stanford)
Sherman is also a project, but he has great size (6'2", 195 lbs) and speed, which makes him a nice candidate for the "Champ Bailey school of cornerbacking". And that really can’t be overlooked because Champ has shown himself to be a great tutor for those who will listen and learn (much like how Darrell Green took Champ under his wing when he first came to Washington as a rookie). Sherman will not come into the NFL like Champ because he doesn’t have the same accolades, but Sherman can turn out to be a real gem.
Well those are the picks. Please let me know what you think.