As things stand today, the Denver Broncos are in line to receive the 8th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. The process of earning a draft pick that high up sucks, but a smart franchise can capitalize on the opportunity and land a player who will become a long term cornerstone of the franchise. See: Miller, Von.
So what might the Broncos do with the premier picks that appears to be in their future?
The most obvious answer has to be: get a quarterback. But it may not be the right one. The prospective QB1, Oregon’s Justin Herbert, may not even declare this year. But even if he does, the Giants (and potentially the Raiders, depending on just how twitchy Gruden’s trigger finger gets) stand squarely in the Broncos’ way of acquiring him. And the QBs behind him aren’t the most inspiring group.
With that in mind, you have to wonder if the Broncos should play a longer game. Maybe the right move could be trading back with a team like Miami or Tampa Bay, collecting their 2019 1st & 2nd rounders in the bargain, and planning to offer up multiple 1sts to make a move for our QB of choice in 2020, That sounds drastic until you consider that the 5 teams who took a step that bold in 2015 & 2016, the Rams, Chiefs, Eagles, Texans, & Bears, sport a combined record of 31-12 at this point in the season. None of them are worse than .500, and 4 of the 5 are currently winning their divisions. And the one team in that group that’s at .500, the Eagles, are the defending Super Bowl champions.
I’m not saying the Broncos will definitely go this route, but if they do- don’t be mad. It’s got a pretty nice track record lately, and if we can’t beat ‘em (and we can’t), then maybe we should join them.
But if the Broncos don’t do something bold like that, here are some guys who may find themselves on stage next spring holding an orange & blue jersey:
Offensive Tackle Jonah Williams, Alabama
Williams is the premier offensive tackle in a pretty decent class. With Jared Veldheer set to be a free agent this offseason, if the Broncos don’t re-sign him I could definitely see the team seeing Williams as a great option. The four year starter at Alabama would most likely step in immediately at left tackle, allowing the Broncos to move Garett Bolles over to right tackle. Things would suddenly get much more comfortable in the pocket for the Broncos’ quarterback(s).
Defensive Lineman Rashan Gary, Michigan
It’d be a little surprising if the Broncos dedicated back-to-back top 10 picks to the front seven, but the idea does have its appeal. Gary would provide an additional interior threat that might remind Broncos fans pleasantly of Malik Jackson. And we all know exactly how devastating that kind of player can be in combination with two elite edge rushers. Gary would help ensure that the Broncos’ defense would remain one of the most physical and intimidating units in the NFL.
Cornerback Greedy Williams, LSU
The overall CB class is not the best, but that doesn’t prevent the top candidate from being excellent. If there’s an Aqib Talib in the 2019 Draft, it’s Greedy Williams. And since an Aqib Talib is what the Broncos’ secondary very, very obviously needs, this pick would be a slam-dunk. A starting CB trio consisting of Chris Harris, Greedy Williams, & Isaac Yiadom could be a very difficult unit for QBs to throw against. Combine that with the best pair of edge rushers in the NFL in Von Miller & Bradley Chubb and, well, you’d probably get something that looks suspiciously like the 2015 Broncos defense.
Offensive Tackle Greg Little, Ole Miss
The Bills will very likely pick before the Broncos, and should be well motivated to take Jonah Williams to bolster the NFL’s worst offensive line. If they do that, the Broncos might also consider Greg Little. He’s likely to be right up there with William as a prospect, though he might not be quite as strong of a candidate to immediately push Bolles out of the left side of the line.
The Big 4
My mentor has a saying that I’ve become fond of: Keep the main thing the main thing.
That’s what John Elway needs to do when the draft finally gets here. He’s gone on record before, stating that the four positions he considers to be most important to a franchise’s success are quarterback, edge rusher, left offensive tackle, and cornerback. And his 1st round draft selections have consistently fallen in line with that priority. Elway keep the main thing the main thing, and he’ll do that again in the next draft.
So if there’s a quarterback there that the Broncos are convinced can be The Guy, you can be sure Elway will go that route. But there likely won’t be such a QB for Denver until 2020. If that’s so, then expect Elway to remain consistent and seek to either replenish the cornerback group, upgrade at left tackle, or find the final destructive piece of the pass rush puzzle.
I’ve got my fingers crossed for Greedy Williams, personally.
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