Denver Broncos: 4 1st-Round Prospects Who Could Fall into Their Lap
The names the Denver Broncos have been linked to have all been very familiar.
T.J. Clemmings. Jake Fisher. Eddie Goldman. Generally linemen, because that's what the Broncos have been targeting most. Sure, there have been a few best-case scenarios tossed out, like if a good tackle such as D.J. Humphries falls. But the names have mostly been the same.
However, we know that the draft is unpredictable. Unfamiliar names will be picked much higher than they should be. More talented players who have negative reports from certain teams will fall. And if they do, the Broncos will have a chance to pounce.
Who are those players?
Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
While the Broncos have been linked to a number of prospects on the defensive line, Malcom Brown is a name that hasn't been tossed around much.
Brown is a strong, versatile prospect who would be a great fit in Denver's 3-4 scheme. Brown could be Denver's nose tackle in its one-gap scheme, which would benefit more from a player like the 319-pound Brown than a more massive player, like Terrance Knighton, in their one-gap scheme.
The athleticism Brown possesses would make him a great fit on a needy defensive line. Denver has quality depth, but four of their top six defensive linemen (Antonio Smith, Derek Wolfe, Malik Jackson and Marvin Austin) are impending free agents.
Also, only Jackson, a part-time player, and Smith, who is 33 years old, have consistently performed well. Denver lacks a star presence, but Brown could be that player.
Most expect Denver to add an offensive lineman, but unless a star like Andrus Peat or La'el Collins falls into its lap, Denver might ignore the right tackle position and give the job to zone-blocking scheme fit Michael Schofield. They need more long-term fits on the defensive line.
If the Broncos truly do have confidence in Schofield, the defensive line would become the biggest priority. In that case, Brown, who, as NFL draft analyst Jayson Braddock said, could slide, would be a great choice.
Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
With the departure of Wes Welker, it would seem that the Broncos would be in need of a wide receiver.
If they were, Jaelen Strong would be a good option. However, Jayson Braddock mentioned him as someone who could slide in the draft because of his wrist injury. There's a very real possibility that Strong could be available because of the rise of Breshad Perriman and the depth of this year's wide receiver class.
Strong has great hands and could benefit the Broncos, but with their change in offensive style and the probable emergence of Cody Latimer, Strong is unlikely to become a Bronco.
Because of Gary Kubiak's offense, which often involves two tight ends or a fullback as opposed to three-wide receiver sets, the Broncos don't need a great third receiver. But they might have one in the sure-handed Latimer.
Denver could add a receiver in case Demaryius Thomas leaves after this season, but they should be set for the future. The earliest they should pick a receiver is on the final day of the draft, which would rule out Strong or any other receiver that falls in the first round.
La'el Collins, OT, LSU
Denver's supposed biggest need is at right tackle, where there are a plethora of options in this year's draft class. However, La'el Collins is not likely to be one of them when the Broncos are picking.
Collins is extremely athletic and has the necessary athleticism to succeed in Denver's zone-blocking scheme. He is one of the top tackles in the class and will likely be gone when Denver picks, but because of the depth of the tackle class, Collins could fall.
Brandon Scherff is almost certain to be the first lineman drafted, and Andrus Peat will almost certainly be gone by Denver's pick as well. But after those two are selected, there are a multitude of options at the tackle position.
If D.J. Humphries, Jake Fisher or T.J. Clemmings is valued higher than Collins by tackle-needy teams, then Collins could fall into Denver's lap. Denver has a need at the position, and if Collins is there, they should pounce.
As I previously mentioned, Schofield could certainly start, and the Broncos don't have to draft a tackle in the first round. But if Collins is there, it's unlikely that Denver will pass on him.
Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska
Randy Gregory was highly touted as one of the best prospects in the 2015 draft class. However, he failed a drug test, and that, coupled with questions about his size, has led to a probable fall.
Gregory could be DeMarcus Ware's eventual replacement at outside linebacker, and he and Von Miller could make a lethal team. There is a slight chance that he falls to Denver, but if he does, it will be for a reason.
Gregory has insane athleticism, but at 235 pounds, there are legitimate concerns about whether he is strong enough to compete with massive tackles. He is also raw, and if he doesn't develop proper pass-rushing moves, he could be a huge bust.
As NFL.com notes, he is a high-ceiling, low-floor prospect. He doesn't fit in Denver's championship window, since Peyton Manning is likely in his last year. Ware, who is under contract until the end of the 2016 season, will still be good to go for at least a year, so Denver doesn't necessarily need an outside linebacker.
Sure, they have limited depth at the position. But the first round is not the time to draft a backup, and that's essentially what Gregory, or any other outside linebacker, like Shane Ray, would be in Denver.