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Future Broncos: An early look at Denver’s 2019 NFL Draft needs

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With football in full swing in college and the pros, it’s now time to revive our Future Broncos series. For our initial post, we will take a look at the franchise’s early needs in the 2019 NFL Draft — and give you some top prospects to look out for at those positions.

2018 NFL Draft Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

It wasn’t too long ago that the Denver Broncos finished selecting their 2018 NFL Draft class — which was met with rave reviews across various outlets.

Through OTA’s, training camp and the preseason, many of the Broncos’ selections have impressed and looked poised to make an impact in their rookie campaigns. Third-round pick Royce Freeman is your starting running back and will be the franchise’s bell-cow in the backfield. Second-round wide receiver Courtland Sutton showed glimpses of greatness during the offseason and will prove to be a significant upgrade for the team’s aerial assault. Last but not least, defensive players Bradley Chubb and Josey Jewell appear to ready to hit the ground running and provide a significant boost for the Broncos’ defense and be long-time, high-caliber starters in the league.

So while we are all eager to see how they perform in 2018, it’s never to early to get the discussion rolling on what’s on the horizon for the Broncos and their potential future needs in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Offensive Tackle

The Broncos are hopeful 2017 first-round selection Garett Bolles takes a major leap forward in his second season and the team acquired long-time veteran Jared Veldheer to upgrade their right tackle spot this year. Unfortunately, Veldheer is getting older in age and in the final year of his contract, so fans shouldn’t expect him to be a long-term solution to the continuous problem the franchise has had at the position. Furthermore, neither Billy Turner or Elijah Wilkinson project as future starters — so the Broncos should be diligent in their scouting of this year’s offensive tackle crop to solidify the position for the future.

Alabama offensive tackle Jonah Williams is the blue-chip prospect at the position this year, but unless the franchise secures a top ten draft selection, they will have no shot at getting him — so it’ll be wise to look elsewhere. A handful of other prospects such as Chris Lindstrom of Boston College, Yodny Cajuste of West Virginia, Dalton Risner of Kansas State and Bobby Evans of Oklahoma will merit early round consideration and would provide the team with a viable solution at the right tackle spot for years to come.

Four other names with Broncos’ connections to keep an eye on are Washington tackles Trey Adams and Kaleb McGary, who were both coached early on in their collegiate careers by current Denver offensive tackle coach Chris Strausser. Additionally, Wisconsin standouts David Edwards and Michael Dieter man are coached by Paul Chryst, the brother of Broncos’ tight end coach Geep Chryst — leaving little doubt that they will be high on the team’s list of players to scout at the position.

Interior Defensive Line

Denver’s defensive line looks to be a significant strength entering their 2018 campaign, but perhaps the biggest question mark for the team is who will man down the nose tackle spot in the future. Long-time veteran Domata Peko Sr. had a tremendous year with the Broncos last season, but is in the final year of a two-year deal. Moreover, the team has virtually no depth or long-term prospects in the wings at the position.

Alabama’s Raekwon Davis and Houston’s Ed Oliver headline an extremely versatile and deep interior defensive line class, but both should be long gone before the Broncos make their first selection. Clemson’s Christian Wilkins would have likely been a first-round pick had he entered this past draft, but opted to return to Clemson to earn his degree and help the Tigers in their pursuit of a championship. His teammate, junior underclassmen Dexter Lawrence is a gigantic presence on the defensive interior at 6’4, 350 pounds and is known for being a great run defender and opening up opportunities for those around him to get after the quarterback. He admitted he was playing injured all of last season, so if he stays healthy and performs well this year, he should easily be a first-round pick.

Demarcus Christmas of Florida State and Ricky Walker of Virginia Tech are two other players to take note of throughout the college football season and are likely Day 2 draft selections, but a sleeper name to keep in mind is Jeffrey Simmons of Mississippi State — who has top-flight skills, but major character concerns that could cause him to slide when April comes around.

Cornerback

With the league continuously evolving in respect to the passing game, finding quality defensive backs who can cover continues to be a premium for teams in the NFL Draft — with large amounts of prospects being taken early and often. Chris Harris Jr. is undoubtedly one of the best corners in the game and the team has big hopes for Bradley Roby, who will replace the jettisoned Aqib Talib this year. However, Roby is a free agent after this season and if the Broncos want to keep him, they will have to bring in the Brinks truck.

The franchise brought in Adam Jones and Tramaine Brock on one-year deals, so it’s safe to say they aren’t long-term options for the team. Furthermore, while I was high on Isaac Yiadom in last year’s draft — he has a ways to go before he is ready to be a starter in this league and it’s doubtful that former third-round pick and practice squad relegate Brendan Langley ever becomes the starting caliber player the Broncos’ hoped they would be when he was selected two years ago.

This year’s corner class is a bit thin compared to the past several drafts, but still has a handful of quality prospects that can be starters in the league. The highlight of the group is Louisiana State phenom Greedy Williams, who had an incredible 2017 campaign with six interceptions. Florida State’s Levonta Taylor is also a first-round caliber player and elite cover man, but is extremely undersized at 5’10 and 180 pounds.

Other names to consider are Clemson underclassmen Trayvon Mullen and Deandre Baker of Georgia, who each registered three interceptions last year and appear to have their best football ahead of them. I’ll give you two more: Damon Arnette of Ohio State and Julian Blackmon out of Utah are two of my favorite underlcassmen prospects who could rise significantly if they perform well this year and most certainly have a chance to be high picks in 2019.

Poll

What position do you believe is the biggest need for the Denver Broncos in the 2019 NFL Draft?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    Offensive Tackle
    (518 votes)
  • 6%
    Defensive Tackle
    (65 votes)
  • 36%
    Cornerback
    (367 votes)
  • 6%
    Other
    (61 votes)
1011 votes total Vote Now