In Mel Kiper's NFL Mock 2.0, he weighed in on the Denver Broncos 28th overall selection with some talent with the "big uglies". And no, it was not at the tackle or guard position. According to Kiper, John Elway is primed to pick up a center in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Cameron Erving - Denver Broncos (12-4)
Analysis: If the Broncos want to keep the run game humming under Gary Kubiak they could use at least one versatile offensive lineman on the inside, and it'd be hard to do better than Erving at this spot. I like Erving at center because he was outstanding there after a midseason switch from tackle, but he provides extra value because he can play tackle as well and also has experience at guard. He's also just played a lot of football, period, and is going to adapt well. From center or guard he's particularly good at winning on the initial block and getting to the second level.
Update: Read our 2015 NFL Draft rankings by position.
There is a fatal flaw in Kiper's logic that a rookie center who has played tackle for a half season can instantly be plugged into an offensive line unit at any position due to that college experience. Personally, I dislike the idea of taking a guard or center in the first round. It's just not a premium position that demands such a steep price.
That said, Erving looks like a solid prospect, but only if John Elway were able to trade back into the second round where drafting a center makes more sense. He could pick up a few extra draft picks to expend else. Elway has proven he can find diamonds in the late round rough.
With the available free agent pool of right tackles dwindling, I would much rather see the Broncos target Ty Sambrailo out of Colorado State in the second round and go with the best player on the board at any position in the first round.
Yes, any position. And that includes quarterbacks.
Here is what CBS Sports Draft Profile has to say about Erving:
STRENGTHS: Versatile athlete with blend of size, athleticism, length, light feet and flexibility. Toughness, aggressive and works to finish opponents with strong hands and impressive natural power in his lower half. Easily reaches and dominates at the second level. Pulls smoothly, showing impressive initial quickness and acceleration for a man his size. Equally effective sealing off defensive tackles at center or mirroring pass rushers as a left tackle. Smooth athleticism in his kick-step to handle speed off the edge. Strong hands to latch on and control the opponent. Plays with proper knee-bend to win leverage battle.
WEAKNESSES: Could be a more consistent technician. Gets by on tremendous athletic ability. Footwork can be sloppy in pass protection and he bends the waist to catch the rush instead of absorbing with his lower half. When engaged tries to win with his upper body rather than his lateral swiftness. Aggression can work against him. Fails to adjust when blocking on the move when not focused. Most weaknesses are correctable with NFL coaching.
I'd be a bit "meh" if this were to play out as Kiper predicts, but it would certainly add some depth and a future starter on the offensive line. Peyton Manning demands perfection, however, which means the Broncos first draft pick would not likely see the field in 2015 as he learned the ropes.