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Broncos should pass on a first-round QB in 2019

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The cupboard is bare if you’re looking for true blue chip talent.

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NFL Combine - Day 3
Drew Lock will break your heart John.
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Drew Lock remains the safe bet for Elway at 10 as rumors persist that the Denver Broncos GM has been stumping for the Missouri Tiger since right around the time he decided to fire Vance Joseph.

There have been a myriad of arguments for Lock: that the Broncos are unlikely to lose enough to grab a QB in 2020. Rich Scangarello was hired to groom a quarterback. Proper coaching will fix all that ails the rocket armed passer.

As I’ve mentioned a few times this offseason, more than any other prospect in this class, Drew Lock is the beneficiary of the QB market. He’s the guy that owes his first round hype to the perception that this class is weak. That doesn’t mean he lacks talent, his deep ball, play action game, and performance in a clean pocket are really exciting. But how often is an NFL quarterback passing from a clean pocket? When things start to break down, Lock’s a guy who’s footwork, accuracy, an decision making all turn to mush. Maybe that improves with coaching, but people much smarter than me have suggested that’s unlikely.

That leads me back to a discussion I had last week about my quarterback tiers. To be perfectly honest, I never realized I had a tier system, even as I’ve subconsciously used it as I watched the NFL draft every year since 2003.

S Tier

These are the John Elway’s of the world. Andrew Luck fit this kind of prospect. Barring some sort of crazy injury, they’re going to be successful. High floor, higher ceiling.

A Tier

These are the guys you feel good about. Played a lot in college, accurate and have the minimal tools. There may be some concerns, but nothing painfully glaring. “Safe.”

This is where I had Baker Mayfield last year.

B Tier

These guys are the ones that start to require a lot of projection. Big questions come up, very scheme dependent, even if they have exciting tape. These are the guys you take and pray you don’t get fired over.

This is where I’d put Drew Haskins, Kyler Murray, and Drew Lock in this year’s class.

C Tier

These guys look the part, but probably have something wrong about their game that will probably mean they’re a backup, at best. A lot of times these are the guys a coaching staff will talk themselves into because of potential, even if there’s no floor before the basement. You take this guy and don’t sleep at night.

I’d put Daniel Jones here. Elway will wind up getting walking papers if he takes him at 10.

D Tier

Backup types. Unless something big goes on, there’s something missing that will get exposed at the next level if they’re starting for long stretches on an average team. You can win with them, but they desperately need and scheme help to prop up their game.

Case Keenum is the first name that comes to mind here. Nick Foles is the 2019 version.

F Tier

Ain’t it.

So while I’m lower on Lock than most of those who are infatuated with him, it’s not that I hate him. Working through a second film study this week for GIF Horse and can definitely see the upside. My first impression has just been that he’s scary enough that the Broncos are better off grabbing the supporting cast this year and putting themselves in position to grab an A or S tier prospect in 2020, or 2021.

My Monday Mock

1. Quinnen Williams, DL - I would run to the podium.

2. Noah Fant, TE - Both Iowa guys were available? Fant looks like a generational athlete.

3. Trayvon Mullen, CB- Profiles as the Prince Amukmara type for Fangio’s defense.

4. Stanley Morgan, WR -Projects as an eventual Z replacement for Emmanuel Sanders.

5a. Gary Johnson, LB - Undersized but has intriguing athletic tools.

5b. Isaiah Prince, OT - Potential developmental right tackle.

6. Jamel Dean, CB - Allowed less than 40 percent completion rate in 2018.

7. Jarret Stidham, QB - Late flier, with hope that he can figure it out in time.

*All Picks from The Draft Network’s Mock Machine

Waking up to these guys

Lastly, these are some prospects I’m looking into the next couple weeks. Some of them are guys we know talked with the Broncos at the Combine. Others are guys that tested really well and seem to fit the new offense or defense. Wanted to share my first thoughts.

Brett Rypien - Quarterback

Not the best arm, but does a lot of the mental stuff you need a quarterback to do at the pro level. There are throws you won’t want him making at the professional level, but could step in as a backup. Lance Zierlein has Nick Mullens as his comp. In case you forgot, Mullens stepped into the breach and played significant snaps for Shanahan and Scangarello last year.

Jarrett Stidham - Quarterback

Everyone says the 2018 tape isn’t fair to him, and I noticed that. Everyone said the 2017 Alabama game he looked awesome, and maybe I need to re-watch it. Definitely has a better arm than Rypien but he crumbles against pressure. 3 games in, but I’m nowhere near sold on him.

Will Grier - Quarterback

The Broncos have shown interest and it makes some sense. Grier has had a ton of questions crop up since his collegiate career ended, but he was a mad bomber the last two years at West Virginia.

Josh Oliver - Tight End

He’s met with the Broncos and is a comparable prospect to Vance McDonald. It sounds like he’ll need work as a run blocker but could be a valuable receiver early. Additionally, he posted the kind of athletic numbers you drool over at tight end.

Andy Isabella - Wide Receiver

Really really productive small school guy who had a pretty good Combine. He caught 102 passes for 1698 yards and 13 touchdowns last year that included a 15-219-2 day against the Georgia Bulldogs. After working with Randy Moss prior to Indianapolis the UMass product posted a 4.31 40-yard dash time.

If the Broncos want a burner for the Scangarello system, they could do a whole lot worse.

Miles Boykin - Wide Receiver

Everyone’s talking about D.K. Metcalf, but check out the Golden Domers Combine numbers.

6’4 220 lbs

33 1/2 arms

9 7/8 hands

4.42 40-yard dash

43.5 inch vertical jump

140 inch broad jump

6.77 3 cone drill

4.07 20 yard shuttle

That kind of production leaves you wondering why he only caught 77 passes for 1206 yards and 11 touchdowns during his time in South Bend. I hope to find out.

Trey Pipkins - Offensive Line

Small school project but showed up at the East-West Shrine game. Has the tools that Mike Munchak could really mold into a strong player.

Renell Wren - Defensive Line

Zach Allen - Defensive Line

Met with the Broncos and said he’s studied a lot of Derek Wolfe. Was a very productive pass rusher at Boston College and got some serious love from Pro Football Focus.

Daylon Mack - Defensive Line

Former five star recruit who underwhelmed most of his collegiate career. Light came on under Herm Edwards. The Broncos need a nose for their heavier fronts under Fangio and Mack could be just what the doctor ordered. He’s a good athlete for a 340 lb man.

Amani Oruwariye - Cornerback

He met with the Broncos Sunday and looked pretty good for a bigger corner doing positional drills yesterday. Ran a 4.47 at 6’2 205 lbs. Reading a scouting report from Lance Zierlein these three things stood out to me:

  • Good recognition and reaction in zone coverage
  • Outstanding on-ball production over last two seasons including seven interceptions
  • Willing to get into the mix and handle duties as run supporter

That sounds like a Fangio corner.

Sutton Smith - Front 7 / Special Teams

Put up some good athletic numbers in Indianapolis and looked very fluid moving around in the position drills. Also put up 30 sacks, 58.5 tackles for a loss and 7 forced fumbles at Northern Illinois. In for a big jump to the NFL level.

Blake Cashman - Linebacker

Let me know anyone else that I should devote some time to.

Your Broncos and Draft Links

GIF Horse - Devin White - Mile High Report

The LSU Tiger could become the next Fangio star linebacker

What player would you like to see the Denver Broncos trade for? - Mile High Report

If the Denver Broncos could make a trade for one big-named player this offseason, who would you like to see them go after?

Denver Broncos salary cap space is healthy heading into free agency - Mile High Report

The Denver Broncos will have nearly $20 million in cap space after accounting for Joe Flacco’s contract. Not a bad start.

2019 NFL Mock Draft: Kyler Murray goes No. 1, Bills land D.K. Metcalf, Raiders get two top pass rushers - CBSSports.com

10 BRONCOS Drew Lock, QB, Missouri John Elway has reportedly been smitten with Lock since the fall. After back-to-back losing seasons, Elway hopes he’s finally found his long-term franchise quarterback.

Crabbs’ 2019 NFL Mock Draft 6.0 | The Draft Network

Broncos Drew Lock QB, Missouri Don’t let Denver trading for Joe Flacco fool you, people. Flacco isn’t a long term answer and the Broncos will benefit from tabbing Lock as the heir with Joe in place. With Flacco in place to work behind as a rookie, the Broncos can wean Lock into a starting role. Lock is pretty rough around the edges but he checks all the boxes John Elway likes in a quarterback.

Broncos

Lonnie Johnson Jr CB, Kentucky

FMIA: Kyler Murray, No. 1 Story at the Combine, And No. 1 Pick in the Draft? – ProFootballTalk

“It’s a very average group. Kyler Murray’s probably the pick of the litter, though he’s very polarizing among teams. There’s a lot to like about Dwayne Haskins, who has a good arm and played very well last year at Ohio State. But to me, I don’t believe either one is as good as Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold from last year. “After Murray and Haskins, every guy in this group has limitations. So when I look at this crop, I see maybe two starters in the NFL. Not to say other guys can’t develop into starters, but Murray and Haskins are the ones I like, and I wouldn’t bank on any of the others to become reliable starters in the league.

The NFL Is Drafting Quarterbacks All Wrong | FiveThirtyEight

Other surprises from the consensus top-four prospects are the rankings of Duke’s Daniel Jones and Missouri’s Drew Lock — both of whom completed fewer passes than we would expect, and both of whom were assigned a low probability of NFL success.

Denver Broncos holding NFL Combine meetings with quarterback prospects - Mile High Report

That plan likely includes both Missouri quarterback Drew Lock and Daniel Jones out of Duke.

Winners And Losers Among Quarterbacks From The 2019 Combine | The Draft Network

WINNER: DANIEL JONES, DUKE Jones was billed as a big, athletic pocket passer who can make you pay with his athletic ability if he’s flushed from the pocket. Jones didn’t show anything to suggest otherwise during the course of his week here in Indianapolis. Along with his David Cutcliffe pedigree, Jones (like Jackson) offers the right kind of goods to demand attention throughout the pre-draft process. I don’t think Jones is especially promising as a quarterback, but my conversations with those in attendance reference that Jones is really good when he’s identified his proper read at the line of scrimmage and can operate on cruise control after that. It’s an accurate assessment of Jones’ current confidence as a passer and I wouldn’t be surprised for teams to try to bet high on those variables and target Jones earlier than they probably should.

“Country boy” Ed Oliver is used working against larger animals – ProFootballTalk

“[That’s] why I’m able to go up [against] 6-5 and 300-pound guys,” Oliver said. “It’s a walk in the park. You fight with a 1,000-pound animal, I ain’t worrying about no 300 pounds.”

2019 NFL Scouting Combine winners/losers: Montez Sweat soars - NFL.com

Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama: The former Alabama star remains one of the draft’s biggest enigmas. Wilson is dealing with a sore hamstring and didn’t fully participate in athletic testing or positional drills. Although a number of prospects decline to work out on the big stage, Wilson’s partial participation coincides with some buzz about shaky interviews with teams that’s led to concerns about his potential and value.

Freed from an old-school Iowa offense, Noah Fant could be the NFL’s next great tight end | Touchdown Wire

In the 2019 draft class, there are two Iowa tight ends that could go in the first round—T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant. While Hockenson is the more well-rounded player, especially as an inline blocker, it’s Fant who could better reap the benefits of the NFL’s modern tight end paradigm.

Impolite Process: Combine Both A Tryout And An Interview | The Draft Network

Combine week is long. It’s long for us media members, as many of us arrive early in the week for coach and GM interviews and stay until the last day...

The Artistry Of Pass Rushing | The Draft Network

I’ve often said that pass-rushing is an art. The expression of the painter’s goal, to create, reveals itself in a variety of ways with some techniques more successful and colorful than others. One rusher’s favorite combination may not even be in the repertoire of another, yet the goal and often the result is the same: get the quarterback on the ground.

Are D.K. Metcalf’s Agility Times A Concern? | The Draft Network

Bill Belichick has noted that Randy Moss was the smartest route runner he’s ever coached, and that’s not because he could rip off double moves and whip routes. Moss understood that defenses would cover him differently than any other wide receiver, and he adjusted. His natural feel for coverages dictated his route running, and Metcalf shows similar traits in that regard.

Crabbs: Brian Burns Is EDGE1 | The Draft Network

This isn’t meant to detract anything away from Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, who is still an elite prospect and scored incredibly well, both on film and in today’s NFL Combine testing. Bosa is undoubtedly a more effective run defender at this juncture, his stout anchor and usage in the B-gap at Ohio State really amplify his strength as a player and his ability to stack up the point of attack. Bosa and Burns were two of five players entering the 2019 NFL Combine to score a coveted “Top Ten Overall” film grade and they both project as viable franchise cornerstones in the pass rush department.

2019 NFL Combine: Linebacker Winners, Losers, and Risers | The Draft Network

BLAKE CASHMAN, MINNESOTA We’ve heard some rumblings about Blake Cashman and a late-season rise as people circle to his tape, but I haven’t yet gotten to it. That said, a great way to get people into your tape is to, you know, blow up the Combine and force them there. That was Cashman’s game today, and he delivered. 4.5 flat on the 40 will help people see Cashman as a true WILL at the next level, while his 37.5” vertical jump and 10’2 broad jump should show up on tape when he fills in pursuit. Cashman also ran a 6.95 3-cone and a 4.12 3-cone. There was not a single drill outside of the bench press in which he was outside of the Top-7. Yeah, I’ll watch that player.

2019 NFL Combine: DT Winners, Losers and Fallers | The Draft Network

RENELL WREN, ARIZONA STATE 6’5, 318 lbs, 33.78” arms, 5.01 40-yard dash, 20 bench reps, 32” vertical, 118” broad jump, 7.65 3-cone, 4.53 short shuttle Wren plays like a bull in a China shop and needs technical development, but the underwear olympics don’t factor that into the equation. While his traits were evident on tape and at the Senior Bowl, Wren validated his upside with an impressive Combine performance. Checking in at the prototypical size measures, Wren had an elite broad jump while testing well above average in every other drill. NFL coaches are looking for a ball of clay to mold along the defensive line will find what they are looking for in Wren.

2019 NFL Combine: WR Winners, Losers, and Risers | The Draft Network

MILES BOYKIN, NOTRE DAME Boykin is an immediate “check the tape!” prospect after his performance today -- I’m already 1.5 games into it. I saw him have a productive day against Stanford early in the season, but I didn’t see a 4.42 athlete. His fluidity impresses, and was reflected in a 4.07 short shuttle and class-leading 6.77 3-cone. But what really stands out are the jumps: Boykin’s 43.5” vertical and 11’8 broad would have been unquestionably tops in the class if not for Emanuel Hall’s performance. As it stands, they are T-3rd and 2nd marks among all WRs in MockDraftable’s database. You can find that explosiveness when he releases, and it will help him get drafted as a developmental WR.

2019 NFL Combine: TE Winners, Losers and Risers | The Draft Network

KADEN SMITH, STANFORD 6’5, 255 lbs, 32.25” arms, 4.92 40-yard dash, 15 bench reps, 32” vertical, 108” broad jump, 7.08 3-cone, 4.47 short shuttle Smith checked in with great size but his speed and jumps were highly disappointing with his 40 time coming at a “fail” number. His agilities were average and his overall athletic profile does not suggest his receiving upside in the NFL will be valuable. To complicate things worse, Smith’s tape as a blocker is very poor.

2019 NFL Combine: Edge Defenders Winners, Losers And Risers | The Draft Network

Man, what a weekend for Polite, and not in a good way. First, his questionable responses at the podium to media members asking him about his interviews with teams threw everyone off. That could have been excused away easily enough, but the Florida edge defender also clearly piled on a bunch of weight to come in at 258, sporting a sloppy frame, and then testing even worse. Polite’s wasn’t explosive, jumped just 32 inches in the vert and then bowed out of the Combine with a hamstring injury that didn’t show up on the TV broadcast. His pro day will be big, but he looks like a long shot for Round 1 right now.

Zach Allen calls for NFL teams to ‘put on the tape’ to see his value, mean streak | NFL Draft news and analysis | Pro Football Focus

Allen’s pass-rushing prowess didn’t emerge until his 2018 campaign, but oh was it worth the wait. He recorded 54 total pressures (31 hurries, 18 hits and five sacks) across his 440 pass-rush snaps this past season, ranking tied for sixth in pass-rush grade (90.3) as a result. He also ranked inside the top-15 in pass-rush win percentage at 17.1% on the year.

NFL Links

Josh Rosen Is a 1st-Round Talent, And Cardinals Shouldn’t Trade Him for Any Less | Bleacher Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights

”In terms of Murray, people are beginning to believe almost universally he will indeed be the No. 1 pick in this draft by the Arizona Cardinals,” NFL Network’s Kimberly Jones reported at the scouting combine Saturday. “In fact, teams picking in the top 10 believe they’ll have no chance of drafting Murray.”

Chiefs put franchise tag on pass rusher Dee Ford - NFL.com

Dee Ford is staying in Kansas City. The Chiefs franchise-tagged the pass rusher on Monday, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported, per a source.

Dwayne Haskins: The Draft’s Most Pro-Ready QB? | SI.com

7. Chiefs DE/OLB Dee Ford is in an interesting spot—cruising for the franchise tag and, absent a deal getting done in Kansas City, potential trade bait going forward. So I’ll give you what I know. The Chiefs are comfortable having Ford play on the franchise tag, whether it’s the $15.443 million linebacker number, the $17.128 million defensive end number, or somewhere in between (should there be a fight and settlement or arbitration). They also know that, by letting him go to free agency this year or next, they’d probably wind up with a third-round compensatory pick, which sets a floor for compensation. Would the guys who drafted him five years ago (John Dorsey in Cleveland, Chris Ballard in Indy) make a run at him with a second- or third-round pick and a big contract? It’s a question worth asking. And I wouldn’t rule anything out with Jadeveon Clowney. The Texans are going to tag him, and would be fine with going forward on the one-year tender. But they’d listen to offers for him like the Chiefs will on Ford.

2019 NFL Draft: Jonah Williams, the Technician | Cover 1

If you’re a team that’s looking for offensive line help, you should consider Jonah Williams. He’s not as guaranteed as Quenton Nelson was last year, but he’s a legitimate offensive lineman in the NFL.

Antonio Brown won’t get any of his $2.5 million until Week One – ProFootballTalk

This potentially means that, if Brown is traded at any point before Week One, Brown’s new team will assume all rights and responsibilities under the contract — including the responsibility to pay him an extra $147,058.82 per week from Week One through Week 17. As one league source with general knowledge of the procedures in this regard explained it to PFT, payment of the $2.5 million would become one of the negotiating points during the discussions culminating in a possible trade. The fact that the Steelers haven’t actually paid the money, however, makes it easier for the Steelers to take the position that the new team should pay the money.

Steelers asked Antonio Brown to delay his roster bonus, for cap reasons – ProFootballTalk

Yes, the Steelers may not have to actually pay any of Antonio Brown‘s $2.5 million roster bonus if he’s traded after March 16. But they don’t want the roster bonus to hit their books as of March 17, for cap purposes.

Fitzgerald disagrees with Antonio Brown’s methods - NFL.com

”I love AB. Mr. Big Chest is a good friend of mine, but I don’t think he’s going about it the right way, personally,” Fitzgerald said, via Sporting News. “To be able to play with an all-time quarterback like he’s able to play with, I don’t think he understands how good he has it. It can get tough out there.”

Falcons cut the price of a hot dog, again – ProFootballTalk

The Falcons have their problems, but the way they handle concessions is something admirable.

Sean Payton likens Trace McSorley to Julian Edelman - NFL.com

”When I looked at him, my first thought was, ‘I wonder if he can be [Julian] Edelman?’ I wondered if he could be a versatile kind of guy,” Payton said.\

NFL trade rumors: Jaguars looking to move RB Carlos Hyde, DT Malik Jackson | NFL | Sporting News

If the Jags are going to give big money to Nick Foles, they’ll need to clear up cap space.

NFL rumors: Will Le’Veon Bell sign with the Jets? | SI.com

The Jets are “undeniably the favorite” to sign free-agent running back Le’Veon Bell. New York is also interested in signing RB Tevin Coleman.

Fantasy football -- 15 things I learned at the 2019 NFL combine

2a. Speaking of Coleman, you know who likes him a lot? The New York Jets. Don’t buy your Le’Veon Bell Jets jerseys just yet.

15. Sleeper tight ends? Sleeper tight ends (and receivers)! Among those mentioned to me to have on my radar for deeper leagues were Chris Herndon (Jets), Dallas Goedert (Eagles), Darren Waller (Raiders) and Jake Butt (Broncos).

Duke Johnson drawing trade interest from multiple teams, Breshad Perriman and Browns not close, and more: Browns Insider | cleveland.com

John Dorsey met with the agents for Breshad Perriman, Jamie Collins and others at the Combine. Here are some updates.