Will the Broncos experiment with Orlando Franklin at Left Guard? Or will they draft an interior lineman and keep him put? Those have been some of the questions swirling around lately. How about this years equvelant to Franklin in the upcoming draft?
ANTONIO RICHARDSON, OT SCHOOL: TENNESSEE | CONFERENCE: SEC
COLLEGE EXPERIENCE: JUNIOR | HOMETOWN: NASHVILLE, TN
HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 6-6 / 336 LBS.
STRENGTHS: Combination of size, agility, patience and power. Shocking athleticism for his size. Well-proportioned with broad shoulders, long arms and tree trunks for legs. Richardson shows surprising quickness and balance off the snap in pass protection, sliding quickly left to properly protect the blind side.
He latches on with strong hands and rides with the pass rusher before settling, squaring his shoulders and sustaining nicely by playing on the balls of his feet.
WEAKNESSES: Was bull-rushed into the quarterback multiple times in a marquee matchup against Jadeveon Clowney in 2013. Needs to be more technically consistent, as he'll get over-extended off the snap, and will at times stop his feet altogether, when asked to redirect in mirroring counter-moves.
Over-extends at times off the snap and doesn't exhibit consistent patience in pass protection, as he'll often reach to initiate contact when he should first establish his base, and then "catch" his opponent.
Compares To: Erik Williams, ex-Cowboys -- Like Williams, Richardson is a massive offensive tackle with the ability to re-route pass rushers and be a road-grader in the ground game.
--Rob Rang and Derek Stephens (2/3/14)
Nicknamed "Tiny," Richardson is, of course, quite the opposite at a massive 6-6, 332 pounds.
Richardson signed with the Volunteers as the top overall prep prospect in Tennessee in 2010. He played in every game as a true freshman but didn't log a single start. As such, it surprised many when then-coach Derek Dooley elected to move steady senior Dallas Thomas inside to left guard in 2012 to hand Richardson the critical role of protecting Tyler Bray's blind side. The gamble on Richardson's potential and Thomas' versatility paid off as each earned Second Team All-SEC honors.
Richardson really opened eyes with an outstanding performance against South Carolina All-American pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney in 2012. While he wasn't as stellar in the rematch in 2013, Richardson still displayed the ability to hold his own against the SEC's top pass rushers while being a force in the ground game.
Richardson may possess the deepest and most impressive toolbox of all the tackles in the 2014 class in terms of natural ability and size/athleticism combination. Where he needs to improve is in his technical approach to the position, particularly when mirroring quicker pass rushers, as he too frequently over-relies on his hands and will forget to stay active with his feet.
There's no doubt that Richardson's freakish athleticism and size will draw consideration from NFL teams in the early rounds, but in order to be a first-round selection he must convince scouts that he is committed to improving technically.
One thing is certain in this years draft. The Broncos will be drafting a LB in this years draft. Playing in front of one of the best defensive fronts in football, they don't necessarily need a pro bowl run stopper. I like Christian Jones of Florida State for his size and ability to cover.
CHRISTIAN JONES, ILB SCHOOL: FLORIDA STATE | CONFERENCE: ACC
COLLEGE EXPERIENCE: SENIOR | HOMETOWN: WINTER PARK, FL
HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 6-3 / 240 LBS.
STRENGTHS: Tremendous athlete with has fluid footwork who flawlessly flips his hips to blanket tight ends or receivers down the field in coverage. Tall and long, which he uses well in coverage. Plays with excellent range and speed to chase down the action, taking proper angles in pursuit. Flashes the take-on strength to blow past blockers when he uses proper technique.
WEAKNESSES: Needs to improve his awareness to turn his head and find the ball. Length is advantageous, but at times will cause him to play too upright, and he needs to improve his overall leverage, especially on tackle attempts. Will get hung up on blocks at times.
--Dane Brugler (11/27/13)
Jones was a five-star prospect by Rivals.com coming out of Lake Howell High School in Winter Park, Fla. While he considered offers from Alabama, Florida, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, Jones was a natural fit to land at FSU, where his father, Willie Jones, Sr., starred as a defensive end.
As a true freshman, Jones saw action in all 14 games on special teams and as an occasional reserve linebacker, finishing the season with 18 tackles, three sacks and three tackles for loss.
Jones entered the starting rotation at strong-side linebacker in 2011, finishing second on the team with 56 tackles, six for losses, along with three sacks and a team-high two forced fumbles.
He again started every game in 2012 while moving to the weak side, finishing with a team-high 95 tackles. Jones racked up more tackles in 14 games as a junior than he had in his first 27 games entering the season.
Jones was on the move again as a senior, this time to the middle under new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. He went on to finish sixth on the team with 49 tackles while starting 11 of 12 games heading into the BCS title game. Jones also had 7.5 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks to go along with six quarterback hits.
With Decker out and DT in a contract year, the Broncos are likely to target a WR. With Caldwell brought back, and Sanders brought in, it will likely be a mid to late round selection. Here is a guy that we haven't heard much about, but could be a solid mid round pickup.
KEVIN NORWOOD, WR SCHOOL: ALABAMA | CONFERENCE: SEC
COLLEGE EXPERIENCE: SENIOR | HOMETOWN: D'IBERVILLE, MS
HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 6-2 / 198 LBS.
STRENGTHS: Possesses a well-built frame with good overall musculature and good height for the position. Good initial quickness and shows some savvy as a route-runner, alternating his gait and gaining a clean release against press coverage.
May not possess elite top-end speed but accelerates smoothly, has some lateral agility to elude and fights for extra yardage, running through arm tackles and attempting to leap over efforts to grab him by the legs.
Good body control. Tracks the ball well and shows the ability to adjust to poorly thrown passes. Can extend and pluck the ball from outside of his frame and shows no fear when crossing the middle.
WEAKNESSES: Surrounded by an awful lot of talent at Alabama and never had to be "the man." Does the little things well, but may not possess the top-end speed to wow scouts and doesn't show an explosive burst to separate.
COMPARES TO: Earl Bennett, Chicago Bears - Given that he's two inches taller, comparing Norwood to Bennett may not be giving him enough credit. Like Bennett, however, Norwood leaves the SEC as a productive, polished player who for whatever reason hasn't generated the buzz of some of his peers.
--Rob Rang (2/5/14)
Considering he starred for one of the most high-profile programs in the country, Norwood ranks among the more underrated receivers in the 2014 draft.
Possessing an impressive blend of size, overall athleticism and polish, Norwood quietly emerged as quarterback AJ McCarron's favorite target in 2013, picking up the slack while sophomore Amari Cooper struggled with injury and inconsistency.
Norwood was cast as a complement to Cooper in 2012, finishing with 29 catches for 461 yards and four touchdowns in his first season as a starter. Alabama's focus on the running game didn't allow for gaudy statistics for Norwood (38 catches for 568 yards) but his seven touchdowns were nearly double that of Cooper, who only caught four.
Norwood further impressed scouts with a solid performance at the Senior Bowl, where he showcased the reliable route-running and soft hands to rank as one of the better receivers in the prestigious all-star game. Given his size and experience in the slot, don't be surprised when Norwood catches on in the NFL and contributes relatively early in his pro career.
How about a CB prospect? Watkins of Florida played as a Safety in his senior season due to injuries. He's projected as a 2 or 3 round pick. He matched up very well vs. proven talent in the SEC.
JAYLEN WATKINS, CB SCHOOL: FLORIDA | CONFERENCE: SEC
COLLEGE EXPERIENCE: SENIOR | HOMETOWN: CAPE CORAL, FL
HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 6-0 / 194 LBS.
- Played safety for much of 2013, so progression of cornerback skills weren’t evident.
- Didn’t force any turnovers as a safety, possibly indicating lack of ball awareness and eye-discipline for the position.
- Needs to add strength to hold up against big, number one receivers, but his frame may not be able to handle the extra mass. Elite lateral explosiveness shouldn't be compromised.
- Doesn’t have much experience on special teams, and will likely be asked to play there as a rookie.
- Route anticipation isn’t superb, and doesn’t jump as many routes as he could. To become an elite defender, he will need to convert opportunities into actual turnovers.
- Instead of focusing on the receiver, he needs to become more consistent in turning his head to locate the ball, then make a play for the ball.
- Very smooth athlete that wastes very little movement during backpedal, pivot and transfer process. The smoothness translates well to multiple schemes.
- Clean hip movement and good speed allowed match-ups with even the best receivers in the speedy SEC.
- Routinely played against NFL caliber receivers, and was able to lock down top competition as a cornerback.
- Impressive lateral quickness that separates him from others in the class, as he can cover slot men and swallow them up with tight coverage.
- Good leaper and timing when battling for the ball, despite having average height and frame.
- Tough competitor that has the "IT" factor to get better and do what is necessary for the team.
- Versatile skills; played mostly safety as a senior due to injuries and depth at Florida.
- Was the most impressive cornerback on a team with two other NFL caliber defensive backs, Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson.
- Played on an island, mostly playing man or cover 2, and had a burn percentage of 15 percent, which is excellent.
- Has good potential for press coverage, and was effective in applying the press.
- Most consistent cornerback at the Senior Bowl practices, often staying attached to the hip of receivers, then used timing to explode towards the ball and breaking up the pass.
- Able to control the boundary in cover two, redirecting the receiver off of the intended route.
And a pass rusher who I haven't heard much about. He sounds raw, but has potential. He would be a second round target potentially for Denver. Now with Ware being added, and Quanterus Smith coming off of the IR, this is not a glaring hole. But you can never have too many pass rushers they say. And Jeremiah may have the raw pass rushing skills to back up Von Miller.
JEREMIAH ATTAOCHU, OLB SCHOOL: GEORGIA TECH | CONFERENCE: ACC
COLLEGE EXPERIENCE: SENIOR | HOMETOWN: WASHINGTON, DC
HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 6-3 / 252 LBS.
STRENGTHS: Looks the part with an athletic build and long arms, using his range to make plays all over the field. Good get-off quickness with the chase skills to track down the ballcarrier from behind and finish. Impressive blend of athleticism and strength to work off blocks and battle through the whistle.
Active with stunts and creative rushes to find ways to get to the pocket. Uses natural dip and bend to get around blockers.
Has shown improved recognition and gap integrity against the run, as well as patience when dropping back into coverage. Quick hands to rip at the ball as it arrives in coverage, and shows good overall football intelligence and work ethic.
WEAKNESSES: Will struggled to keep himself clean at contact. Looked like a fish out of water at the Senior Bowl when asked to played off the line of scrimmage as a traditional strong-side linebacker in a 4-3 alignment. Fiery player with a violent temperament, but needs to keep his wits on the field and control his intensity. Doesn?t always appear to have a plan and will bite hard on play-fakes and get grabby in coverage.
A native of Nigeria, Attaochu lined up as a stand-up outside linebacker and occasionally attacked the edge as a defensive end for the Yellow Jackets
He was one of only three ACC players with double-digit sacks in 2012, leading the team with 10 sacks and 12 tackles for loss and earning All-ACC honorable mention honors. He backed that up with a first team All-ACC regular season in 2013, racking up 12 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss.
Attaochu is an intriguing prospect who saw time at inside linebacker, outside linebacker and rushed from a three-point stance at the Senior Bowl. Not surprisingly, Attaochu showed his greatest comfort when rushing the quarterback, demonstrating burst, agility and a powerful slap-and-sidestep to get past would-be blockers, and will be appealing to defenses utilizing 3-4 schemes.
- Muscular build with a thick lower body and sufficient length.
- Naturally explosive athlete with suddenness to his feet.
- Has ability to play with balance at high speeds and when engaged with blockers.
- Comes off the ball with significant initial quickness.
- Quick and purposeful second step to shoot the inside gap of tackles and is disruptive doing so.
- Rushes the passer with a low center of gravity that enables him to play with leverage.
- Dips his inside shoulder to get flat around the corner with tremendous flexibility and balance.
- Can beat the corner on speed alone, obvious athletic talent.
- Flashes some power in his hands on initial contact.
- Devastating utilization of speed on stunts and blitzes from space.
- Efficient footwork when dropping in pass coverage, covers ground well.
- Coordinated and fluid changing directions in coverage to track route runners.
- Exceptional speed to close in the open field, impactful when flowing over the top or chasing plays from the back-side.
- Keen on defensive assignments, operates stunts and twists with precision.
- Picks up on screen passes well, generally aware of backfield movement.
- Experience at multiple edge positions for Georgia Tech in both 4-3 and 3-4 base sets.
- Productive as a rusher in 2013 despite seeing lots of chips and double teams.
- Will freeze up trying to diagnose plays, not the most instinctive defender.
- Poor anticipation of blocks, doesn’t pick up on play design quickly.
- Doesn’t always play under control or with measured athleticism.
- Can go stretches without purpose as a rusher, doesn’t string together moves.
- Still learning to read the balance and positioning of tackles, predetermines moves for the most part.
- Can flail his hands around instead of operating with precision.
- Doesn’t rip through or finish when he gets a step on tackles.
- Hasn’t learned how to bat away the hands of tackles and gets completely locked up if they get to his chest.
- Almost non-existent usage of power as a rusher, even gets thrown around at times.
- No counter when initial pass rush moves don’t succeed.
- Relatively little experience in pass coverage.
- Lacks resistance strength to anchor drive blocks at the point of attack.
- Doesn’t overpower tight ends in any aspect of the game.
- Prone to missing tackles with ball carriers singled up in space by failing to break down.
So there are some random prospects who I found interesting to read about. Guys that are a little under the radar, at least my radar, but have potential. A Franklin clone, an under the radar WR in a WR heavy draft, a potential #2 CB with proven coverage skills, masked just a little because of having played Safety, and an athletic pass rusher with raw pass rushing skills. And an LB with the ability to over a TE.