For a long time now I've sat on the sidelines of MHR, reading posts, comments and taking a relatively safe position of sitting on this ol' fence of mine. I'm so glad that the site exists, and would like to pay particular thanks to all of the contributors that help to keep the site running, and give me something to do at work!
Okay, grovelling over. I thought I'd have a go at a mock draft. This isn't necessarily what I think will happen, but what in my opinion would be the best possible draft for the Broncos. I'll avoid projecting any trades for two reasons. One, I'll likely be biased and end up with a bunch of second rounders just so I can pick every kid out of college that takes my fancy. Two, I find that trades are really difficult to predict seen as most teams keep their cards so close to their chest. So trades aside, here is what in my opinion would be the best the Broncos could get out of this draft:
Round 1: 2nd Pick - Da'Quan Bowers (DE) Clemson
Firstly, I don't see Fairley getting past no.1, if the Panthers reach for a QB it would be some reach.
My heart says Peterson, but my head says Bowers. I think that this is by far the hardest choice the Broncos will have to make in the draft. The more I watch of Peterson the more I fall in love with the guy, I really do believe that he has the talent to be a top CB in this league. Again, seen as I've gotten comfy on this fence of mine, I'll be more than happy if we grab either, but here's why at the moment I'm leaning towards Bowers:
If we're moving to a 4-3 then we need to be strong on the edge. I'm a big believer in winning football games up front. There's no guarantee that Dumervil will get the same sort of production as he did in 09. He's been out for essentially a whole season, and his most productive year did come in a 3-4 setup. I've no doubt that Dumervil will still be a great asset for this team, but I'm just not ready to call him elite without seeing him post-injury in a new scheme.
I love Bowers reach, he seems to be able to tackle guys, or at least get a hand to slow them down when it looks like he's beaten or too late. He has great play recognition skills, and rarely over commits. My only concern is that he tackles with his arms a little too much. In college this is all well and good, but when tackling bigger players this will be much more difficult and more body will be needed. Hardly a major concern though, nothing a little acclimatisation to the NFL won't solve.
If we are intending to pull the trigger on Bowers though, then it's vital that we retain Champ (or at least a solid alternative in free agency), CB is still a very serious need without him.
Round 2: 4th Pick - Rahim Moore (S) UCLA
An ageing secondary that is desperately in need of some talented youth leads us to taking Moore in the second round. The main issue I have with Moore is his tackling. From what I have seen he is not nearly aggressive enough when defending the run. Maybe watching too much of John Lynch and B-Dawk in the last few years has altered my perceptions of aggressive players at the safety position. That said, Moore is a real impact player, bagging 10 interceptions in '09. He improved his open field tackling a lot in '10, which is evident from an increased number of tackles in his last college season.
I'd be more than happy to see Rahim Moore in orange in blue. He's primarily a coverage guy, but with the next pick I'm hoping the Broncos can compensate for Moore's weaknesses in defending the run...
Round 2: 14th Pick - Stephen Paea (DT) Oregon State
Can you just imagine having Doom and Bowers coming round the outside, then a run stuffer like Paea holding his ground in the middle of the line? Admittedly I haven't seen too much of Paea. A lot of what I have heard about him has come from MHR and draft sites across the internet. Provided he has good leverage (which I've heard several times that he does) then his size for me isn't a huge issue, especially if we can keep a more conventional guy like Bannan in the mix. I understand that we're talking about a different position, but there were issues with Doom's size, and look how that turned out.
NB: Kyle Rudolph is the man. Head over heart again though, I'd sooner us draft by need, steadying the ship for the future.
Round 3: 3rd Pick - Quan Sturdivant (LB) North Carolina
A balanced inside linebacker would be a great addition to the team. Sturdivant and Joe Mays can compete for the starting job. I was really impressed with what I saw from Mays last season, but I'm not entirely sure if he has the coverage skills to be a sure fire starter. Sturdivant is as balanced a player as they come, interchanging the role between Mays next year could allow the Broncos to break him in to the team more easily.
Sturdivant's play may be balanced, his character however may be less so. I think John Fox can work with Sturdivant though, and supposing the he drops this far, he could be a real steal.
Alternatives to this pick would include Martez Wilson and Greg Jones, at least one of the three should fall to the Broncos in the third round. (I hope!)
Round 6: 24th Pick - Charlie Gantt (TE) Michigan State
Daniel Graham's decline last year was scary to watch. Since we acquired him in 2007 I had been nothing but impressed by what he brought to the table. I'm big on blocking tight ends, and that's exactly what Graham was, one of the better blockers at the position in the NFL in fact. Whether I'm lavishing too much praise on him or not is irrelevant though, because last year he was a liability. I like blocking a TE, but not one with hands made of stone.
Ideally Kyle Rudolph would have been the man to play the position for the next decade or so for us, but I can't justify spending such a high pick on a tight end when we have so many other needs. Gantt is a very good blocking tight end who doesn't lack the ability to be at least an outlet for a younger QB like Tebow, amassing just shy of 350 yds receiving in 2009.
Round 7: 2nd Pick - Butch Lewis (OT) USC
A real life home town hero - Butch Lewis returns to Denver, his place of birth. A bit of a risk in that he will be a project, but Lewis could be a real sleeper. At 6-5 he is a very athletic football player. His major critique though is his weight, just 288lbs. If Lewis could add some beef, but maintain his athleticism then he's worth a punt. He could add a little more depth to an ever young offensive line.