After the Broncos' loss to the Oakland Raiders, some new areas of weakness have really emerged, namely on the interior of the offensive and defensive lines.
Thanks to former Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler and the Bears, Denver is currently armed with the eighth overall pick, one that could be very attractive to teams who want to move up for an elite level prospect in a very top-heavy draft.
One candidate who could possibly be willing to trade up is the Baltimore Ravens. Trading up would be completely out of character for the Ravens, as they usually keep their picks or trade down for more. They consistently build their team through the draft, and often end up taking the best player available when they pick.
This season, their main target in the draft needs to be a premiere wide receiver, and they will not be able to pick one up if they stick with the 21st overall pick. That is why they should trade up with the Denver Broncos and acquire wide receiver Dez Bryant, who could be the top receiver prospect the Ravens crave.
Here is my projected trade:
- Broncos' first round pick (8th overall)
- Ravens' first round pick (21st overall)
- Ravens' second round pick (54th overall)
- Ravens' fifth round pick (150th overall)
It may seem a bit steep for a top ten pick, but the Ravens really seem to be on the verge of a Super Bowl contender, and an elite wide receiver prospect could vault them to where they need to be.
Meanwhile, the Broncos' draft slate appears to be much more filled out than it previously was, looking as such:
- 21st overall (from Baltimore)
- 54th overall (from Baltimore)
- 55th overall
- 87th overall
- 134th overall
- 150th overall (from Baltimore)
- 192nd overall
- 242nd overall
With eight picks, the Broncos can much more easily take advantage of this very deep draft, and they need to start it off by going big in the first round.
1. First Round, 21st overall (from Baltimore): Mike Iupati, Guard, Idaho
Iupati is a very hot prospect right now. He has very imposing size and would fill an enormous void on the interior of Denver's offensive line at left guard.
For a long time, I have been defending former Iowa guard/tackle and current Broncos reserve Seth Olsen as the player to be the heir apparent at left guard, but the Broncos would be wise to take Iupati and hope Olsen can be the future at the center position or depth at tackle and guard.
Iupati is an elite level guard prospect, and the Broncos can get him for a relative bargain. He would provide Denver with great size on the interior, and would be the fourth piece out of five in what could potentially be the most talented young offensive line in the NFL with Ryan Clady, Ryan Harris, Chris Kuper, and Iupati.
Denver has really struggled to run the ball consistently and their interior pass protection has been marginal at best, though Kyle Orton doesn't always do the greatest job of escaping the pressure. Iupati would greatly help Denver's pass protection, and would give Ryan Clady the help he needs at the left tackle position to succeed.
6'3" 230 pounds
This might seem a bit off the wall for Denver, who already have one of the deepest and most talented receiver cores in the NFL, but this would be a very, very smart pick.
Besides the fact that Thomas would likely be a first round pick if he had a quarterback who could get him the ball better, he fits a lot of different roles that Denver would like to have filled.
First of all, the Broncos lack a true deep threat opposite Brandon Marshall. Certainly Eddie Royal has excellent speed, but his skills would best be used from the slot as many Denver fans anticipated. Thomas has excellent speed, and could sneak into the first round based on his measurables alone.
Also, Thomas would take a lot of pressure off of the Broncos' other receivers. Though Brandon Marshall has seemingly been the only wideout on quarterback Kyle Orton's radar all season long, another big play receiver could really free up Marshall on the opposite side and Royal in the middle.
Thomas would also be a solid developmental prospect in case Brandon Marshall bolts in a couple of years.
3. Second Round, 55th overall: Toby Gerhart, Running Back, Stanford
Not a big shocker here. As I mentioned in the early stages of the reasoning for Mike Iupati, the Broncos have really struggled running the ball, largely due to their lack of depth (or use of it in the case of Peyton Hillis).
While many believe Peyton Hillis is the obvious answer for the Broncos as the team's power back, head coach Josh McDaniels has refused to use him this season for whatever reason, and he is simply being wasted. Sadly, Hillis could be traded or released come this offseason if the team doesn't find a better use for him, though now that he has not played much his value may be diminished.
All of that being said, Toby Gerhart would be the perfect fit for the Broncos as a power back. The Broncos have really struggled with short yardage plays, and the additions of Gerhart and Iupati could potentially erase those struggles.
4. Third Round, 87th overall: Myron Lewis, Cornerback, Vanderbilt
Lewis is a relatively little known prospect but he has very good measurables and has proven to be a very durable, versatile player in his football playing career.
He has nine interceptions the last two seasons, and was named second team All-SEC in 2009. His size makes him a very attractive prospect for the next level, especially because of his ability to help in the running game as an effective tackler.
His size helps him bat down balls much more frequently than many other cornerbacks, though his speed at times is somewhat of a liability. He is quicker than fast and reminds me a lot of Charles Tillman of the Chicago Bears.
5. Fourth Round, 134th overall: Micah Johnson, Middle Linebacker, Kentucky
6'2" 258 lbs.
The Broncos could very easily look to this position much earlier in the draft, but Johnson is great value here. He is a mammoth against the run, and almost fits the exact same mold as current Denver linebacker Andra Davis. He is not so much fast as he is quick, but he is very versatile.
Johnson is close to a liability in pass coverage, but he can stay in on passing downs to rush the passer, an area he excels. Some scouts believe him to be best fit as a pass rusher or strong side linebacker in the 3-4 defensive scheme.
6. Fifth Round, 150th overall: John Skelton, Quarterback, Fordham
6'5" 258 lbs.
Skelton is a very intriguing prospect to me. I recently found out about him, and was extremely impressed. He is quickly becoming one of the more popular prospects in the draft, and according to other reports, the Broncos have been scouting this kid since August.
They have been watching him this whole season, and with good reasoning. Skelton is a physical marvel and has all of the tools to succeed at the NFL level. With proper coaching, which he would receive in Denver, he could wind up being one of the bigger steals in the draft. He has great footwork, escape-ability, and good zip on short range passes. He throws a nice deep ball and can make any and every NFL throw.
Watch for this kid on draft day, he is an intriguing prospect.
7. Sixth Round, 192nd overall: Anthony Moeaki, Tight End, Iowa
6'3" 247 lbs.
As I have said in previous mock drafts, I think the Broncos are going to have a tough time passing on the versatility of Moeaki, especially at a position where they could lose Tony Scheffler at the end of the season.
Moeaki has been oft-injured in his time at Iowa, but he is one of the better players to come through Iowa City this decade. He will likely fall in the draft due to his injury plagued career, but he is an excellent blocker in addition to being a good pass receiver.
He has good vision after the catch, though his speed is average. He could be a nice find for some team late in the draft.
8. Seventh Round, 242nd overall: Erik Cook, Offensive Lineman, New Mexico
6'6" 315 lbs.
Cook adds quality depth and versatility to the Broncos' offensive line. He is a very underrated prospect who could be the sleeper to fill the Broncos' void at center for the future.
He has experience in college at all of tackle, guard, and center, and could really provide the Broncos with some quality depth if injuries occur throughout the season.
There may be questions as to why I have not included defensive line in this particular segment. I believe the Broncos will address the defensive line with the deep free agent class of 2010. The defensive lineman available in 2010 are fairly deep, though it is very heavy on the top end and it lacks a lot of true 3-4 fits other than Terrence Cody as a nose tackle.