Grading the Draft: Denver Broncos

With needs on both sides of the line of scrimmage and possibly at quarterback, it was a wait and see game for Denver. They had their pick of several top prospects in the 20th slot yet pulled off a surprise.

Round Pick Player Pos School
1 20(20) George Foster OT Georgia
2 19(51) Terry Pierce* ILB Kansas St.
4 11(108) Quentin Griffin HB Oklahoma
4 17(114) Nick Eason DT Clemson
4 31(128) Bryant McNeal OLB Clemson
5 22(157) Ben Claxton C Ole Miss
5 23(158) Adrian Madise WR TCU
6 21(194) Aaron Hunt DE Texas Tech
7 13(227) Clint Mitchell* DE Florida
7 21(235) Ahmaad Galloway HB Alabama

UDFA of Note: Cecil Sapp/RB/Colorado St

Offensive tackle was a big need area for Denver and they addressed it tabbing George Foster in round one. A big, strong blocker that can be used on either side of the line, Foster is a prospect that needs a lot of work and was a reach to our minds. He moves well for a lineman close to 350-pounds and dominates the opposition but is all over the place and lacks any sort of balance or body control. Granted, recent injuries forced him to miss time and hampered his development but even still, the Broncos are a team teetering on the edge.  With talent such as Kwame Harris and Rex Grossman still available, Foster was a questionable pick.

One position Denver heavily addressed in the draft the past five years is linebacker and they got a bargain with Terry Pierce in round two. An explosive defender that forces the action, Pierce was an impact player for Kansas State since his freshman campaign. Poor post season workouts both on campus and at the combine knocked him out of the top 32. Still, he can be eased into the line-up and should be a productive starter in the future.

Another area the Bronco's always seemingly address in the draft's first day is running back and this year they did it yet again. Quentin Griffin had a splendid senior campaign and then went on to perform well at the combine, improving his draft ranking at least two rounds. Griffin is a consummate third-down back that should help as a return specialist but the question must be asked, was this pick totally necessary.

Pair of undersized Clemson Tigers was chosen in round four. Nick Eason is an explosive tackle that may also project to left end. He fights hard and has decent playing speed but lacks bulk and has had injury problems in the past. It will be interesting to see where Eason's college teammate, Bryant McNeal, eventually ends up in Denver. McNeal, a small pass-rushing end, was projected by many (including ourselves) to outside linebacker. In fact, we reported from the combine how seamless McNeal looked during the alternate position drills when run through a battery of linebacker skills. He could be a player that lines-up with his hand on the ground during third and long situations yet a prospect Denver looks to fashion for strong side linebacker in the future.

Ben Claxton was a solid choice in round five and a player we have always liked. He can play several positions on the line and should be an inexpensive back up for Tom Nalen at center.

Adrian Madise must earn his wage as a return specialist if he is to make the team while Aaron Hunt is the type of player Denver has had success with in the past. Hunt was exceptionally productive in college and does a solid job defending the run or rushing the passer. He lacks the big frame and needs to play next to a wide-body but his tenacity and intelligence will help him succeed.

Clint Mitchell was well worth the risk in the final frame. The long lanky pass rusher is a very good football player but physically undeveloped. Terrible workouts at the combine coupled with character questions pushed Mitchell deep into the draft but if the Broncos are patient with him and he matures in all aspects, they could hit a home run with the former Gator.

Ahmad Galloway, a running back coming off major knee surgery, was a strange pick.

Analysis: This is a draft that may need time to develop and rank, as none of the picks are sure things. They seemed to take prospects that will require a lot of development and even worse, situational players.


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