Good morning, Broncos Country.
The Denver Broncos have grown accustom to picking in the late portion of each round in the NFL Draft, but that could change this year. If they lose their final two games against Kansas City and Oakland, they will have a very good shot at earning a Top 15 selection in this years' draft.
Right now, the Broncos are projected to have the 20th selection, but there are a handful of teams picking before them that could wind up with better records than Denver has if they fail to take care of business. If you have given up on the Broncos making the playoffs in 2016, you may as well root for them tanking in order to secure a premium selection that could give them a difference maker at a position of need.
Current projections (including compensatory picks and traded picks) have the Broncos slotted to have ten overall selections in the 2017 NFL Draft. Those picks could go a long way in bolstering the foundations of a franchise that is in desperate need of a talent infusion at several positions, most notably the offensive and defensive lines, as well has diverse playmakers on the offensive side of the ball.
Under the leadership of John Elway, the Broncos have been able to secure some quality talent in the draft, but his track record in the second and third rounds has been abysmal. If the Broncos want to transform from pretenders to contenders and have long-term efficacy as a franchise, the team unquestionably has to do a better job with their early selections in the draft.
Elway has stated that he believes selections in those rounds should be ready to contribute by their second year with the franchise. That's something I disagree with. Early selections, if picked right, should have an immediate impact for any football team. With as many as seven total selections in the Top 150 in this years' draft, it's almost impossible to envision a scenario where the team can't find three to four players who can make a difference right away for the 2017 season.
The draft is loaded at tight end, running back and wide receiver — positions that in my opinion could all use significant upgrades to improve upon the disastrous offensive performance the team has put together to date.
It isn't as deep as one would hope on the offensive line, but there should be prospects available who could come in right away and prove to me immediate upgrades over the cluster of poor talent currently on the roster.
Here is one of my favorite prospects who should be available when Denver selects if he declares — Quenton Nelson, a guard from Notre Dame. He would be an immediate starter for the team and be a premium upgrade at left guard. I believe he has the skills to become a Pro-Bowl caliber player and an anchor on the Broncos' offensive trenches for a decade. He is sound in pass protection and an absolute mauler in the running game.
A guard in the first round might not be a flashy selection, but it certainly addresses a need and history (recent drafts) shows that there have been plenty of first round guards who have become tremendous players and had immediate impact upon entering the league.
However, we just have to hope and cross our fingers that the teams' scouting department can do a better job of evaluating incoming prospects on the offensive line compared to what they have done in the past. Whoever it is and whatever they are doing to evaluate prospects currently certainly isn't working.
Now is the time to look forward and discuss options on how the Broncos can improve for the future. Feel free to share some of your mock drafts or discuss your favorite prospects in the comments section. I look forward to reading what you all have to say on the topic.
As always, thank you for reading and here is today's offering of Horse Tracks.
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