NFL

2015 NFL Draft Primer: Denver Broncos

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Team needs: Offensive line, Tight End, Defensive line, linebacker

Broncos’ selections

Round 1- 28th overall

Round 2- 59th overall

Round 3- 92nd overall

Round 4- 133rd overall

Round 5- 143rd overall

Round 5- 164th overall

Round 6- 203rd overall

Round 7- 250th overall

Round 7 – 251st overall

Round 7 – 252nd overall

 

Good fits early:

Cameron Erving: Offensive line depth is one of the bigger concerns for many teams heading into the NFL Draft, and the Denver Broncos are no different. After watching Orlando Franklin bolt for San Diego (pun intended) the Broncos would likely be thrilled to select a player who’s shown as much, and possibly even more versatility on the offensive line in Florida State’s Cam Erving. Many believe Erving projects best on the inside at the NFL level, but the young man can play across the offensive line, and that makes him a great value wherever he’s selected.

Randy Gregory: Nebraska’s Randy Gregory might be the best outside linebacker in the draft, and he’d likely be taken in the top-5 if not for the fact that he’s a knucklehead who basically admitted he’s had trouble staying away from pot after failing a drug test at the combine. As evidenced by the contract they gave Aqib Talib, the Broncos are not afraid to take a shot on a guy who has proven his football ability is much higher than his common sense. Despite his glaring red flags, Gregory’s ability would make him a steal this late in the round if he can stay on the field at the next level.

Dorial Green-Beckham: Wide receiver isn’t a glaring need for the Broncos, and selecting a player like Dorial Green-Beckham would be an absolute luxury pick. However, with Demaryius Thomas’ contract situation, and the departure of Wes Welker, this pick might make more sense than you think. For Green-Beckham, the opportunity to learn the position from players like Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, while catching balls from Peyton Manning could be huge for his development. Adding a player of Green-Beckham’s size and ability who doesn’t have to start right away has to be intriguing to the Broncos. Green Beckham would give the Broncos another very good big outside receiver who could make it easy for Sanders to slide inside on three-receiver sets.

Don’t be surprised if and likely when Denver milks the clock before making their selection on Thursday night. It seems there’s always a team that wants to sneak back into the first round late to grab that player they can’t believe is still on the board.

While we spend countless hours speculating on who might move up into the top-10 picks in the NFL draft, history and the price tag associated with such a move tell us it’s pretty unlikely. However, while trades into the top-10 aren’t often seen, trades into the back half of the first round seem to be a yearly occurrence.

For a team like the Broncos who don’t have a need so glaring that they have to address it early, the opportunity to trade down is one they’d likely consider. Many believe there isn’t a huge difference in the talent available in the top-50 players in this year’s draft after you get passed the top-15 or so players. If Denver could move down and pick up a pick up another first-rounder in next year’s draft, they can add value to a draft class that isn’t as deep as it’s been in recent years.

Potential late-round targets:

Aundrey Walker: If there’s one position the Broncos may target more than once in this draft, it’s offensive line, and USC guard Aundrey Walker is another guard with some experience at tackle who could provide some of the versatility the team lost in Franklin. Walker is going to be more of a project at the next level than a player like Cam Erving, but he’s a good athlete that has a chance in the NFL if he can put it all together.

David Parry: The transition to a 3-4 defense is going to require the Broncos to have some nose tackles, and while you wouldn’t expect to see Stanford’s David Parry starting on the nose for the Broncos in 2015, he could provide some nice depth at the position. At 308 pounds, Parry doesn’t provide ideal size for a 3-4 nose tackle, but his 4.5 sacks last year at Stanford have to be intriguing for any team that needs to get more pressure from the inside.

Taiwan Jones: With the shift to a 3-4 defense, another position where Denver could use some depth is at inside linebacker, and Michigan State’s Taiwan Jones is a guy who could provide that depth in the later rounds. Jones ran just a 4.95 – 40 at the combine, but he’s a guy who makes plays and could develop into a starter at the next level. Jones has enough size to plug gaps in the NFL, and enough coverage skills to not get embarrassed on passing downs. Like most young men, Jones isn’t ready for the transition to the pro game just yet, but with some coaching he could be a solid NFL linebacker.

For the Broncos draft to be a success, they need to add some depth to the offensive line, and some players who will help with the transition to a 3-4 defense. The transition on defense is going to be one of the biggest factors when it comes to whether or not the Broncos will be Super Bowl contenders in 2015, but they know if they get new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips the players, that he’ll get them in position.

The Broncos need some depth on the offensive line to help push people around as Gary Kubiak will move the team towards a more run-centric offense. If the Broncos can get some horses up front to help keep Peyton Manning on his feet and to open up holes for C.J. Anderson and company, there’s no reason to believe Denver won’t be right back in the thick of things in the AFC.


About Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan has covered the NFL for almost a decade and is a host and producer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers radio flagship 620WDAE/95.3FM. Pat covers the NFC South and NFC East for Football Insiders. Follow him on Twitter, @PatDonovanNFL.