This last week Sports Illustrated’s Peter King and Albert Breer did an exercise in NFL draft scenarios: they made 4 separate mock drafts to illustrate how teams prepare for April 26th. In two of these drafts the Broncos took Baker Mayfield, who most know is the apple of my eye and who I believe will wind up being the best player from this class.
What did the other two look like?
Both times Mayfield was off the board, Denver wound up with Edge player Bradley Chubb (both times passing on Josh Rosen, which is another factoid that fascinates me altogether). Chubb is a great prospect, but should Elway go back to the pass rusher fountain on his first return to the top of the draft since Von Miller? (wording)
Chubb the prospect
The 6’4 and 270 lb Chubb is already adept at setting the edge. While most rookie pass rushers find themselves needing to adapt to the pro run game Chubb would improve an already stalwart run defense with his ability to stack and shed linemen as well as chase down ball carriers. He’s strong at the point of attack and would be able to handle teams running directly at him. That’s a rare ability, one even Von had to adjust to when he first came into the league.
What’s more: Chubb already possesses an advanced understanding of pass rush moves and has the kind of hand technique to put them to use. And while many top tier players get praised for their motor, this is truly something where Chubb jumps off the tape. He has the kind of “any down could be my last” mentality coaches love in a prospect.
First a look at the two guys who would lose playing time if Chubbs came to Denver.
I love these two more than most, but those numbers should make you pause to reflect.
The truth of the matter is Von Miller will turn 30 next March and while Barret and Ray have shown promise, neither has done enough to say for certain that the next franchise pass rusher is currently wearing orange and blue. 2017 also proved how reliant the defense is upon the pass rush performing at an elite level, as the retirement of Ware and injury to Ray completely depleted the stable and left the Broncos susceptible to deep passes at times.
DeMarcus Walker was selected in the second round of last year in part to address this, but the FSU product had a pretty quiet rookie season. Joseph confirmed at the Combine that he’ll play Defensive End moving forward. This means passing on an Outside Backer this year could potentially put Elway into a situation where he has a gaping hole opposite Miller. In a pass-first league that is cause for some concern.
This is one reason why Chubb could be such a tantalizing prospect for the Broncos brass. He may be the best way for the Broncos to win from now on, stepping in as the new Miller to Von’s Ware. Pairing the two would provide a boost to a pass rush that dipped to 10th in the league last year in adjusted sack rate. It would also mean the 2018 D has a four deep OLB corp, similar to what happened in 2015 when the No Fly Zone was a historically great defense.
Improving the pass rush would likely ease pressure on the defensive backs, which would mask some of the teams deficiencies against tight ends, running backs and tertiary receivers. This is important as it’s unlikely trading Talib away will improve this aspect of the Broncos in 2018.
Lastly the NFL has a tackle problem. A big one. Anyone who’s paid attention to league wide trends has noticed rookie tackles coming in struggling and coaches lamenting how hard it is to teach proper pass pro to the prospects nowadays. Choosing Chubb is a way to exploit that going forward. With 2 premier pass rushers the Broncos would once against be a nightmare to scheme against.
While I clearly remember how fun it was to watch Ware and Von terrorize opposing offenses, I can’t help but think adding Chubb would be a bad way to capitalize on the opportunity a fifth overall pick in the draft can provide. If it were up to me: the Broncos would choose to pass on Chubb and trade down if the QB they’re targeting is off the board.
There’s no doubt that Chubb could be a great player, but if Elway chooses to stay at 5 yet pass on Rosen (as the SI scenario did) I would prefer Nelson. I get the argument that guard isn’t as valuable a position, but at the end of the day I think Nelson and Chubb have relatively similar floors in the NFL, but Nelson has a much higher ceiling.
It comes down to this: would you prefer a top 10 pass rusher in the NFL or the best guard for 10+ years? Nelson looks like he could be that good barring some health luck and what he could do for the rest of the offense is intriguing.
That said? I’d take Rosen, but with rumors coming out of Dove Valley that there is one QB prospect the team is cool on and the SI scenario? Elway may be put off by Rosen’s personality, don’t forget this is the same front office that willingly chose to start Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler while better alternatives (Colin Kaepernick chief among them) were on the open market.
What do you think?