It's tradition at Mile High Report for the staff to come together and have a round table discussion which seeks to answer several big questions regarding the Denver Broncos draft plans and possibilities.
This year is no exception. As usual, the staff opinions are plentiful and the ideas brought to the table are incredibly diverse. The first question on the docket is a big one:
Who should the Broncos select with their first pick and why?
Ian Henson: Paxton Lynch, because Carson Wentz got too expensive. The Broncos may have to go as high as 8th over to grab Lynch (taking the Cleveland Browns' current first round pick, one behind the San Francisco 49ers, but likely would just need to get ahead of the New York Jets (20th overall).
It's worth it to me, Denver has an entire roster worth of good-to-great players to re-sign, 21 draft picks in the next two seasons and a real need for money beyond 2017. A first-round quarterback gives you the type of personal safety that us common folk love.
Sadaraine: I know this sounds like a bit of a cop-out, but seriously don't mess with something that isn't broken. Elway needs to pick whatever great talent falls to us. Let all the losing teams at the top scrap and claw and reach. Just be patient and take the best talent / character guy that drops farther than he should. Look what that has gotten us so far: Bradley Roby, Shane Ray, and Sylvester Williams.
Tim Lynch: Really, all I want the Broncos to do is to not reach for a quarterback. Either sit back or trade up, but only draft the best, most talented player on their board. Sadly, something tells me this is the year John Elway will finally make a panic move like trading up to reach for a quarterback.
Joe Mahoney: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Take the best defensive player on the board at #31 regardless of position. And yes, I know that means we might draft another CB or OLB.
Give me 4 great CBs and I will find a way to get all of them on field at the same time even if that means playing one of them at safety. Give me three another elite OLB and I will find a way to get him on the field. I'll use him like the P*ts use Jamie Collins - who plays MLB, OLB and DE for them, all over the field. Will an elite CB or OLB fall to #31? Probably not, but if one does and we draft him, don't tear your hair out.
Wade Phillips has got this. He'll get the best out of whichever defender we take in the first.
Pete Baron: I want them to take the best non-QB player available. Why do I say that? Simple: Mark Sanchez is better right now than every single one of the QBs in this year's NFL Draft. I don't care if the Broncos were picking #1 overall, my advise would be to take the best non-QB player available, because what we have is better than what's available.
I should say that this is based purely on us keeping whoever we select at #31. If the 49ers want us to do what the Giants and San Diego did with Eli/Rivers (basically the Broncos take the QB the niners want, and then they trade that pick for Kaepernick, I'd be fine with it).
Scotty Payne: You asked for one and I'll give you 5. I suck at making choices. Quarterback: Paxton Lynch. Defensive Linemen: Chris Jones or Vernon Butler. Linebacker: Myles Jack. Safety: Karl Joseph. Those are my top choices in the first round.
Lynch has the highest upside of any QB in this draft and I think Kubiak and Elway want to come away from this draft with "their guy" at QB and if Lynch falls far enough I can see it happening. Chris Jones or Vernon Butler are great prospects and I think either could help replace Malik Jackson on the Broncos defensive line. There's a chance either could be there at pick 31.
Myles Jack is reportedly falling, but he is a freak talent. Injury concerns are there but if the Broncos feel good about his medicals go for it. He would add an extra element to this already damn good defense. Karl Joseph is the best pure safety in the league and he could play in sub-packages and eventually take over for Darian Stewart in 2017. Love how he plays. Big hitter and a playmaker.
Ian St. Clair: Part of this answer is no doubt to troll everyone else who said to avoid him at all costs, but also because of his talent and what he could bring to the Broncos defense. The cat could turn into a beast. That, of course, is Robert Nkemdiche.
I get it - he could turn into Mike Tyson. But for all the naysayers who are certain he will flop, get suspended and become a bum, he could just as easily become a star and unstoppable force. No one questions his talent. It's the mental side people have a problem with. The motivation. The "want to." The "will he not fall out of a window while drunk" aspect. I want to see if what has been said about the culture in the Denver locker room is true. I want to see what happens when Bill Kollar and DeMarcus Ware work with this young man.
I also like drama that makes for good stories, and there is no better service of that than Nkemdiche in this draft. From a pure football standpoint and what he could he bring, Paxton Lynch. Bleeding Green Nation had a story earlier this week that said the Eagles should draft Lynch over Carson Wentz. I want to see Lynch in the Gary Kubiak system with those offensive weapons.
Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann: Paxton Lynch IF he's available for Broncos to trade up to get. I'm not a huge fan of taking a franchise QB in the Draft because it's a huge gamble, but I don't see that we have our "future" quarterback on the team, and frankly, I'm not sold on any of the other options this year or likely free agent options next. Like Pete, I consider Mark Sanchez a perfectly fine fit this coming season and possibly next, given the options.
But "perfectly fine" isn't good enough farther down the road, so I don't think it's a terrible idea to go after a quarterback you believe can be great for you after a few years. And I think we all agree, Paxton is going to need that. And why would I pick HIM as the future QB? Because he is athletic, he's big and he's from my dad's university. I know, total homer pick...and that seems as good a reason as any for a draft pick, doesn't it?Some other favorites are Jarran Reed, Joey Bosa, Karl Joseph or Laremy Tunsil as possible BPAs for the Broncos.
Christopher Hart: I'm open to a handful of possibilities with the first selection, but Andrew Billings or Robert Nkemdiche top my list of prospects I'd like to see in Denver in the first-round. I believe defensive line is our greatest need, and feel that either would be impact players for the franchise.
There is no doubt that Nkemdiche is a boom or bust type player, but the team has enough strong personalities in the locker room to be a positive influence on Robert and allow him to become the player he has the potential of being. Moreover, he would have the luxury of being coached by Wade Philips and Bill Kollar, two of the best in the business.
At first glace, his quickness off the snap is reminiscent of Warren Sapp and John Randle. If he even becomes half the player either of those two were, he would be well worth the selection. He absolutely dominated against Alabama and if he can bring that type of passion and fire to each game he plays, Nkemdiche would be an unstoppable force.
Jeffrey Essary (NastyJ): Like Ian St. Clair, I am going against the grain and picking who most people say to avoid, Robert Nkemdiche. His physical abilities are off the charts. ESPN Sports Science gave him a grade right in between Ndamukong Suh and former defensive rookie of the year Aaron Donald. I think his off the field issues have been overplayed, and with a strong locker room (I wonder where we might find one of those) he can get his head on straight and be a force.
He compares very similarly to Darnell Dockett from the Cardinals who was a bit of a project coming out. One report from back when Dockett was drafted said, "Dockett pleaded guilty to petty theft, suspended for Sugar Bowl. On field character: average worker, takes plays off, disappears at times"
Sound familiar? Nkemdiche has also been criticized for wanting to buy a panther when he gets into the NFL. Guess who owns a tiger and an alligator: Darnell Dockett. Not saying it's going to turn out the same, but just showing that these things aren't sure-fire bust material and someone in a similar situation was successful.
As always, thanks for reading! Stay tuned to Mile High Report today to read the second and third installments of our Draft Round Table.
Additionally, feel free to sound off in the comments section and give your thoughts as to who you believe the Broncos should select with their first pick.