With their third round pick, No. 98 overall, the Denver Broncos selected Justin Simmons, a safety out of Boston College. After taking QB Paxton Lynch in the first round, DL Adam Gotsis in the second and now Simmons in the third, the Broncos addressed a roster need with each selection.
After trading away their original third round pick to move up and select Lynch, the Broncos used a compensatory third round pick to select Simmons. And the kid couldn't be happier.
“I’m just really looking forward to getting plugged in as soon as I get there and learning from obviously the best defense in the country last season," Simmons said. "I really think I bring a lot of my versatility and just knowledge to the game so I think all of that adds up together. Like I said earlier, just learning from those guys and learning how to improve my game so I’m excited for that.”
Simmons fills a Broncos need as a true free safety. At 6-foot-2 and 202 pounds, he brings a ball-hawking mentality to the secondary and can fit in as the Broncos' No. 3 safety behind starters T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart.
“I’m sure you’ve seen this guy’s measurables," head coach Gary Kubiak said Friday. "They’re off the charts the way he can run, jump, those types of things. Obviously he’s going to fill a lot of roles on our football team, but the biggest thing he gives us is the ability defensively to have some flexibility with T.J. being a box player and ‘Stew’ being in the middle of the field. This kid can come down either way. You want flexibility at safety in this league. Guys have to be able to cover. They have to be able to come down into the box and do those types of things. He’s a very smart young man, so we’ve added a big piece to the puzzle. Obviously with losing Bruton, this is a great get for us as a team.”
As a senior, Simmons picked off five balls, while also notching 67 combined tackles and two forced fumbles. Even though he has a relatively slight frame, he plays with physicality and intensity. He'll fit in well with Denver's "No Fly Zone".
The Broncos lost David Bruton — a team captain and No. 3 safety — and Omar Bolden to free agency. Denver brought back Shiloh Keo and signed Brandian Ross, but neither of those guys are long term answers at the position.
Simmons can be groomed behind two of the smartest and most physical safeties in the NFL. Stewart is in a contract year. If the Broncos are unable to re-sign him, they'll have an option to replace him on the roster in Simmons.
Here's a snippet from Simmons' NFL.com scouting report.
Effective in "robber" role when called on. Able to process layered routes in front of him and find his fit. Consistent in coverage and reads play development quickly. Has cornerback experience and can handle man coverage against move tight ends and bigger slots. Rangy from center field with length and hands for optimal ball skills and makes plays when he gets there. Will sprint from high to low as soon as he reads run and leverages well to the sideline. Showed improved tackle security from 2014 to 2015. Rarely tries to initiate tackle early. Allowed no broken tackles and just four missed tackles this year. Has talent as a gunner and was used on both punt and kick cover teams.
Our own Draft expert, Erick Trickel, had this to say about the Simmons:
"I was lower on him than most. Simmons had a mid fourth round grade from me. But he has a long frame and a ballhawk's skill-set. He can really do well as Denver's No. 3 safety and is an option as an eventual replacement to Darian Stewart."
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Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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