The 2018 NFL draft is upon us and as I’ve stated a couple times, this is likely THE most important draft of John Elway’s career as General Manager of the Denver Broncos. The team had a disappointing run in 2017 that showed several holes in a Broncos roster that needs an infusion of talent. This is Elway’s chance to inject some real juice into the team with 4 picks in the first three rounds and the opportunity for even more if you believe the rumors coming out of Dove Valley.
I’m not a draftnik by any stretch of the imagination, but over the years writing for MHR and enjoying the draft with some close friends who are big into college football and the draft I’ve grown to really love this time of the off season. I can’t tell you who the can’t miss prospects are, but I can tell you what the team needs and I am a fair hand at reading between the lines so hopefully you can glean some insights on the Broncos front office as I see it.
Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas hopefully rekindle some fire this year, but behind them the Broncos have nothing of serious talent or impact that we’ve seen to date. Even then, I find it somewhat unlikely that both of our starting WRs make it back in 2019. The Broncos need to get a guy that can step up in a big way in 2019.
You can put money on the Broncos drafting another back in this draft. They may even get 2 before the draft is over. Currently the Broncos only have Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson on the roster. With a draft that seems deep at RB, look for one in the 3rd round.
I think the Broncos guy in this year’s draft is Baker Mayfield, but he’s likely gone by 5. If he isn’t there, I’m really curious to see if they take a chance on Rosen. I’m not sure of any guys later in the draft that are going to really bring the quality the Broncos need in the QB room. If they don’t pick a QB at all, it sends a message that they know something about Chad Kelly that we don’t.
The 2nd biggest hole on the roster was at Guard last year with the horrendous play of Max Garcia. Denver must improve their talent level at this position and hopefully the Broncos front office and coaching staff have learned that no amount of hopes and dreams will make Garcia a staring quality NFL Guard.
I actually think the roster is kind of thick with competition at the CB position, but the team needs top-end talent especially with some length. There’s not guarantee that Bradley Roby can handle the #1 duties this year or that the team will be able to keep him if he does have a great year. It would make a great deal of sense to hedge your bets and bring in another guy that can be a big time force on the outside of the secondary.
Part of the team’s needs have been filled with the super signing of Su’a Cravens who has superb ability to play ILB in sub-packages. The team really needs to get a replacement starting Linebacker on the inside though. Todd Davis is only a two down thumper (which is a dying breed in today’s NFL game) and Brandon Marshall is a very expensive player who took a step back in 2017.
At first blush, this unit looks somewhat thick, but unless Shane Ray really turns up his game, he’s likely not to get his 5th year option picked up and may hit free agency. The team could use some fresh pass rushing talent on the outside to help out Shaquil Barrett.
The team has a one year deal with Jared Veldheer who I really like but he’s not a long term answer. If there is a tackle out there that can develop in a year, this would be a great time to pick one up.
I’m a very big believer in Jake Butt, but even if he does morph into a starting player as he rises from the ashes of his knee injury, the team needs more help at this position. Look for the Broncos to get in on one of the athletic stud tight ends coming out in this draft.
Domata Peko is awesome, but it would be smart to find a guy that can take over in 1-2 years give Peko’s age.
What’s Elway doing in the 1st round?
From what I’ve seen so far this offseason, I think Baker Mayfield truly was the dream for the Broncos in this draft. I think everyone else caught on though and he’s not going to make it to 5 for Denver.
I don’t find it very likely that Elway will trade up to get him though I’d love it just as much as many of you might. Elway’s background with his car dealerships and as a GM in the NFL screams that he’s not going to be willing to give up the necessary draft capital to move up.
The smart move is way too obvious and is already being telegraphed from the rumors coming out of Dove Valley: it is very likely the Broncos will be moving back in the draft while getting a haul of picks on their way. The Buffalo Bills seem to be a prime target and would have the kind of draft capital that could make Elway’s eyes twinkle.
Also don’t count out the Arizona Cardinals. If a guy falls they really love, I can see them ransoming next year’s draft along with the top end of this one for a move up to 5 with us.
I think both Miami and New England would be very interested as well in moving up, but don’t think those franchises will be willing to offer up the kind of value Denver would need to make it worth their while.
So if the team does trade back after so much time with visits and time investment in the top QBs, what will they do?
There are guys in Roquan Smith (LB), Vito Vea (NT), and Will Hernandez (G) that I think the Broncos will target later in the 1st round. Without knowing exactly where they land (lots of possible trade partners) it is hard to tell with certainty.
Do keep in mind that the Broncos brought in Vea for a visit. He’s the odd man out when you look at the list of who they visited that were “1st round talents”.
Final thoughts: look for value and multiple moves
The Broncos are in a very advantageous position given their craptastic 2017 NFL season. Elway isn’t afraid of trading up for guys he likes or trading back to gain value. I see both directions as very big possibilities this year.
I truly think this is going to be one of the more memorable drafts in recent Bronco history. We won’t be able to tell for a few years if that is a good or bad thing, but the ride should at least be entertaining.
Hit me up in the comments if you have any thoughts or questions. I’ve got lots of life plans during the next few days, but I’ll try to hop on and drop my thoughts on the draft picks each day as a part of the best Broncos Draft coverage on the Internet. Buckle up, Bronco fans. This is going to be a heck of a ride!