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Broncos Mock: How do things change if Denver makes the playoffs?

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Let’s run down a rabbit hole. How would the 2020 NFL Draft look for the Denver Broncos if they end up making a playoff run?

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos
If the Broncos keep winning the whole equation changes.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Man, I sure could get used to winning weeks. As I’ve done every week this season, I woke up Monday and looked at Football Outsiders’ Playoff Odds Report. It’s a nerdy simulation that runs out the NFL schedule 25,000-30,000 times and reports how the scenarios played out.

It’s a snowball-in-hell’s chance, but hey, after the 0-4 start to the Fangio era, I’ll take it. Things will really get interesting if the Broncos can upset a reeling Kansas City Chiefs team at the end of this short week.

For the heck of it, let’s say they do and make the dance this year. How does that impact the 2020 off-season?

Three big things before I get off and running:

  1. If you didn’t read the preceding paragraph and run to the comments to tell me how crazy this scenario is, stop and go back.
  2. Denver’s needs are all projections, and I went with The Draft Network’s predictive board, so if you want to argue “X will be here,” or “Y is going to breakout,” I’m not going to put up much of a fight. We’ll have a better idea in a couple months. Maybe you’re right.
  3. For this week’s projection, I’m giving the Broncos the 21st pick in the draft. The idea is if they make it, it’ll be close, and I’m not going with a Super Bowl draft just yet. I haven’t had that much Kool-Aid today.

1st Round, Pick 21 - Javon Kinlaw, Defensive Line

While the Broncos’ defensive resurgence has come in no small part because of Mike Purcell and Shelby Harris, both Harris and Derek Wolfe are unrestricted free agents after the season and are not guaranteed to return. Even if one or both do, neither is a spring chicken.

Fangio could use a true game-wrecker to develop on the defensive line. Since Auburn’s Derrick Brown is out of reach this far down the board, I went with the next best thing.

Kinlaw has played both the one and three technique in South Carolina’s defense. He’s a freaky athlete and has the kind of burst and quickness to be a nightmare in Fangio’s 2-4 nickel front.

The 6-foot-6, 300-pound Kinlaw brings the girth and length to effectively man a defensive end spot in the base 3-4 when called upon. He’ll need to improve both his pad level and hands to make the most of his talent at the NFL level, but the tools are there to help him grow into an elite presence.

2nd Round - Jalen Reagor, Receiver

Last Saturday I got into it when I asked if the Broncos truly need a real speed burner in the Scangarello offense. I still wonder if it’s the same priority to Elway as it is to fans, but would love someone like Reagor if the opportunity presents itself.

The Horned Frog is a game-breaking threat with the ball in his hands, and if he can get free releases off the line at the next level, he’ll eat up cushions. Reagor is also dangerous enough with the ball in his hands for Scangarello to use him as a decoy on jet motions and screens, which can help open up space for Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman, and Courtland Sutton.

3A - Hamsah Nasirldeen, Defensive Back

There are two distinct ways to look at hybrid defenders.

The first will get stuck on what position they truly play. What holes present in their game that show up at each position? How will they fit into an NFL scheme?

The second will accept that every single defender in an NFL defense has to be a bit of a jack-of-all trades because opposing coordinators will scheme them into bad situations regardless. This camp understands that the way the NFL has moved to a three receiver league means the old 4-3/3-4 with DBs playing coverage and not tackling is dead.

Which brings us to Nasirldeen. He’s a freak athlete at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds with real range and twitch. He’s comfortable in space and flashes the kind of ball skills that strike like Cupid’s arrow.

3B - Lloyd Cushenberry III - Interior Offensive Lineman

Garett Bolles has done an exceptional job protecting Ronald Leary from criticism this season. The 2017 first-rounder has had his fair share of issues, enough that most in Broncos Country didn’t catch on to Leary’s own as he’s worked his way back from injury. Turn on the tape though, and they’re there.

Which brings us to Cushenberry. He’s been a great center for LSU this year and would give Munchak the ability to solve the interior by either sliding Connor McGovern back out to guard or inserting the rookie alongside him.

The Tiger is good in space where Leary’s been questionable. This would give Scangarello an opportunity to use even more pulling guards, which should only help the backs get into the third level and make the running game more difficult to defend.

4th Round- Hakeem Adenji, Offensive Tackle

I have a thing for offensive linemen who play a lot. At the end of the day, there’s no substitute for experience at the position. Adenji has been a mainstay on the Jayhawks’ line since 2016. He has the athleticism and length to give the Broncos’ coaching staff a post-Bolles plan if his improvement stalls or contract negotiations reach an impasse.

5th Round- Patrick Queen, Linebacker

Alexander Johnson along with Todd Davis makes the Broncos’ linebacker situation less concerning right now. If the Broncos are to make the playoffs, that’d obviously have to continue.

Even still, the long-term depth could use an infusion of talent, and Queen offers exciting range and athleticism. I like that he’s worked for a coordinator like Aranda, so jumping into Fangio’s system won’t be quite as daunting. Queen is also a plus coverage player, which is only going to get more important to NFL teams.

6th Round- Thomas Graham Jr., Cornerback

The biggest hole in my mock to this point is cornerback, which could be the biggest 2020 need. I’d like to believe if Denver makes a serious run in 2019, they can figure things out with Chris Harris Jr. and maybe Bryce Callahan returns.

Both of those things would push the questions down a little ways. Still, it wouldn’t completely eliminate them. Harris and Kareem Jackson are both on the wrong side of 30, and Callahan’s durability is a huge question mark.

Enter Graham, who may have been born to play corner for in a Fangio system. He’s a physical player who wants to tackle and anticipates opponents in coverage. He’ll need to refine his footwork and transitions to see the field on defense at the next level.

7th Round- Levonta Taylor, Cornerback

The concerns at corner are still big enough for me to double dip, especially with Taylor falling to the 7th round. He’s the kind of gamble on talent you take this deep in the draft. A 5 -star recruit coming out of high school and one of the very best cornerback prospects in the entire nation,

Taylor has a preternatural feel in coverage. The big questions surrounding him are durability and size, as he seems smaller than his listed 5-foot-10. If he can shake those, his technique and mental processing are good enough that he could make an NFL GM look very smart. If he can’t, it was a 7th round gamble that didn’t pay off.

Poll

What grade would you give this draft?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    A - SUPER BOWL BOUND!
    (37 votes)
  • 36%
    B - I like it!
    (169 votes)
  • 40%
    C - I’ve seen worse.
    (191 votes)
  • 11%
    D - Not good.
    (54 votes)
  • 3%
    F - I can do better. (Comment)
    (16 votes)
467 votes total Vote Now

Your Broncos’ Links

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The Big Takeaway: Denver Broncos defense turns a corner vs Titans - Mile High Report

It took four weeks, but the last two have shown that the Broncos’ defense is figuring things out.

Defense’s big shutout is huge confidence boost before facing Chiefs - Mile High Report

As Shelby Harris noted, “everyone is over here killing it.”

Alexander Johnson may be the Denver Broncos answer at inside linebacker - Mile High Report

The man nicknamed the “Dino” has taken advantage of his opportunity but also remains hungry to get even better.

Broncos 16, Titans 0: Lots of game balls to go around after shutout win - Mile High Report

The Denver Broncos completely blanked the Tennessee Titans for their second consecutive win. Here are your game balls for this impressive victory.

NFL Draft

Week 7: 2020 NFL Draft Prospect Stock Up | The Draft Network

What a weekend of college football.

Joe Burrow is Officially a Legit QB Prospect | The Draft Network

Where He Must Improve (-)

The LSU signal-caller demonstrates high levels of core strength and violence of torque with his waist, which is why many of his throws get to spots, but he’s often bailed out by rangy wideouts. He fails to step into his throws frequently because of using his midsection as a crutch in order to put force behind the ball. Falling away from throws isn’t a large problem, but a habit that will need to be corrected to further improve his ball placement into adequate strike zones. Burrow has a tendency to get a bit relaxed with his footwork and it can result in him being late with getting into his drops. This fault has also disrupted route timing and with how quickly he’s able to release the ball. Passing windows can close on him in a hurry and Burrow’s left with trying to fit the ball in minute areas.

Sooner Elite: Oklahoma LB Kenneth Murray has star potential at next level | The Draft Network

Throughout his career, Murray has shown the flashes of his freakish explosiveness and sideline to sideline range. But this year has been different. Instead of flash plays here and there every other week with multiple mental miscues, he’s starting to play smarter and more consistent, while also maintaining his explosive style as a linebacker.

NFL Links

Russell Wilson Is the Story of This NFL Season—and the MVP Favorite - The Ringer

Throughout Wilson’s career, Seattle has been defined by the Legion of Boom, a dominant running game, and otherwise uninspiring offensive systems. But this year the Seahawks bet big on their QB, and he’s proving them right.

Jason Garrett just “focused on doing my job as well as I can do it” – ProFootballTalk

Jason Garrett doesn’t use words like “concern” or “worry.” The Cowboys coach sees them as negative and a waste of energy. Needless to say, he’s not concerned or worried about his future despite the Cowboys’ three-game losing streak and 3-3 record.

Rams CB Aqib Talib headed to IR with rib injury - NFL.com

Los Angeles Rams cornerback Aqib Talib is headed to IR with a rib injury, NFL Network’s James Palmer confirmed Monday, via an informed source.

Mitchell Trubisky throws at Monday’s practice – ProFootballTalk

The Bears had hoped their starting quarterback would return this week after their off week. Mitchell Trubisky returned to practice Monday. It remains to be seen whether he will return to game action Sunday against the Saints.

Patriots working to re-sign TE Benjamin Watson - NFL.com

The New England Patriots are working to re-sign veteran tight end Benjamin Watson, Mike Giardi reported. Both sides are working toward a signing.

Freddie Kitchens doesn’t think Baker Mayfield will miss practice time with hip injury – ProFootballTalk

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield injured his hip on Sunday. For now, it doesn’t seem that the injury will keep him from practicing during the next 13 days before the team’s next game, at New England. “He is fine,” coach Freddie Kitchens told reporters on Monday regarding Mayfield.

The Starting 11: Who Really Wants to Win the NFC East? - The Ringer

With the Cowboys and Eagles both stumbling this week and their respective issues seeming far from resolved, what once looked like a juggernaut division is now wide open. Plus: The Niners are serious title contenders, and Sam Darnold (and his spleen) look just fine.

Eagles release veteran linebacker Zach Brown - NFL.com

One day after Kirk Cousins and the Vikings made Zach Brown eat his words, the Philadelphia Eagles released the eighth-year linebacker.

Sam Darnold and His Spleen Are the Hope the Jets Need - The Ringer

After a month of awful play by the men replacing New York’s starter, the Jets scored their first victory of the year in his return

Steelers lose Stephon Tuitt for season – ProFootballTalk

A Steelers season rife with injuries has had another. Steelers defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt tore his pectoral and will miss the rest of the season, Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports. The 6-foot-6, 303-pound Tuitt has started all six games this season and has 3.5 sacks.

The Dolphins Won the Tank Bowl by Losing - The Ringer

A dropped pass on a bizarre, late two-point conversion attempt allowed Miami to keep its winless record intact against Washington, and continue to confuse the football-watching public

Bucs not considering a QB change – ProFootballTalk

The No. 2 pick of the 2015 NFL Draft was benched on Sunday and no one would have been too surprised if the No. 1 pick of that draft had found himself in the same situation as Marcus Mariota.

The Winners and Losers of NFL Week 6 - The Ringer

I remember getting into battles ahead of the 2015 draft about who the best quarterback prospect was. I firmly believed that Marcus Mariota was better than Jameis Winston. He was a better thrower, a quality runner, and, most importantly, made smarter decisions than the pick-prone Winston. I was so damn sure of it, and I thought people who believed Winston was better were fools and needed to be yelled at online.