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2017 NFL Draft: Broncos should consider taking a cornerback in the first round

John Elway should consider adding some youth to the No Fly Zone.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

When people start talking about the draft needs for the Denver Broncos many do not include the cornerback position, but it's a position Denver Broncos General Manager John Elway should consider in the first round come draft day.

Keep in mind, Elway named four positions as the top positions to build an NFL roster around. Those four being a quarterback, edge rusher, left tackle and cornerback. Elway has spent premium picks and money of these four positions and I believe he could again this offseason.

Now with that said, the Broncos are not hurting at cornerback. They have Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib who ended up be the first and second ranked corners in the NFL this past season according to Pro Football Focus.

They also have former first-round pick Bradley Roby as their third corner and he has shown some promise as well. So they're currently set at the position, but this strength could turn into a weakness here soon.

Aqib Talib turns 31 years old here in a few days and has a potential suspension hanging over his head, so his time with the Broncos could be nearing its end.

He is signed through 2019, but likely is entering his final year as a Bronco. He will be turning 32 years old at the start of the next offseason and Talib could start losing a step and declining in talent. So a replacement should be added soon.

Now, Bradley Roby could be that guy, but he has been inconsistent and is coming off a disappointing 2016 season. He also has his fifth-year option coming up and the Broncos will have to choose if they want to pick that up or. Even if they do pick up his option, another corner will likely have to be added.

So that brings us to the 2017 NFL Draft that just so happens to be stacked at the cornerback position. The Broncos have the 20th pick in the first round and could decide to select a corner there with their first round pick.

So let us take a look at some of the top cornerback prospects the Broncos may show interest in during the 2017 NFL Draft.

Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore, 6-0, 195lbs

Lattimore is widely considered the top cornerback prospect in the draft and projects as a true number one corner in the NFL. He is likely a top 10 or 15 prospect in April's NFL Draft but could go sooner to a corner-needy team.

NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah ranked him as his 3rd best prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Lattimore has average size but possesses elite foot quickness, agility, and awareness. In press coverage, he is very patient and fluid to open up and mirror underneath. He can play a variety of techniques successfully. In off coverage, he is very aware and explosive to drive on balls in front of him. He does an excellent job of locating and playing the ball down the field. He is outstanding in run support. He fights through blocks and attacks the line of scrimmage. He is a very sure tackler in space. I love the way he competes. He has all of the tools to develop into a No. 1 cornerback at the next level.

I believe Lattimore would be a great fit in the Broncos secondary, but figures to be off the board rather early during the first round.

Washington cornerback Sidney Jones, 6-0, 181lbs

Jones doesn't have the size you look for in a corner, but he does have plus cover ability that figures to make him a first round pick in the draft.

His slight frame will be a concern for some talent evaluators and he figures to struggle against bigger and stronger corners, but his light feet, cover ability, and smooth athleticism make him one of the top corners in the draft.

NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah ranked Jones as his 14th ranked corner in the NFL Draft in his recent top 50 prospects.

Jones has ideal height but a very slight, narrow frame. He excels in both press and off coverage. In press coverage, he isn't physical with his jam but he has very quick feet and fluid hips to open up and mirror all over the field. In off coverage, he has a fluid, easy backpedal and very good awareness to read and drive on balls in front. He is an extremely smooth athlete. In run support, his lack of bulk isn't an issue. He is aggressive to fill and tackle ball carriers. I love his toughness. He'll willingly trade one for one against a pulling offensive lineman, which frees up a teammate to make the tackle. Overall, Jones lacks bulk but he is always in proper position and rarely gets beat in coverage.

With the Broncos mostly being a man coverage team, Jones could be a fit since his skill set fits as a pure cover corner only. He wouldn't be my top choice but could be in play at pick 20.

LSU cornerback Tre'Davious White, 6-0, 184lbs

One player who caught my eye during January's Senior Bowl was Tre'Davious White. He showed plus athleticism, smooth cover ability, and good athleticism. He might be a better zone guy than a man coverage guy, but ultimately he can do both if called on.

One of my favorite things about White is his physicalness in press coverage. This what separates the good corners from the great corners. If they can disrupt the receiver's routes at the line of scrimmage they already have the advantage.

White is rising up some draft boards currently but might not be in play at pick 20. I think he is an early day two pick who could be there when the Broncos pick in the second round.

Florida cornerback Teez Tabor, 6-0, 201lbs

Opinions on Tabor are all over the board. Some believe he's the top corner in the league, some think he's overrated, and some believe he is a scheme specific corner. So it's hard to gauge Tabor's stock currently.

Now one thing with Tabor is true and that is that he is a ballhawk. His ball skills are the best in this class and he is also a physical presence on the field. He also looks the part of a shutdown corner with a nice blend of height, size, and athleticism.

NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah ranked Tabor as the 20th best prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Tabor has good height and a lean, athletic build for the position. He is at his best in off coverage or zone coverage. He utilizes a quarter turn (butt to the sideline) and uses his instincts/anticipation to drive on the ball and make big plays. He has an excellent short-area burst, and his ball skills are elite. In press coverage, he's not quite as effective. He's not very physical and he will occasionally get turned around. He isn't ultra-aggressive in run support and he does miss some tackles. Overall, Tabor has some flaws, but he gets his hands on a lot of footballs and I think that trend will continue at the next level.

This is a player I could see newly hired Head Coach Vance Joseph and Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods falling in love with. Both are former defensive back coaches and will see a fierce competitor who is a ball hawk. I think Tabor is an option for the Broncos with the 20th pick.

Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey, 6-1, 196lbs

One of my favorite corner prospects in this draft is the former Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey. He has good size, great speed, plays physical, solid in press coverage, and a great fit in the Broncos secondary.

Some compare Humphrey's to former Broncos cornerbackvDominique Rodgers-Cromartie and it is a comparison I agree with.

He's another corner who should be available near or around the 20th pick for the Broncos. I think you can plug and play him on the outside for many years to come.

Honorable mentions:

  • Jourdan Lewis
  • Cordrea Tankersley
  • Cameron Sutton
  • Quincy Wilson
  • Adoree' Jackson
  • Gareon Conley
  • Fabian Moreau

Final thoughts:

This is an incredibly deep corner class and I believe you could see up to 10 or so corners go in the top 50 picks of the draft.

With Aqib Talib getting older and a potential suspension looming over him and Kayvon Webster entering free agency I believe the Broncos will spend a pick on a corner in the first 3 rounds of the draft. They should have about 5 picks in the first three rounds so they will have plenty of options available.

I wouldn't rule out Elway selecting a corner in the first round if the board falls in their favor like it did when Shane Ray was selected in the first-round. I believe there is a good chance that the "BPA" at pick 20 could be a cornerback.

Elway stated cornerback is one of the top building blocks of an NFL roster and he will continue to keep that a strength of the team going forward.