John Elway has two drafts under his belt and has made some notable trends in the kind of prospects he is looking for. Before I share my mock draft I want to share what I've noticed in Elway's two draft classes. These trends will help narrow down the prospects that could end up being a Denver Bronco.
What Elway looks for?
- 6 out of the 7 players drafted had productive careers
Start more than one year
- No one year wonders!
- Only exception to both of these is Brock Os.
No major injuries--I include Nate Irving with this group because he did play his entire senior year.
No off the field issues (this is true for all rounds including free agency)
- This means no Honey Badger!
- Nobody that has been arrested or dealt with drugs (sadly there's a lot of talented prospects that fall under this policy)
Will trade down, but will trade up for their guy
- Traded down both years (2011 second round and 2012 first round to second round)
- Thought about trading up for Nick Fairley and traded up for Ronnie Hillman.
- Likes to take chances (Julius Thomas-one year wonder Omar Bolden --injury)
- Might look to add depth-Philip Blake
Elway has had good success in the later rounds. Some of the notable draft picks: Virgil Green, Mailk Jackson, and Danny Trevathan. Beal did show some flashes in the preseason. Some of these guys were prospects that fell in the draft. The biggest one was Virgil Green as he was rated a third round prospect.
One last minor note before I present my mock draft.
Elway has taken a pass rusher with the first pick in both years. Like I stated before, Elway tried trading up for Nick Fairly (10.5 sacks his senior year). Also for free agency, Elway made an attempt at Charles Johnson in 2011 and John Abraham in 2012. In other words, Elway is always looking to add more pass rushers!
Without further delay here is my mock draft!
Round One: Kawann Short DT Purdue 6'3 308
Why stop the trend of picking a pass rusher with the first pick? Short is the most polished interior pass rusher in this draft. What he did during the week at the Senior Bowl practices was amazing. He was impressive during one on ones. I can recall one maybe two times where Short didn't win. Another impressive part was the array of pass moves he showed. He's got a good swim move as well as bends and dips good for his size. I also loved how active his hands and feet were. If one move didn't work he was quick to go towards his second move. This is important to look at because too many times pass rushers in college have only one go to move. He's also good against the run and can shoot the gap.
Some of the things I don't like about Short is his motor can be inconstant. Also he tends to overuse his swim move. He did that quite a few times against Wisconsin. It wouldn't hurt to see him better conditioned, but that could be said about a lot of players on the d-line.
Does Short match what Elway is looking for? ...You bet!
Production: 2010-4.5 sacks 12.5 TFLs 8 passes broken up 2011-6.5 sacks 17.5 TFLs 2 passes broken up 2012-7 sacks 15.5 TFLs 4 passes broken up.
He has been a starter since his freshmen year and has been a captain for two years. He has no off the field issues as well.
If I could, I would trade down into the second round. The 28th spot in the draft is a good spot to be because teams at the top of the second round like to trade up into the first round. I don't like predicting trades because nobody ever follows the point chart.
Round two: Marcus Wheaton WR Oregon State 5'11 183
Wheaton was another prospect that impressed me a lot during the Senior Bowl practices. He ran crisp routes and was surprisingly physical with corner backs all day (surprising to me given his size). What I really liked about Wheaton is when he got held and was an obvious pass inference he didn't complain about it. Too many times I see wide receivers in college and NFL quit on their route because they're being held. I hate that! With Wheaton, he kept running his route fighting back for the football.
Watching Wheaton on tape, you can tell right away that he's a play maker. You get the ball in his hands and good things will happen. He's also a good teammate. He's willing to block for his teammates on screens and even downfield you can see him still throwing a block. This is the kind of guy you want on your team. If he had a better QB his TD numbers would have easily doubled. Too many times I see him wide open and his QB taking his time getting him the ball.
Production: 2012 91 receptions (broke school record), 1244 yards, and 12 TDs. He was a two year starter, but his 2011 stats aren't the greatest but still had 73 receptions along with 986 yards receiving 1 TD.
He was a team leader. In addition, he traveled to Guatemala to help build houses for the needy in the spring of 2011.
This pick is not to be disrespectful towards Brandon Stokley. I appreciate what the guy did for the Broncos this year, but I want the younger and more explosive version of Stokley.
Round three: Kevin Reddick MLB North Carolina 6'2 240
Reddick is another solid prospect to come out of North Carolina. It amazes me how much NFL talent they produce each year. What I like about Reddick is that he's good against the run. He has average to slightly above average sideline to sideline speed. Reddick saw the field in all four years at North Carolina. He was quite productive during those years. His 2012 numbers: 85 tackles, 18.5 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 6 passes broken up, and 6 QB pressures.
I think he could be a three down LB in the NFL. He shows a good awareness in pass coverage. I like him better dropping into zone coverage rather than man coverage. However I would feel confident having him go against TEs. The problem he'll have is defending scat backs. That shouldn't be too big of a problem because of Woodyard. Also as a bonus, as you can see from his stats, he can rush the passer with relative ease. The way he can bend and turn his hips on his rip is a work of art. He did a great job in one on ones during the Senior Bowl practices when he was against the RB.
A few minor issues, he's a bit tight in the hips when he's dropping into coverage. However I can see that being fixed with a summer with the S&C coach. He's conditioning can improve, but he did play on every special teams. On top of that, Reddick played some DE at times (that can wear you down quickly).
Reddick is the kind MLB you draft that won't be a household name in the NFL, but he'll a solid MLB for years. He won't be flashy but will get the job done.
On a side note, it's so nice having an S&C coach who's up to date with modern trends with a more concentration on flexibility and movement.
Round four: Le'veon Bell RB Michigan State 6'2 244
At running back what do the Denver Broncos have? They got a third down RB in Knowshon Moreno and a change of pace RB in Ronnie Hillman. The missing piece is a power back who can wear a defense down for four quarters.
Insert Bell as that workhorse RB that defenses will get tired of tackling. As suggested, he rarely goes down with the first hit. Like Lacy, he likes to spin and is quite good at it. Watch the Big Ten Championship game in 2011 or the Boise State game in 2012 to see how good his spin move is. He's not going to "wow" anybody with his 40 time (he runs a 4.6). For his size he has good burst and lateral movement skills. Also as a bonus he is a three down back. Often times Michigan State would line him up in the slot and is a good pass blocker. However I don't like how both he and Lacy lean into defenders with their shoulders. They both get away with it because of their size, but in the NFL, defenders will just swim over the top of that. Overall, Bell gives the Broncos a young three headed monster at RB.
His stats: 2011 948 yards rushing, 5.21 yards per carry with 13 TDs 35 receptions 2012 1793 yards rushing, 4.69 yards per carry 12 TDs 32 receptions
Round five David Quessenberry G San Jose State 6'5 295
Before the Senior Bowl Practice I didn't know who this was, but after watching him, I do now. I have him listed at guard because I thought he looked better at guard than he did at OT. At the same time he didn't do too bad of a job at OT during one on ones.
I love how the guy gets physical with d-linemen. He has a nasty edge to him and is going to fight to the whistle. He's got good feet and good athleticism for someone his size. I could see him adding at least another 10-15 lbs to his frame. Another aspect I like about Quessenberry is that he was a walk on. So already he has a chip on shoulder. I like it because you know he's going to work and give it his all every single time.
Quessenberry can sit behind Chris Kuper the first year and if the injuries are keeping Kuper down... then slide Quessenberry into the lineup. Also he can fill in at OT if need be because of his experience at OT (started two years).
Round whatever pick the Broncos have left over from the Bunkley trade: Micah Hyde CB Iowa 6'1 190
Truth be told, I wanted this pick to be one of two defensive players from Georgia (Washington was one my favorites-29 QB hurries in two years). However I was disappointed to see both players I was interested in had off the field issues...very frustrating!
On to Hyde, he's a big physical CB with average CB speed. He has experience in both zone and man press. Over the last two years he's had 22 passes broken and was first team Big Ten in 2012. Another thing I like about him is that he looks back for the football when he's in man coverage. However I question his ball skills.
In general, I like Iowa players because you're getting someone that's been well coached.
A few free agent deals
Give Ryan Clady his money. He played out his franchise tag like a real man should. You reward him for that along with his play.
Possible free agents to consider:
Knighton is a solid DT that I would replace Justin Bannan with. He could sign for a good price because the broncos have: Manning, a player friendly HC, a chance at a super bowl, and the coach that drafted him. The same could be said about Cox who would bring some size to the CB position. However I would prefer Knighton.
I can see it now, "we don't need Osi...our pass rush is amazing...." Well Elway has tried signing other pass rushers before as I noted above. If Elway can get Osi in that 5-6 million dollar range I would take it. Imagine this d-line on third down: Dumervil, Wolfe, Short, Osi, and Miller going anywhere he wants. You got five guys that can win individual battles.
I'm sure I'm not the only one that noticed Joe Flacco had a clean jersey not only in the Broncos game but the Patriot game as well. I like Robert Ayers, but I don't want him on passing downs. Osi also gives you the ability to create takeaways (10 FFs two years ago).
I'm sure that last bit will cause a stir, but this is my mock draft with a little sprinkle of free agency. This mock draft covers the Broncos needs and also gives the Broncos some depth. Also the offense gets another playmaker that can turn a 5 yard catch into 15-20 yards.
And that's all I have for you guys!