What's good MHR? I haven't been commenting/posting as much as I'd like lately due to the fact I got a summer job. Don't worry, I've been here everyday reading posts, shots, and front page material. Looking forward to the end of the lockout as much as you guys are, and while I realize the 2012 draft is far down the list of priorities for us Broncos fans, I thought it would be fun to give you guys a basic look at the draft. This is more then just a Broncos post, as I intended this to help MHR begin to familiarize itself with the 2012 draft and its prospects (yes, I have draftivus all year round). I figure its always helpful to look at the top prospects before the season and track them throughout it so you have players to focus on throughout the season and makes college football even more interesting to watch.
First, I will take a look at our Broncos. I'm going to list out what I think will be needs for this team. It will be hard to do so without knowing who exactly we're getting in FA, so bare with me here.
1. DT: I think we'll get someone here, but I highly doubt it will be a Mebane/Cofield caliber player. While I'm hoping he (or better yet they) will be better then JWill/Green, I don't think they'll be a guy to hang our hat on as our DT of the future. This may not be our top need going into next year's draft, but I figure it'll be on our radar to address.
2. RB: Like DT, I expect we'll get someone, and unless thats DeAngelo, I don't think it will be an every down back. I love Moreno, but he needs an extra guy to carry the load (look at our RB play when he wasn't playing, pathetic). Even if we do get a decent FA and keep Moreno, Fox wouldn't surprise me by getting a very talented #3 back relatively early.
3. CB: I hate saying it, but the fountain of youth at Champ's house has got to be running out. I'm not buying the experts who say he's lost a couple steps and is a full tier below Revis and Asomugha, because he definitly has not, but sooner or later the FO has to find a suitbale replacement for him. I started to warm up to Cox last year, who did very well for a 5th round rookie, but he got beat too much for me to say he's our #1 CB of the future, I see him more as a solid #2. Goodman is near done. I was surprised he wasn't cut with Bannan and that bunch, and I wouldn't be surprised if he gets cut once the lockout ends. I just can't see how much faith this team has in an aging CB who missed a lot of last year. Squid is one of my favorite Broncos, but if you think he's an outside the numbers CB your fooling yourself. However, the guy has nickel of the future written all over him.
That was a mouthful. Essentially what I'm saying is that looking at this position for the draft, we have to find a potential #1 CB, which means an early pick should be used for this. It may not be addressed next year, but sooner or later it will be and this draft would be an excellent time to nab a guy.
4. WR: Some of you may read this and go "WTF?!?!?" However, an indepth look shows this could very well be our top need next year, while being our teams strength this year. Looking at Lloyd, he's great but he's in a contract year at age 30. If he puts up another great year he could (and would rightfully so) demand a big contract. I question how willing we would be to pay said contract with a transition to a "meat and potatoes" Fox O. I would love to resign him but I won't pretend to understand the business of such a move. Gaffney is solid, and I expect more of the same, but he's getting up there. Royal has sadly underachieved since his brilliant 08 season, and if he can't get it together this season I don't see the Broncos forgoing WR waiting for him. I love the futures of DThom and Decker, but Thomas will miss a chunk of this season, and with his injuries can we bank on him to pass on a great WR prospect if one is available? Decker, like Squid, is one of my new favorite Broncos, but being a realist I can't say his potential is more then a #2 possesion guy, which isn't bad but again not worth passing on a great WR.
5. DE: I love Ayers, and think he'll have a good year, but if he can't produce the Broncos will be forced to move on. Jason Hunter should do well there as well, but this FO can't value him more then a rotational guy for the future. Doom's awesome, but we'll need depth for him to keep him fresh/ take him out on obvious running downs. Beal could be good, but even then can you pass on a good DE next year hoping for a 7th round 5+ 40 DE you drafted the year before to be a starter? This is one of the needs that I doubt will be a need, but at this stage it has to be looked at as one.
6. QB: I think this is even less likely to be a need then DE, but until Tebow proves he's a great QB, we can't say its a position not to address through the draft. Our QB situation has been the most talked about Broncos topic on MHR and the rest of the NFL universe, so I'm not going to discuss it beyond this.
Sadly, there's a lot to talk about when it comes to needs. However, there are some untits not to deem as needs from a draft standpoint, considering we have good young talent. Some of these positions haven't proved that they aren't needs yet, but positions like Safety, OL and TE are positions we don't have to draft next year.
Looking at the draft as a whole, here are the positions I feel are the strengths of the draft. Keep in mind, I'm not expert on the draft (although sometimes I think I am) so this may not be the most reliable source, but from my layman's eye this is my best guess (at least for the early part of the draft). A " * " denotes an underclassman:
1. LB: Without a doubt, and even before this recent draft many could have told you this. This was why I was confused as to why we drafted 3 LBs this year in a weak LB class when there were likely better ones next year, although I do like the LB's we got. For those of you who know him, as a ND fan I doubt that Te'o will come out next year.
Headlining this class: Vontaze Burfict, ASU * (LOOK HIM UP ON YOUTUBE!). Travis Lewis, Oklahoma. Courtney Upshaw, Alabama. Tank Carder, TCU (best name... ever).
2. QB: The top aspect of the QB class should be awesome, and like last years it will have some 2nd rounders as well. I would put it number one if I knew for a fact Luck would come out, but I question the likelihood of that. Still, even if he doesn't come out it should be a great class (although saying "this QB class sucks, but next year's should be better" tends to happen a lot in the draft world).
Headlining this class: Andew Luck, Stanford * (ever heard of him?). Landry Jones, Oklahoma *. Matt Barkley, USC *
3. WR: Very talented and very deep. Good year to have a need here.
Headlining this class: Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina *. Justin Blackmon, Ok St. *. Michael Floyd, ND. Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M. Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma.
4. OT: Like LB, the OT class was weak this year but should be much improced next year. The top QB's may push the class down but there are at least 3 guys with top 10 potential.
Headlining this class: Matt Kalil, USC* (brother of Panther's center). Jordan Martin, Stanford*. Mike Adams, OSU. Rielly Reiff, Iowa*.
5. CB: This one could be a hit or miss. There are some prospects who could make this class good, but unlike the other positions this one may not be. Its full of many question marks and talented guys with things to improve on.
Headlining this class: Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama*. Stephen Gilmore, South Carolina*. Alfonzo Denard, Nebraska. Janoris Jenkins......... Northern Alabama (really JJ?). Chase Minnifield, Virginia.
Weaknesses of the 2012 Draft. Again, some may disagree but at this stage your guess is as good as mine:
RB: Could be decent at the top if some underclassman come out. Even if so, the top aspect of this would be decent-to-good while the rest would be OK at best.
Headlining this class: Trent Richardson, Alabama*. Kniles Davis, Arkansas. Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M.
DT: This class is highlighted by Jerel Worthy, who I will go into more detail on later. Beyond him, the rest of this class is wanting with only a few prospects to get excited over beyond him.
Headlining this class: Jerel Worthy, MSU*. Marcus Forston, Miami*.
TE: Thankfully we drafted two promising TE's last draft, because this TE class is asolutely pitiful. The tops of it had less then 500 yards a piece.
Headlining this class: Orson Charles, UGA*. David Paulson, Oregon*.
G/C: No Pouncey's in this draft. Very few 1st round potential guys here. May be some decent depth but not much at the top end.
Headlining this class: Kelechi Osmele, Iowa St. Mike Brewster, OSU.
Now to get to the stuff that really interests you MHR: Who I think will be tragets for Denver early in the 2012 draft. Combining our needs, where I think we will pick, and the talent out there. To start, I expect a record between 5-7 wins. Last year, that could have meant anywhere between picks 5-15. That was an anomly however, and usually such a record means picks 5-10. I would lean more towards 8 or 9, if I'm being realistic.
The links on the players name lead you to a scouting report on MTD, CB nations mock site. I reccomend you read that website like you do MHR, as its awesome. I put these up because there short, detailed, and take a minute to read and you still learn a good amount on the guy. Best scouting reports for me. So, who could be on our radar...:
1. Jerel Worthy, DT, MSU: Many of you may not have heard of this guy before, but sadly he headlines the DT class. Talented? Heck yeah! The problem? He hasn't been able to produce as well as his talent would suggest. He's done pretty well, and his 4 sacks last year are respectable for a sophmore, but many scouting reports say he struggled mightily against double teams (would get blown away as opposed to holding his ground allowing someone else to make a play). The talent is there, and if Worthy puts up a good junior season, he'll likely be a 1st rounder and the top DT of this class. If you've seen 2012 mocks, you'll probably see us getting him, but come April of next year I question if he'll be worthy (pun intended) of our pick. In my eyes more of a mid to late first.
2. Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama: As of now, he's my favorite for our first pick. Like Worthy, he's still a work in progress, however I see Dre as more likely to prove himself worthy of our pick. I question that if we draft 8 or 9 he may be gone. He has all the tools to be elite, still has some kinks to work on, but if he's in OJ and Blue in 2012 he could smooth our transition away from Champ. A caveat: If we do draft him early, he may not be a stud immiediatley. Reminds me of Revis AS A PROSPECT, meaning he has elite tools but needs to put them together, as did Revis.
3. Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina: He will definitly get a lot of hype after next season. He's a very big WR, but in my eyes maybe a little too big, and the speed is not elite (however, it isn't too bad, but I think he could be faster if he shed 5-10 pounds off his 233 frame). Also a great jump ball WR. He is a great fit as a #1 WR: he's consistent, can bail a QB out of bad throws, and when the game is on the line you'll see him fight and claw for the ball. Reminds me of Larry Fitzgerald except slower. There's an even greater chance for Jeffery to be gone before we pick then Dre, but if he's available and WR is a need next year he would likely be a Bronco.
4. Quinton Coples, DE, UNC: As of now, the top DE of the 2012 class and likely will remain as such. He's a big bodied DE who does very well against the run as well as rush the passer. However, he's more of a LE in the pros then a RE. May also not be a good fit in the 3-4, which could cause him to drop despite being a top prosepct. If niehter Ayers not anyother DE's step up oppostie of Doom, I could see him as a great fit opposite of Doom, and he will likely fullfill EFX's BPA wherever we pick.
5. Justin Blackmon, WR, OK St.: Reminds me a lot of Crabtree coming out, as in he put up great numbers, is an uber reliable WR, but may not run a 40 as fast as teams would like. However, unlike Crabtree many consider him a great teammate and has an awesome work ethic, and yes he does play WR with all that. Easily a top 5 talent, but many experts, and I agree, believe a slow 40 time could hurt his draft stock. Still, there's no denying what you see from him on the field is amazing, and if Lloyd can't be resigned he could be the perfect replacment, and having him and DThom outside the numbers with Deck and/or Royal in the slot would be a great trio for Tebow to work with.
So those are the top 5 likely picks for Denver, but at this point its a crap shoot. There are some other player who I think could interest Denver, but they may either be a darkhorse candidate for a first round selection or may be a good pick in a later round:
1. Alameda Ta'amu, DT, Washington: One of my favorite prospects for Denver, even beyond the cool name. He's a large 333, and looks like a great 3-4 NT prospect. However, he has displayed good athleticism for his size, and may remind some of us of Phil Taylor. He seems like a great fit for a Fox DT. I would wager his range would be late first to early second, meaning he probably won't be our first pick. Despite that, I think there's a chance he falls to our 2nd round pick, and if he does I better see him in OJ and Blue or a remote will go through a TV.
2. Marcus Forston, DT, Miami: The best way to describe Forston: very polarizing. Some draft nuts may love him, while the rest hate him. Count me as one in the middle. I'd hate him in the first, but as a 2nd/3rd rounder I would love him. Like Worthy, he's uber talented but has yet to produce, and like Worthy he could be a high pick if he does produce. However, I think the chances of him doing it are slim. Still, if he comes out he could be a great mid round selection, but may be more developmental then we fans would hope.
3. Chase Minnifield, CB, UVA: Chase will likely continue a streak of Virginia CB's being drafted high. Like the rest, he excels in zone coverage. However, unlike the rest I see a higher cieling. He's a solid tackler (though not Champ status) and as I said does great in zone, where he has a nose for the ball and can pick it off. I've read that Fox will use more zone then McD, and if he does Chase could be a great prospect to look out for, as I see him as the best. Likely not worth our first pick, and may be gone by our second, but I expect to hear some interest for him from EFX.
4. Kniles Davis, RB, Arkansas: Ryan Mallet may have stole his thunder, but he had a great year in 2011. 1300 yards, 13 Tds, and a 6+ YPC. He has great size (220) and speed as well. If he can build on his season last year, he may sneak in to the first, but I see him as a 2nd rounder (like Mikell LeShoure). If DeAngelo isn't a Bronco, I'd love to see Kniles as one.
5. Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers: Definitly one of the more interesting propsects. His numbers may make you wonder why he's considered a top proespect, but his play on the field will make you realize. He's a dynamic athlete who lets a coach get creative. He catches the ball, returns it, and even runs it. Has wildcat abilities as well. Will be a more outside the numbers WR in the NFL, but if he comes out this year the Broncos should look for Sanu as a do-it-all athlete with return abilites. May be a 2nd-3rd if he does come out due to lack of uncertainty that he'll be a true WR, but he'll have some sort of impact on any O, mark my words.
Final word: This class may not be as good as the 2010 and 2011 classes, but it will be better then the 2009 class for sure. Its got a good amount of strengths, but sadly a bunch of those don't conincide with our needs (OT, QB, LB), and likewise some of the classes weaknesses are our needs (DT, RB). However, even the weaker units have some quality players who could fill our needs. It will take another shrewd draft from EFX to get some talented players at positions where the draft is considered weak, but like 2011 it is quite possible for them to do so while sticking to BPA.
For those that read this, I hope this gives you a little insight to the 2012 draft. The players and positions are things to look out for for both the CFB season and for future Broncos, but this barely scratches the surface. If you'd like to learn more about the draft I reccomend going to SB nation's Mocking the Draft, where they have numerous scouting reports on prospects for the next draft, while like MHR they have a forum for discussion on the topic. I hope you enjoy, and maybe this helps some of you begin to look forward to the next draft.
As always: GO Broncos!