There are many ways the Denver Broncos can go with their first round pick this year. It's well known that GM John Elway doesn’t draft purely for need, but goes after the best players on the Broncos big board.
Another thing well known with Elway is that he doesn’t go into the draft with glaring needs. Year in and year out they go out and fill their holes in free agency, although those fixes don’t always pan out. This really enables Elway to do what he prefers to do in the draft — expect this year to be no different.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1681565-5-reasons-you-should-go-p... However, free agency is over a month away, so the Broncos can’t go filling their roster holes just yet. Without knowing who they end up getting for what positions makes it hard to settle on one player for the upcoming NFL Draft.
It also helps when there are many different opinions, which is what spawned the idea for a round up of the Mile High Huddle staff. Who will be the selection at pick 20?
Each staffer will make his pick, and I'll follow it up with my thoughts on it.
Will Keys (@WillKeys6): Ryan Ramczyk, Offensive Tackle, Wisconsin Badgers
Ramczyk is probably the safe, expected pick, and while John Elway tends not to draft for need, taking the Wisconsin tackle 20th overall would be a convergence of both need and “Best Player Available” to some extent. The only potential monkey wrench would be if Solomon Thomas slips past Tampa Bay.
Luc Polglaze (@LucPolglaze): Ryan Ramczyk, Offensive Tackle, Wisconsin Badgers
It's no secret that the Wisconsin Badgers' run game has been churning out NFL caliber backs for several years, but it has quietly had some excellent offensive line prospects. Ramczyk brings an edge of nasty, and should his meds check out, will be a handy addition to an NFL line.
My Thoughts: There are a few medical red flags with Ramczyk. He recently had surgery on his hip, but NFL circles are focusing on his right shoulder. There are some serious concerns with it that could cause him to fall down draft boards, depending on medical checks at the Combine.
Scouts I have talked with have him as an early second round pick, with a pending first round grade due to medical.
Nick Kendell (@ndkendell): Malik McDowell, Defensive End, Michigan State Spartans
Despite the highly publicized struggles of the Broncos offense, both in the pass game and the run game, it was actually Denver's run defense that was the worst ranked phase of team in 2016. Furthermore, Elway has stated that the number one goal of the offseason will be to keep the defense elite.
It should be expected that Elway will add to the offensive line in free agency to get immediate impact for the unit. Furthermore, the 2017 offensive tackle class is one of the worst in the last decade, so anyone at 20 is likely to be either A) a reach or B) have some issues.
Instead, Elway should focus on what he does best, adding amazing talent that for some reasons falls on the defensive side of the ball. Malik McDowell, heading into this season, was considered a top-5 talent in the upcoming class.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1747880-denver-broncos-7-round-mo... Putting on the tape, it is easy to see why. Standing at 6-foot-6, 280 pounds, McDowell looks like a power forward rather than a defensive lineman. He could stand to add 10-15 more pounds to hold up in the interior, specifically in his lower half, but he shows the frame that shouldn't be a problem. He plays with great leverage for his size, displaying tremendously heavy hands and burst at the snap that will make him a nightmare for opposing offensive lines.
McDowell's stock has fallen this past season, due to suffering from injuries and showing an inconsistent motor on tape — seeming to become disinterested once it was obvious that this year's Spartan team was a dumpster fire. It was reported that Elway was ready to select Chris Jones last season had it not been for the unexpected fall of Paxton Lynch in the first.
McDowell does not have the size that Jones had, but probably has a higher ceiling and very similar 'knocks' coming out. If Denver wants to improve their run defense and help their best player — Von Miller — be more effective and McDowell is on the board, Elway should sprint to the podium and make the selection.
My Thoughts: I knew when asking this Nick would say McDowell. I have no issue with McDowell, but there have been some character, mental and effort red flags raised by NFL scouts. There is no question that talent and potential are there, but is he going to give enough effort often enough at NFL level to be worth a first round pick? McDowell needs to reassure teams of this in meetings, or he could fall out of the first round.
Adam Uribes (@auribes37): Zach Cunningham, Linebacker, Vanderbilt Commodores
Denver will be hard pressed to find a bigger impact player at 20. While a Malik McDowell may be here, some character issues may result in him falling a bit dither down the line.
A tackle like Ryan Ramcyzk may be available, too, and in his own right, will be a safe high-floor/low ceiling pick. A linebacker like Cunningham, however, would be ideal in that he has the athleticism to be effective in the run or pass, has a nose for the ball, and is an upgrade over the crop of free agent class of off-ball linebackers.
My Thoughts: I am one of the few lower on Cunningham than the majority. Good player, but a lot of concerns with his game as a whole. I actually have a mid second round grade on him. Combine testing will be huge for him, not with medical or meetings like with Ramczyk and McDowell, but the actual testing. If he tests better than some scouts think, his draft stock will soar.
Josh Carney (@JCarney_Sports): Cam Robinson, Offensive Tackle, Alabama Crimson Tide
The Broncos need to go offensive line regardless of whether it's Robinson or Ramzyck. I can't watch another year of poor OL play and scrap heap free agents
My Thoughts: I am with Josh on not being able to watch another year of a poor offensive line. Watching them can be maddening. However, Robinson just isn’t a first round prospect for me. I find him to be limited as a player, without as high of a ceiling as others make it seem to be. Add in character red flags, Robinson is a round two guy for me.
Chad Jensen (@ChadNJensen): Garett Bolles, Offensive Tackle, Utah Utes
The Broncos need a big, nasty left tackle and although there are questions on whether Bolles is an immediate plug-and-play, his long-term upside is enormous. He gets after it in the ground game and is an athletic pass protector. Power, zone, whichever blocking scheme the Broncos roll with predominantly in 2017 and beyond, Bolles can play either.
My Thoughts: Of course, the Utes fan goes with the Ute. Kidding aside, there is a lot to like with Bolles. He may have one of the highest ceilings for offensive tackles in this draft. His scheme diversity increases his value. As a player, however, I see a second round right tackle with left tackle potential.
Khalid Alshami (@KhalidHAlshami): O.J. Howard, Tight End, Alabama Crimson Tide
The team clearly needs an upgrade at the position and Howard would give Paxton Lynch a young, freakishly athletic tight end to develop along side.
My Thoughts: Howard is the first selection I strongly disagree on. He is being made out to be better than he is by many, though he is still a good player. Watching him block, you see potential, but not the set blocker I have often heard.
There is also a big concern with his hands. Don’t get me wrong, I like Howard the player, just not in the first round. Better value for later tight ends than Howard in the first.
Erick Trickel (@ErickTrickel): Trade Down
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Looking at the Broncos roster, they have a lot of talent and will look to fill multiple holes via free agency. This is a week class for offensive line, and my belief is, 20 would be a reach even for the top guy.
They could look at a defensive lineman, probably Solomon Thomas if he is there, an inside linebacker (Reuben Foster anyone?), or add to a position of strength like cornerback or edge rusher. The odds are both Thomas and Foster will be long gone by 20.
So, I am all for the Broncos trading down and picking up a few more picks in one of the deepest draft classes as a whole in the last few years. Most of these guys mentioned by my colleagues could probably be had later, or are not that far ahead of the next guy for the position to force them to reach.
After trading down they could target the likes of Antonio Garcia, an offensive tackle from Troy, who is rising rapidly up boards. They could look at Forrest Lamp, another offensive linemen this time from Western Kentucky, who can play guard or tackle and might be the first linemen off the board.
Maybe it's a guy like Jarrad Davis, a linebacker from Florida, who is the No. 2 guy in my book and is a late-first, early-second round player. That is just a few names, and there are many others.
Erick Trickel is a Draft Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ErickTrickel.
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