A recent report from Tony Pauline of Draft Insider has the Denver Broncos closely linked to two of the top inside linebacker prospects in this draft class—Mississippi State’s Benardrick McKinney and TCU’s Paul Dawson.
The Denver Broncos are another team I’m hearing linked to McKinney as they believe he’d fill their linebacker need. The other name associated with Denver in league circles is Paul Dawson of TCU. It must be mentioned the team has not shown a lot of interest in Dawson via the visit/workout route.
The Broncos currently have a roster replete with linebackers but not all of them project well as inside linebackers in a 3-4. Guys like Corey Nelson and Lamin Barrow, although recent draft picks (2014), might have a hard time transitioning to ILB.
However, in defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ scheme, his ILBs aren’t expected to take on guards at the point of attack as much as players in a traditional 3-4 system are, which means that this group of young linebackers, although better suited as WILL-backers in a 4-3, might thrive.
But the question marks remain. The Broncos need a true ILB and the 6-foot-4, 346-pound McKinney could be that guy. The Broncos brought him in for a private workout back in March. Scout.com’s leading expert Dave-Te Thomas sees McKinney going off the board in the second round of the upcoming draft.
Dawson, on the other hand, is a 6-foot-0, 235-pound prospect, who has better upside than McKinney, but also comes with some character concerns that some teams might shy away from. The Broncos have not privately worked out Dawson, which could be telling.
Dawson is about the same size as Brandon Marshall (238 pounds) and Danny Trevathan (240 pounds) and possesses the same playmaking propensity. The Broncos have to have a solid contingency in place at ILB, with both Marshall and Trevathan coming off of recent surgeries.
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Dave-Te Thomas has Dawson off the board in the third round and it should be noted that the NFL’s leading scout sees Dawson as more of a MIKE linebacker in a 4-3. Other options the Broncos could consider at ILB include Clemson’s Stephone Anthony, Miami (FL)’s Denzel Perryman and Georgia’s Ramik Wilson. The Broncos met with Perryman at the Senior Bowl back in January, but have not been linked to Anthony or Wilson—yet.
Head coach Gary Kubiak has made it clear that the Broncos are going to be “linebacker heavy” on the roster, which should help their execution on special teams and keep the cupboards well-stocked at arguably the most important defensive position group. We can likely expect them to continue to bolster the position via the NFL Draft.
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