It’s finally here. The NFL Draft is this Thursday, or as many Draft fanatics like to call it, second Christmas. After a less than exciting free agency period where the Denver Broncos added beef to both the offensive line and defensive line, and a longer offseason than fans are accustomed to, the Draft could not come soon enough.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1773305-smoke-or-fire-takeaways-f... While the debate of Christian McCaffrey vs. offensive line vs.any other prospect has been beaten to death, the Broncos will be on the clock soon enough and all the predictions and Draft rumors, both true and untrue, will be put to bed for at least nine more months when the NFL fanatics who like football 365 days a year will once again start emerging themselves in the future ‘could bes and should bes’ of the 2018 Draft prospects.
After writing scouting reports, and starting up the endeavor of a Broncos Draft podcast (called Huddle Up), even someone as Draft obsessed as myself is ready to move on to something new. However, there still is time to squeeze out one more 7-Round mock to excite and enrage all Bronco Faithful.
While some of these players may go earlier or later, as it just takes one team to like a prospect to pull the trigger, this is what I would consider an ‘ideal’ mock for the Broncos to walk away with this weekend.
Round 1: Forrest Lamp, Offensive Line, Western Kentucky
Much has been made about true position in the NFL of Forrest Lamp. While measuring in at 6-foot-4, 309 lbs, with 32-¼-inch arms, Lamp by all accounts would be considered a guard by most NFL talent evaluators.
There are exceptions to the shorter arms equal interior offensive lineman rule, such as Joe Thomas and Jason Peters, but conventional wisdom says players with sub 33-inch arms and shorter than 6-foot-5 would be best served playing interior offensive line. This may eventually be the case for Forrest Lamp, his skill-set, technique, and polish shown during his tenure at Western Kentucky leads me to believe he could at least be adequate at left tackle out of the gate.
While Ryan Ramczyk, Cam Robinson, and Garett Bolles are more likely to play and stick at tackle long term in my opinion, Lamp offers versatility that scouts rave about, stating he can play any position on the offensive line and do it well if need be. Lamp showed on tape against Jonathan Allen and Tim Williams of Alabama he has no problem going against great future NFL players at a high level.
According to Pro Football Focus, in 12 games throughout the 2016 season, Lamp surrendered a total of four QB pressures, one penalty, and zero sacks in a total of 415 pass-blocking snaps. While the level of competition in the Conference USA pales in comparison to that of the power five conferences, there is still plenty of fantastic tape of Lamp going against quality competition at left tackle to suggest he does have the ability to play tackle if need be.
Yes, Lamp may struggle some with edge defenders of lengt, he shows enough intelligence and technique that I believe he absolutely can play left tackle at a more than adequate level. With the addition of Lamp, Mike McCoy and Jeff Davidson have the flexibility to have training camp competition at tackle and guard, where Lamp could thrive.
Worst case scenario, Lamp plays and is average at tackle this season (as opposed to Donald Stephenson and Ty Sambrailo struggling) and the Broncos look for a new left tackle next offseason, pushing Lamp inside to guard where he has All-Pro potential.
Either way, drafting Lamp round one helps John Elway net the safest and most ready to play offensive lineman in the class and a 10-plus year player for the Broncos’ weakest unit.
Round 2: Chris Wormley, Defensive Line, Michigan
Last year, the Broncos struggled tremendously at stopping the run, especially compared to their Super Bowl Winning 2015 defense. Elway somewhat addressed this issue in free agency, signing Domata Peko from Cincinnati to handle nose tackle duties and Zach Kerr to compete for reps at 5-technique in Denver's 3-4 defense.
There is also hope that Adam Gotsis can take a second-year step and become more effective this season, having a full offseason to add strength and focus on technique instead of rehabbing an injury, as he was last offseason. Still, the Broncos would be wise to keep adding talent to the defensive line to help keep the defense elite for the foreseeable future. One player who fits the Broncos mold for the defensive line is Michigan’s Chris Wormley.
Wormley, a team captain for the Wolverines and by all accounts a player with a very high motor and character, is one of the best 3-4 defensive end prospects in the entire draft. Wormley has the size and frame to add more weight and muscle, the length to disrupt multiple gaps, and burst to be effective in Denver’s one-gap scheme.
At Michigan, Wormley mainly played 4-3 defensive end but in the NFL, he transitions much better as an interior defensive lineman. Wormley does not have exceptional twitch off the snap that many of the elite interior defensive linemen have in the NFL, but has the technique, strength, and motor to project as a high caliber 3-4 defensive end in the mold of Derek Wolfe — with a bigger wingspan.
Upon contact Wormley does a great job converting speed to power in his bulrush and is strong at disengaging and making plays on running backs and quarterbacks alike. Wormley will need to continue to work and add to his rush repertoire to be fully effective in the NFL, but given the Broncos have one of the best defensive line coaches in the NFL in Bill Kollar and Wormley’s reputation as a hard worker and leader, this shouldn’t be a problem.
With questions about Wolfe’s health going forward, the Broncos would be wise to select his not-so-mini-me round two if available.
Round 3: Gerald Everett, Tight End, South Alabama
In my last mock draft, I also selected Gerald Everett with this selection, and darn it I can’t help myself but go this way again. Denver needs offensive weapons to help out the young starting quarterback (whoever that may be) and help take the load off of the best wide receiver tandem in the NFL.
While the Broncos have a plethora of solid tight ends on the roster in A.J. Derby, Jeff Heuerman, and Virgil Green, these players have not shown the ability to be a go-to tight end for the Broncos. Furthermore, Elway would be silly not to add a tight end at some point during the draft, given the absurd depth of the position in this class.
While the likes of O.J. Howard, David Njoku, Evan Engram, Jake Butt, Bucky Hodges, and Adam Shaheen have been getting more publicity as options for the Broncos, Everett very well may be one of the best fits and has the upside to end up the best tight end in this ridiculous tight end class.
Everett looks more like a flex tight end rather than a true inline blocker. Everett was recruited by several SEC schools out of high school, but due to academic issues, started off his playing career at junior college. He would go on to play at UAB who later would dissolve their football program.
Everett finally found his home playing for the South Alabama Jaguars. Over the last two years Everett accumulated 90 receptions and over 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns, even when having to bailout time and again less than ideal quarterback play.
Everett shows desire and ability as an inline blocker, but also shows athleticism as a receiver in his routes. He is still raw as a route runner and will not be able to rely purely on his athletic superiority to create separation in the NFL. Everett is special with the ball in his hands, often times breaking off huge plays with YAC (yards after catch) and breaking multiple tackles along the way.
After losing weight for the Senior Bowl from recommendation from scouts, Everett shined as a receiver but struggled as a blocker. He was up to 239 pounds at the Combine, and played closer to 250 pounds during playing season at South Alabama. I thought no one was as high on Everett as Mile High Huddle’s own Erick Trickel, until I came across Pro Football Focus’s NFL Comparison for Gerald Everett: Antonio Gates.
While one should not expect Everett to turn into one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game, Everett is a weapon the Broncos would be foolish to pass if available in the third round.
Round 3. Julie'n Davenport, Offensive Tackle, Bucknell
The Broncos offensive line is not merely one player away from correcting itself and becoming a top-20 unit in the NFL. Despite the addition of Menelik Watson in free agency, a tackle core of Watson, Ty Sambrailo, and Donald Stephenson (as well as Lamp in this mock) does not offer enough long-term depth and upside to just select one player in the class and call it ‘good’.
Especially in this draft class, where the lack up elite tackles and poor depth in the class, taking a project tackle with elite traits and starting upside is about all one could realistically hope for. Enter in Bucknell’s gigantic Division II tackle Julie’n Davenport.
Standing at a monstrous 6-foot-7, 318 pounds with 36.5-inch arm length, Julie’n Davenport looks the part as much as any offensive tackle in this class. If one closes their eyes and thinks of what a starting tackle should look like, one would likely think of Davenport.
With some of the longest arms in recent memory at the Combine, Davenport already has an advantage at tackle given edge rushers will need to run around an entire block to get around him to reach the quarterback. Davenport has more than enough athleticism to reach defenders on the second level or mirror pass rushers when needed.
Davenport went against inferior competition during his time at Bucknell and has many technical deficiencies such as playing with an inconsistent base and struggling with pass rushers attacking his inside shoulder. He sometimes leans at his waist as well, losing power and balance when blocking.
Davenport will need time in the weight room as well as on the field, as he needs an NFL level strength and conditioning program to add proper weight and muscle to his gigantic frame. According to the Denver Post’s Nicki Jhabvala, the Broncos have shown heavy interest in the upside tackle, and if Jeff Davidson can help him reach his potential, Davenport could end up a very good starting tackle for a longtime in the NFL.
He won’t provide an immediate solution to the Broncos tackle woes, but offers quality starting upside at one of the most valuable positions in the NFL.
Round 4: Kareem Hunt, Running Back, Toledo
It has been reported that the Broncos are looking for another running back to help push Devontae Booker and C.J. Anderson and provide another quality back to a backfield which leaves talent evaluators shrugging their shoulders rather than cowering in fear. There have been rumors of the Broncos front office displeasure with Anderson and with two years left on his contract and consistently dealing with injuries, running back is absolutely a ‘need’ in the draft.
Furthermore, Booker looked uninspiring last season and may be best off as an RB2 in the NFL. One mid-round option, and one of the stars of the Senior Bowl and better running backs in a deep class is Toledo’s Kareem Hunt. In most years, Hunt would likely go round three, but given the depth of this class, it is very possible Hunt falls to day three of the Draft.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1773403-pre-draft-flash-sale-get-... Hunt has the size and frame to handle a heavy workload in the NFL. While not blowing the doors off Lucas Oil during the Combine, Hunt had a solid performance to back up a very productive season and college career. Hunt runs with excellent pad level, showing natural leverage when he bursts through the offensive line and takes on tacklers at the second level.
He absorbs contact very well and displays excellent balance when taking on contact while also keeping his legs churning for additional yardage. His balance and low center of gravity makes him a difficult back to bring down in the open field and often results in him manufacturing a few extra yards each run.
Hunt displays solid vision when pressing the offensive line and selects the correct gap to run through on most occasions, getting ‘skinny’ through the hole and turning up field. Hunt really worked on his game over the last season and transformed himself into a very solid receiving back, showing soft hands and solid route running capability.
Hunt also protects the rock better than any back in college football, literally. He only fumbled the ball one time in over 700 career carries. Hunt did not go against extremely talented front sevens playing for Toledo, and does not have many ‘elite’ traits to his game.
He also has had some dings and bruises that have cost him some games during his time at Toledo. Still, Hunt is an extremely valuable back that can and will play through minor injuries if need be. If Denver is sincere in stating they are looking for a mid-round running back, there is no better option than Kareem Hunt.
Round 5: Ryan Switzer, Slot Receiver/Returner, North Carolina
While the Broncos have the best one-two punch of any wide receiver duo in the NFL, the team has been scouting wide receiver heavily throughout the pre-draft process. The team still has hopes for Jordan Taylor, Cody Latimer, and Bennie Fowler, none of them have been able to grab and run with the wide receiver three role.
Additionally, none of them are true ‘slot’ weapons that can win with quick precise routes to gain separation in the middle portion of the field. In order to add another diverse weapon to the offense, Denver should look to draft one of the best slot receivers in this class is North Carolina’s Ryan Switzer.
With many outlets projecting Switzer to be selected round five or six, I feel vindicated selecting him with the Broncos fifth round selection, although personally would not be the least bit surprised if he goes much earlier in the draft. At a diminutive 5-foot-8, 181 poundss, with small arm length and hands, Switzer will be ‘limited’ to slot in the NFL which may lower his stock, but teams should not sleep on the talented and agile wide receiver.
This past season, Switzer hauled in 96 catches for over 1,100 yards and six touchdowns. Switzer consistently was able to create separation with excellent routes and showed surprisingly well at getting off press coverage, a rare skill for a small slot receiver.
Switzer is also a phenomenal punt returner, returning a total of 7 punts for touchdowns during his career at UNC. Switzer may not be a gigantic receiver who can win vertically, but he has a defined and valuable NFL role and would offer a unique and tremendous weapon for McCoy and the Broncos new offense.
Round 6: Brendan Langley, Cornerback, Lamar
After watching Kayvon Webster pack his bags and head on to Sunny Los Angeles to rejoin Wade Phillips on the Rams, the Broncos are in search for cornerback depth. While this corner does not need to contribute beyond special teams in the first year most likely, adding an upside corner with the athleticism and size to handle the physical press-man coverage the Broncos utilize is important to keep the “No Fly Zone” running in tiptop shape.
One corner that fits this mold is Lamar’s Brendan Langley. Langley is a former highly rated high school recruit who transferred from Georgia after growing tired of being switched back and forth from wide receiver to defense to wide receiver. Langley has the size and athleticism to hold as an outside corner in man scheme.
While still raw technically, Langley has the tools that could eventually land him a starting role in a defense. Langley can start year one as a special teams contributor and work on his technique behind the best cornerback group in the NFL.
Round 7: Chase Roullier, Offensive Guard/Center, Wyoming
With ten picks and questionable talent and depth along the offensive line, the Broncos can afford to once again dip into offensive line talent in this class. With Leary, McGovern, Garcia and in this mock, Lamp, able to play guard, Denver should look to add an interior lineman who can snap the ball as well and provide depth behind the talented Matt Paradis.
Furthermore, given Paradis’ recent bout with injuries, questionable scheme fit as the team transitions to a power-blocking scheme, and impending contract negotiation, the Broncos would be wise to add talent to center late in the draft. Roullier is one of the most slept on interior offensive linemen in this class and has potential to develop into a starter at both guard and center down the line.
Roullier has a stout frame to continue to add strength to his body as he enters the NFL. He plays with solid leverage and is able to generate a decent push against interior defensive linemen. He has very short arms and will need to keep working to get stronger to handle interior in a power scheme.
Round 7: Josh Carraway, Edge, TCU
With the departure and retirement of DeMarcus Ware, the Broncos should look at add an edge rusher at some point during the NFL Draft. While having Von Miller, Shane Ray, and Shaquil Barrett is an embarrassment of riches that might make some teams blush, Elway is always looking to add more edge rushers that can help chase the quarterback and create pressure for the defense.
One of the more slept on edge rushers in this class is former TCU Bullfrog Josh Carraway. Carraway is a very good athlete with great twitch and speed to create pressure as a 3-4 outside linebacker. While not being an overly heavy or big pass rusher at 6-foot-3, 242 pounds, Carraway has great athleticism and arm length that helps him take on tackles.
Carraway is not the most aggressive player and has issues setting the edge in run defense. Also does not always show great motor as he can give up if he does not win in initial engagement with the blocker and be washed out of the play.
While Carraway may never end up a quality starter, he has the traits that are worth a selection and could develop into a solid situational pass rusher, especially learning behind Von Miller.
Round 7: Brandon Bell, Inside Linebacker, Penn State
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While many think the Broncos have heavy need for another 3-4 inside linebacker in this class (including the author of this mock), the talent in the class and way this draft fell did not match up with a selection until the last pick in the mock draft. With Brandon Marshall, Todd Davis, Zaire Anderson, and Corey Nelson, the Broncos have a solid but unspectacular group of 3-4 inside linebackers.
Elway should absolutely select one at some point in the Draft, just to inject more talent into the group and add competition. Bell has been injured multiple times throughout his career at Penn State, causing him to miss many games and plays, but his on the field production cannot be ignored.
Bell is aggressive and instinctual on the field and is rarely fooled by opposing offenses. He is a leader on the field and on the sideline. Bell is smaller than ideal for an inside linebacker at 6-foot-1, 235 pounds and isn’t anything beyond a marginal athlete for the position.
If Bell had been able to stay healthy at Penn State, he could have been an early day three selection, but consistent injuries knock him down to fringe undrafted.
There you have it, the final Broncos 7-Round Mock Draft before the real thing this Thursday. While the odds of these picks happening (or Denver staying where they are with all their selections) is slim, all these players are ones that fill needs, the Broncos have shown interest in, and are around their appropriate draft ranges.
Make sure to follow the Huddle Up Podcast for post-draft prospect breakdown as the Broncos steam ahead towards training camp with a bunch of new and exciting toys to play with.
Nick Kendell is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. Follow him on Twitter @NickKendellMHH.