Draft weekend is in the books and the team will be heading to camp before you know it. While camp battles are always competitive, especially on a roster as talented as Denver’s, some guys will have an inside track while others will be feeling the heat with rookies breathing down their neck.
Let’s take a look at whose job got a little safer after this weekend, and who is in the hot seat.
ILB Todd Davis
I’m not sure if Denver passing up on Reuben Foster had as much to do with their confidence in Todd Davis as it did with their glaring need at LT (we’ll get to that in a minute) and potentially their concerns with Foster’s injuries. Either way, Todd Davis has made it on this list two years in row now. This along with Denver’s 2nd round tender all but ensures Davis makes the roster, and likely nets him a “starting” barring any pre-season surge by Corey Nelson or Zaire Anderson.
The Peko cousins
Both Kyle and Domato Peko look to play a prominent role as NTs in our base 3-4 looks. There was a lot of chatter leading up to the draft about Denver needing a NT, and I truly thought they would at least take one in the middle rounds. Other than an UDFA, however, they did not address the position this weekend.
The No Fly Zone lite
This was a loaded secondary class, and there were rumors that Denver could be taking a corner early on in this draft. Instead, they went with a height/weight/speed guy who is a bit of a project in hopes to develop him in a few years; that’s the kind of move you make when you have confidence in your secondary depth. I even advocated them taking a safety if the board fell right, due to the talent available, but Denver likes what they see from Simmons, Parks, Roby, and Doss and didn’t feel the need to bring guys in to push them.
Jeff Heuerman and AJ Derby
Similar to the secondary, this was a loaded TE class, likely one of the best in the last ten years. With many fans and media outlets predicting guys like Njoku and Howard to Denver at #20, the fact that Denver went with a guy who will likely need a red shirt year due to an ACL tear bodes well for Heuerman and Derby’s playing time this year.
I’ll get to the rest of the offense in a minute, but want to call out Fowler specifically. He is a guy that I have been really high on and looked to be in line for an expanded role as the 3rd WR last year. However, key drops in big moments have dropped his stock in my mind. I hope he uses this as an opportunity to step up his game and force the coaching staff to notice him in a crowded group this off-season.
Skill position players
The entire offensive skill position group was put on notice as Vance Joseph spoke to wanting more “juice” on offense and the new offensive coaching staff have drafted two WRs, a RB, and a TE. This is a direct reaction to the lack of playmaking and production at TE, RB, and slot WR positions last year. Obviously there’s plenty of places for blame to go, from Oline to inexperienced QBs, to scheme issues; but at the end of the day, outside of Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, Denver has a bunch of JAGs at their skill positions. I know I listed Heuerman and Derby as Risers in the short term, but this is a key season for all skill position players as I believe no one is safe on offense.
@VeteranScout Is there a play where Jared Crick didn't end up on the ground with a lineman on top of him?— Jeffrey Essary (@JeffreyEssary) November 9, 2016
I’ve been on record for most of last year saying Jared Crick shouldn’t have been on the field as much as he was. His play ranged from mediocre at best and downright abysmal the majority of the time.
With the signing of Zach Kerr it seemed like Crick was going to be able to play more of his natural role of rushing the passer in sub packages where he would be able to knock down passes, one of the few things he excelled at last year. Then, Denver drafted DeMarcus Walker, whose specialty is sub package pass rushing. Thanks for the memories, Crick.
Broncos former guard, Orlando Franklin, rag-dolling Jared Crick. Denver misses Malik Jackson and Vance Walker. pic.twitter.com/aNv5Fo5ye0— Jeffrey Essary (@JeffreyEssary) October 19, 2016
Last but certainly not least, is the guy who two days before the draft Elway said could be the starter at Left Tackle. Then, Denver took their top Left Tackle in the draft. Now depending on Bolles’ development, Sambrailo could come out of camp the starter, but I would be shocked if he finished the season as the starter at LT. This will be one of the better training camp battles to watch.
Who are your risers/fallers after this weekend’s draft? Who’s on one of these lists that shouldn’t be there, and who isn’t here that should be? Let me know in the comments!