24 Apr 19
The Denver Post
In our last mock draft three weeks ago, we debated the wisdom of the Denver Broncos going with quarterback in Round 1 or perhaps having a shot at one they like in Round 2. Since then, however, the buzz that a handful of teams are enamored enough with Duke QB Daniel Jones to push him into the first round has raged.
That’s wild in our minds; Jones shouldn’t be a top-20 prospect in this or any draft. But perhaps him potentially going that high saves the Broncos from themselves, or at the very least it might allow them to pay a less premium price at the position lower in the draft and still find a relatively good fit.
With the draft tomorrow, here’s a view of how things could unfold — from Rounds 1-7. And in this scenario, Denver would check off a lot from its to-do list and come out with a very respectable haul in our view.
First round – 10th overall – Michigan LB Devin Bush
LSU linebacker Devin White runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, March 3, 2019.
The feeling in league circles, as we wind the home stretch in this draft derby, is that the Broncos are trending toward not selecting a quarterback at No. 10. We’re going to talk about this a little lower down, but my best guess is that Denver’s brass – like a number of other teams – is pretty much ambivalent about this QB group. It’s not the best we’ve seen in recent years, though hardly the worst.
So if not QB, then where? I’ll venture to say that a trade down interests them a bit, although with several other teams picking immediately in front of and behind Denver, any move down might come on an 85-cents-to-the-dollar return. We’ll see.
Assuming they stay here, Bush would be a good pick. A potentially really good one. I know it’s not the type of selection, taking a sub-6-foot off-the-ball linebacker, that’s going to get a lot of people calling for season tickets Friday morning. But I have Bush as my No. 8 overall prospect, and he’s a near clone – just a hair below – of the player Vic Fangio landed in Chicago last year in Roquan Smith, who was excellent as a rookie.
Getting Bush at No. 8 would not be a Bradley Chubb-like windfall, but it would make a lot of sense. He’s the playmaker they lack at a position Fangio has valued highly nearly his entire career. The talent at inside linebacker drops off precipitously after Bush and Devin White are off the board.
Second round – 41st overall – Texas A&M OL Erik McCoy
Trevor Knight (8) of the Texas A&M Aggies celebrates his touchdown with Erik McCoy (64) against the Arkansas Razorbacks in the second quarter at AT&T Stadium on Sept. 24, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.
This is actually a pretty good result here, as McCoy has been getting a smidge of late-Round 1 love. The Broncos would need to figure out if he’s best at center or guard, but McCoy can start immediately in a muddled middle of the offensive line. Getting Connor McGovern and McCoy in their ideal positional slots – they can both play guard or center – could take a little time, but it would ultimately reap benefits. McCoy held up consistently well against a murderer’s row of interior defenders in the mighty SEC.
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Third round – 71st overall – North Carolina State QB Ryan Finley
This is not the level of prospect such as Drew Lock or Daniel Jones, and that was made clear at the Senior Bowl when Finley was third in line for reps behind each of them. And, Finley’s lack of elite arm talent was evident throwing the same passes Lock did. But there’s a lot to like about Finley, as long as you don’t set your expectations too high. He’s smart and highly competitive, and he has been effective in a few different passing systems. At his very best, maybe he reaches a Nick Foles-like plateau, although we have the bar set a little lower. That’s the type of quarterback that typically populates this range of the draft.
Fourth round – 125th overall – Auburn WR Darius Slayton
Wide receiver Darius Slayton #81 of the Auburn Tigers runs the ball by linebacker Mohamed Sanogo #46 of the Mississippi Rebels during the forth quarter at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Oct. 20, 2018 in Oxford, Mississippi.
The Broncos’ young WR pair of Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton could be a solid nucleus, but what they lack is deep speed. That’s where Slayton would come in. He’s a sub-4.4 flier who has posted six touchdowns of 50 yards or longer the past two seasons for the Tigers. Slayton is guilty of some drops and he’s coming into a totally different type of system here, so there will be an incubation period. Keep his assignments simple and allow him to take the tops off defenses. It’s what this group could use.
Fifth round – 148th overall – Arkansas DL Armon Watts
Harry Woodbery #8 of the Eastern Illinois Panthers is hit and fumbles the ball by Armon Watts #90 and Bumper Pool #16 of the Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium on Sept. 1, 2018 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Fangio’s defense requires versatile, strong and long-armed defenders up front, and that’s what Watts provides. He’s a late bloomer, really coming on this past season, and there’s some greenness to his game. But Watts is a country-strong anchor up front who might thrive under a coach such as Fangio who knows how best to use him over time. He had seven sacks and three forced fumbles on a bad defense and has some potential to work with.
Fifth round – 156th overall – Notre Dame TE Alize Mack
Justin Strnad #23 of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons breaks up a pass to Alize Mack #86 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during their game at BB&T Field on Sept. 22, 2018 in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
It’s a fairly deep tight end class, although it’s going to start thinning out in this range, so getting one around this point might be smart. Mack is a tantalizing talent who hasn’t yet put it all together, and he has a bad habit of making things harder on himself than they need to be. He’s a player who flashes but always seems to leave you wanting a little more. Mack has some potential as a receiving option, but his blocking is pretty crude and unreliable at this point. He’s worth taking a shot on here, and there won’t be any better down lower.
Round 6 – 182nd pick – Missouri OL Paul Adams
Paul Adams #77 of the Missouri Tigers blocks Darrell Taylor #19 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the second half of the game between the Missouri Tigers and the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium on Nov. 17, 2018 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Missouri won the game 50-17.
A two-time team captain with three years’ starting experience in the SEC, Adams probably has to be tried inside to make it in the NFL. He’s just not a tackle who is built to handle real edge pressure. Von Miller would eat him for lunch every day in practice, we suspect. But as an interior projection, Adams – a college right tackle – could slide into guard and get the most from his strong run-blocking with his smarts, toughness and decent athleticism.
Fun trivia nugget: Adams played in high school for former NFL punter (and quarterback) Ingle Martin, who was a Bronco briefly in the 2009 season.
Round 7 – 237th pick – Valdosta State CB Stephen Denmark
It’s a little surprising we hadn’t picked a defensive back for Denver yet, nor a small-school prospect for that matter, but that’s just the way the board went in this simulation. (We used The Draft Network’s Mock Draft machine for the exercise.)
But here the Broncos find a raw-as-can-be physical specimen that’s rare for the corner position. He’s a whopping 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, and his testing numbers had scouts buzzing. But Denmark just isn’t at all refined and would be considered a major pet project — albeit a fascinating one — for Fangio and defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, whose specialty is in the secondary.