The free agent frenzy is over, or at least the most exciting part of free agency is over. Finding quality bargain signings to fix holes and add depth is important as well, but for now, the attention will begin to turn to the draft. The draft is an exciting time, despite the NFL dragging it out for three days in a big money grab.
There are several draft philosophies out there. Some GMs target specific players. Some GMs target specific needs with the best available guy at the position at that pick. Still others draft the best players available regardless of need. Some draft horribly (here's looking at you Oakland). Some GMs give up all their picks for one pet guy (and I'm looking at you Rams and 'Skins). I think it's wise to build for the future, addressing future needs which sometimes coincide with filling immediate holes.
As for Denver's first round pick, I don't agree that we should trade the pick. Yes there are knucklehead teams which will give up picks for a first round pick which is basically a second round pick. Perhaps a team like Minnesota is desperate enough for a Quarterback that they trade multiple picks to us to get a guy like Carr at 31. It's hard to judge the stupidity of bad teams though, and so I am doing this mock without trade projections, even though there are always lots of trades that go down.
The Prospects (1st Round)
There are only a handful of prospects that I would consider drafting at number 31. If these were not there, I would move back in the draft for sure if possible.
- Guards: Gabe Jackson; Xavier Su'a-Filo; and Zach Martin (converted from OT)
- Cornerbacks: Justin Gilbert; Darqueze Dennard; Bradley Roby
- Defensive Ends: Jadaveon Clowney; Kony Ealy; Stephon Tuitt
- Wide Receivers: Sammy Watkins; Mike Evans; Marquise Lee; Odell Beckham, Kelvin Benjamin; Brandin Cooks; Davante Adams
- Linebackers: CJ Mosley; Ryan Shazier
Round 1 Bradley Roby - Cornerback, 5'11", 194 lbs., Ohio State
Roby both fills a need and builds for the future. With Dennard and Gilbert almost certainly off the board, Roby is the best corner available and one of the top talents remaining. This pick makes sense for a few reasons. First, Denver plays with three corners on the field quite often. Even with Talib and a healthy Harris, is Webster able to handle being that third guy? He has the tools, but he was pretty raw when we got him and he may not yet be ready yet. Second, there is no guarantee that Harris will be able to be resigned next year. If this year's crop of cornerback contracts is any indication, Harris may very well price himself out of Denver (unfortunately) with a strong season. He would need to be replaced, and even if Webster is up to the task, we would still need a third guy. Lastly, Talib is very good, but injuries are a concern with him, as is off the field behavior. Now he was fine with the Patriots, and no doubt will be fine here. But, if he goes down or gets suspended, we are in a load of trouble. Roby is the insurance we need, while being able to compete for a spot as either a number 2 or a nickle corner immediately.
Round 2 Christian Jones - Linebacker, 6'3", 240 lbs., Florida State
Christian Jones is a quality inside linebacker prospect with pretty high upside and versatility. He was forced to play defensive end for the Seminoles to make up for losses in the draft last year. He is big, fast, athletic, and smart enough to call the defense, and possesses the coverage ability you want to see out of a linebacker. He is also supposed to be a good special teams player. The tools are certainly there to be the best inside linebacker in Denver since Al Wilson.
Round 3 Brandon Coleman - Wide Receiver, 6'6", 225 lbs., Rutgers
First of all, Coleman is huge. He has upside as a potential number two receiver and represents a big red zone/first down target. For a big guy, he moves pretty well also. He'll never be mistaken for Megatron in his speed, but his tested speed is only .05 seconds slower than Decker's was (though I put little stock in track running at the combine). He has plenty of upside and could well be the replacement for Decker. His height alone creates size mismatches along with Thomas and Thomas.
Round 4 D'Anthony Thomas - Running Back, 5'9", 174 lbs., Oregon
Some might question taking a running back in the first four rounds for the third year in a row. Thomas, however, is worth the selection. He is undersized, but if he puts on a little weight he could be a scat back in the mold of Sproles, albeit 3 inches taller. He is also the perfect player to replace Trindon Holliday as a return man. He is fast, both timed and playing speed, and was a former track star, which helps in the return game. It would seem as though he would see the field more often than Hillman at this point anyway.
Round 5 Laurent Duvernay-Tardif - Offensive Line, 6'5", 321 lbs., McGill (Canada)
Put that name on the back of the jersey. Duvernay-Tardif is an intriguing prospect that not many people know about. He is a top Canadian collegiate tackle who projects best as a guard in the NFL. He would need a year or two perhaps to adjust from Canadian football and hone his skills, but he has every tool to be a dominating offensive lineman. The attitude, the smarts, the size and athleticism, are all there. Perhaps he will be the long term replacement for Zane Beadles after working behind a veteran free agent for a year or so.
Round 6 Jason Bromley - Defensive Tackle, 6'3", 306 lbs., Syracuse
Denver has to face the possibility of losing not one, but three offensive tackles to free agency next year. It therefore seems wise to cultivate potential replacements for Knighton and/or Vickerson and/or Unrein. It's doubtful we resign all three. Bromley offers all decent pass rush and decent run defense and has upside.
Round 7 Willie Snead - Wide Receiver, 5'11", 195 lbs., Ball State
Wes Welker will only be in Denver for one more year. He will need to be replaced unless he cuts us a massive break, and that's doubtful. Snead runs fairly polished routes and is a prototypical slot receiver. He, DT, Coleman, and Caldwell would give us four solid receivers to go along with Julius Thomas.
Please feel free to agree or disagree. Go Broncos!!!