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Offensive firepower will be on display for Broncos at the Senior Bowl

There is no question that the Denver Broncos are in need of serious upgrades at a handful of positions on the offensive side of the ball. Here are some of the top offensive prospects to keep an eye on at this year’s Senior Bowl.

NCAA Football: Tulsa at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

If you aren’t already excited about this offseason, now is the time to be excited. The Senior Bowl is on the horizon and is set to kick of next week. It happens every year, but this year is different, especially for the Denver Broncos. While scouts and personnel have always been active in attendance down in Mobile, the Broncos will have the golden opportunity to coach this year’s North squad. That will be a key advantage for them to get up close and personal with many of these prospects and will allow them to see how they fit in with the direction the franchise wants to head in 2018 and beyond.

One of the aspects of the Senior Bowl I’m looking forward to hearing about most is how the offensive players perform over the course of the week. Without question, Denver’s offensive output in 2017 was absolutely lackluster and it’s imperative for them to retool the talent on that side of the ball. The best way to do that is by using a handful of selections addressing the offense in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Denver didn’t get a lot of impact out of last year’s rookie class, but here is something to think about — nine players from last year’s Senior Bowl made the Pro Football Writer Association’s All-Rookie team. So if the Broncos take advantage of this great opportunity in Mobile and are diligent with their scouting, they could do some serious damage in the draft and acquire a ton of talent to help revamp their roster.

But who are some of the best offensive prospects on display in Mobile? There are a bunch of them, but here are some of my favorite prospects to keep an eye out for who would be great additions for the Broncos and provide them with a great base of foundational talent to help them win now and from now on.

Our Jeffrey Essary joined Adam Malnati and Ian St. Clair on the MHR Radio Podcast to talk about all things Senior Bowl.

Dallas Goedert, TE — South Dakota State (South Team)

This year’s class has several intriguing prospects at the tight end position, but the one that catches my eye the most is Dallas Goedert out of South Dakota State. I raved about him earlier on in the season in my Future Broncos series, but he is worth highlighting again. At 6’6 and 240 pounds, Goedert routinely gave headaches to opposing defenders and defensive coordinators at the FCS level. In his final two years with the Jackrabbits, he had 164 receptions and over 2,400 yards and 18 touchdowns. That’s impeccable production at any level of football, and Goedert was doing it against the FCS’s finest on a regular basis.

Some people might disagree and think the Broncos don’t need an upgrade at tight end, but let’s face the facts. It’s been a while since the franchise have had consistent production from anyone at the position on their roster. Nobody that played last year is a legitimate threat that any NFL defense has to account for — which allows for defenses to double up on the Broncos’ best receiving options. Getting a player like Goedert would free up Denver’s receivers to make plays on their own, while giving them a big-time threat at the tight end position who can make plays all over the field.

Denver took a step in the right direction by selecting Jake Butt in last year’s draft, but he missed the whole season recovering from an ACL tear he suffered in his last collegiate game. I am confident he can come in and contribute next year, but I also believe it’s in Denver’s best interest to try and find another playmaker at the tight end position for the long haul. Goedert fits the bill and I’m excited to see how he can do against some of the best seniors in the nation at Mobile — I really wish he would have been on the North team Denver is coaching.

James Washington, WR — Oklahoma State (South Team)

Uncertainty looms for the Broncos at the wide receiver position and I’ve long been an advocate of them using a selection in this year’s draft to improve the overall depth and quality on their roster. Two of Oklahoma State’s top receivers will be present in Mobile and those guys are James Washington and Marcell Ateman. One is an early round prospect, the other is likely a mid-to-late round pick. I’m going to focus on James Washington because he is the superior prospect and a dynamic receiver and a prospect who could be on the board for Denver with their second round selection.

What do I like about Washington? First and foremost, I admire his consistent growth as a player. He isn’t a prospect who is a one-year wonder. Washington is a proven, battle-tested wide receiver who has been producing at a high level ever since he was a freshman and has earned a ton of accolades and award consideration. I love the fact that he improved each and every year with the Cowboys and earned the respect of his teammates and coaches.

Washington isn’t the biggest guy out there (6’0 and 205 pounds), but he plays a lot bigger than those numbers. He is a precise route runner with great hands and has tremendous open field ability after the reception is made. From the games I watched him play, he almost always was lined up on the outside (Z receiver) where he was facing the opponents top corner. And most every single week, he was winning those one-on-one match up’s and destroying defenses on a regular basis. The Broncos could use another top receiver for the long haul and Washington provides that ability. They will get to see what he can do first hand in Mobile, and after a great week of practice, he should cement himself as one of Denver’s receiving prospects on their board come April.

Braden Smith, OL — Auburn (South Team)

It wouldn’t be a complete list of players who bring ‘firepower’ to the offensive if I didn’t mention one of college football’s most underrated offensive lineman. Whether it’s playing right guard or right tackle, Auburn’s Braden Smith has excelled against the nation’s top players in the SEC. In 2015 and 2016, he manned the right guard position for the Tigers, but this past year he switched to right tackle for Auburn and graded out as one of the best pass-blocking tackles in this year’s draft class.

The Broncos definitely need some help on the offensive line, and whether they place him at right guard (which would allow Ronald Leary to move back to left guard) or right tackle, Smith would provide an upgrade to Denver’s trenches that they desperately need. He is a three-year starter who has proven his worth at the collegiate level and with a strong showing in Mobile, he could hear his named called as early as the second round come April.

Jaleel Scott, WR — New Mexico State (North Team)

I mentioned Washington earlier, but if the Broncos don’t spend a high pick on a receiver in this year’s draft, Jaleel Scott would be a high upside selection that could be found later on in in the draft. He is definitely a sleeper prospect you will want to be taking notes on over the course of Senior Bowl week.

Scott transferred to New Mexico State after spending his 2015 season at Ellsworth Community College and only has two years of division one experience. He didn’t do much in his first year with the Aggies, but he really caught on this past season where he started twelve games and hauled in in 76 receptions for 1,079 yards and nine touchdowns which earned him First Team All-Sunbelt Conference honors.

At 6’6 and 215 pounds, Scott is a tough challenge for opposing defensive backs who can’t hang with him on jump balls and 50/50 scenarios. There is no doubt that Scott is rough around the edges and will likely take a year or two to catch on to the rigors and nuances of the NFL, but you don’t find many prospects with his combination of size and speed. His upside is extraordinarily high and he has the physical tools and various traits that make him a potential number one or two receiver in the pros.

Other prospects to watch: Michael Gallup, WR - Colorado State (North), Mike Gesicki, TE (North), Brian O’Neill, OT (North), Will Hernandez, G (North), Wyatt Teller, G (North)

Side note: Oregon running back Royce Freeman was scratched (reason unknown) from this year’s Senior Bowl. He would have been on the North team coached by the Broncos. Freeman is one of my favorite prospects in this year’s draft and I’m quite bummed he isn’t going to Mobile to participate. He would have easily been the top offensive guy to scout on my list.

ICYMI: Mile High Report will be at the Senior Bowl!

In case you missed it, Mile High Report’s Jeff Essary will be present in Mobile to give Broncos Country the best coverage available. You won’t want to miss his various articles and reports — so keep glued to the website, but also be sure to follow him on Twitter @JeffreyEssary to get live updates and information from this year’s Senior Bowl. Also listen to his great insight on the MHR Radio Podcast.