NFL DRAFT 2011: Updated Denver Broncos 7 Round Mock Draft
The insanity that has ensued as a result of the topsy-turvy NFL labor negotiations is robbing the spotlight from the NFL’s only shining star right now: the draft.
The inability for teams to address needs through free agency and trade has created an unprecedented amount of urgency to be placed on this years draft. There is a sense that holes that are not plugged via the draft, will be the leaks that cause the levees to break on a teams season.
The Denver Broncos fans and pundits seem to share that concern but someday, maybe soon, the free agent market will open and positions that seemed neglected in the draft will be addressed.
Keep that in mind while going through this mock draft. Just because a need isn’t addressed in the draft, doesn’t mean that a combination of free agency or just better coaching of existing players won’t be there to solve it.
Also, keep in mind that whereas my last piece was my humble opinion about what the best case scenarios were for the Broncos at each pick, this mock tries to more accurately forecast the picks based on the latest projections and information surrounding the draft.
First Round, Second Pick Overall: Von Miller, OLB Texas A&M
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John Elway and the Broncos appear to be in love. The object of their affection is an explosive pass rusher with the kind of sack-generating potential that could put the Broncos defense back on the map immediately.
The actions of the Carolina Panthers really don’t seem to have any effect on the Broncos at this point. Whether they take Cam Newton (which I am on record as saying I think they won’t) or Marcell Dareus the Broncos seem to be sold on Miller. So much so in fact that they might be resistant to trade proposals for fear of losing the player who will be the favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year out of the gate in 2011.
The Broncos will be making the right move by avoiding the inherent risk that comes along with drafting a defensive lineman so high.
It is also the right move because it eliminates a lot of the pressure that was going to be put on Elvis Dumervil had he been the sole pass rushing threat on Denver’s roster. Making one investment to protect another is a not a bad way to start for Elway.
Second Round, 36th Pick Overall: Stephen Paea, DT Oregon State
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Denver will be eager to make a pick that calms the fans of Bronco nation and selecting the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year will do it.
The increasing feeling that quarterbacks are moving on up to the first round is going to move Paea down to a point where the Broncos can steal him. This has nothing to do with his draft stock falling and everything to do with other players value rising around him.
Think Haloti Ngata from the Ravens and if all goes to plan the Broncos should be getting a similar caliber player out of the Pac-10.
Second Round, 46th Pick Overall: Kyle Rudolph, TE Notre Dame
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This is a pick that I just believe makes sense, especially after listening to Brian Xanders on KKFN 104.3 in Denver on Wednesday. Essentially, Xanders kept mentioning that the Broncos are not looking to fill every position that needs help in the draft.
This means that the Broncos are planning on finding more defensive help in free agency and can afford to use this pick on an offensive player. Furthermore they are going to have “Greek” Antonopolous in the war room to answer questions about player health this year.
What is the biggest risk with Kyle Rudolph?
The Broncos have said many times that they need four starters out of their first four picks and if you look at their depth chart at TE it’s easy to see that he would start.
Third Round, 67th Pick Overall: Tyler Sash, S Iowa
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Kirk Ferentz has a knack for developing solid defensive players and Tyler Sash will follow in that line.
The Broncos have been burned in free agency when it comes to the safety position and so they will want to start stocking up talent through the draft.
Keep in mind also that Dennis Allen has experience working with a guy like Darren Sharper who isn’t regarded for his incredible athleticism but rather his knack for finding the ball and making plays. This is the kind of player that Sash can definitely become.
Sixth Round, 186th Pick Overall: Akeem Dent, ILB Georgia
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The Broncos are still searching for a player that is a real run stopping presence in the middle. It is easy to trace the decline of the Broncos defense back to the departure of Al Wilson, who was the motor in the middle of that defense.
Coming off a season with 125 tackles in the tough running SEC the Broncos will look to Dent as the potential inside presence of the future. He may not start right away but again the Broncos are all about finding depth and having the coaching staff to develop it.
Sixth Round, 189th Overall: Da'Norris Searcy, S North Carolina
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This is another pick that I like and have carried over in multiple mocks. The Broncos will continue to try and add depth at safety to compensate for the inevitable injuries that come with aging starters.
The combination of size and speed that Searcy offers should be a nice compliment to the Broncos renewed focus on stopping the run. Searcy can hit and help out in coverage.
Seventh Round, 247th Pick Overall: Noel Devine, RB West Virginia
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John Fox likes a lot of options at RB and Noel Devine should provide the change of pace with his speed that will help to diversify the Broncos offense.
This is probably a position that the Broncos will be eager to overhaul and that process begins with the final choice for the Broncos in the 2011 draft. If the injury bug bites again for the Broncos, Devine might see the field sooner then expected.