MADISON WI - SEPTEMBER 18: Omar Bolden #3 of the Arizona State Sun Devils returns a kick-off for a touchdown against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on September 18 2010 in Madison Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The 2012 NFL Draft has officially come and gone, and teams have already made a mad scramble for the top undrafted free agents. The Denver Broncos capped off their draft with four picks on Saturday, all four of which were different positions than the previous day.
In fact, the Broncos didn't draft any player at the same position, depending on if you consider Malik Jackson a defensive end or a defensive tackle, but we will dive into that a little bit later.
The Broncos' draft class features some really interesting players, and I'm actually really excited about the undrafted free agents as well. To me, this is a really encouraging draft class and a solid way to build off of what John Elway and company have been able to put together since their first draft class last year. Here is my analysis of the players we've acquired:
4. Fourth Round, 101st overall: Omar Bolden, CB, Arizona State
5'10" 204 pounds, 4.54 second 40 yard dash, 24 bench press reps @ 225 lbs, 9" hands, 31.5" arms, 6.91 second 3 cone drill, 4.61 second short shuttle time
|G||Rush||Recv.||Punt Ret.||Kick Ret.||Int. Ret.||Plays||Total Yards||Yards/Play||Yards/G|
|G||Passes Broken Up||QB Hurries||Fumbles Forced||Kicks/Punts Blocked|
Initially this pick isn't all that exciting, but the more you dig up on Bolden, the more impressed you have to be. Bolden has a history of injuries and wound up missing roughly two full seasons in his time at Arizona State, but when he is on the football field, he is a gamer. I was watching a cut-up of him against California provided on YouTube by JMPasq, where Bolden is consistently the victim of not only some perfect passes but also some phenomenal and near-impossible catches.
This guy was pretty much a high-impact player from the moment he stepped on campus, earning Freshman All-American honors and really building a fantastic resume' from that point forward. As unfortunate as it was for him, I think he is fully healthy now, as evidenced by his full participation in the ASU pro day. He doesn't have great speed, but speed isn't really the name of his game.
He is a bigger, more physical cornerback who excels in bump coverage with his upper-body strength (24 bench reps helps). Bolden has the ability to knock receivers off their routes and will be physical down the field. He is coming to Denver with the opportunity to learn from one of the best in NFL history at his position, and he will compete with a deep group of role players for early playing time.
As of right now, my best guess is that Bolden makes his early mark on special teams. As you can see up above, he was a pretty efficient kick returner the last time he was out on the field, taking one of his mere 11 returns back for a score. He wasn't used on punt returns, though, so we'll have to see if that's an area where he contributes for Denver.
Bolden also has a nose for the end zone. He scored a few touchdowns throughout his ASU career, including one as a true freshman back in 2007-08. The only year when he didn't record a touchdown was the 08-09 season. Coming out of high school, he was a four-star prospect by Rivals and Scout, and used to have "blazing" 4.35 speed, according to his official ASU bio.
This is a guy who has starting upside, and is likely another addition for depth for the Broncos who really struggled against the pass against some of the elite teams last year. He will be 23 years old as a rookie.
5. Fourth Round, 108th overall: Philip Blake, C/G, Baylor
6'3" 311 pounds, 33" arm length, 9 7/8" hands, 22 bench press reps @ 225 pounds
The Broncos dipped into the Canadian-born pool of players with Toronto, Ontario native Philip Blake, who is a Tyler (TX) Community College transfer who will enter his rookie season as a 26-year old.
That's my biggest question mark with Blake, but it's not like he's a decrepit old man. The former Baylor star started 38 consecutive games for the Bears who had one of the most explosive offenses in the entire nation last year.
Blake isn't an overly athletic guy, but he's extremely powerful and he uses good technique. I had him rated as a third round pick potentially, so this was a really solid slot for the Broncos to get him. There have been question marks about the interior offensive line, specifically the center and guard position for the Broncos. The former All-Big 12 second team selection provides the Broncos with versatility up front, and when he gets to camp, he's going to immediately contribute and compete for a starting position. The Broncos wouldn't have drafted a 26-year old player without the intentions of getting him into the lineup as soon as possible.
Blake started at right tackle for the Bears when he first got on campus (because of Walton and Eagles first round pick Danny Watkins on the interior) and he excelled there but he found a niche as an interior lineman. Despite a relatively compact build, Blake has great length and that will work to his advantage working in phone booth situations. He sometimes struggles with balance but he is a very solid player and I think the Broncos could start him at left guard as soon as 2012.
6. Fifth Round, 137th overall: Malik Jackson, DE/DT, Tennessee
6'5" 284 pounds, 33 3/4" arms length, 9" hand length, 4.91 second 40-yard dash, 25 bench press reps @ 225 pounds
|G||Passes Broken Up||QB Hurries||Fumbles Forced||Kicks/Punts Blocked|
Many thought the Broncos had selected a prototypical 3-4 defensive end prospect here in Malik Jackson, and there's no question about it--3-4 teams would probably love to have him. Jackson's best accolade to me is the fact that he made 1st Team All-SEC last year. That is a conference that I respect more than almost any other, and with the incredible depth on the defensive side of the ball in that conference, for him to make 1st-Team is pretty remarkable. I don't fancy myself much of a prophet, but here is my pre-season report on Jackson over at NFLMocks.com:
Big, strong defensive line prospect who emerged last year with five sacks, six tackles for loss, four passes broken up, an interception, and five quarterback hurries. Jackson can play both inside at defensive tackle and at defensive end for the Vols, but he has the size and abilities of a five technique in a 3-4 defensive scheme. His skill-set is not unlike that of Cam Jordan at Cal, and he has the frame to add some weight and become a force at the end position in the NFL. If he sticks in a 4-3 scheme, he could be used as a power end in the base defense and kick inside to tackle in nickel or dime situation. Transferred to Tennessee from USC with Lane Kiffin (who is obviously no longer there) where he was a 245 pound end, so he obviously has added some bulk to his frame already. Should be primed for a breakout season as Tennessee’s top defensive lineman this year.
The Broncos got a guy who is going to come in and contribute right away, and I think they have a very interesting rotation at the defensive end position with Jeremy Beal also coming in off of what essentially amounted to a redshirt rookie season.
Tennessee is one of the best I've seen in terms of their athletic department covering all bases with football players, so there's a ton of information and videos and features and all of that on Jackson's official bio.
Jackson's been steadily putting on weight since being a mere 240 pounds at USC, and now he's up to 285. He's obviously a hard worker and knows his role. He has excellent length for a defensive lineman and gets a really good push in one on one situations. He definitely knows how to work his way into the backfield and knows how to read ball-carriers when he gets in there, but sometimes he can be engulfed by bigger linemen, which is why he is putting on weight to rectify that.
He has the athletic ability to set the edge and play some strong-side defensive end, or he can kick it inside and play defensive tackle. I really like this guy's versatility. I had a late third-early fourth round grade on him going into the draft so he is good value where we got him.
7. Sixth Round, 188th overall: Danny Trevathan, LB, Kentucky
6'0" 237 pounds, 4.75 second 40-yard dash, 32.5" arms length, 9.5" hands, 18 bench press reps @ 225 pounds, 31.5" vertical jump
This guy was wildly productive at Kentucky, which is significant to me again because he played in the SEC and started for three straight years. He timed at 4.75, but he plays as fast as his size indicates he does, and that's because he is incredibly instinctive. He was a 1st Team All-American in 2010 as a junior when he finished the season with an incredible 144 tackles and 16.0 tackles for loss along with two sacks.
In 2011, he had arguably an even better season, finishing with 143 tackles and not only the first interceptions of his career, but four interceptions in total as well as a career-high five sacks.
There is no doubt in my mind Trevathan will provide the Broncos with depth at the WILL linebacker position, where D.J. Williams is currently suspended pending his appeal to the league. Obviously, the Broncos wanted to get younger at this position, and they are certainly no strangers to bringing in Kentucky linebackers of late, but one guy whom Trevathan tried to model his career after has made a nice career for himself here in Denver (Wesley Woodyard).
Trevathan isn't great at getting off blocks and making plays on his own, but with the Broncos he is only going to be working in space, mostly, especially with the depth of the defensive line should all of our players stay healthy by some stroke of luck.
He doesn't have great strength but he has excellent length and quite honestly is always around the ball. He will be a good special teams player for the Broncos, at the very least.
Undrafted Free Agents
1. Eric Page, WR, Toledo
This is a great signing. John Fox said he thought the Broncos might have got their kick/punt returner as an undrafted free agent, and this could be the guy. Page didn't time nearly as fast as he plays, but he was a very productive receiver for the Toledo Rockets as well as a dynamic return specialist.
Despite his lack of timed speed, Page actually has a very similar skill-set to that of Eddie Royal coming out, though he was much more productive as a receiver in college. He's a small player but he knows how to get open and is not afraid to go across the middle and take a hit to make a play.
He has good toughness and vision after the catch. The Broncos have a UDFA stick pretty much every year, and he has as good a shot as any.
2. Gerrell Robinson, WR, Arizona State
This is a pickup I really like. Robinson wasn't really much of a factor until his senior season, but some quarterback that we just picked up had a lot to do with that. As a senior, he caught 77 balls for 1,397 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging over 18 yards per reception.
Robinson has excellent overall size at 6'3" 227 pounds, and fantastic length (33" arm length, 10 1/8" hands). He is a big-time mismatch in the red zone and while he struggles to get separation (weird for a player of his size) he gets open underneath and could have a niche on this team because of that. The Broncos have a pretty wide open competition right now at WR if you ask me, so he should be a PS player at worst.
3. Jamie Blatnick, DE, Oklahoma State
6'3" 263 pounds, 4.90 40 yard dash, 31.5" arms length, 10 1/4" hands
The Broncos are looking for some hard-working defensive linemen to come out of this class and surprise, and Blatnick has a good chance to do that. He has excellent overall size and measurables but wasn't a full-time starter until his senior season for the Cowboys. Used his length to break up seven passes and had a really productive senior season with eight sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss, and an interception. I am excited to see what he brings in camp as well as the pre-season.
4. Aaron Brewer, LS, San Diego State
This was a really interesting pickup. The Broncos got a guy who has appeared in every single game of his four-year college career, and judging by his SDSU pro day numbers, he's not a good athlete so he is probably pretty darn good at his craft.
Long-snapping is an art form, as Lonie Paxton has proven, but Paxton is getting a little old. Perhaps the Broncos are bringing in a potential successor now and a guy who has been doing this for four years already. He is 6'5" 225 pounds so he is definitely the epitome of a specialty player.
5. Elliot Coffey, LB, Baylor
Coffey has an uphill battle ahead of him as he will try to battle some very talented young linebackers who have joined the Broncos throughout this process, but he was definitely really productive the last couple of seasons at Baylor in which he was the team's leading tackler (2011).
Racked up 114 tackles last season, including a season-high 15 in the Alamo Bowl where he was named the defensive MVP, but that's not saying much if you saw the game.
He has a good football bloodline with his father playing safety in the NFL and I think he'll be an interesting guy to watch.
6. Jerry Franklin, LB, Arkansas
Franklin may have the best chance of any player of making the roster. When I was watching highlights of Jake Bequette earlier this season, the guy that kept jumping out at me was Franklin, who was constantly around the ball. Whether it was making tackles, knocking away passes, forcing fumbles, sacking the quarterback, making plays behind the line--this guy can flat out do it all.
I am not certain of his injury history but he was a really productive player and had an excellent showing at the team's pro day. He is 6'2" 242 pounds with 4.63 speed, 37 1/2" vertical jump, 10'3" broad jump.
It looks like his sack total definitely took a dip as a senior, but this guy just makes a ton of plays and he has the athletic ability to hold up at the NFL level. On paper, he should easily make an NFL roster and I would have drafted him in the 5th round, probably.
7. Duke Ihenacho, S, San Jose State
Ihenacho had a really slow, painful decline over the last two or three years at San Jose State--literally. An injury derailed his senior season, when he wound up getting a medical redshirt. He was wildly productive as a sophomore and caught the attention of NFL scouts, and many thought he may be an early entry after his junior season but he decided to go back and it wound up really costing him in terms of his draft stock.
Still, the Broncos have some room at the safety position and Ihenacho was the only player at his position that they brought in other than Mike Adams.
Lucky for Ihenacho, who is the fifth ranked strong safety by NFL Draft Scout, he followed up a very average combine performance with a stellar pro day. The 6'0" 213 pound prospect ran a 4.51 (up from 4.68 at the combine) and had a 39 1/2" vertical jump, as well as a 10'3" broad jump. All were up from his combine performance.
If Ihenacho can make some plays in the pre-season, he should easily make the team as the fourth safety with Mike Adams, Rahim Moore, and Quinton Carter. I am watching a cut-up of his against Utah State as I type this, and I am overwhelmed by his closing speed and play diagnosis in the run game. Against Utah State and two dyanmic RB prospects (both drafted in mid-late rounds) Robert Turbin and Michael Smith, Ihenacho is dominating behind the line of scrimmage and is completely blowing up the USU offensive gameplan.
He will need to improve in coverage but I love what I've seen from him. Wow he really jumps out in that cut-up.
8. Steven Johnson, LB, Kansas
This kid wasn't on my radar initially, and when I researched him some 5'7" 145 pound WR showed up from Kansas State. I was wondering what the Broncos might be thinking, but in finding the actual player--the LB from Kansas--I was pleasantly surprised.
Kansas players go flying under the radar because they are not a good football team as a whole, but the Broncos found a very good football player last year in Chris Harris who wound up being one of the most productive rookies in the NFL last season regardless of position or draft status.
Johnson has one distinct title that the Broncos basically require in prospects nowadays, as he was a team captain for the Jayhawks last season. He racked up a ton of tackles for KU, and wound up leading the entire Big 12 in that category last year.
I really like this guy. Here is a report from my KU Insider on him:
Dude had incredible production on a team that didn't give him much help. Really high football IQ and hard worker. Actually started as a walk on at Kansas after a major injury in high school.
9. Coryell Judie, CB, Texas A&M
This was an absolute steal on the UDFA market. I had Judie as a fourth round graded player. Here is my pre-season report on him:
Big time playmaker who really emerged last year as a junior with 57 tackles and four interceptions. Speedy guy with not great size but good enough to be a starter in the NFL and will probably be one of the top cornerback prospects in the country going into next season. Not only did he emerge in 2010 as a playmaker defensively, he did so on special teams as well, returning two kickoffs for touchdowns. Could emerge as one of the top cover corners in the nation this fall, and I expect him to be a top 64 pick come next April barring injury. Very skilled player who is somewhat raw, but has a ton of potential.
Well, I may have jinxed Judie there by saying "barring injury" because he only played seven games for the Aggies last year. I'm sure Von Miller could give us a good scouting report on this guy, as he really broke out as a playmaker in Von's final season at Texas A&M.
Really interesting that he went to Texas A&M and majored in agricultural leadership and development, but that may only interest me.
Came over to Texas A&M as a junior college transfer where he was an All-American. He offers the Broncos some upside potentially in the return game, as he was very good in that area both at JC and at Texas A&M. This guy is as raw as they come but boy does he have a ton of upside if he can stay healthy. What a nice find by the Broncos.
10. Anthony Miller, TE, California
I am pretty lukewarm on this signing but I hope that Miller can come in and surprise some people. Any time a guy starts as many games as he did in college (34 starts at Cal in 48 games).
Athletically, he doesn't really jump off the board in any one area. His 40 time was in the 4.8-4.9 range, but he was one of the top tight ends in the country going into this past season, which statistically was his best since 2009. He had three touchdown receptions this past year, which was a career-high.
The Broncos have a few pretty good tight ends, but they could very well keep Miller on the scout team. He is a good football player, not necessarily an elite athlete. He has pretty good size at 6'3" 254 pounds, and could maybe play a fullback role as well.
11. Mike Remmers, OT, Oregon State
Started every game (37 in all) from 2009-2011 and seven games as a walk-on in 2008. He's got good size at 6'5" 300 pounds and was probably the best offensive lineman on Oregon State over the last year or more. This is a guy who came to Oregon State as a walk-on and essentially worked his way from the ground up, and here's what his offensive line coach had to say in an article from The Portland Tribune last season:
“He can be dominant,” Cavanaugh says. “He has all the tools. He’s big and athletic and has good work ethic. He just has to want it. He has to get out on that field and get it done.”
That's what I like to hear. The Broncos' depth on the offensive line is poor, and I'm not saying this guy will solve it but they are getting a nasty player that played both right and left tackle in college. Oregon State's football program, like some of the others on this list of UDFAs, is not exactly the best in the country at the moment.
I believe this guy has a giant chip on his shoulder being that he didn't receive a scholarship on the football team until his fourth year in the program, going into his junior season. Here is the full article from the Portland Tribune that you will like about Remmers' journey.
Forty-four freaking starts. Wow.
12. Wayne Tribue, OG, Temple
Similar to Remmers, Tribue has a chance to make the roster because of the Broncos' overall lack of certainty in their offensive line depth. What I like about him is that he is very well-built for a guard at 6'3" 329 pounds, and he is strong as an ox.
At his Temple Pro Day, he had 28 bench press reps at 225 pounds, and ran a 5.06 second 40 yard dash with a 30" vertical jump. Those are pretty stellar numbers for a 329 pound man, I have to say.
How about on the field? Tribue started every game at right guard last season for the Owls, but that was his first year of starting. He's really talented but really raw, and that athletic ability could transfer to him being able to pull and play multiple positions inside.
He blocked for one of my favorite tailbacks in the draft, now Baltimore Ravens running back Bernard Pierce who had a great junior season. Tribue is also a really good kid off the field, making the Athletic Director's honor roll and receiving the 2012 Temple Teammates Community Service Award.
13. Austin Wuebbels, OL, Missouri
His last name is pronounced "WEB-uls" in case you were wondering, and he is likely stronger than you. To my knowledge, Wuebbels is the only guy that Denver brought in prior to the draft who actually got picked up by the team other than Brock Osweiler, but I never saw a full official list of players.
Wuebbels threw up the bench press 40 times at the Missouri pro day, and at 6'4" 298 pounds, he had a 31" vertical jump, which is pretty great for a man of his size.
He started 30+ straight games for the Tigers, and he isn't flashy but the Broncos got a solid developmental guy here as a UDFA.