If you missed my recent first-round alternating mock draft with J.T. Olson, I humbly recommend you check it out here. One thing that came up while we worked back and forth down the board is how I view all the different prospects at this point in the process. That got me thinking about how it’s probably a halfway decent time to get a watch list together for the Bowl and holiday season.
A couple of quick disclaimers that you probably won’t read:
1. This is based on the Broncos’ scheme as I see it. It’s also following how I view the needs and positional value. It’s also how I’d rate the talent. For example, I think 1 will be a better player than 2, and so on.
You may love ____ and wonder why he isn’t here when he’s clearly going in the top ___. Reread that previous paragraph before you ask because that’s probably a big part of it.
2. I haven’t had the time to study guy’s tape. With class, Broncos stuff, and a side gig it’s just the reality of life right now. This list is based entirely off the combination of what I’ve seen on Saturdays and have found as I pored over other reports. This may lead a few guys to miss the list because I have doubts about their fit, but I’d rather add the guys I feel confident in over ____ because you like him. This will also mean this list could look really funny in three months. Nature of the beast.
3. At least ‘til we see Drew Lock in real NFL action I’m holding off on quarterbacks.
Without further adieu:
Tier 1: Crème de la Crème.
1. Andrew Thomas, Left Tackle, Georgia
Athletic, experienced, and battle tested against pro talent on a weekly basis? Yes, please.
2. Jerry Jeudy, Receiver, Alabama
I’ve talked a lot about Courtland Sutton and LeBron lately. Jeudy’s got Michael potential.
3. Jeffrey Okudah, Cornerback, Ohio State
Has all the tools you look for. All of them.
4. Chase Young, Edge, Ohio State
Positional value is the only reason he’s not sitting at No. 1. Best pure prospect in this class.
5. Henry Ruggs III, Receiver, Alabama
If he beats you off the line, it could be six. He changes the coverage equation.
6. CeeDee Lamb, Receiver, Oklahoma
May still need a pure burner with him, and Sutton and I wouldn’t even care. He’s special.
I swear @jerryjeudy can make someone miss in a bathroom stall #Sauce pic.twitter.com/TumtcBQXXR— Will Blackmon (@WillBlackmon) November 9, 2019
Tier 2: Tantalizing Upside.
7. Derrick Brown, Defensive Lineman, Auburn
A war daddy I woke to late because of Brandon Thorn. At the moment, I love the idea of him enough to have him as high as four in the first draft of this post. Then I remembered one of my big rules with interior linemen is to slow down and watch how they win.
8. Tristian Wirfs, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
Garett Bolles will push him up most boards, I get it. He’s more projection than guys above. I’ve heard about why he plays right instead of left. I’ve read about how freaky he is. Until I pore over the tape, this is as high as I can push him. Need to see more.
9. Trevon Diggs, Cornerback, Alabama
It’s interesting to me how Elway hasn’t tapped into Nick Saban’s pipeline until now. I suspect that changes with Fangio on board, as there’s definitely some scheme overlap worth taking advantage of. Diggs could step into a starting role immediately. Also has the size and athleticism to disrupt at the line of scrimmage and stick on an assignment downfield to contest at the catch point. He’d be special with Fangio coaching him up.
10. Javon Kinlaw, Defensive Line/Edge, South Carolina
Offers inside/outside versatility and an enticing burst off the snap. If you watched Georgia get upset by South Carolina, you know full well what he can do to the interior. With a potential defensive line exodus in 2020 and a big need for more beef up front, this Gamecock deserves a long look.
11. A.J. Epenesa, Defensive Line/Edge, Iowa
In the Broncos defense, he’d be a Derek Wolfe type and play the end on base downs before sliding inside for the nickel. Coming into the 2019 season, some argued he’d wind up ED1. Does a lot of the “boring” things that make a lineman stand out, but may never catch love from the Broncos’ box score scouts.
Future first round pick Javon Kinlaw https://t.co/G7AwjgzBsK— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) October 19, 2019
Tier 3: Yeah, but...
12. Isaiah Simmons, Hybrid, Clemson
Can he get off blocks well enough for the Fangio defense? I like his game and love the potential, but that concern is probably a big reason Devin Bush got passed up at 10 in the 2019 draft. It’s something I plan to focus on when I get to his tape.
13. Alex Leatherwood, Offensive Line, Alabama
I noticed him far too much last weekend. Combine that with the fact that he’s moved outside from guard in 2018? I want to look back at his match-ups against the other top edge talent he’s played after this year.
14. Grant Delpit, Safety, LSU
Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons at safety plus Delpit’s own tackling makes him a weird fit. I don’t know if he does enough to warrant moving Jackson out of the position that’s helped to transform Fangio’s D into one of the best in the league.
15. Kristian Fulton, Cornerback, LSU
Another Tiger with tackling questions. He also gets handsy a bit too much for my liking. The Texas game in particular jumps out as I type this.
16. Laviska Shenault, Receiver, Colorado
The biggest issue I have with the Buffalo is how his game overlaps with the Broncos’ current X-receiver. Still, he’s a better burner than he’s been given credit for and would give Rich Scangarello a young Dwyane Wade to pair with his LeBron James.
17. Jalen Reagor, Receiver, TCU
After I drafted Ruggs at nine in the alternating Mock, I expected to get a lot of heat because tackle is such a big need for the Broncos. One thing I should have done a better job of explaining is how he fits. Against the Browns, Scangarello used Diontae Spencer on a motion and as a vertical threat multiple times. It was just one game, but does suggest this could become a big part of the offense going forward.
This adds value to Ruggs and Reagor because of what they offer as both vertical threats and weapons on schemed touches. Because of their explosiveness, they demand attention from opponents even if the ball doesn’t go their way.
18. Xavier McKinney, Hybrid, Alabama
Right now I see him as the poor man’s Minkah Fitzpatrick. Calling him a safety doesn’t do justice to what he could offer the Broncos’ defense: he can blitz off the edge, crash the run, and cover from the slot. Don’t be shocked if he winds up higher as the next time I make one of these lists. I love him. He does a little bit of everything, but does look like a sum-is-greater-than-the-parts type, which gives me pause with projecting.
Xavier McKinney has looked so much better than Grant Delpit today. Not close.— Jonah Tuls (@JonahTulsNFL) November 9, 2019
Tier 4: Questions, Wants, and Warts.
19. Dylan Moses, Linebacker, Alabama
I’ve read enough about his game and the hype that I’m certainly intrigued. His injury not only casts some doubt on his durability, but also means I only remember him from when I was studying other guys during the 2019 lead up. Not his fault, but until I go back and watch him, he can’t move from here.
20. Prince Tega Wanogho, LT, Auburn
The easiest way to describe PTG at this point is as a very talented lump of clay. It’s really fun to think about what an offensive line coach like Mike Munchak could do with him. With a lot of polish, it’s easy to imagine him as an elite NFL tackle, but he’s sort of like Drew Lock in that he needs an overhaul of his technique to maximize his immense size and dancing bear athleticism.
21. K’Lavon Chaisson, ED, LSU
I’ve haven’t paid the closest attention to this edge class because I don’t consider it a pressing need. This Tiger caught my attention after his dominant game on a huge stage last weekend. He missed 2018 with an ACL injury and would need seasoning, but offers freaky upside.
22. Kenneth Murray, Linebacker, Oklahoma
I like what this Sooner could offer if the Broncos are looking to add a true three down backer to take over for Todd Davis in 2020. It’s easy to downplay questions about how he faces off against blocks when he’s so dang fast sideline to sideline in the Big 12, but it’s one of the biggest questions I have trying to project his fit to Denver. Fangio has demanded his stack backers leverage their gaps against the run so far and I’m not sure Murray’s up to that.
23. Curtis Weaver, ED, Boise State
He has the same issues Young and Chaisson do: Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. I just can’t see the Broncos chasing either while both are on the roster. One thing that does make Weaver intriguing is the possibility that he somehow gets overlooked and slips through the cracks. There’s a big difference between dominating the Mountain West and competing against professionals, so he’s one I’m reserving a little judgement on.
24. Marvin Wilson, Defensive Lineman, Florida State
His highlight reel will make you fall in love, but he’s out for the year after a hand injury, and he started this season out as a Day 3 guy because he hasn’t played up to his talent ‘til 2019. I want to go back over the tape and see what’s up, but his upside is a Mike Purcell-type who can generate pressure and the length to alter passing lanes.
K'Lavon Chaisson is second in the SEC with 1.14 tackles for loss per game.— Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) November 11, 2019
In case you needed stats see tell you how good he is. pic.twitter.com/3T1z8I8q6Z
Tier 5: They’ve caught my eye.
The ranking gets a good bit more loose at this point, as these are guys I’ve noticed without looking out for them. Consider this more of a short list to check back as time allows us to start studying.
25. Bryce Hall, Cornerback, Virginia
26. Austin Jackson, Tackle, USC
27. Monty Rice, Linebacker, Georgia
28. Neville Gallimore, Defensive Lineman, Oklahoma
29. Donovan Peoples-Jones, Receiver, Michigan
30. Ashtyn Davis, Safety, Cal
31. Devonta Smith, Receiver, Alabama
32. K.J. Hamler, Receiver, Penn State
KJ Hamler (@Kj_hamler) can do it all. The quick slant route is nearly unguardable with his quick twitch motions. And need a tough catch? Hamler can do that too.#WNSFIlm pic.twitter.com/7Xqn9VXtxc— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) November 11, 2019
Tier 6: Square pegs for square holes
These guys haven’t gotten much, if any first round love, but they do look like fits for what the Broncos want at their respective positions.
- Netane Muti, Fresno State
- Lloyd Cushenberry III, LSU
- Jake Hanson, Oregon
- Shane Lemieux, Oregon
- Ben Bredeson, Michigan
- Hakeem Adeniji, Kansas
- Samuel Cosmi, Texas
- Jon Runyan, Michigan
- Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State
- Denzel Mims, Baylor
- Aaron Fuller, Washington
- Devin Duvernay, Texas
- Charleston Rambo, Oklahoma
- Rashard Lawrence, LSU
- Nick Coe, Auburn
- Jordan Scott, Oregon
- Shaun Wade, Ohio State
- Darnay Holmes, UCLA
- Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi State
- Trajan Bandy, Miami
- Jeff Gladney, TCU
- Shyheim Carter, Alabama
- Hamsah Nasirldeen, Florida State