While the Broncos are still in the race for the playoffs, there are just 5 games left in the season and that means that mock draft season is right around the corner. If you have been a part of MHR for while, you know that MHR editor Sayre Bedinger and myself are draft fanatics. In fact, Sayre is the editor over at NFLMocks.com and I work under him as a contributor. We talk weekly throughout the year about players and possible fits for the Broncos. After numerous conversations, we have decided to do our first collab mock of the year.
Here is the deal. Normally, we take turns (I pick the 1st round, he picks the 2nd, etc). However, this this time we are doing something a bit different. We decided to each due our own mocks, put them against each other and let the readers dissect them and decide which one they like better. Due to the uncertainty of late round picks because of the Brandon Lloyd trade, we decided to do a 4 round mock. So sit back, read the mocks, and you decide what you liked about the mocks and what didn't you like.
Sayre Bedinger's Mock Draft
1. First Round (18th overall): Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
I guess it all depends on who is available at this point, but Dennard seems like a solid bet and very good value. He has excellent size and speed for a cornerback, and though he has battled injuries this year, there were many who believed that he was better than his teammate Prince Amukamara who was selected by the New York Giants last year in the first round. Dennard is a great fit for a zone scheme because of his closing speed, but he's also very good in man coverage because of his size and physicality. I think the Broncos really want to build that defense around Von Miller (obviously) and adding guys who can pick off passes thrown by QB's under pressure is a pretty good idea if you ask me.
Alfonzo Dennard vs Michigan State 2011
2. Second Round (18th pick): Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
Short is a redshirt junior, so we will have to wait and see if this is a realistic landing spot for him, but I think the Broncos are a good fit regardless. Short has great size at 6'3" 310 pounds, and he just makes plays in the backfield. He's got good quickness off the ball and can play the run or pass. The Broncos need some depth on the defensive interior, so this wouldn't be a flashy pick but an effective one in my opinion.
Kawann Short vs Illinois 2011 (via JMPasq)
3. Third Round (18th pick): Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin
The Broncos already waived Kyle Orton, and Brady Quinn is a free agent. I fully expect the Broncos to bring in two new quarterbacks this offseason to compete with Tim Tebow if nothing else. John Elway and the crew are going to evaluate the quarterback situation after the season is over, and as of right now, he is not sold on Tim Tebow long term. That said, Tebow has continually improved and I think the Broncos should be able to move forward with him as the quarterback. I think you could see the Broncos bring in a veteran backup as well as draft a guy somewhat early that they feel has potential. Wilson is an excellent passer who has great arm strength, accuracy, and decision making. He is only 6'0" tall in his cleats, so his height has always been a concern for scouts. If he were two inches taller, I think he'd be a top 10 draft pick.
Russell Wilson Highlights 2011
4. Fourth Round (18th pick): Dan Herron, RB, Ohio State
Herron was one of those kids selling stuff for money, but he is a heck of a football player. I like his size/speed combination and I think at this juncture of the draft, he is the type of player that you take a flyer on. The Broncos need some more youth at that running back position, and I think this guy has a chance to make an impact at the next level.
Boom Herron Highlights 2010
Nick Cast's Mock Draft
1. First Round (18th Pick): Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina
Elway Fox and Xanders made it very clear that they were going to draft the best player available. They demonstrated that in the 2011 NFL Draft when they refused to reach for a DT, instead choosing to select players they had at the top of their board. LB Zach Brown would be another prime example of that philosophy. While Denver will surely look hard at CB, WR, and DT, it's hard to find players that fit Denver's current draft spot at #18 overall. The elite CB's like Morris Claiborne and Dre Kirkpatrick will most likely be gone. The elite WR like Alshon Jeffrey and Justin Blackmon are likely to be selected as well. There are some DT's who could make sense here such as Alameda Ta'amu, Devon Still and Brandon Thompson, but they might be a reach at this draft spot. John Fox would also love to get his hands on RB Trent Richardson, but he will more then likely be selected as well. So EFX will have to select the best player available and that could very well be Zach Brown.
With Wesley Woodyard, Joe Mays, and Mario Haggan set to be free agents (and I think Mays and Woodyard could/should be resigned), Denver needs to keep adding talent to the linebacker position and find the players that will fit their system the best. Brown is one of the best linebackers in college football. He is an excellent athlete with very rare speed. He has reportedly been timed with a 4.28. Ironically enough, Brown's athleticism is most comparable to Von Miller. Thanks to his speed, he is great in coverage even being lined up against slot wide receivers. He is a solid tackler. He is undersized at 6 ft 3, 230 pounds, but over the course of his career, John Fox has actually shown a preference for smaller linebackers. If Brown could bulk up 5-10 pounds and maintain his speed, he would be the perfect fit as a WILL linebacker in John Fox.
The current WILL is DJ Williams and while he has played well this year, he is still a liability in coverage. DJ is under contract until 2014. The soon to be 30 year old linebacker is scheduled to make $5 million in 2012 and $6 million in 2013. With most of his guaranteed money already paid, DJ could be a prime target to trade or cut as Denver continues to get younger and more athletic on the defensive side of the ball. If Denver is unable to trade DJ and opts to keep him, Brown could be used in a Wesley Woodyard type of role until DJ's contract runs out. On the year, Brown has accumulated 81 tackles, 10 TFL, 5.5 sacks and 2 interceptions. With Von Miller quickly becoming one of the best OLB in the game, Denver could take their defense to the next level by adding yet another explosive linebacker to the roster who is an excellent cover man and a quality blitzer.
Zach Brown (2010)
2. Second Round (18th Pick): LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
Willis McGahee has been a great free agent find for Denver. Due to being a backup for many years in Baltimore, he looks to have a good 2-3 years left in him despite being 30 years old. LaMichael James would be the perfect compliment to McGahee's tough running style. James is one of the most explosive players in college football. He is a big play waiting to happen. For many years, fans have begged the front office to get a big play running back and they finally get one. James was the runner up to Cam Newton for the Heisman last year. He could also get some consideration this year as well. In his 3 years, James has never ran for less then 1,285 yards in any year. He is lighting quick and is also a dangerous pass catcher out of the back field. Coming from Oregon, he has plenty of experience in the option offense which could be a major factor in this selection if Tebow is the guy going forward. The biggest knock on James is his physical tools. He comes in at a tiny 5 ft 9 and somewhere between 185-195 pounds depending on where you look. He has had some injury problems and he isn't the best runner between the tackles. Nevertheless, James would give Denver an electric play maker which is something that could really help open up the offense.
LaMichael James NFL Draft Analysis - 2010 Season
3. Third Round (18th Pick): Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin
It has become very apparent that the Broncos need to acquire more WR talent for Tim Tebow. With Eddie Royal on his way out and Demaryius Thomas entering bust land, Denver needs to pick up more weapons for Tebow to throw to. Enter Nick Toon. Toon is a well put together prospect standing at 6 ft 3, 220 pounds. He has long arms and strong hands. He gets off the line well thanks to his quickness. Does a pretty good job of separating but certainly is not a home run threat. Has shown the ability to locate the ball and go and get it. He's got great short area quickness which helps him get open and get some good YAC. He has shown the ability to block down field, sometimes being a very dominant down the field blocker. Good route runner, but wastes some motion coming in and out of breaks. Overall, he's a very solid prospect. He's not a game changer like a Dez Bryant, but he is a very good prospect who can be a very effective receiver. I expect him to have an Eric Decker type of impact.
Nick Toon NFL Draft Analysis - 2010 Season
4. Fourth Round (18th Pick): Robert Blanton, CB, Notre Dame
Despite Denver's emerging defense, the secondary is a place that could use upgrades. Champ Bailey is still the man, but behind him is a bunch of question marks. Andre Goodman's time as a starter seems to be slowly winding down. He had a good game against the Chargers, but has otherwise struggled the rest of the year. Chris Harris is a young up and comer who could see significant time in 2012 if he continues to improve. Cassius Vaughn is loaded with potential, but a recent injury will take him out for the rest of the year. Syd'Quan Thompson has been out all year. Who knows what he will bring next year. Denver would be wise to bolster the secondary. Robert Blanton is a prospect I really like. He's 6 ft 1, 200 pounds, but plays bigger. He has long arms and a big frame. He excels in press coverage with good size/speed and is capable of re-routing people. With some development, I think he could be a nice #2 CB on the outside.
Robert Blanton vs. Michigan State (2011)