The NFL Draft is a time when teams prepare and look to the future. What better way to kick off the new year than with a mock draft?
Yes, I know that there is still a game left, and the playoffs. But that doesn't change this team's needs and the amount of players set to hit free agency. There are going to be a lot of moving pieces between now and the draft.
Players will be cut, extended, signed and possibly traded. The prospects for the draft still have the NFL Scouting Combine to improve their stock, and there's still a lot film to be watched. The rankings and picks are all based off of my big board, which is still in its early stages. This is version one of my mocks — expect a lot of changes from this mock to the final one leading up to the draft.
At this time, the Denver Broncos don’t have a pick in the fourth or sixth round. They traded their fourth round pick for 2016 to the Baltimore Ravens as part of the deal for Gino Gradkowski. The Broncos also got a 2016 fifth round pick in return — more on that in a moment. As for the sixth round pick, that was sent to the San Francisco 49ers, along with a 2017 sixth round pick for Vernon Davis and a 2016 seventh round pick.
So the picks the Broncos have are a first (own), second (own), third (own), fifth (own*), and three sevenths (own, 49ers and Texans*). Do you remember Denver getting a fifth rounder as part of the Gradkoski deal? Well, as part of the trade up in the first round this past draft to select Shane Ray, the Broncos also gave up a 2016 fifth round pick.
At this time, it is unknown if it will be the Broncos' or Ravens' pick, which is why the asterisk by it. As for the third seventh, that comes to Denver as part of the trade that sent tackle Chris Clark to the Houston Texans. At this time, it is unknown whether it will be the Texans' pick, or a pick from the St. Louis Rams, that Houston picked up in a trade with them.
Denver is also expected to pick up at least three compensatory picks, and from what I have heard, they could be getting up to five. However, the expectation from my sources puts the number at three — with the highest being a third round.
This mock draft will not include trades, or compensatory pick selections, simply because they are unknown at this time.
Hopefully you enjoy this mock draft for the Denver Broncos.
Note: All picks were made via a mock draft simulator that was last updated on December 21st.
Offensive Tackle - Indiana
Spriggs wins his matchups with athleticism, strength and solid technique. If you remember Lane Johnson from the 2013 NFL Draft, then Spriggs is almost a clone of him. There are differences between the two players — primarily Spriggs not being the athlete Johnson was.
What impresses me most with Spriggs are his balance and quick feet. He can kick-slide with the best of the best. To add to it all, Spriggs has a high football IQ, clean off-field stuff, and no serious medical concerns that I was able to find, and is well respected by his teammates.
Now, Spriggs isn’t the ‘perfect’ prospect and there are areas of concern with him. Some of his technique is raw, and inconsistent. His punch needs work off the snap, as at times, it is weak. He also can use some coaching with spacing issues. He will let his base get too wide, which makes him easy to knock off balance. There are times when he lets his hand placement get too wide, which defenders used to draw a holding flag.
At this time, Spriggs is a late first rounder on my board. However, odds are he rises up to a top 10-20 pick. Much of this will be determined by how he performs at the Combine. If he surprises teams and scouts with his athleticism, expect him to rise.
With Denver runnign a zone blocking scheme, Spriggs is an excellent fit in the scheme. Not only can he come in and compete for a starting job at both tackle positions, he can move inside to a guard position if need be. There are uncertainties about Ryan Clady’s future with the Broncos, but from the latest that I have heard, he is expected to take a pay-cut. If he does return, he likely will man the left tackle spot, leaving Ty Sambrailo and Spriggs to battle for right tackle.
At the very least, Spriggs provides depth at a position that has hindered the Broncos all season long. If he develops right, he can also be a great left tackle in the not so distant future. Right now, if Spriggs is on the board with the Broncos pick, they need the Flash to run up the card because no one else could get it there fast enough.
Running Back - Utah
The running back from Utah has the skill-set to be a three-down back in the NFL. Not only does he have the burst and quickness to pick up yards, Booker has good strength and doesn’t shy away from contact, and he can pick up yards that way as well. With a low center of gravity, it makes it harder to bring down Booker. His vision, balance, and decisivness are extraordinary.
Despite being quick, there are some concerns with Booker’s speed, which can be answered with his 40-time at the Combine. Although he has the attributes to be a three-down back, the pass protection from Booker is a work in progress. He is a tough and willing blocker, but sometimes just doesn’t have the power or technique to deal with stronger blitzers.
At this time, Booker is sitting as my number two running back behind Ezekiel Elliott from Ohio State. He carries a late first, early second round grade. So, in the simulator, when he was available for the Broncos' second round pick, it was a ton of value based on my board. Even if he answers some of the concerns with his speed, and pass blocking, it is hard to see him rise any higher simply because of how modern NFL teams value the running back position.
There are many questions surrounding the future of the running back position for the Broncos. Both Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson are set to be free agents — Hillman an unrestricted and Anderson a restricted. Add in health concerns with Anderson, and the need for running back help is high. Booker can come in, be a bell-cow, and fits the offense perfectly. If they bring back Anderson, they can be the one-two punch that many thought Anderson and Hillman would be to start the season.
Defensive Line - Auburn
There is a lot to like from Adams, and his high ceiling. He can be so quick off the snap that is makes him impossible to block. There is versatility to his game that can see him line up in multiple positions on the defensive line.
If he was as disruptive as he is on a conissitent basis, then he would be a concensus first round pick. At his size, he has burst that is surprising to offensive linemen, which is why he can be so disruptive. Adams isn’t limited to being just a run defender or pass rusher, as he has skills to do both.
Right now, he carries an early second round grade from me, but managed to fall in the simulator. These unforeseen elements happen throughout each draft. As it gets closer to the draft day, Adams may end up being a first round pick. The talent and upside are both there.
With the defensive front that Wade Phillips uses, Adams fits it perfectly. I am not sure there is any better fit for Adams in the NFL than the Broncos. Also, Denver’s starting two defensive ends, Malik Jackson and Derek Wolfe, are both set to hit the open market as unrestricted free agents.
The current belief is that only one of the two will return, despite the need to keep both of the great, young players. Pairing one of those two with Adams is a step back, simply because of the rookie learning curve, but eventually can end up just as good, or better. With Adams' skill-set, he fits better as a replacement for Jackson than for Wolfe. If Denver is able to and does keep both, Adams would be a major boost to the depth on the defensive line, which is lacking.
Wide Receiver - Colorado
There is a lot to like from Spruce and from the way he plays the game. Denver’s offense can use a player like him in the slot, providing he wins against the talented corps of receivers the Broncos already have. Its hard to believe Nelson will be around in the fifth round, but this receiver class is deep with talent.
Round Seven (A)
Offensive Linemen - North Dakota State
In the seventh round I picked up an offensive linemen who was a round-three grade from me. He is a work in progress, and is coming from a small school, but it could pay off big. I wouldn’t expect him to play at left tackle in the NFL, but at right tackle, or preferably, guard. Also, he doesn't likely make the final roster year one, but spends time on the practice squad to be developed. Kind of like Matt Paradis.
Round Seven (B)
Offensive Linemen - Boise State
The Denver Broncos offensive line is such a mess that I focused on it, and added a third lineman. Odhiambo is a great scheme fit, and is likely long off the board by this pick. He is a guard at the next level, but with work, could even play right tackle.
However, I don’t think that is where he is best at. WIth a high ceiling and a lot of talent and ability, the pick was too hard to pass up. He has a better chance to make the 53-man roster than Haeg, due to where they are in their development.
Round Seven (C)
Fullback - Wisconsin
The younger brother of NFL star J.J. Watt, Derek is a really solid addition as a fullback. The scheme calls for one, so using the final pick to add a player here isn’t a bad choice. Derek isn’t the player big brother J.J. is, but he is very good as what he does.
Again, this mock helps identify some of the Broncos areas of need. It's a great way to kick off the new year, and my college scouting. In the comments below, in the MHH forums, or on Twitter, feel free to suggest players you want a scouting report on. These reports will focus in on their strengths, weaknesses, projected round, scheme fit, what they could bring to the Broncos and much more. Thank you and happy new years, folks.
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