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Future Broncos: Prospects on the Rise

In this week’s Future Broncos entry, Mile High Report’s Christopher Hart takes a look at two prospects rising up draft boards that the Denver Broncos should consider early in the 2018 NFL Draft.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos haven’t been shy about moving up the draft boards in order to get a prospect they covet in the draft since John Elway took over as General Manager. Currently slated with nine selections for the 2018 NFL Draft, with the strong possibility of acquiring a tenth (compensatory for Russell Okung), the team is in prime condition to make some big waves next April.

A lot of positions on the Broncos’ roster are loaded with tremendous amounts of talent, but there are several positions where the current or future depth remains a significant concern. Offensive tackle (current and future), along with inside linebacker (future) are two that come to mind. In my humble opinion, finding high-profile prospects at both positions should be a significant priority for the team early on in next year’s draft.

As indicated by the poll in the linked article above, a majority of the Mile High Report community would like to see the Broncos have more quality selections over quantity in the draft. With that in mind, I thought it would be apt to mention two players the Broncos could (or should) consider moving up for next spring at the positions of concern listed earlier.

Orlando Brown, Offensive Tackle — Oklahoma Sooners

Even though the Denver Broncos used their 2017 first-round selection on Garret Bolles, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see the team pull the trigger on selecting another offensive tackle early on in the 2018 NFL Draft. It’s safe to say that Donald Stephenson has absolutely no future with the franchise (or in the league) and Menelik Watson’s play to date has been underwhelming to say the least. There are some quality offensive line prospects in this year’s class, but one player in particular has experienced a meteoric rise up draft boards for his incredible play to date.

Orlando Brown out of Oklahoma entered this year as a fringe first-round prospect, but his stellar play protecting Baker Mayfield has scouts and analysts raving about the 6’8, 345 pound lineman’s NFL potential. Brown is the son of former Cleveland Brown and Baltimore Ravens lineman Orlando "Zeus" Brown, who played in the NFL from 1993 to 2005 with 119 starts in 129 games. The NFL is in his blood and the chances are he will be even better than his dad was over the course of his career.

Since entering the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman in 2015, Brown has started 30 games at left tackle and played at an extremely high level. He was the Big 12’s Lineman of the Year and a first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2016 — and he may very well earn both accolades again in his third season with the Sooners. It’s hard to argue that there is a more dominating lineman in all of college football as of right now.

Undoubtedly, Brown has cemented himself as one of, if not the top tackle available in this year’s draft if he chooses to declare. When it is all said and done, I wouldn’t be surprised if he winds up as a top ten selection. Pending his performance at the NFL Combine and eventual Pro Day, he could catapult into the top five of this year’s class. He has a rare blend of size and athleticism that rivals former Ravens great Jonathan Ogden (a teammate of his father), who he has drawn favorable comparisons to. Players of Brown’s size and caliber don’t come around often and he will be one of the most sought after prospects through the entire draft process.

Oklahoma is known for producing a lot of talented players on the offensive line and Brown is the next in line to seek stardom in the NFL. Former prospects to come out of Oklahoma are Trent Williams, Daryl Williams, Lane Johnson, Phil Loadholt, Davin Joseph, Jammal Brown, Chris Chester and our very own Donald Stephenson. Some of them have been great, some of them have been terrible, but I have a feeling that Brown will be a fantastic offensive tackle in the NFL capable of being a perennial Pro-Bowler and All-Pro.

If Brown was selected by the Broncos, that would give them a talented tandem of offensive tackles for the future with he and Garret Bolles protecting our quarterback. It would also put an end to the revolving door and game of musical chairs that has been occurring at right tackle in particular for several years now. Few players have impressed me as much to date and Brown is a blue-chip prospect that I certainly wouldn’t mind the Broncos making a huge move up the boards to snag next April.

Kendall Joseph, Linebacker — Clemson Tigers

For years now, draft fans across Broncos Country have been pounding the table for John Elway to pull the trigger on linebacker early in the NFL Draft — but year after year, that scenario never happens. Todd Davis, Zaire Anderson and Corey Nelson are all set to be a free agent of some sort after this season, so it’s a strong possibility that the franchise will look to the 2018 NFL Draft to add more talent at the position. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my behalf, but I truly believe it would be in the team’s best interest to add a linebacker from the college ranks to their defense this coming spring.

Clemson’s Kendall Joseph should be a player team scouts have on their radar. Though a bit undersized at 6’0 and 230 pounds, Joseph’s game translates well to the NFL. He’s a true three-down linebacker who not only flashes brilliance against the run, but is capable of matching up with some of college football’s most talented players when in pass coverage. He had a fantastic campaign as a redshirt junior and has continued do dominate on a loaded Clemson defense early on in 2017 and could jump into the mid-first round if he plays well the remainder of the year for the Tigers.

The Broncos recently extended inside linebacker Brandon Marshall to a lucrative contract, but if he fails to perform up to the hefty sum of cash he was given, the team will certainly need a replacement waiting in the wings to take over for him. Heck, it’s not even about that — it’s about doing whatever it takes to make sure that Denver’s defense remains a formidable force for years to come. Having a linebacker with supreme athleticism and the ability to make plays all over the field is a good way of making sure that happens.

I personally have no problem with the team bringing back Anderson, Nelson or even Davis on team friendly deals — but Anderson and Nelson are pinch-starters at best and the team could use a player of Joseph’s caliber long-term on the inside.

As always, thank you for reading. Feel free to talk about draft prospects you wouldn’t mind the Broncos making a big move up the draft boards for next April!