The Denver Broncos did their best to address their biggest needs going into the draft.
The consensus is that the Broncos found their four starters, and maybe, just maybe, they found six (Orlando Franklin at right tackle, Julius Thomas/Virgil Green at tight end, Von Miller and Nate Irving as linebackers, Rahim Moore at free safety and Quinton Carter at strong safety.)
Not too shabby.
The two positions that they missed—defensive tackle and running back—could still be addressed once teams are able to sign undrafted free agents.
At defensive tackle, the Broncos might consider Ian William out of Notre Dame. His specialty is stuffing the run, but he can develop into a much better pass rusher in time. He is versatile, a high character guy, and doesn’t take plays off. Although he missed the last four games of the 2010 season due to a knee injury, he still finished the season with 38 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one interception and 1.5 sacks.
Cedric Thornton is also a guy the Broncos may want to have a look at. He’s another big defensive tackle (6'3", 309 pounds) with good speed and ability. He would serve as a good run-stopper and might even surprise people with his ability to get after the quarterback. Thornton played through injury his senior year, and that may have contributed to his stock falling so much, but he is a tough, reliable player (read his scouting report here).
A running back to consider would be Derrick Locke out of Kentucky. The Broncos passed on explosive running backs like Jacquizz Rodgers and Taiwan Jones in the draft, but with Locke they would still be getting a similar type player. Locke is small (5'8", 187 pounds), and there are concerns about his durability at the next level, but he is a big-time playmaker in the open field. The Broncos could also use him as a punt or kick returner (in college he had two 100-yard touchdown returns).
NFLDraftScout.com describes him this way: “He's a slightly smaller version of Chris Johnson with a larger injury risk.”
Another diminutive back to consider would be Noel Devine out of West Virginia. Devine is another explosive play-maker, and a productive one at that, though he is being tagged as a character risk type player. However, he’s elusive, shifty and has good size and speed.
Until the lockout is lifted again, the Broncos will not be able to add any of these undrafted players to their roster..
Agent Jack Bechta notes, “We are talking about 400 players who would normally be signed immediately after the draft. But with the lockout, they have to dangle in the wind, wait and wonder indefinitely about when they can be signed.”
For the Broncos sake, hopefully this lockout is lifted soon, so normal operations can resume. The Broncos could really use some additional help at defensive tackle and running back, and there are certainly players out there that would love to be Broncos.
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