Not everyone has the same opinions on players, and the best way to show that is in the form of mock drafts. Looking through the interwebs at all the mock drafts — very few have the Denver Broncos picking the same player, even though most may have them looking at the same position. So, I went around the web and rounded up many of the selections from all different kinds of sites to bring them to you in one place.
- Erick Trickel, Mile High Huddle: Kevin Dodd, Defensive End, Clemson Tigers
- Chris Burke, Sports Illustrated: Hunter Henry, Tight End, Arkansas Razorbacks
- Drafttek.com: Cody Whitehair, Offensive Guard, Kansas State Wildcats
- Dan Kadar, SBNation: Robert Nkemdiche, Defensive End, Mississippi Rebels
- Walterfootball.com: Jarran Reed, Defensive Line, Alabama Crimson Tide
- Rob Rang, CBSSports/Scout.com: Paxton Lynch, Quarterback, Memphis Tigers
- Dane Brugler, CBSSports: Robert Nkemdiche, Defensive End, Mississippi Rebels
- Pete Prisco, CBSSports: Connor Cook, Quarterback, Michigan State Spartans
- Will Brinson, CBSSports: Chris Jones, Defensive End, Mississippi State Bulldogs
- Jared Dubin, CBSSports: Vernon Butler, Defensive Linemen, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
- Chad Reuter, NFL.com: Chris Jones, Defensive End, Mississippi State
- Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com: Germain Ifedi, Offensive Tackle/Guard, Texas A&M Aggies
- Charles Davis, NFL.com: Germain Ifedi, Offensive Tackle/Guard, Texas A&M
- Bucky Brooks, NFL.com: Derrick Henry, Running Back, Alabama Crimson Tide
- Lance Zeirlein, NFL.com: Le'Raven Clark, Offensive Tackle, Texas Tech Red Raiders
- Pat Kirwan, CBSSports: Jason Spriggs, Offensive Tackle, Indiana Hoosiers
- Jon Ledyard, Draftwire.com: Andrew Billings, Defensive Linemen, Baylor Bears
- Jonah Tuls, Draftwire.com: Su'a Cravens, Linebacker, USC Trojans
- Andrew Mason, DenverBroncos.com: Ezekiel Elliott, Running Back, Ohio State Buckeyes
There are many other mocks around the web, but that would keep the list going on and on. Right here there are 19 different mock selections. Now, it is time to break it down and examine it.
First off let me start with the fact there are no wide receivers, centers, rush linebackers or defensive backs in the above mock selections. Each of those are positions of strength for the Broncos. They are loaded at wide receiver, defensive back and rush linebacker, especially with DeMarcus Ware returning at a discounted rate.
As for center, last year their best and most consistent offensive linemen was Matt Paradis and he should only get better. He is the only lock on the offensive line right now as a starter. So let us now look at the positions that do have a selection in the mock selections above.
Quarterback: Two- Paxton Lynch and Connor Cook
Of these two, only one is a round-one-worthy quarterback, especially for the Broncos, and that would be Lynch.
Running Back: Two- Ezekiel Elliott and Derrick Henry
Like quarterback, there is only one here that should be a first round pick and that is Elliot. For me, Henry is good, but isn’t special. He is in my top-five running backs, but not in the top three. Also, he doesn’t fit with what the Broncos want in their running backs.
Tight End: One- Hunter Henry
I am a big fan of Henry, and with how much head coach Gary Kubiak loves tight ends, I can see them going this way in round one, though I doubt it. The staff of the Broncos knows they need to get more out of that position, as well as get more athletic there.
Offensive Line: Four- Germain Ifedi (2), Cody Whitehair, Jason Spriggs, Le’Raven Clark
Of this group, I see only two first round picks, Whitehair and Spriggs. Ifedi is an awful fit for the Broncos, as he is a power scheme only lineman, and likely needs to play the NFL level at guard. As for Clark, he is a project that should be taken in the middle rounds of the draft.
Defensive Line: Six- Kevin Dodd, Robert Nkemdiche (2), Chris Jones (2), Vernon Butler, Andrew Billings, Jarran Reed
The first group of players where everyone has first round talent. This speaks to the volume of depth in this class. However, not all of them will be first round picks — due to the depth. Jarran Reed will be, but he is a poor fit for the Broncos and limited as a two-down run stopper.
The rest are versatile and can play multiple spots and do multiple things on the defensive line. Nkemdiche, however, does come with some off-the-field concerns. Personally, I am a big fan Kevin Dodd. I've been pounding the table for him (who I picked in my latest mock), Chris Jones and Vernon Butler. All three could elevate the line to a level recently departed Malik Jackson couldn’t.
Linebacker: One- Su’a Cravens
I like Cravens a lot, but I'm not sure he is a first round pick. Lot of concerns on where you play him, but he would be best as a cover linebacker. A 4-3 team should draft him and install him as their weakside cover linebacker, and he should go in the second round, not the first.
The trends here tends to be in the trenches, on the defensive or offensive line. However, a lot of these mocks are pre-free agency. Many expected the Broncos to be able to retain quarterback Brock Osweiler, who bolted for more money and what he feels to be a better place. This opens up room for them to seriously consider a quarterback in round one. There are many reports that John Elway is a big fan of the kid from Memphis — Paxton Lynch.
There is still a lot of free agency left, and Denver could pick up another quarterback there, either by signing or trade. They did acquire Mark Sanchez, who will likely be the backup quarterback, if they choose to keep him. Denver is pushing hard to acquire Colin Kaepernick, who had a bad year last year, but suffered injuries early, played through them and for a dumpster fire of a team and an awful coach.
Let us not forget, Kaepernick took his team to within five yards of winning a Super Bowl, and nearly got back there again, which he did with the help of a great defense. Denver could use Mark Sanchez to help get Kaepernick. If they get Kaepernick, I still wouldn’t rule out a quarterback in the first round.
One thing can be ruled out though, and that is Trevor Siemian as the starter. Denver drafted him as a three-year project, and they are just entering year two. Plus, they have stated they have no intentions of starting him because they feel it would ruin his development.
There is a bigger concern at running back that many realize. C.J. Anderson was signed to an offer sheet by Miami that Denver will have a hard time matching, which is why I think they don’t. They also don’t plan on bringing Ronnie Hillman back at this time.
If Ezekiel “Zeke” Elliot is there after 15, I can see Denver pushing hard to trade up and snatch him, as he is viewed as a franchise changer. Plus there are some second round options that sources tell me Denver likes. Gary Kubiak has a history of not drafting a running back early, but there's a lot of talk right now that they’ll take one in the first three rounds.
With tight end — I said it earlier. They need to get more production and athleticism from that position. Kubiak’s offense relies on the play of tight ends, so they can look for help there early, even though they have Jeff Heuerman coming back from injury, but there is no guarantee how well he will do. Virgil Green wasn’t able to carve a role on offense and there are a bunch of other questions for the position. It's not a strong tight end class, but some quality talent in the first four rounds.
Offensive line draft class is deep, so Denver could wait. They went and signed a swing tackle/guard to help bolster their line, but some concerns still linger. If they end up forced to cut Ryan Clady, that leaves a hole somewhere. If they can get it done, expect to see a offensive line of Clady, Ty Sambrailo/Donald Stephenson, Paradis, Max Garcia, Sambrailo/Stephenson.
With Clady gone, Sambrailo and Stephenson would be your offensive tackles, leaving a hole at left guard, which Cody Whitehair could fill perfectly. Wild card here is Michael Schofield, who they could move inside to guard, but likely want to keep on the bench. One thing is for sure, Paradis will be the center and Garcia likely the right guard.
Defensive line is hurt with the depth and missing their starting right defensive end. Malik Jackson bolted, and Antonio Smith is a free agent and considering retirement. Denver picked up some help with Phil Taylor, but he isn’t the best fit in a one-gap 3-4 system. He does give them the ability to two-gap at the nose tackle position though.
Sylvester Williams can step in and help at right defensive end, as can Vance Walker, but neither should be full time starters there. Derek Wolfe will man his spot as the left defensive end. Wild card here is Kenny Anunike. So, Denver will look for help here, and likely spend two picks to help replenish the strength lost. The class is deep so they aren’t forced to pick one early, but if they want a starter right away, they’ll need to take one early. Chris Jones, Kevin Dodd and Vernon Butler all were selected in the mocks and any of the three would work perfectly.
Denver was ready and willing to let Danny Trevathan walk, who had one foot out the door from before the Super Bowl. The reason why Denver was willing? Todd Davis. There should be some worry as to whether Davis can fill Trevathan's shoes. Trevathan did a lot more for the defense than people realize and was a big reason for their success, especially defending the run.
He was more important than Brandon Marshall, but Marshall is the cheaper of the two as a restricted free agent. Even though I like Su’a Cravens, I don’t view him as a fit for the defense. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Denver selected a linebacker somewhere in the draft.
Dominique Alexander from Oklahoma is one to keep an eye on. I had one NFL scout tell me he is the prototypical Broncos linebacker, and a cross of Marshall and Trevathan. As I said before, the NFL Draft is still over a month away and a lot can still happen. All we can do is stay tuned.
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