Unfortunately the 2012 Denver Broncos attempt to win the Lombardi Trophy came to an abrupt and disappointing ending this past Saturday. Now it's time to look ahead to the offseason, and to who might be Denver Broncos this April. The 2013 NFL draft participants will be set today. What big named defensive players will be available, and which might be targeted by our beloved Denver Broncos? I'm going to do a quick overview of the top prospects at each position on the defensive side of the ball and outline who might be potential Denver Broncos.
1. Bjoern Werner, Florida St, 6'4 256lbs
2. Damontre Moore, Texas A&M, 6'4 250lbs
3. Sam Montgomery, LSU, 6'5 260lbs
4. Alex Okafor, Texas, 6'5 265lbs
5. Ezekiel Ansah, Brigham Young, 6'5 270lbs
6. Dion Jordan, Oregon, 6'6 243lbs
1. Star Lotulelei, Utah, 6'3 320lbs
2. Jonathan Hankins, Ohio St, 6'3 320lbs
3. Sheldon Richardson, Missouri, 6'3 295lbs
4. Jesse Williams, Alabama, 6'3 320lbs
5. John Jenkins, Georgia, 6'3 358lbs
6. Sharrif Floyd, Florida, 6'3 303lbs
7. Kawann Short, Purdue, 6'3 315lbs
A lot of talent and first rounders in this group. Werner, Moore and Lotulelei should be top 5-7 players in the draft. Werner is getting Chris Long comparisons and Moore will be attractive because of his elite pass rushing skills and he can lineup at DE in the 4-3 or OLB in the 3-4. Star will be a star in the middle of any defensive line. Big, physical, strong man who has a great burst of the snap and has pass rushing moves to be a disruptive force in the middle. All 3 of these guys will be taken very early in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Lets take a look at the rest of the DE's. Montgomery was a solid piece of the LSU D-Line. However, I'm not a huge fan of his yet. He does look the part of an NFL DE. Lanky, athletic and has room to grow, but he is slow off the snap, and isn't the best pass rusher. Montgomery will be an interesting guy to keep an eye on throughout the process. Alex Okafor like Montgomery will fall some in the draft I believe because he's not your typical edge rusher. He's very strong and sets the edge very well. Okafor may be the most well rounded DE in this draft. Ezekiel Ansah is a guy I'm just starting to learn more about, and I'm loving what I'm hearing. Ansah has a rare combination of size, athleticism and natural power. Ansah may have a Jason-Pierre Paul like rise up the charts. Ansah isn't a pass rushing terror as Paul, but a more well rounded player. Ansah is very raw though, and would be a risky pick, but as of now I'm on the bandwagon. Dion Jordan is an interesting guy. Probably a much better fit as a 3-4 OLB. Jordan is very athletic, but needs to add more weight to his frame. He could improve his stock a lot if he has a great showing at the combine. He will be a prime target for a team looking for a 3-4 edge rusher.
Lets take a look at the top Defensive Tackles. Jonathan Hankins is a good prospect. Hankins is a tough run stopper but offers little in the pass rushing department. He doesn't always make smart plays, does get called for penalties and doesn't always give his 100% because of fatigue. Hankins looks to be a two down run stuffer right now. Sheldon Richardson is another guy I'm learning more about and loving what I'm seeing. He's very athletic, has a great motor, and played well against his SEC opponents. However, he's only had one dominant year, so those questions need to be answered. He does have the make of a dominant athletic DT in the NFL. Jesse Williams was a part of the dominant Alabama defense. Williams is your run stuffing 3-4 NT. He won't get after the passer, but is a strong strong man who will anchor the middle of your defensive line. John Jenkins is a very large man, but is oddly athletic. He does wear down quickly and offers little in the pass rushing department, but is versatile as well. Jenkins will be an interesting man to watch through the process. Shariff Floyd and Kawann Short are both good pass rushing DT's that have question marks surrounding them. Both could fly up the charts if they do well in the process.
You would have to think the Broncos would target another pass rushing DT like Floyd or Short. You cannot rule out a DE if they decide to move Wolfe inside. Ansah, Okafor, and possibly Jordan could be available for the Broncos.
1. Jarvis Jones, Georgia, 6'2 242lbs
2. Barkevious Mingo, LSU, 6'4 240lbs
3. Arthur Brown, Kansas State, 6'1 230lbs
4. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers, 6'1 234lbs
5. John Simon, Ohio St, 6'2 260lbs
1. Manti Teo, Notre Dame, 6'2 255lbs,
2. Kevin Minter, LSU, 6'1, 245lbs
3. Alec Ogletree, Georgia, 6'3 234lbs
This is a rather talented group, but it has a lot of questions surrounding it's top prospects. The top OLB prospect is Jarvis Jones. Jones is this years Bruce Irvin, but with some huge medical concerns. Jones has spinal stenosis and transferred from USC early in his college career because doctors wouldn't clear him to play. So his stock will be interesting to watch. Barkevious Mingo, who's name is hard to say and spell, is another interesting prospect. A lot of talent, but had a down year at LSU. He will be a workout warrior probably at the combine, and he does have elite pass rushing skills. Mingo fits a 3-4 OLB role, so expect him to go early. Arthur Brown is one of my favorite players in this draft. Brown who can play either WLB or ILB is very athletic and very fast. He is a little small (6'1 228), so a team that covets smaller faster linebackers would love Brown. Khaseem Greene is a player I'm just starting to learn more about. The former Rutgers linebacker is very athletic, a good sideline to sideline guy, a good blitzer, and is fluid in coverage (a former safety). He also possesses good ball skills. The OSU grad John Simon is a favorite of mine. Simon has that motor and relentlessness every coach loves. The guy gives his 100% and then some every play. Simon is a great tackler and a big big man. He's also very versatile. He's played both end positions and even in the middle. He could translate as a 3-4 OLB, or a 4-3 run stopper. He's a guy I'm excited to learn more about and watch during the process.
The Inside Linebackers are headlined by Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Teo. Teo had a great senior year at Notre Dame and expects to go in the first round. However it seems like he is a bit over hyped. Some people (Mel Kiper) mocked Teo to go first overall, but Teo isn't that good of a prospect. Don't get me wrong he's a very good one, but Luke Kuechly who went 11th overall last year is a better prospect. Teo will be a first round pick, but a top 10? top 15? 20-30 range will be something to watch in the next few months. Now onto probably my favorite to be a Denver Bronco in the first round, Alec Ogletree. Ogletree possesses frightening athleticism in space and could succeed at essentially any linebacker position. He led Georgia in tackles this past year. The former safety has some ball hawking skills in him, and is a great run stopper. Ogletree will be a fast riser I believe. A name we should get used to is Kevin Minter from LSU. Minter is your plug and play ILB in the NFL. Minter showed all kinds of skills, he lead the LSU D in tackles and tackles for loss, added 4 sacks and 6 pass breakups and is a infectious leader.
I could honestly make a case for every player in this group. Arthur Brown is fast and athletic, and he fits the mold of a Fox/Del Rio LB. Greene also fits that bill. Ogletree and Minter are the two guys I'm keeping an eye on. The Broncos need a young stud MLB to be a leader for this defense. They have been searching for one ever since Al Wilson got hurt. Manti Teo could be an option if his stock falls, which I expect it to do some once April comes around
1. Dee Milliner, Albama, 6'1 198lbs
2. Xavier Rhodes, Florida St, 6'1 217lbs
3. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi St, 6'1 190lbs
4. Jordan Poyer, Oregon St, 5'11 190lbs
5. Logan Ryan, Rutgers, 6'0 190lbs
1. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas, 6'1 218lbs
2. Eric Reid, LSU, 6'2 212lbs
3. Matt Elam, Florida, 5'10 202lbs
4. Phillip Thomas, Fresno St, 6'1 215lbs
Dee Milliner is the top corner prospect in the draft this year. Milliner had a great junior year where earned an unanimous first-team All-America selection with 22 pass breakups and a pair of interceptions. He's a physical corner, who will make life rough for the corners. Milliner will probably be a top 10 selection. Xavier Rhodes is a favorite of mine. He's drawn some Patrick Peterson comparisons because of his size and athleticism. He's a very physical corner. He uses his size to jam receivers at the line, and plays press man very well. Johnthan Banks (not a typo) is a favorite of mine. He's a pick machine, and he knows how to get to the end zone. He does have some questions though. His speed will be a big issue. If he runs a slow 40 time, his stock could drop. But Banks has great ball skills and has a knack for making the big play. Poyer is another solid corner who has great ball skills. I wouldn't be surprised if he leap frogs Banks in the process. Logan Ryan is also a physical and aggressive cover corner. Ryan is a well built corner at 6'0 190. He has the potential to rise his stock once the process begins.
Now lets take a look at the safeties. Kenny Vaccaro is the top safety in this years draft. Vaccaro has the size, speed and athleticism you want in a safety. He can play both safety spots which will be intriguing to teams. Vaccaro is a smart kid, and a good leader. Eric Reid is big man, and has drawn some LaRon Landry comparisons. Reid is a safety that can lay the wood. He intercepted 6 passes in his 3 seasons at LSU, but missed tackles and blown coverages can be issues for Reid, but he is an awfully impressive physical specimen. Matt Elam is another big hitting safety. He does tend to have coverage lapses and his current strength is run support. So if he shows good coverage skills he could really improve his stock. Phillip Thomas might be the best coverage safety in this years draft. Thomas tracks the ball well, showing good leaping ability and soft hands to pluck the ball from the air and is a physical hitter. He does lack top end speed that teams want in their center field safety, so is 40 time may be important to him.