Of course we are! Only 5 days left until we can be done with them. Until we know who will really be a Bronco and can then start analyzing they why behind the picks, how they will contribute, who will make the team and who will be cut. Until then, we satisfy ourselves with the gratification of pretending. I love mock drafts. I also hate them. They make me think, What are needs, what is value, who can make an impact? I've done a few and I"m going to share them below. If you are truly sick of all the mock drafting, don't read. If you have that love hate relationship like I do, well I hope you enjoy.
I used fanspeak.com and used the Walter board for one and Fanspeak's own board for the other. They seemed to be the most realistic in terms of nationally accepted player rankings vs the others (who had Trent Murphy going in the top 5, Jimmy Garropolo as the #3 overall pick, etc). Do I think the draft will really play out this way? Of course not. Would I like it if it did? Of course I would, they are my picks after all :).
Mock 1: Walter Big Board
Round 1 Pick 31: LB Ohio State, Ryan Shazier. 6'1, 237 lbs, 4.37 unofficial 40 time.
Who else would it be? I've been banging the Shazier drum since the beginning. I think he is Alec Ogletree all over again except with better character. This, IMHO, would solve our 3 down LB problem. I think he starts right away in the middle and with coaching from Del Rio and Fox, he is a star. How can you argue with speed and production? 144 total tackles (102 solo), 23.5 TFL, 7 sacks. That was just last year. Elway and Co. love production and so do I. I don't dare make the comparisons to the last Ohio State LB we drafted but it worked out well for us.
Round 2 Pick 63: WR Vanderbilt, Jordan Matthews 6'3, 205 lbs, 4.44 40 time
I know WR is not a big need but how can I pass on the cousin of Jerry Rice? Probably pretty easily. There really wasn't much on the board that I was interested in that I thought could have the short and long term impact that Matthews can have for us. He is a baller. He can play opposite Thomas, is a big target and can stretch the field. We also have the luxury to use him rotationally in his first year to get comfortable with the offense and develop chemistry with Peyton. I honestly don't care that we signed Sanders and extended Bubba. This guy, IMO (of course it is my opinion, its a mock draft for crying out loud), is something special. Two straight years with over 1300 yds; 9 games over 100 yrds just in 2013. Who is the QB at Vanderbilt btw (If you are a Vandy fan don't answer :))? I think it was the first game of the season where he racked up 178 yards and puked on the field. I loved that and have been a Matthews buyer ever since.
Round 3 Pick 95: CB Lindenwood, Pierre Desir, 6'1, 198 lbs, 4.52 40 time (according to CBS sports).
Desir has become a well known commodity in recent months. He played and dominated lower level competition but with any small school prospect there are doubts. Can he elevate his play and compete? Strong showings in the all star games says he can. Plus who doesn't like the sound of 25 INT in a college career? I don't care who you play against, that's impressive. One thing you can't coach, is size and speed. He is a little slower than I like out of my CBs but his height can mask that. The great thing about this pick is that, same as Matthews, Desir can be our 4th CB until he develops his "in game" experience and gets accustomed to the speed of the pro game. I know, why waste a 3rd round pick on a guy who will only contribute on ST and as a 4th CB? Well, for a premium position like CB it is a pick I am willing to make? Talib or Harris go down and we are left with an outside CB potentially named Tony Carter. I'm not planning on an injury but if you lose a CB your D can go downhill fast. Plus, if he comes along faster than expected (or if Webster greatly improves), then Talib becomes expendable when his contract gets too fat.
Round 4 Pick 131: CB/S Virginia Tech, Antone Exum, 6'1, 215 lbs, 4.51 40 (combine).
Say hello to our FS of the future. I like Rahim but I think he is miscast as a FS (His size says yes but his speed and instincts say no). I love Q Carter but who knows if he will stay healthy and pick up fast enough to win a starting job. Exum was a productive CB for Virgina Tech with 5 INTs in 2012 and a whopping 21 Passes deflected. His speed is a little bit slower but like Desir, his height and size could make up for it. I love how big he is and can imagine him as a force in the middle of the field covering deep. We could finally get a ball hawk on the back end that we have been missing. He makes Omar Bolden expendable and could take on dual roles if needed. He is already familiar with the S position as he played it in college before switching to CB. Let Rahim have this year to prove it, let Exum breathe down his neck.
Round 5 Pick 171: C Utah State, Tyler Larsen, 6'4, 312 lbs, (does a 40 time matter?)
Everyone knows our O-line needs good solid depth. I wanted to pick an OT earlier but many of the good ones were gone and I didn't want to reach at each pick when good players that could help us were available. Tyler was there, there for this pick and the value was certainly right. Now don't me wrong, I love me some Man Ram. He did great. I'm not saying Tyler would come in and take his job either, but he certainly provides us with options. Injured his freshman year, he came back as a sophomore (freshman technically after medical redshirt) and started every game for the Aggies and made all the blocking calls. 51 consecutive games, grading out over 86% recording 46 knockdowns (just last year). I'm not a scout and I don't know much about O-linemen but I like this kid. Hey, he has the size and smarts, maybe he could play G too?
Round 6 Pick 207: LB Kentucky, Avery Williamson, 6'1, 245 lbs, 4.6 40 time,
I know I drafted Shazier to be our MLB of the future, but there should always be a contingency plan right? Broncos fans know a lot about Williamson by now. Another Kentucky LB who may or may not follow in the footsteps of Woodyard and Trevathan. Williamson was another productive LB finishind his last 2 years with 237 tackles. I believe he can eventually be a 3 down LB with seasoning and practice. Like WW and Trev before him he will be a ST stud and earn his playing time while developing his abilities under the tutelage of Del Rio. Heck, if Shazier doesn't work out at MLB, we will have options.
Round 7 Pick 246: DE Bloomsburg, Larry Webster, 6'6, 252 lbs, 4.58 40
Another small school prospect that could pay huge long term dividends. With NFL bloodlines (his father played 11 years in the NFL at DE), Larry has all the physical tools needed to dominate at the next level; size & speed. What he lacked was coaching and top level competition to play against but with a year to develop an NFL body and with good coaching he could be a sleeping star. At Bloomsburg, Larry was a 4 year starte for the basketball team but decided to give football a try for his final year. He did pretty well, racking up 15 TFL and 13.5 sacks. I love his prospects as a DE but with his BB experience (just like JT), I could even see a very successful TE transition. I love the potential here and even though he has been there for every mock draft I have done, I doubt he will be available here when it comes time to pick in May.
Mock 2: Fanspeak Big board
Round 1 Pick 31: CB Virginia Tech, Kyle Fuller, 6'0, 194 lbs, 4.4 40
I was torn here. Shazier was available and I passed on him. He was the bigger need but the talent of Fuller and the position he plays swayed my decision. Normally I wouldn't draft a CB like this when we already have 3 good starters but I had to pull the trigger. This move allows Chris to move back to nickel and allows Kyle to step in right away opposite Talib. Webster is still heavily in the plans but he takes a backseat in this scenario. Fuller is rangy and light-footed with quick movements, long arms and the aggressive mentality to play man or zone coverage. The game appears to come very natural to him, watching the eyes and moves of the WR to react accordingly and break on routes to get his hands on the ball. With this pick we establish the deepest CB corps in the NFL.This pick may be unpopular but I'm not looking back.
Round 2 Pick 63: DT/DE Notre Dame, Stephon Tuitt, 6'6, 322 lbs,
I couldn't believe my good fortune to have Tuitt land her for our pick. I was watching him move up as picks were taken and I was 100% sure he would be gone. If he is still there I hope we sprint to the podium. DT is another area where our need is smaller than others considering we have Pot Roast, Big Vick and Sly, but Tuitt is a player that can impact year 1 while learning a difficult position without facing the pressure of handling all the duties from day 1. Plus, our situation gives him the time to fully heal from his foot injury. Plus he is scheme versatile. The need, IMO is still there for a DT like Tuitt. This pick makes fan favorite Unrein expendable (although I think we'd still carry 5 DT) and means we don't have to worry about bringing Big Vick back or resigning Pot roast to a huge deal. I know this pick won't be popular either considering the state of our current team but it is just too good of a move to pass up. With 125 tackles, 25 TFL and 21.5 sacks he provides production up the middle that we still vitally need. A future of Sly and Tuitt makes my mouth water. Who doesn't want another Trevor Pryce type of player?
Round 3 Pick 95: C USC, Marcus Martin, 6'3, 320 lbs
Again, like in my first draft, C isn't the OL position I'd prefer but Martin is a prospect who can make our OL much better. He's a good athlete who plays with some nastiness. He also plays to the whistle and isn't opposed to getting an extra shot in as the whistle blows. What I love about Martin is that he played G his first 2 years at USC. This is not a Josh McDaniels pick where versatility means not elite at any position. This is a player who can be elite at C or G but also has the versatility to play both. John Fox will truly be able to try the million combinations he told us he would try.
Yawin Smallwood was almost the pick here.
Round 4 Pick 131: FS Virginia Tech, Antone Exum
No explanation needed as this pick is exactly the same as my first draft. Other players available were Marqueston Huff, Tyler Gaffney who I considered.
Round 5 Pick 171: LB Kentucky, Avery Williamson
Again, no breakdown needed. I felt I had to take Williamson a round earlier than my last draft since I didn't take a LB early. The 5th round is still within the range where he could be expected to go. We have 9 LBs on our roster but only 3 who have considerable playing time. Talent upgrades from our futures contracts is necessary.
Round 6 Pick 207: LB Montana, Brock Coyle, 6'2, 245 lbs, 4.6 40 time
Back to back MLBs. Competition is good right? Although I picked Williamson the round before, it would not surprise me in the least if Brock won the job. While teammate Jordan Tripp is getting all the acclaim as the best Montana LB, Coyle, who has outperformed him in many categories, has quietly gone about his business. Not quietly enough though since teams have taken notice. 29 teams were at the Montana pro day where Brock put on a clinic. He was outstanding by all accounts and now teams know his name. Where at the beginning of draft season he was considered an undrafted FA, he may now rise as high as the 5th round. He has the size to play the position, has the speed to cover, has the production to back it all up. He led team with 125 tackles last year, avg of 9.6 per game, and added a nice line of .33 forced fumbles per game. Instant ST star and developmental prospect. My only concern with drafting him and Williamson both is would they both make the team? Because the other wouldn't pass through waivers.
Round 7 Pick 246: DE Bloomsburg, Larry Webster
Again, too much potential for me to pass up.
I also kept an eye on some undrafted players who I would love for us to target
WR Eric Ward, 5'11, 200lbs Texas Tech- Productive slot receiver to develop behind Welker
RB Silas Redd, 5'10, 210 lbs USC- Injuries derailed his college career but he could be another UDFA to make a roster as a #4 back.
OT Matt Paradis, 6'3, 306 Boise State - 2 time captain, part of OL unit ranked 6th nationally in 2013. Developmental prospect to push Painter
LB Marquis Spruill, 6'1, 231 lbs, Syracuse 4.53 40 - speedy backer who finished last year with 14.5 TFL & 5.5 sacks.
WR/TE Erik Swoope, 6'2 200 lbs Miami- no football experience but another basketball player turned TE?
FS Lonnie Ballentine, 6'3, 219 lbs Memphis - Speedy FS 4.38 40 speed. His size and speed are elite but his production is not. KC, NE & AZ have also reportedly worked him out. He'd be a great developmental prospect but his physical attributes might push him into draftable range.