The Denver Broncos enjoyed a very successful Free Agency period where they signed Defensive End DeMarcus Ware, Cornerback Aqib Talib, Safety T.J Ward, and Receiver Emmanuel Sanders. Those signings filled a lot of major holes that the Broncos had heading into the 2014 season.
Heading into the draft the Broncos do not have any major holes on their team. I would say their needs (in no specific order) would be Inside Linebacker, Offensive Line, Running Back, Pass Rusher and Cornerback.
With that said I am going to tackle to first round of the NFL Draft, and give you a 7 round mock draft for the Broncos.
1. Houston Texans : Blake Bortles, 6'5 232lbs, QB, UCF
Bill O'Brien likes big athletic QB's, and I think Bortles is his man. I have a hard time seeing a offensive minded Head Coach passing on a QB in his first draft with the team.
2. St. Louis Rams: Greg Robinson, 6'5 332lbs, OT, Auburn
The Rams probably really want to trade this pick but we'll keep them here in this scenario. Jake Longs return is questionable in 2014, and they need to keep the very fragile Sam Bradford healthy. So a nasty blocker like Robinson would be a welcomed addition to that team.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jadeveon Clowney, DE 6'5 266lbs, South Carolina
The Jaguars should be taking a Quarterback here, but there's reports that the team is going to pass on a QB in the early rounds of the draft and stick with Chad Henne as their starter. Clowney would give the Jaguars a fierce pass rusher to build around on the defensive side of the ball.
4. Cleveland Browns: Sammy Watkins, 6'1 211lbs, WR, Clemson
This pick just makes too much sense. Brain Hoyer looked good in limited action last season so I think they can afford on passing a QB with their first 1st round pick. Watkins paired with Josh Gordon could give the Browns a very dangerous receiving core.
5. Oakland Raiders: Johnny Manziel, 6'0 207lbs, QB, Texas A&M
Manziel to the Raiders makes way too much sense to me. I can see him fitting perfectly into the Raiders lifestyle, and would the Raiders some competition for newly acquired Matt Schaub.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, 6'3 251lbs, DE/OLB, Buffalo
The Falcons pass rush was completely non-existent in 2013, and Mack is on their radar. I personally like Mack just as much as Clowney. He would be a huge upgrade for the Falcons defense.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans, 6'5 231lbs, WR, Texas A&M
The Bucs need a number two receiver opposite of Vincent Jackson, and Evans who has been compared to V-Jax would be a great addition. Current number two was stabbed in the leg by his brother last week.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, 6'2 214lbs, QB, Louisville
The Vikes need themselves a QB, and Bridgewater whose stock is falling a bit should be a steal here. This will be a good pick for new Head Coach Mike Zimmer.
9. Buffalo Bills: Jake Matthews, 6'6 308lbs, OT, Texas A&M
Matthews would be a great addition to a team that needs to protect their second year QB E.J Manuel. He will most likely shift to Right Tackle his rookie year, but could eventually shift over to Left Tackle if they believe Matthews is better then current LT Cordy Glenn.
10. Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert, 6'0 202lbs, CB, Oklahoma St.
The Lions could use all the secondary help they can get. Gilbert is a big athletic corner who could step in to be the teams new #1 corner right away. Good pick for the Lions
11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, 6'5 255lbs, DE/OLB, UCLA
The Titans need another pass rusher, and Barr fills that need. He would be a solid addition to new Defensive Coordinators Ray Hortons defense.
12. New York Giants: Aaron Donald 6'1 285lbs, DT/DE, Pittsburgh
When the Giants are at their best they are getting after the Quarterback consistently. Adding Donald to their defense would give them a very good interior pass rush presence.
13. St. Louis Rams: Darqueze Dennard, 5'11 200lbs, CB, Michigan St.
The Rams parted ways with CB Cortland Finnegan who was terrible last season. Dennard would benefit greatly from the Rams aggressive front four.
14. Chicago Bears: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, 6'1 208lbs, FS, Alabama
The Bears are pretty weak at safety so Dix would be a huge upgrade to their defense. Major Wright is a free agent, and Chris Conte struggled in 2013 so this pick makes a ton of sense.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kyle Fuller, 6'0 190lbs, CB, Virginia Tech
The Steelers need an upgrade at the cornerback position, and I believe Fuller is their guy. He's a very physical corner who is solid in coverage and a solid tackler. He will fit well into the Steelers defense.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy, 6'4 273lbs, DE, Missouri
The Cowboys have very little on their defensive line right now. At pass rushing DT has been a popular pick here, but they recently signed Henry Melton. Ealy would help them replace DeMarcus Ware's production at RDE.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Pryor, 5'11 207lbs, SS, Louisville
Yes the Ravens took Matt Elam in the first round last year, but I could see them addressing the safety positon in the first round again. Pryor is listed as a FS, but I believe he'll be a SS in the NFL. Elam and Pryor will give the Ravens a very good and young safety tandem.
18. New York Jets: Eric Ebron, 6'4 250lbs, TE, North Carolina
The Jets need all the offensive weapons they can get. They have already added WR Eric Decker and QB Mike Vick. Adding Ebron to this group will give them a very athletic TE who will be a matchup problem for NFL defenses.
19. Miami Dolphins: Zach Martin OT/OG, 6'4 308lbs, Notre Dame
Martin is a favorite of mine. He's listed by most as a tackle, but he'll be making his living as a guard in the NFL. We all know the issues the Dolphins have had with their offensive linemen, so adding a very talented guy in Martin would be a huge upgrade.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Ra'Shede Hageman, 6'6 310lbs, DE/DT, Minnesota
Hageman is your typical boom or bust type of prospect. This would give the Cardinals a eventual replacement for Darnell Dockett. This would make the already very good Cardinals defense even better.
21. Green Bay Packers: C.J Mosley, 6'2 234lbs, MLB, Alabama
The Packers front seven needs a bit of help, and if healthy Mosley would give them that. The real big question surrounding Mosley is longterm health. If teams continue to find red-flags about his health he will drop out of the first round.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Odell Beckham Jr., 5'11 198lbs WR, LSU
The Eagles just recently released DeSean Jackson, so the Eagles now have a hole at receiver. Chip Kelly is all about speed and Beckham has plenty of speed. I believe he would be a solid addition to the Eagles offense.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Marquise Lee, 6'0 192lbs, WR, USC
The Chiefs just need a receiver. Lee was a consensus top-5 pick before the college season started last season, but his stock has dipped a bit. Pairing him Dwayne Bowe would help the Chiefs offense out a ton.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Bradley Roby, 5'11 194lbs, CB, Ohio St.
The Bengals have veteran Terrence Newman, Adam Jones, and Leon Hall at corner. Former defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer got the best out of those guys, but now that he's gone I would expect them to target a cornerback. Roby has world class speed and will stick with anyone. He does have some off the field concerns, but that has never stopped the Bengals before.
25. San Diego Chargers: Jason Verrett, 5'10 189lbs, CB, TCU
Verrett has become one of my favorite prospects in this years NFL Draft. He's a little undersized, but does not play like it. If he was a few inches taller he would be a top 10 pick. Verrett matched wits with the opposition’s best receivers regularly, no matter the height, and often came away with the upper hand.
26. Cleveland Browns: Derek Carr, 6'2 214lbs, QB, Fresno St.
The Browns get their Quarterback! They added Sammy Watkins with their first pick, and now get Carr to be their QB of the future. Carr will be joining a team that has Josh Gordon, Watkins, Jordan Cameron and Joe Thomas on their offense.
27. New Orleans Saints: Brandin Cooks, 5'10 198lbs, WR, Oregon St.
The Saints let longtime receiver Lance Moore go which left them with second year pro Kenny Stills as their #2 receiver. I believe Cooks could step in and be a very good slot option for Drew Brees and Sean Payton.
28. Carolina Panthers: Kelvin Benjamin, 6'5 240lb, WR, Florida St.
The Panthers should draft a receiver in the first three rounds of the draft. Benjamin will give Newton a very big target, and just someone to throw too.
29. New England Patriots: Dee Ford, 6'2 252lbs, DE/OLB, Aubrun
I hate mocking good players to teams I do not like. Ford would give the Patriots a pass rush presence from the outside. The Patriots couldn't get too Peyton Manning in the AFC Championship game so look for them to try to upgrade that in the draft.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Jordan Matthews, 6'3 212lbs, WR, Vanderbilt
The Niners re-signed Anquan Boldin but he's near the end of his career, and Mario Manningham went back to the Giants. I'd look for the Niners to give Kap another weapon.
The Broncos are on the clock:
Best Players Available: OT Taylor Lewan, DT Timmy Jernigan, DT Louis Nix, OG Xavier Su'a-Filo, LB Ryan Shazier, and WR Allen Robinson.
1. 31. Denver Broncos: Ryan Shazier, 6'1 237lbs, LB, Ohio State
Ryan Shazier will be a huge upgrade for the Broncos defense that does not have a starting middle linebacker on their roster. Shazier has top notch speed(ran a 4.37 at his pro-day), he's a tackling machine, and can cover.
The big question is if he's a weak-side linebacker or a Inside linebacker. I believe he can play inside in the Broncos hybrid defensive front. Shazier compares size-wise to Jon Beason who was a first round pick for John Fox's Carolina Panthers in 2007, and he played Inside for Fox. I'm not too concerned about his size.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Scott Crichton, 6'3 273lbs, DE, Oregon St.
The Seahawks will be looking at Pass Rushers again, and Crichton is the type of guy I could see doing well in Seattle. He's one of these high motor pass rushers who can play inside or outside at the next level.
Tomorrow I'll be back with the rest of the Broncos draft - all seven rounds.