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Who will the Denver Broncos draft?

There’s evidence to suggest one or more of the following players will become a Bronco in April.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Southern California
There’s a decent chance Elway will draft one of these two.
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

What if I told you I could reliably predict a player or two (or more) that the Denver Broncos will draft?

Would you be interested?

NCAA Football: Oklahoma Pro Day
I’m not even talking about the quarterbacks
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

It all started when I began researching for my most recent post, the April 1 “What if the Broncos signed Colin Kaepernick?” Believe it or not, I wanted it to be feasible and so I thought it would make sense that the Broncos would still draft players they had previously shown interest in. That’s how Dak became a Bronco in Bizzaro April Fools world, as well as Sterling Shepard and Ryan Ramczyk, but along the way I found myself constantly asking a question.

How reliably does John Elway draft players the world knows he’s interested in?

I started to dig through the numbers dating back to 2012 and found that every single draft has at the very least one player picked that the Broncos also brought in for a private workout.

This makes sense, but what I found interesting is that it doesn’t necessarily mean the first rounder. More likely it will be one of the less celebrated picks that Elway showed interest in all along. Since 2012, the Broncos have drafted a total of nine players they have brought in for private workouts and picked a slew of other undrafted players they had in for private workouts.

Here are the players that Elway and the Broncos have brought in or have scheduled a private workout leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft.

Linebackers

NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Ohio State vs Wisconsin
Many have said this years LB crop is among the better ones in recent seasons.
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

State of the Stable

At least on the surface, the Broncos look locked in to Todd Davis & Brandon Marshall going forward.

That could be the case, but 2019 offers Elway a potential out of the Marshall contract with only a $4 million ding and Davis’ could be gone after 2020. There aren’t any names behind them that scream potential replacement. But remember Marshall was a former fifth rounder who came to Denver after being cut by Jacksonville, while Davis was an undrafted free agent.

Jerome Baker (Day 2-3)

The Buckeye is a player who is a bit undersized but would add athleticism to the Broncos sub packages. He may need to get stronger but could really help against tight ends and backs in the passing game.

Keishawn Bierria (Day 3-UDFA)

A smart, focused prospect who simply lacks the top tier athletic traits that separate the highly sought after from the rest. His instincts are good, but he’s likely to be a backup and special teamer-type unless his recognition skills just begin to scream off the tape.

Josey Jewell (Day 2-3)

The Iowa Hawkeye is the kind of prospect who could develop into an every down player for the Broncos. He would add a tackling machine to the middle of the field.

Fred Warner (Day 2-3)

The 6-foot-3 236-pound Warner could be an intriguing addition as a type of new age hybrid backer who’s able to combat the way offenses now aim to make a D defend every blade of grass.

Dorance Armstrong (Day 2-3)

Armstrong was an edge player who projects best to outside backer in the pros. He’s a fluid athlete with a little experience playing with his hand out of the dirt but would likely need some time to develop.

Offensive Linemen

NFL: Denver Broncos at Philadelphia Eagles
The centerpiece of the Broncos offensive line
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

State of the Stable

One would think that four of the five positions are completely locked in for 2018, barring health. Garett Bolles was a first round pick a year ago; Matt Paradis and Ron Leary are stalwarts, and former Cardinal Jared Veldheer has some solid seasons on his resume. Beyond them, this group gets dicey quick.

Max Garcia has been a disappointment (and could be cut to save almost $2 million at any point). McGovern is a try-hard and Elway has foolishly used $9 million of cap space on Billy Turner & Menelik Watson. Another guard and a potential long-term solution at right tackle is badly needed.

James Daniels (Day 1-2)

It would appear the Broncos do not have an immediate need for Daniels unless he moves to guard or Paradis is let go in 2019, but he could step in as an immediate starter at the pivot.

Brett Toth (Day 3)

Has extensive experience at Right Tackle. He doesn’t have much experience in Pass Pro because Army uses a very run-heavy option offense, but an NFC team area scout told Daniel Jeremiah. “I love this potential. Coaches see guys like this as moldable clay who they can build from the ground up because he’s disciplined, coachable and athletic. He’s the type of player that (Bill) Belichick goes after.”

Austin Corbett (Day 2-3)

Started at left tackle the majority of his time at Nevada but will likely become a guard or center. He’s a decent and heady athlete who will likely need to bulk up as he makes his adjustment to the pros. He’s a guy that brings a mean mentality to the position, but just needs to get stronger.

Colby Gossett (Day 3-UDFA)

He’s played guard and tackle in his career. He has the kind of frame scouts drool over at 6’5 311 with 33 7/8 “ arms.

Defensive Line

NFL: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
Elway has a history of finding value at the position
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

State of the Stable

One of the strongest positions on the team, but far stronger against the run than pass. Even before rookies are considered this group looks like it may have some of the toughest cuts come camp time. Peko, Kerr, McDonald, Wolfe, Gotsis, Walker and Harris would presumably be locks, right?

Vita Vea (Day 1-2)

The massive Husky has been compared to Haloti Ngata.

Duke Ejiofor (Day 2)

Duke finished his time at Wake Forest with 42 career games under his belt and recorded 133 tackles, 43 tackles for a loss, 19.5 sacks, with 16 QB pressures and 4 forced fumbles. He’s capable of playing both the 3 and 5 technique and could bring a valuable pass rusher to the Broncos stable. He has a very developed pass rush repertoire and a decent motor, so he may well be a player that contributes early on in his career as a sub package interior rusher (a la Shelby Harris).

Cornerbacks

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings
I for one think the Broncos need to add another player here...
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

State of the Stable

Harris could one day become the third Super Bowl 50 winner to wind up enshrined in Canton, while Roby is looking to seize the starting opportunity in front of him in the post-Talib era. Behind them it’s anyone’s guess how the Broncos will stop tertiary receivers. Joseph seems to assume Tramaine Brock will get the job done, but after the 29 year old had a very down 2017, depth is a still a concern. Langley is a toolsy 2nd year player who hasn’t done anything to justify the draft status yet, while Hunter and Rios are complete unknowns.

Donte Jackson (Day 1-2)

He ran lead off for the LSU 4X100 relay team and would immediately step in as one of the faster defensive backs in the NFL.

Isaiah Oliver (Day 1-2)

Oliver is the kind of player who could be a true steal if he falls to the Broncos 2nd round selection. He has all the tools you’d hope to find in a pro corner but may need some additional time to season and develop the techniques and knowledge to use them most effectively. He hasn’t played a ton after backing up Ahkello Witherspoon and getting hurt last season, but still received All-Pac-12 honors.

Running backs

NFL: New York Jets at Denver Broncos
Have we seen the last of C.J. in orange and blue?
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

State of the Stable

At this point C.J. Anderson’s precarious position on the Broncos cap ledger is well known. If the Broncos decide to move on from the veteran’s $4.5 M cap number at any point moving forward they owe him nothing. Behind him on the depth chart are Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson. Both are cut from a similar cloth, so this position group is an intriguing one going forward.

Ronald Jones (Day 1-2)

Jones has some Clinton Portis in his game.

Rashaad Penny (Day 2-3)

If Elway moves on from Anderson, Penny is a back who could step into the void.

NFL: Combine
Who do you think the Broncos should draft?
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