Greetings MHR, this past weekend, the NFL Draft took place. Entering the weekend, the hope was that the Broncos would address key areas of need and acquire talented young players who could step in and contribute to this team. So how did they do? Well, it all depends on who you ask. Some people believe the Broncos did a good job while others believe John Elway, John Fox and Brian Xanders failed. In case you were under a rock or were captured by the Amish for the weekend, here is who the Broncos selected in the 2012 NFL Draft:
2nd round: DT Derek Wolfe
2nd round: QB Brock Osweiler
3rd round: RB Ronnie Hillman
4th round: CB Omar Bolden
4th round: C Phillip Blake
5th round: DE Malik Jackson
6th round: LB Danny Trevathan
What does this all mean? Here are some thoughts on the results for the Broncos.
Broncos draft Derek Wolfe at #36
Instant Reaction: Really? Why did they reach for Wolfe when Worthy, Still and Reyes were on the board?
Reaction Now: I like Wolfe. He's a big, tough player who has a habit of getting into the opponent's backfield. He fits the Broncos need for a pass rushing DT and will see the playing field right away. However, when looking back at this pick, I still don't agree with picking Derek Wolfe over Jerel Worthy or Devon Still. I think Worthy and Still have a higher ceiling then Wolfe, but with the questions on Worthy's motor and Still's inconsistency, the Broncos opted to go for the safe choice. It isn't something I agree with, but I see why they made the decision that they made. Let's hope it works out for them.
Broncos draft Brock Osweiler at #57
Instant Reaction: Already?
Reaction Now: I have been saying for awhile that the Broncos were going to draft Brock Osweiler. I had many conversations with people such as Sayre and we both agreed that picking Osweiler in the 2nd was a reach while picking him in the 3rd was tolerable. Osweiler is not going to be an impact guy for 2 years at the very minimum. While it is important that the Broncos start grooming a successor for Peyton Manning, drafting Osweiler in the 2nd was a poor choice. The Broncos could have easily drafted 20+ players who would have came in and contributed immediately.
When strictly talking about Osweiler the player, I like the pick. He's a very tall, very strong armed QB with surprising mobility and great leadership skills. He's still very raw and will need to fix up his mechanics and footwork, but the upside on him is huge. He is the QB with the highest upside in this draft (excluding Luck and RG3) and it will be interesting to see how he grows and matures under Peyton. Osweiler will be the key to how this draft is looked at in 5 years.
Broncos draft Ronnie Hillman at #67
Instant Reaction: Why are we reaching for all these players?
Reaction Now: Just like the previous picks, there were other players on the board that I liked and ranked higher then Hillman. Lamar Miller, LaMichael James and Robert Turbin were all available when the Broncos selected Hillman. With concerns about Miller's maturity and James' size, I can understand why the Broncos bypassed them for Hillman. However, the Broncos decision to select Hillman over Turbin is the one that really puzzles me. It was thought that the Broncos were looking for a John Fox type of back (220+ pounds) who could help carry the load this year and take over in 2013. However, Hillman doesn't fit that profile as he comes in at 200 pounds, but has never played at that weight. John Elway mentioned several times how explosive Hillman was and how he could take it to the house on any given play.
When watching Hillman play, you can see him flash big play ability. He beaks a lot of tackles with his quickness and he seems to have good vision. Hillman is a good pick and should make an immediate impact. I'm not necessarily sure the Broncos had to trade up for him, but apparently EFX thought they needed to. I like the selection of Hillman, but I would have liked the selection of Robert Turbin more. Hillman is not going to be able to be shoulder the majority of the carries due to his size like Turbin could have. Mario Fannin could be the power to Hillman's speed, but if he's not, then I could see the Broncos selecting another RB early next year who can complement Hillman.
Broncos draft Omar Bolden at #101
Instant Reaction: Good pick but is he healthy?
Reaction Now: Bolden is a great value pick int he 4th round. Typically, 4th round picks are picks used on depth. Bolden fits that description and more. Bolden is a borderline 1st round talent who fell in the draft due to a tore ACL. When healthy, he is a guy who can play both inside and outside. He's got good ball skills and does well in man coverage. He needs to fix on some fundamental stuff, but he could easily be a starter in the NFL.
One of his biggest assets is his speed. He plays fast and looks like he has legit 4.4 speed. This can be seen in coverage as well as when he is returning kicks. His usefulness on special teams is a big plus seeing as Denver lost its primary returner in Eddie Royal to free agency. Bolden was an excellent pick and my 2nd favorite of the Broncos the entire draft.
Broncos draft Phillip Blake at #108
Instant Reaction: Looks like Beadles is heading to the bench.
Reaction Now: Before the draft, I took a hard look at the Broncos needs and it immediately stuck out how thin they were on the interior of the offensive line. Starters J.D. Walton and Zane Beadles had many struggles last year and the backups were no better. The answer to this problem is Phillip Blake. Blake is older then most NFl rookies (26), but he's a big bodied man who is good in both the run game and in pass protection. He can play either of the guard positions and can also play center. He is a powerful player who should challenge for playing time immediately. Bealdes and Walton better watch their backs.
Broncos draft Malik Jackson at #137
Instant Reaction: Best pick the Broncos have made.
Reaction Now: Malik Jackson is a player to keep your eye on. In 5 years, it would not surprise me in the slightest if he turns out to be the best player from this draft class. Jackson played all over the defensive line at Tennessee, but his natural position is Defensive End. He is an athletic player with long arms and knows how to get after the quarterback. He uses his long arms in trying to shed blocks and is also experienced in knocking down passes. The main thing with Jackson is that he needs a lot of work on his technique especially his pad level. If he can work on the technical part of his game, Jackson is going to be a stud and a huge steal. Robert Ayers better watch his back because Jackson is coming for his job.
Broncos draft Danny Trevathan at #188
Instant Reaction: I totally called that; Watch your step DJ.
Reaction Now: Danny Trevathan is a guy I have had my eye on throughout the entire draft process because he fits the mold of a John Fox linebacker perfectly. He's a tad undersized, but makes up for it with instincts, toughness and quickness. The immediate comparison with Danny Trevathan is Wesley Woodyard, but I think Trevathan is better against the run. Trevathan is an athletic linebacker who is going to get a ton of tackles for the Broncos if he sees the field. I can easily see him taking Wesley Woodyard's role last year. With that being said, I would not be surprised at all if DJ Williams is not a Bronco for much longer. With Trevathan, Woodyard, Irving and Mike Mohammad, the Broncos have some depth to their linebacker corps. If they can get any value for DJ, who is nearing the end of his contract, I think the Broncos will pull the trigger.
Undrafted Free Agents
Every year fans get excited for the undrafted free agents that teams sign after the draft.. Most people think they are mostly training camp fodder, but the Broncos have proven for many years that that is not the case. There is no better example then Chris Harris who signed with the Broncos last year as a free agent and proceeded to light up the field and work his way up to starting nickel corner. This year, the Broncos signed 13 free agents and to be honest, there are 4 or 5 players who could push for roster spots. Here are the ones to keep your eyes on:
CB Coryell Judie
Judie is a guy that many thought would be drafted due to his terrific ball skills and upside. He's an athletic corner who shows good speed and fluid hips. He's also a very good tackler displaying aggression and wraps up well. On top of that, Judie is a very talented returner, averaging 28 yards in kick returns with 2 touchdowns. If there was one person I would bet on making the roster, it would be Judie.
WR Eric Page
The Broncos lost their speediest wide receiver in Eddie Royal to free agency. They may have found his replacement in Eric Page. He plays faster then he ran at the Combine (4.53) and is a very good route runner. He is very good at getting yards after catch. He can be very dangerous in open space and he has experience returning the ball. I won't make any predictions, but Matt Willis better watch his back
LB Jerry Franklin
At one point in time, some scouts thought Franklin was one of the top linebacker prospects in college football. Then, he fell off the face of the earth. I'm not sure what happened to Franklin, but he could be a huge steal as a college free agent. Franklin is a stout MLB who reads and reacts well and makes plays in the run game. He displays good awareness when he drops into coverage and is a very good wrap up tackler. In his career at Arkansas, he finished with over 180 tackles, 31 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and 5 interceptions. Mike Mohammad and Nate Irving better be ready because Franklin is going to push them.
S Duke Ihenacho
As of this writing, the Broncos only have 4 safeties on the active roster: Mike Adams, Quinton Carter, Rahim Moore and David Bruton. While I wouldn't be surprised to see the Broncos keep 6 cornerbacks and 4 safeties, I also wouldn't be surprised if the Broncos kept 5 CB's and 5 safeties with Ihenacho being the 5th. Ihenacho is an intriguing guy. He has obvious deficiencies such as a lack of great speed and isn't great in man coverage. However, he has impressive recovery speed and shows great instincts.
WR Gerrel Robinson
I don't think Robinson is going to make the roster, but he is a guy to keep an eye on in the future. He played his college ball at Arizona St and already has a rapport with new Broncos QB Brock Osweiler. He is a tall WR with good ball skills and deceptive down field speed. He doesn't separate well and doesn't run great routes. However, he is a guy who I think will make the Practice Squad and has some upside.
That's all for now. Overall, I liked the Broncos draft, but was less then impressed with how Elway, Fox and Xanders maneuvered throughout the draft. Only time will tell if they made the right moves, but I'm excited to see how everything unfolds in the coming months. Until next time, MHR.