Every NFL personnel guy will likely be watching tonight’s college football championship intently as there are several top draft prospects for both teams who will get one last chance to make an impression on the field for NFL teams.
Who should Broncos’ fans be paying attention to?
Jonathan Allen #93 - DE, Alabama
This guy has been an absolute wrecking ball for the Crimson Tide this year. He won Pro Football Focus’ Best Player Award this year.
Allen became a superstar this season, leading all interior defensive linemen with a 92.8 pass-rush grade. His 64 total pressures also lead the way (11 sacks, 12 hits, 41 hurries), and he was unblockable while moving around the defensive front for the Crimson Tide.
While he likely goes top 5 in this draft class, if there was ever a guy to trade up for, this guy would be it. He fills a huge need for Denver and is an elite prospect.
Reuben Foster #10 - ILB, Alabama
Here is what PFF had to say about Foster.
A tradition of great Alabama linebackers continues with Foster, who is right there with the previous inside linebackers who have come through the program and contributed in the NFL. He has the quickness and power to slip blocks in the running game, and he closes on ball-carriers in a hurry. That skill set has Foster leading the nation with a 91.7 grade against the run and a run-stop percentage of 16.1 percent that leads all inside linebackers.
Foster is also strong in coverage – he tied for the national lead with seven pass breakups in 2015 – and his 87.3 coverage grade ranks fifth in the nation. Foster is a three-down linebacker, and more than ever, the NFL needs linebackers who can play the run, drop into coverage and make an impact as a blitzer.
While ILB isn’t our top need, if Foster is around when we pick, I wouldn’t be upset at all about Elway pulling the trigger. Remember, Elway really liked another Alabama ILB a few years ago in CJ Mosley and wasn’t able to get him. Keep an eye on this guy tonight as he is always around the ball.
Carlos Watkins #94 - NT, Clemson
Watkins has 41 tackles with 10.5 for a loss, 8.5 sacks and two passes broken up in 2016 and has been a “steady disruptive presence for Clemson this season” according to Walter Football’s rankings. Additionally, he had two sacks and two batted passes in the semi-final against Ohio State. This definitely fills a need for Denver and could be an early 2nd round trade up prospect.
Cam Robinson #74 - OT, Alabama
Robinson is widely regarded as the top tackle prospect in the draft this year. Legal troubles make projecting his ranking difficult, but I don’t see him lasting past the top 15-20 prospects. Denver could target him for a trade up, or see if he drops into their lap.
OJ Howard #88 - TE, Alabama
Howard is a favorite of several of our MHR draft gurus, and Denver could definitely use a game changer at TE. Here’s what NFL.com had to say:
Clemson remembers Howard well, as he finally was used as a playmaker in the Alabama offense in last year's title game, catching five passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns. He'll be a primary focus of the Tigers' defense this year. Still, combining the value of a safety valve with big-play potential makes Howard a likely early round pick.
Keep an eye on this guy tonight and leading up to the draft as I think he could be in play for Denver in the first round.
Mike Williams #7 - WR, Clemson
Regarded as the top WR prospect coming from a school that produced Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant, and DeAndre Hopkins.
Wayne Gallman #9 - RB, Clemson
Jordan Leggett #16 - TE, Clemson
Tim Williams #56 - EDGE, Alabama