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Denver Broncos Mock Draft Part 26: First Contest Entry

Can you feel the anticipation mounting?  The 2010 NFL Draft is only 16 days away, so get ready to enter your mock drafts in the MHR Mock Draft Challenge.

After 25 "test runs", I feel I am ready for the big show. 

This will be my first entry in the mock draft contest held by this wonderful website, and there are sure to be more.  I feel fairly confident in the picks that will follow the jump, though they are very subject to change right now.  I think the big issue is, like last year, going to be trades. 

The Broncos are poised to be one of the most active teams in the NFL on draft weekend in terms of trading, or the rumor mills would indicate so anyway. 

Note that these picks are made without the projecting of trades, so the slot the player is selected in is very subject to change.  I have also mocked the number of trades the Broncos could make, and I'll play spoiler, the over/under is set at four for me right now, including a trade of Marshall and Scheffler. 

Follow me after the jump for my first mock draft contest entry of Draftivus 2010!


1.  First round, 11th overall:  Maurkice Pouncey, Center, Florida

6'5" 318

From CBS Sports:

The 2009 class of centers was one of the richest in modern league history. Three -- Alex Mack, Eric Wood and Max Unger -- were drafted among the top 50 picks -- which last occurred 20 years ago. The last time two centers were selected in the first round, as Mack and Wood were last April, occurred 50 years ago.

This year's class was lacking a top 50 prospect until Pouncey elected to come out early. The veteran of 40 starts for the Gators emerged as the country's top center this season, earning All-American honors and winning the Rimington Trophy as the nation's best center.

NFL scouts know that collegiate awards can be popularity contests, so they'll do their due diligence with Pouncey. What they'll find is that despite playing on an offense known more for its finesse and trickery, Pouncey is smart, strong and athletic. He'll need to prove he can handle the adjustment to the traditional snap after two seasons at the pivot in Florida's shotgun offense, but scouts don't feel this will be a problem.

Capable of moving outside to guard again in the NFL (he started 11 of 13 games at right guard as a true freshman), the versatile interior lineman should be able to make an immediate impact in the NFL.


Pass blocking: Adept at the shotgun snap. Good quickness and accuracy in firing the snap back and catching the defensive tackle. Stout at the point of attack. Quick, accurate hand placement and impressive strength to handle the bull rush. Big and strong enough to handle the nose guard one on one. Good lateral agility and balance to handle quicker defensive tackles. Keeps his head on a swivel and looks to help his teammates.

Run blocking: Rare combination of size, leverage and power as a drive blocker. Stays low and gets under the pads of his opponent to move him off the line of scrimmage. Very good combination blocker; capable of helping out the guard initially on the double-team and releasing to get to the second level. Good quickness, balance for the trap block. Plays with some nastiness. Looks to pancake his opponent when he feels he's off-balance. Good effort to sustain. Finishes the block.

Pulling/trapping: Not often asked to pull from the center position in this offense, but was asked to do this some as a freshman at right guard. Quick out of his stance and has the straight-line speed and balance to get out in front of the back. Good recognition to find his target and has the body control to adjust to the smaller opponent. Can be a punishing trap blocker. Good quickness and explodes into his opponent to knock him out of the play.

Initial Quickness: One of his best traits. Capable of making the accurate snap and still get his hands up quickly to catch the defensive tackle without losing much ground. Explosiveness as a trap blocker is impressive.

Downfield: Good, not grea,t speed to get to the second level. Good balance and agility to hit the moving target. Hustles downfield and looks for someone to hit.

Intangibles: Intelligent. Made all the line calls for Gators. Showed his toughness by starting in the 2009-10 Sugar Bowl only hours after receiving four bags of IV fluids and being treated for kidney stones. Underwent a CT scan that showed no obstruction in his kidneys and was cleared to play. Identical twin, Mike, plays right guard for the Gators and elected to return for his senior season.


2.  Second round, 45th overall:  Vladimir Ducasse, Offensive Lineman, UMass

6'5" 331

From CBS Sports:

Despite never playing football until high school, this Haiti native has impressed scouts and opponents with his size and athleticism as a three-year starter for the Minutemen.

Ducasse's story is one not often heard among highly-regarded draft prospects. When he was 14 years old, his parents sent him and his older brother from crime-riddled Port-au-Prince to live with his uncle in Stamford, Conn. Once Ducasse appeared at school, the football coaches sought him out in a hurry.

UMass also thought itself lucky to find the all-state tackle waiting for an opportunity because larger schools has already received their commitments. After starting at right tackle as a sophomore and garnering first-team All-Colonial Athletic Association honors as a redshirt junior left tackle in 2008, Ducasse picked up first-team Associated Press FCS All-American status protecting the blind side last fall.

Despite his physical tools, Ducasse has a ways to go before successfully taking on veteran NFL defenders. Although he engulfed and pancaked smaller FCS players, he wasn't as dominating as some would have you believe. Still, he held his own fairly well at the Senior Bowl and some teams love his 35" arms on the edge. Other teams, however, will project him inside to use his size and mobility without worrying about his raw technique and lack of experience protecting their franchise player.


Pass blocking: Reliable pass protector, using length and size not seen at the FCS level. Uses those attributes to anchor or run smaller rush ends around the pocket. Needs quite a bit of work in his pass protection technique before moving on to the next level. Stands upright and bends at the waist; will lose his balance when extending against better college players, much less NFL pass rushers. Inconsistent with his punch, catching rushers too often and giving up too much ground to less talented players. Will stop his feet after initial contact, shrinking the pocket. Recovery speed against outside-in or spin moves is questionable.

Run blocking: Gets out of his stance with enough agility to seal the edge, get out in front of stretch plays and screens as well as to find the MIKE linebacker at the second level. Controls his body and keeps his feet moving to find and ride smaller defenders out of the play. Will combo block and use his length to knock late blitzers off their approach. Must extend his arms when drive blocking; keeps his hands too low and against his body, and will give up leverage against NFL defenders. Loses his balance and gets tossed aside by smaller ends when reaching for them on the edge.

Pulling/trapping: His foot quickness will allow him to get around trash and quickly move to his target when pulling or trapping. Even though he is inconsistent hitting targets on the move, his athleticism should allow him to improve there and take out linebackers inside.

Initial Quickness: Good initial drive off the snap as a run blocker, getting into the jersey of his man and quickly collapsing the tackle when blocking down. Must speed up his first step in his kick slide, but has the athleticism to do so.

Downfield: Good mobility in space, easily getting to the second level and beyond. Understands angles, and is able to move his feet to create them. Willing to mix it up with anyone coming into his area. Fails to hit his intended target and adjust to players coming from inside at times. Hesitates before getting downfield to help his ballcarrier.

Intangibles: Voted co-captain by his teammates, Ducasse is a good student in the classroom and film room who lets his play do his talking for him. He must prove he can step up his consistency and effort against better competition.


3.  Third round, 80th overall:  Montario Hardesty, Running Back, Tennessee

6'0" 225

From CBS Sports:


Possessing obvious talent but a troubling inability to remain healthy, Hardesty entered his senior campaign with only six starts in 36 career games and having never carried the ball more than 107 times in a season. He needed a healthy, breakout senior campaign to emerge as a legitimate NFL prospect. A breakout campaign is exactly what he produced.

Quickly impressing Lane Kiffin and his staff with his work ethic and toughness, Hardesty emerged as the starter over highly touted freshmen Bryce Brown. Averaging 21 carries per game, Hardesty rushed for 1,345 yards, the fourth highest total in Tennessee's history and only 119 yards short of Travis Stephens' record.

NFL teams will proceed cautiously with Hardesty. He has already undergone three knee surgeries, so his medical report will be as closely scrutinized as any prospect this year. When healthy, Hardesty has proven to be a legitimate workhorse with rare agility for a back his size. He leaves Tennessee with 560 career carries, the second highest total in school history.


Inside: Classic one-cut runner who presses the line of scrimmage and attacks the hole when it is there. Runs a bit upright, but lowers his pad level when in traffic and keeps his feet churning to generate as much positive yardage as possible. Good forward lean. Good vision and has the burst to take advantage of cutback lanes.

Outside: Lacks elite straight-line speed, but can beat the linebacker to the edge and turn the corner. Can stick his foot in the ground and accelerate quickly to get past the initial wave of defenders and get into the open field. Not a naturally elusive runner, but has deceptive speed due to his upright running style and good power.

Breaking tackles: Among his best attributes. Good balance to keep his feet and fight through arm tackles. Very good spin move. Keeps his feet churning in traffic and can sneak through the pile and break away to gain yardage in chunks.

Blocking: Willing pass blocker with the size, strength and technique to face up the oncoming defender. Cognizant blocker who keeps his head on a swivel and looks for someone to hit. Inconsistent effectiveness as a cut blocker as he drops his head and lunges. Good effort downfield. Looks to help out his teammates.

Receiving: Good receiver used on a variety of routes in this offense, including the basic screens and dump-offs, but also more complicated wheels and was even split out wide and used on slants. Reliable hands. Shows the ability to extend, make the reception and secure the ball quickly. Good ball security. Didn't fumble the ball once in 285 touches in 2009.

Intangibles: Characterized as the consummate teammate. Twice voted team captain, including in 2008 when he wasn't a starter. Convinced team to let him play special teams against Wyoming despite his injuries being too much to allow him to suit up as a running back. Surprised and disappointed scouts with his decision to pull out late from the Senior Bowl, but impressed them with his sub-4.5 speed and athleticism at the Combine.


4.  Fourth round, 114th overall:  Jordan Shipley, Wide Receiver, Texas

5'11" 193

From CBS Sports: 

In 2006, Shipley wasn't necessarily dreaming of the NFL, but merely playing football again. After he missed the 2004 and '05 seasons due to injuries, Shipley was able to get back on the field -- and become an elite receiver.

The synchronicity between receiver and quarterback is always crucial for a successful passing game. But, the bond between Shipley and Colt McCoy goes well beyond the football field. The history between the McCoys and Shipleys go back to even before their famous collegiate sons were born. Colt's father, Brad, was a safety at Abilene Christian. Brad was roommates with Shipley's father, Bob.

The roommates would continue to be involved in football as coaches. Brad McCoy is now the head coach at Graham High School, where Colt's brother, Case, was the starting quarterback. Brad had previously coached Colt during their time at Jim Ned High. Bob Shipley is the head coach at Brownwood High School and previously coached Jordan, first at Rotan High School and later at Burnet High.

Jordan Shipley was granted his sixth year of eligibility after the 2008 season that saw him produce the first of two All-American campaigns. By the time he would hang up his Texas helmet for good, Shipley would become the school's record-holder with 248 receptions, finishing second in school annals with 3,191 yards receiving and 33 touchdown catches.

Shipley also excelled on special teams. He averaged 12.5 yards per punt return, running back three attempts for touchdowns. He also averaged 24.63 yards per kickoff return, including one for a score. In addition, he served as UT's holder on field goals and PATs. He closed out his career with 4,196 all-purpose yards, the eighth-best total in the history of Texas football.

Shipley is the only player in school history to catch ten or more passes in back-to-back games and owns the Longhorn record with three consecutive games with 10 or more receptions (vs. Texas Tech, Texas-El Paso and Colorado in 2009). His nine contests with at least ten catches established a Longhorns career-record. He also holds the UT record for most receptions in a game with 15, set in 2008 vs. Oklahoma State.

The talented receiver has shown a keen eye for the end zone. He put together a record-breaking string of at least one touchdown reception in eight consecutive games to open the 2008 season. He would go on to score 24 times in his last 27 games, coming up with at least one scoring grab in 18 of those contests. He is the first player in Texas history to score touchdowns by a reception, kickoff and punt return in the same season.

Shipley became just the fourth Longhorn to record a punt return and a kickoff return for touchdowns during a career. His three punt returns for scores tied the UT career-record and his total kicks returned for touchdowns (four) also tied the Longhorns all-time mark.

The only player in school history to catch 80 or more passes in back-to-back seasons, Shipley and McCoy would become the most dangerous quarterback-to-receiver tandem in Texas annals. The duo would hook up for 205 receptions, good for 2,545 yards and 24 touchdowns during their final two seasons together. In 2008, Shipley teamed with Quan Cosby to give Texas its most productive receiving tandem in school history, as the pair combined for 181 receptions for 2,183 yards.

Shipley was coached by his father at Burnet High School during his final three prep seasons after the pair began their football time together during Jordan's freshman campaign at Rotan High. Shipley was twice named Class 3A All-State first-team, where he excelled as a receiver, defensive back and on special teams. He earned 2004 Parade All-America honors and was named the 2003 Old Spice "Red Zone" Player of the Year by USA Today.

Shipley was tabbed the 2003 Class 3A Texas Player of the Year by Dave Campbell's Texas Football and chosen the 3A Offensive Player of the Year by the Texas Sports Writers Association. He also earned first-team 3A All-State honors at receiver by the Associated Press and was a second-team All-State pick as a defensive back and third-team selection as a kick returner, in addition to receiving District 25-3A MVP honors that year.

Shipley recorded 264 career catches for 5,424 yards (rank second all-time nationally) and 73 touchdowns (also rank second all-time nationally), which are still the state prep records. He had 23 career interceptions and 18 kick returns for touchdowns. He led his team to a 28-2 record and back-to-back 3A Div. I state final games in his last two years and a 46-8 mark in four seasons as a starter.

As a senior, Shipley caught 95 passes for 1,920 yards and 30 touchdowns in leading 3A Division I state runner-up Burnet to a 14-1 record. He also had eight interceptions, 73 tackles and 17 pass deflections on defense and returned two punts and a pair of kick-offs for scores in 2003. That performance earned him an invitation to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Shipley caught 80 passes for 1,717 yards and 22 touchdowns en route to first-team All-State honors and 3A Offensive Player of the Year accolades as a junior. He had 30 total touchdowns and posted 10 interceptions (three returned for scores) that year, as he helped his squad post a 14-1 record and reach the 3A Division I state finals.

The receiver began his Burnet High career by 47 passes for 1,119 yards and 15 touchdowns in leading his team to an 8-3 mark as a sophomore. He was the starting receiver at Class 1A Rotan High as a freshman and earned second-team all-state honors as a kick returner and third-team recognition at receiver.

Shipley also lettered and competed in state championships in track (four years), basket-ball (three years) and golf (two years). He was part of a fifth-place finish in the 400 meter relay and sixth -place finish in the 800 meter relay at the Class 3A state meet in 2003.

Hamstring issues kept Shipley from performing at Texas during his first two seasons at the university (2004-05). He would also miss the first two games of the 2007 season with a hamstring injury in the opposite leg. He applied for and the NCAA awarded him a sixth year of eligibility in 2009, but he would also sit out 2009 spring with a shoulder injury that required surgery.

Shipley finally got the opportunity to play at Texas in 2006. He appeared in thirteen games as a reserve flanker, earning his first career start vs. Texas Tech. He also worked as a kickoff and punt returner and served as UT's holder, earning the team's Frank Medina Rehabilitation Award. He closed out his first campaign with 16 catches for 229 yards (14.31 yards per catch) and four touchdowns, adding 110 yards on seven carries (15.7 yards per catch).

As a sophomore, Shipley shared flanker duties with Nate Jones and Billy Pittman, stating seven of 13 games. He ranked fourth on the squad with 417 yards and five touchdowns on 27 receptions (15.44 yards per catch), as he also performed on the special teams coverage units, recording four tackles.

Shipley started all year at flanker in 2008, earning Associated Press All-American third-team honors as a receiver, adding Sports Illustrated honorable mention as a return specialist. He ranked second on the team with 89 receptions, as his 1,060 yards (11.91 yards per catch) ranks fifth on the school season-record list. He averaged 10.67 yards with a score via punt returns and 26.27 yards with another touchdown as a kickoff returner, scoring 78 points while generating 119.23 all-purpose yards per game.

Shipley garnered All-American honors, as the Biletnikoff Award finalist and Maxwell Award semifinalist ranked fifth in the nation with a school season-record 116 receptions. He placed sixth nationally with a UT record 1,485 yards receiving, establishing another Long-horn season mark with thirteen touchdown grabs. He returned two punts for scores, ranking 14th nationally with a 12.96-yard average. He scored 90 points and had 1,870 all-purpose yards, the seventh-best season total in school annals, starting the first six games at flanker before shifting to split end for the rest of the campaign.


Release: Lines up at multiple spots, but should work best as a slot receiver in the NFL because of his intelligence and lack of elite size. Good first step off the line, although he is not up against the jam very often. Won't eat up cushion quickly or accelerate past pro corners, and must find holes in zones and run crisp routes to free himself.

Hands: Solid hands, reliable on routine catches and capable of making the highlight reel grab. Willing to go over the middle, or up for a jump ball, and absorb a hit after the catch. Allows balls into his chest instead of catching away from his frame at times, and doesn't always adjust to high throws well. Shows good hands and makes solid decisions on punt returns, and will take the big hit. Holds for field goals and extra points.

Route running: Runs every route on the tree effectively, and has a great understanding with his quarterback. Sets up double moves by selling defenders with a head or body fake. Best working inside in zones or on crossing routes, but has the quickness to stretch the field down the seam or sideline. Uses his arms and quickness to get separation on out routes. Comes back to the quarterback or finds a hole to sit down in when needed. Inconsistent sinking his hips to explode out of cut.

After the catch: Secures ball first, then changes direction quickly or uses a stop move to gain additional yardage. Better acceleration than expected, can take off through a hole in the second level. Runs tough with a nose for the first down marker or goal line. Some elusiveness on the run, quickly sidestepping oncoming safeties, but isn't a jitterbug. Aware of the sideline, tightropes to stay in-bounds. Solid kick returner, has good hands and runs strong but could improve his vision in finding the open lane. Lacks great speed to run away from defenders with the angle.

Blocking: Very willing downfield blocker on screens and run plays, but lacks the strength to be a dominant force. Sustains adequately using his hands when he attacks a man's jersey, but will miss his target when throwing his body at the defender.

Intangibles: Sixth-year player with exceptional maturity. Gives great effort. Leader on the team both on and off the field. No character issues. Missed seasons with hamstring and leg injuries, also missed spring 2009 practices with surgery on his right shoulder.


5.  Sixth round, 183rd overall:  Joe Hawley, Offensive Lineman, UNLV

6'3" 297

From CBS Sports:

A talented blocker who is a leader along the line entering his senior season … A versatile player who has started at two interior positions but begins his senior season as the starter at one guard spot … A preseason Second Team All-MWC selection by Phil Steele's, which ranked him the nation's No. 51 guard … A member of the 2009 Rebel Leadership Committee.


6.  Seventh round, 220th overall:  Adrian Tracy, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, William & Mary

6'3" 248

From CBS Sports: 

Despite walking on to the William & Mary football team, Tracy earned his way onto the field early in his career. In fact, he started every game in his four years in Williamsburg, Va. - a Tribe school record.

Tracy racked up 42 tackles, 15.5 for loss and six sacks as a true freshman, then added 63 more stops, nine for loss and three sacks in 2007. He stepped up his game in his junior year, making 72 tackles, 15.5 for loss and 10 sacks to earn first-team All-Colonial Athletic Association honors. Tracy's 78 tackles - 50 solo, 22 for loss - and 12 sacks not only allowed coaches to vote him to the all-conference first team again, but also earned him multiple All-American honors.

During the week of the Texas vs. the Nation Challenge, Tracy displayed the toughness and movement in space needed to play linebacker at the next level. Although he doesn't have elite speed, his all-around game will make him a likely special teams player early in his career and possibly a strong contributor on defense as he learns the pro game.


Read & React: Needs to improve his backfield awareness, will lose the ball and get taken away from the play by misdirection. Lacks elite reaction time, but will close on the ball quickly when he finds it.

Run defense: Held up well against strong-side tackles at defensive end, but found it hard to disengage. Does use his hands and upper-body strength well to get off tight end blocks on the edge and fight through trash to reach the ball. Willing to take on fullback blocks in the hole, stays low and delivers a blow but lowers his head and shoulder at times instead of keeping his head up. Needs to defeat cut blocks more regularly.

Pass defense: Fluid and quick dropping at the correct angle. Has the quickness to attack plays in his zone. Good chaser to the ball in space to help out teammates. Good length and vertical to affect passing lanes when coming off the edge. Inexperienced at recognizing routes.

Tackling: Strong arms to wrap up and drag down ballcarriers inside and on the edge. Secure, but not especially explosive, as a tackler. Will duck his head, though, instead of bringing his hips. Plays a bit stiff, and could be more consistent breaking down to adjust to elusive runners in space. Should contribute on special teams because of his hustle and length.

Pass Rush/Blitz: Uses his length, strength and hustle to get a pass rush, rather than elite speed and explosion off the edge. Able to bull rush lesser tackles. Sheds tight end blocks off the edge and can rip off in either direction. Could be more consistent running through running back blocks; tries to run around them rather than using his superior strength. Needs more pass rush moves.

Intangibles: Team captain, solid character. Intelligent player recruited by Ivy and Patriot League schools; on schedule to graduate with kinesiology degree.


Projected trades:  4

This is undeniably one of the hardest areas to predict, but it would be borderline foolish not to project at least one trade after the bounty we saw last year. 

Not that last year's draft is going to have a direct correlation to 2010 in terms of trading, but it's clear that this new regime is not afraid to move up in the draft to select a player they want.  In 2009, we traded up for the likes of Alphonso Smith, Richard Quinn, Kenny McKinley, and Tom Brandstater.  We also traded QB Jay Cutler for a huge load of picks and Kyle Orton, in case you missed out on that one.

I think the Broncos will again be one of the most active teams on draft day as they continue to re-load their roster, and shape it to what the McDaniels regime would have it be. 

You'll notice I left out some key positions from this draft, most notably at inside linebacker.  I think the Broncos will be looking to upgrade at that position throughout the draft, potentially with another pick in the first round.  Here are some potential trades we could be looking at on draft weekend.

1.  Brandon Marshall to Seattle for pick #14

Obviously, this would be the ideal.  Seattle does not want to give up the 6th overall pick for Marshall, and I don't know that the Broncos should really want that pick.  If Denver can get their first round pick back from the Seahawks, there is no question in my mind it will set them up to select Sean Weatherspoon, the inside linebacker out of Missouri.

The Giants could look to trade up for Rolando McClain, but Weatherspoon has to be high on their list also in case McClain is not available to them.  Moving ahead of the Giants to get Weatherspoon seems like the way to get him as of now, and the Broncos have shown serious interest in Weatherspoon.

2.  Trade down from pick #11

The Broncos are likely to be staring at least two of three prospects straight in the face at pick #11--QB Jimmy Clausen, CB Joe Haden, or DE Derrick Morgan.  I think those three players provide interesting trade partners for the Broncos.  There are many teams who could look to move up for Clausen, and plenty of teams would love to get the draft's best cornerback/4-3 defensive end. 

In particular, teams that have solid trade-up assets are the Bengals, Titans, Patriots, and Cardinals


3.  Trade Tony Scheffler

Could be any number of places, but I think the Broncos could add a third round pick for Scheffler, but no less than a 4th round selection I wouldn't think.  The ideal would be for Denver to add a 2nd round pick for Scheffler, which is what his tender value is set at. 

Still, I think a 3rd round pick could easily get a deal done, and a team that has an extra 3rd rounder who is clearly in the market for a tight end is Cincinnati.  Pick #84 for Scheffler is something I have mocked numerous times, and I would NOT be surprised to see it happen. 


4.  Trade up into round one

If the Broncos acquire multiple 2nd and 3rd round selections for Marshall and Scheffler, I could easily see them being packaged to move into the first round.  Denver needs help at both center and inside linebacker, and I think their top two targets heading into day one of the draft are Maurkice Pouncey and Sean Weatherspoon.