It's that time of year. The NFL Scouting Combine is soon upon us, which means draft season is in full effect. In this mock draft, I am taking into consideration the projected compensatory picks for the Denver Broncos.
So instead of their original six picks (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 5th and 6th), they will likely have four extra picks. One at the end of the fourth, two in the sixth and one seventh. Of their original picks, the Broncos get the Chicago Bears fifth round pick and sent their seventh round pick to the New York Giants.
Now, for this mock draft, a simulator was used for all the picks, except for the Broncos. While not perfect, it keeps the Broncos mock from being set up for ‘dream’ picks. I also enlisted our Editor-In-Chief Luc Polglaze and our Lead Analyst Chad Jensen for their takes on each pick. With that said, it’s time to jump into the mock draft.
1.28: Maxx Williams
Tight End, Minnesota, 6-foot-4, 250 pounds.
With their first round pick, the Broncos take the top tight end of the class. Williams is an excellent athlete who has a well-rounded skill-set. While his blocking is not the best, he shows a lot of potential to grow in that regard. The best attribute with Williams' blocking is that he is an effort blocker. He tries to do something that many players at his position do not attempt, especially at the college level. His biggest concern is that he lowers his head while blocking, which allows the defender to quickly side-step the block and Williams doesn’t realize until it is too late.
Williams has a high football I.Q. and shows an understanding of coverages and how to exploit them. He is a mismatch nightmare who can lineup in multiple places on the offense. He can, and has, lined up as a fullback, in-line tight end and in the slot. He has shown an ability to make an impact at any place on the field.
He has great hands and is really good making a play after the catch. He has surprising speed and agility for a player of his size. His speed is helped by such a quick burst off the snap, which allows him to get to top speed in a hurry. Williams also is a tough and physical player, both as a blocker and as a receiver.
He will see his biggest impact in the redzone, but is a threat all over the field. He has very few negatives, and those he does have, can easily be coached up. The only issue that cannot be coached up are concerns with his knee. If not for the knee, Williams would likely go higher in that draft than he will.
With Julius Thomas likely on his way out, the Broncos need someone to step in and replace him. Maxx Williams can not only replace Thomas’ production in the passing game, but be a bigger contributor in the running game as a blocker. Being in Gary Kubiak’s offensive scheme, puts Williams in a position to succeed by being a scheme fit.
Maxx Williams draws a comparison to a combination of Jason Witten and Greg Olsen. He also has an incredibly high ceiling; the highest of all tight ends in the draft, and a floor that isn’t as low. At worst, Williams is a receiving threat at tight end, and in college 82% of his catches went for either a first down, or a touchdown. Williams will turn 21 years old just a few weeks before the draft.
Polglaze's take: “Quite simply, Williams is the best tight end in the draft. He is a good blocker and an excellent receiver. At the end of the first round, Williams is a great value pick, and would be an excellent fit with the Gary Kubiak offense.”
Jensen's take: "The Broncos are definitely in the market for another tight end. Williams fits the bill and working with Peyton Manning and Kubiak's staff, he could become a star in the NFL."
2.59: Cody Prewitt
Safety, Ole Miss, 6-foot-2, 215 pounds.
With the Broncos second round pick, they address a need on the defense. With the reports of the Broncos letting Rahim Moore go, they need someone to step in and replace him. In the same report, it is said that they will give cornerback Kayvon Webster a look there, but they need someone to compete who is a natural at that position. This is where Cody Prewitt comes in.
Prewitt is a bigger free safety than you normally see, but he has deceptive speed and range that you do not expect. Another positive trait is his burst, which enables him to play a centerfield-like role that is common for free safeties in this age of the NFL.
In combination with his burst is his nose for the ball, which puts him in a good position to make a play. Prewitt also does a good job at reading the quarterback. That, with his burst and nose for the ball, makes him a dangerous asset to have on defense.
On a negative note, Prewitt is limited in the fact he struggles in man coverage. He also is not the tackler you expect for a player of his size. He is not a bad tackler. In fact, he is a good one, but he does not lay the wood like one would expect.
Also, while he does do a good job at reading the quarterback, signal callers can look him off with ease at times, as he jumps and bursts in that direction. He does not change direction quickly, so when he does jump, it hurts the defense.
Prewitt is bigger than your prototypical free safety, but he moves surprisingly well for that size. A bonus to his size is that it allows versatility with the safeties and can be used in multiple ways. Prewitt was a four-year starter at Ole Miss and showed growth as a player each year. This bodes well for him as a prospect going forward.
One comparison I personally like for Prewitt is Eric Weddle. While Prewitt is bigger than Weddle, their play-style is similar. Weddle plays bigger than he is and in a way, Prewitt does too. However, Prewitt is not the hitter Weddle is.
Drafting Prewitt and letting him compete with Webster would be great for the Broncos. If Webster is successful, it adds to the depth at safety for the team, as Prewitt can play both safety positions. If Webster is not successful, the Broncos have someone they drafted to play the position. This is a weak safety class and Prewitt finds himself near the top of the board because of it. He can also step in and help a struggling special teams coverage unit.
This was a pick I made based on the present situation in Denver, as Prewitt can be a starter from day one, and the future. He has a high ceiling, and his floor is not very low. At worst, Prewitt will find himself as a depth option at safety and a top special teams player.
Polglaze's take: “Although I haven't had an opportunity to evaluate Prewitt yet, I've seen some glowing praise from draft analysts about him. He immediately would provide an impact presence in the back end of the Denver secondary.”
Jensen's take: "I had the opportunity to closely watch Prewitt all week for the Senior Bowl practices and I came away impressed. He's a physical player, but I'm not sure I see him at free safety. He's more of a box-clocker, in my opinion. Is he worth a second round pick? Absolutely."
3.92: Laken Tomlinson
Offensive Guard, Duke, 6-foot-3, 330 pounds.
In the third round, the Broncos go slightly off of their draft agenda. Tomlinson is not the best fit for a zone blocking scheme, however, with proper coaching, he can do the job. With Tomlinson’s extremely high football I.Q. and excellent work ethic, I have no doubt that he can be coached up and learn what he needs to, in order to make an impact day one.
The reason why I went away from great scheme fits in favor of Tomlinson is the simple fact he was there at the end of the third round in this simulation. He had a great showing at the Senior Bowl and the practices leading up to it. Also, Tomlinson had a great week of practices and is likely climbing draft boards around the NFL.
The biggest reason Tomlinson is not the best fit for the zone blocking scheme is his "clunky-ness" when moving. However, he shows a patience that cannot be coached and that can be a great attribute for this scheme. Tomlinson also has great eyes and awareness of what is going on around him.
One big concern with Tomlinson is his versatility. Back in January, Jensen commented that Tomlinson saw some time at center during Senior Bowl practices, which eases some of the concerns. However, in his time at Duke, Tomlinson played right guard specifically, and there is a difference between what a left and right guard does. With that said, with his high football I.Q. and work ethic, it is not unreasonable to think he can make the switch to left guard.
With the right coaching, Tomlinson can step in right away at left guard for the Broncos. If he isn’t capable, the Broncos can look to switch Louis Vasquez to left guard and allow Tomlinson to man right guard. He is a young player who is very smart, both on and off the field. When it is all said and done, Tomlinson may end up being one of, if not the, best offensive linemen from this draft.
Polglaze's take: “This is an extremely poor OG class, with viable options few and far between. Tomlinson happens to be one of my favorites. He has the ability to be a lock-down starter for many years to come.”
Jensen's take: "Tomlinson was dominant all week in the North Squad practices in Mobile. He went toe-to-toe with DT Danny Shelton all week long and won more often than he lost. Five years from now, I expect Tomlinson to possibly be the best offensive lineman to emerge from this draft class. Hyperbole? No. He's that good and he's just scratching the surface of what he can accomplish as a young player."
4.133 (compensatory pick): Tre McBride
Wide Receiver, William and Mary, 6-foot-2, 205 pounds.
This selection would be the first of the four compensatory picks that the Broncos are projected to receive. With it, they go with a small school wide receiver who can have an impact in multiple ways. McBride can play inside in the slot, or outside as a possession-edge receiver. He also has an excellent returner skill-set.
McBride does not win his matchups with speed. Instead, he is quick, agile and fluid, which is how he gets separation from defenders to make the play. In fact, McBride’s speed is one negative about him. He has good speed, but not top-level speed that draws the attention of teams.
Due to the lack of top-end speed, McBride won’t take the top off of a defense, which limits the ways he can be used. Also, McBride is not a serious threat to rack up big yards after the catch. Besides that, the concerns with McBride are all issues that can be fixed through coaching and not inhibited by his ability.
McBride compares to Jarvis Landry, who was drafted in the 2014 NFL draft by the Miami Dolphins in the second round. Landry had an immediate impact on the Dolphins as a returner and a receiver. McBride is a little taller than Landry, but his play is similar. Landry saw success as a receiver, due to his route running, agility and quickness, which is exactly how McBride will see success in the NFL.
This pick was made to fix the Broncos at receiver and returner. The team is expected to let Wes Welker walk in free agency and they have no one to really take his place. They do have Jordan Norwood, who was the talk of training camp and preseason last year, on injured reserve. But he is no guarantee to return to that form and he has had little impact during his career.
McBride adds to the receiving corps that likely will have Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Cody Latimer. It is unlikely McBride is more than fourth on the depth chart, but he immediately solves the Broncos troubles at punt returner and provides another option as a kick returner. The Broncos signed undrafted free agent Isaiah Burse after the 2014 draft to fill that role, but he ultimately failed and ended up being cut by the team.
Polglaze's take: “FCS receiver McBride made a name for himself when he made an impact at the East-West Shrine Game. Although he lacks some true receiver characteristics, he can definitely find himself a home in the big leagues. A solid mid-round addition.”
Jensen's take: "Although the Broncos have a need for another receiver to round out the position group and great need of a returner, I'm not sure that McBride in the fourth round is the right call, only because I think a player with a similar skill-set could be found later in the draft. However, McBride does present value and would certainly be an asset as a depth option and returner."
4.143 (Bears pick): Ali Marpet
Offensive Guard, Hobart, 6-foot-4, 310 pounds.
This selection is made with the Chicago Bears selection that they traded to the Broncos during the 2014 NFL draft. Marpet is a small school prospect that would be a bit of a project for whichever team ends up selecting him. He has a high football I.Q. and is one of the more technically sound offensive linemen in the draft. All he really needs, from a technique stand point, is refinement for the NFL level.
While at college, Marpet mostly played as the left tackle and he was dominant, but the level of competition is a concern. It is expected a team will draft Marpet and work with him to become an interior offensive linemen, most likely at center in a zone blocking scheme.
His level of competition in college is a concern, but Marpet had a good showing during the Senior Bowl game and practices to ease those concerns slightly. A big reason why Marpet was able to see success, was due to his technique being so sound. He did struggle at times, but was solid overall.
For the Broncos, Marpet would be a project to be coached up to eventually take over a guard or center position in a couple of years. A zone blocking scheme seems to be where Marpet will have the best chance to succeed, which makes him a great fit for the Broncos.
Polglaze take: “Marpet, from Division III Hobart, also had a standout appearance, this time at the Senior Bowl. He flashed major talent, showing the talent that left him having not allowed a sack all season. Although he played LT in college, his best fit might be as OG or C in an NFL zone-blocking scheme.”
Jensen's take: "At the Senior Bowl, Marpet's work-a-day approach and just-happy-to-be-here attitude was infectious. He's not the most talented player, but he makes up for it with his work ethic and attitude. He's a project pick but has high character and could pay off down the road."
5.164: Stephone Anthony
Linebacker, Clemson, 6-foot-3, 245 pounds.
With the Broncos fifth round pick, they take Anthony. He fits in as a 3-4 inside linebacker and would immediately add to the rotation inside, with Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshall.
Nate Irving is an unrestricted free agent, but I don't see him coming back next year, making a replacement something of a need. If Irving does return, it lessens the need for a linebacker, because the Broncos would have seven players competing for the inside linebacker positions.
Anthony is an athletic player, who has a great build, but he lacks the instincts that you want to see from linebackers. He also has serious concerns in coverage, and some concerns in run defense. However, Anthony works hard and accepts coaching, so those concerns can easily be coached up. He has shown the ability to be a dominant force in the middle, he just lacks the consistency.
With the potential to be a well-rounded inside linebacker, Anthony is an intriguing prospect. He lacks the consistency on tape to be a high round pick, but the flashes of potential keep him in the mid/late round consideration. His athleticism shows on tape and enables him to do many different things. He just needs coaching to put all the pieces together.
Polglaze take: “Anthony is a typical 3-4 ILB. He has the size and tackling ability to play the MIKE position, but can be too aggressive or purely sloppy at times. A classic depth/potential starter mid-round move.”
Jensen's take: "The Broncos showed an interest in Anthony at the Senior Bowl and he makes sense in the middle rounds, especially if Nate Irving leaves, as Trickel mentioned."
6.202: Max Garcia
Center, Florida, 6-foot-5, 305 pounds.
With the Broncos sixth round pick, they go back to the offensive line by adding a guy who has played everywhere on the offensive line. Garcia has played at center, both guard positions and left tackle, while he was at Florida. He best projects as a center at the NFL level, who can play guard in a pinch.
There are a lot of concerns with Garcia from a technical standpoint. He best fits in a power scheme, due to the technical concerns, but with coaching and hard work, he can be a solid depth player, at worst, in a zone blocking scheme.
Adding Garcia to the mix at center for the Broncos gives Matt Paradis someone to compete with as, potentially, the backup center. The Broncos are also reportedly wanting to re-sign Will Montgomery, so they could have a three-way battle for two positions. All three of these players can also play guard, which helps the depth along the offensive line.
Polglaze take: “Apart from Williams, Garcia is potentially my favorite pick in this mock. He is fast becoming one of my top offensive linemen in the draft. I've seen him play LT, LG and C. An extremely versatile prospect, Garcia would be a solid backup and a good starter for Denver. Excellent selection at a position need.”
Jensen's take: "Garcia is an underrated player and I wouldn't be surprised to see him go off the board before the fifth round. If the Broncos got him here, I'd consider it manna from football heaven."
6.217 (compensatory pick): Nick Boyle
Tight End, Delaware, 6-foot-6, 270 pounds.
With the first of two projected sixth round compensatory picks, the Broncos take another tight end in Boyle. He has great size for a tight end, but he needs to utilize it better as a receiver and especially as a blocker. Boyle has the physical tools to be a complete tight end, he just lacks technique and proper coaching.
Right out of the gate, Boyle can make an impact in the redzone. He is a mismatch for defenses who can line up in a variety of ways. He does best when lined up as an in-line tight end, but can line up as a receiver or in the backfield and have an impact on the play.
Moving forward, the Broncos have only one tight end under contract for 2015 in Dominique Jones. Julius Thomas, Virgil Green and Jacob Tamme are all unrestricted free agents come March, and I only expect Virgil Green to be back. This creates a big need at tight end, especially with how utilized they are in Gary Kubiak's offense. If the Broncos sign another tight end in free agency, I still would not be surprised if they took two in the draft.
Polglaze's take: “Although Boyle looks like Tarzan, he often plays like Jane. At 6-foot-6 and 270 lbs, I just expect so much more from him as a blocker. He has a lot of potential but still has a lot of development to go to reach that potential.”
Jensen's take: "I wasn't impressed with Boyle's performance at the Senior Bowl. Some might call him a jack-of-all trades, but a master of none. I would concur."
6.218 (compensatory pick): James Sample
Safety, Louisville, 6-foot-2, 192 pounds.
With the second of the Broncos projected sixth round compensatory pick, they go for depth at the safety position and add to the special teams unit. Prewitt was drafted in the second round to compete for the starting free safety position with Kayvon Webster and the Broncos have David Bruton for depth as well. So Sample may not make a ton of sense, but if Webster is unable to handle the transition to safety, the Broncos are thin at the position.
Sample is a tall and long safety, who tackles incredibly well. He has only one year of football experience, but is loaded with potential, which flashes on tape. He is capable of playing both safety positions, adding versatile depth behind Bruton. Sample has exhibited some ballhawk-like attributes, which teams love. The area that Sample can contribute right away is on special teams. He is quick and strong to attack on coverage units.
With NFL coaching, Sample can develop into a solid starter. But those are high expectations for a sixth round pick. At the very least, Sample can be a contributor on special teams and help a Broncos coverage unit that has struggled. He also would be an option to be waived by the Broncos and brought back on the practice squad, where he can be coached up for a year or two.
Polglaze's take: “Sample played alongside Gerod Holliman at Louisville this season and had a good season. I haven't had a chance to scout him, so I can't address anything else.”
Jensen's take: "The Broncos certainly need to bolster their safety group and Sample would absolutely do that. In the sixth round, a great value pick."
7.253 (compensatory pick): Brandon Bridge
Quarterback, South Alabama, 6-foot-4, 226 pounds.
The final pick for the Broncos comes as a projected compensatory seventh round pick. The Broncos go with a project at quarterback here. Brandon Bridge is an athletic freak of nature, but that is what his game is based around. From a technique standpoint, he is as raw as they come and will take a couple of years of coaching to even be worth getting a look as a starter.
Bridge is athletic and has a very strong arm, but is not accurate with his passes. He also is a very mobile quarterback, but he is not too quick to take off running. He buys himself time by moving around the pocket and even escaping, all while he continues to scan the field. The biggest issues with Bridge are his footwork and throwing motion. So, whichever team drafts him has to be confident they can fix those issues.
With the Broncos, Bridge would likely land on the practice squad for his first couple of years. He has the tools to be successful in the scheme moving forward, but Greg Knapp has his work cut out for him to fix Bridge’s mechanics.
Polglaze's take: “This is one of the less talented QB classes in recent memory. Apart from the obvious names, the rest of the group should either not start as an NFL QB or require serious development before they start. Bridge is among the latter group. He is extremely raw, but is athletic and mobile, and has a very strong arm. He is a high ceiling prospect, but has a lot of work to do before that.”
Jensen's take: "As the Broncos Mr. Irrelevant, Bridge serves as a developmental QB who has the natural tools to play QB at the NFL level. However, he needs work, and the NFL might not be willing to wait for him, thus rendering him irrelevant in deed, as well as name."
It is still early in the draft process. The combine has not happened yet and teams have not delved into private workouts. They also have not supplemented their rosters through free agency. This is an early mock draft that can see a lot change between now and the draft.