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. The Broncos also helped fortify their offensive line by signing Guard/Center Will Montgomery andTackle Winston Justice. They also moved Orlando Franklin from right tackle to left guard to replace Zane Beadles.
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 top needs would be 1. Inside Linebacker, 2. Cornerback, 3. Defensive End, and 4. Running Back/Receiver
With that said, lets take a look at how I see the 1st round of the draft playing out.
1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina:
This seems like the no brainer pick currently. Pairing Clowney with J.J Watt would give them a potentially historically good pairing of pass rushers.
There's some rumors of the Atlanta Falcons moving up to select Clowney. That trade would make sense both parties in my opinion. We'll see if that happens.
2. St. Louis Rams: Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo:
I think Gregg Robinson could also be the pick here, but man Mack would be tough to pass up here. Pairing Mack with Pass Rushers Chris Long and Robert Quinn would give the Rams one of the best, if not the best defensive front seven in football.
Mack would play a Von Miller type of role in St. Louis.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson:
The Jags are probably wishing that Khalil Mack or Clowney would fall to them, but both will be off the board in this scenario. With former first round pick Justin Blackmon suspended indefinitely, look for the Jags to draft his replacement. Watkins would give the Jags QB(Whoever that might be) a solid target for years to come.
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M:
The Browns probably have Sammy Watkins on their wish list, but he ends up going one pick before their selection. I believe they would set their sites to a Quarterback here. They could with Bortles, Carr or Manziel here.
Johnny Football would be fun to watch in Cleveland.
5. Oakland Raiders: Gregg Robinson, OT, Auburn:
The Raiders offensive line is a mess, and they're in a division that has the likes of Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Dwight Freeney rushing the passer.
Good pickup for the Raiders.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M:
The Falcons need to do a better job of protecting Matt Ryan, and Matthews would give them a guy who can start right away.
There's rumors that the Falcons may trade up to the overall number one pick to take Jadeveon Clowney. I wouldn't be surprised if they moved up for either Clowney or Mack. Falcons are desperate for a pass rusher.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M:
The Falcons lack receivers, especially after trading Mike Williams to the Buffalo Bills. Pairing the 6'5 Evans with thr 6'5 Vincent Jackson will give the Bucs a very good pair of receivers.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF:
The Vikings really need a Quarterback, and luckily Blake Bortles drops to them in the first round.
Good need/value pick here for the Vikes.
9. Buffalo Bills: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina:
The Bills need playmakers for E.J Manuel to throw too, and Ebron would be the best one available for them. Taylor Lewan could also be an option here for the Bills.
10. Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.:
The Lions could be in the market to trade up for a receiver in the first round, but I believe they would gladly take Gilbert here at 10. The Lions need all the help they can get in their secondary.
11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA:
I almost mocked Derek Carr here, but I think they will go defense here. Anthony Barr would give them an edge rusher for their 3-4 defense. Barr has immense upside though he's inconsistent at times
12. New York Giants: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan:
While the Giants could be targeting an Aaron Donald here, Lewan is too good to pass up. Eli Manning was under pressure a lot last season so an upgrade along their O-Line should be one of their top priorities. Lewan could start from day one.
13. St. Louis Rams: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama:
This pick just makes too much sense. They added Khalil Mack with their first pick, and now adding a ball hawking safety would make their already solid defense that much better.
14. Chicago Bears: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh:
This is another pick that just makes too much sense. The Bears lost Henry Melton to Free Agency, so Donald could step in day one and replace him.
Donald could go much earlier in the draft however. He's a hard one to place right now.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU:
I haven't seen Verrett mocked this high in many mock drafts, but I think there's a good chance that he ends up in the teens on draft day. He's the best cover corner in this draft, and if he was a couple inches taller he would be the top corner in this draft.
Verrett would fit in nicely in Pittsburgh.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy, 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, 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: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon St.:
The Jets have done a nice job this offseason of revamping their offense. They signed Mike Vick to compete with Geno Smith. They signed receiver Eric Decker, and running back Chris Johnson to be valuable parts to their offense.
Adding an explosive receiver like Brandin Cooks would give them another weapon. He can play inside or outside, and has the speed to take it to the house whenever he has the ball in his hands.
19. Miami Dolphins: Zach Martin, OT/OG, 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: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno St.:
The Cardinals have veteran Carson Palmer there, but they need to start planning for the future. Carr would be an excellent addition here. He would be able to sit for the majority, if not all of his rookie season. This would allow the rookie to learn behind Palmer and improve as a Quarterback.
21. Green Bay Packers: C.J Mosley, LB, 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: Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana:
The 6'3, 215lb receiver has been rising up draft boards quickly the last couple weeks. The Eagles who released DeSean Jackson are now in the market for a receiver. Coach Chip Kelly tends to like bigger receivers, and at 6'3 215lbs Latimer fits that mold.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU:
The Chiefs really needed another receiver opposite of Dwayne Bowe, and they get that in Odell Beckham Jr. He's a very explosive receiver who can take it the house whenever he has the ball in his hands. One of my favorite prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech:
The Bengals could use some depth and youth at the cornerback position, and luckily for them Kyle Fuller is still available. Fuller could start day one for the Bengals.
25. San Diego Chargers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan St.:
San Diego has a great need at cornerback going into the draft, and Dennard is arguably the best at his position this year. Dennard is a solid press/physical corner who will attack receivers at the line.
26: Cleveland Browns: Marquise Lee, WR, USC:
The Browns added Quarterback Johnny Manziel with their first pick in the first round, now they give him a weapon to go with Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron.
27: New Orleans Saints: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio St.:
Shazier would give defensive coordinator Rob Ryan a toy he can play at anywhere on his defense. Ryan has too be excited by Shazier's speed and athleticism.
Good pick for the Saints
28. Carolina Panthers: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia:
There's no receiver here worth a first round pick in my opinion, so the Panthers address their second biggest need which is Left Tackle. Moses would step in and help replace the retired Jordan Gross.
29. New England Patriots: Ra'Shede Hageman, DE/DT, Minnesota:
Bill Belichick loves these DE/DT type players. He can play DE in a 3-4 scheme, and he can play inside when they're in a 4-3 defense. Hagemen is your typical boom/bust type player. Landing in New England would be good for him.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio St.:
Roby's talent would be hard for San Francisco to pass up here. While the 49ers could trade up for a cornerback, they'd be hard-pressed to find one with more talent than Roby here at the end of the first round.
31. Denver Broncos: Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU:
In this scenario the Broncos would have all the top cornerbacks off the board, and the two top middle linebackers would also be off the board.
So I went with BYU Linebacker Kyle Van Noy as the Broncos choice. He's a versatile linebacker who can play all three spots, he can blitz, and he's also good in coverage.
I think he could be transition to inside linebacker in the pro's, and will be a valuable chess piece for Head Coach John Fox and Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio.
BPA: DE/OLB Dee Ford, QB Teddy Bridgewater, DT Timmy Jernigan, NT Louis Nix, OG Xavier Su'a-Filo, and S Jimmie Ward, OT Cyrus Kouandjio, and LB Kyle Van Noy.
Scouting Report: Would Van Noy be a good pick for the Broncos?
If you were the Broncos GM in this scenario, who would you have taken?
32. Seattle Seahawks: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama:
This would be a good pick for the Seahawks. Kouandjio would slide in and be a starter from day one if (and that's a big if) his knee's do not fail him in the future. If it weren't for some medical red flags, he would have been a top 15 pick.
Tomorrow I'll be back with the rest of the Broncos draft - all seven rounds.