If you’re looking for my QB Big Board, check it out here.
If you’re looking for my Day 1 Big Board, check it out here.
What follows is my scheme adjusted Broncos Big Board. These are players that fit what I see the new coaching staff installing for the 2019 Broncos. I made an effort to study players that I thought would be in reach, would make an impact, and also look like they make sense for Elway and the front office. So if you’re upset that I didn’t look at someone like Hakeem Butler, it’s because I didn’t think he truly fit what the Broncos are looking for in a receiver.
Quick reminder that this list is adjusted for the Broncos current picks. So #1 is my number 1 player that could be available at 41 overall. #10 would be my 10th choice at 41 overall, but if he’s there at 71 he’s ranked ahead of the players I have at that selection.
Make sense? Alright let’s go.
Second Round Targets
1. Montez Sweat - EDGE
For some reason I’ve been asked a number of times about Josh Allen at 10. I stand by what I’ve said the whole time: there is not a snowball’s chance Elway goes edge that high again with both Chubb and Von on the roster.
I mention this only because of the rumors floating about Montez Sweat’s health questions. I highly doubt he falls out of the first, but this would be the kind of value that would be impossible to ignore. Some think it’s redundant, but I would grab him here in a heartbeat.
Montez Sweat’s heart condition has been discussed extensively by NFL teams and their medical staffs. Yes, he’s been off some draft boards, but for other teams, it’d be a matter of taking precautions. @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/DuWdNgM2Tt— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 19, 2019
I’m no doctor and can only speak for what I see. Sweat’s game would give the Broncos D the nastiest 3 man wave in the game. His lack of batted passes and overall stiffness are a bit concerning, but he’s so dang long and explosive you’d have to take the chance.
2. Dalton Risner - OFFENSIVE LINE
Risner’s been the 303 darling since he professed his love for the Broncos at the Senior Bowl. He’s the most versatile offensive lineman this side of Jonah. He is on the older side, but still looks like a 10 year guard. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes in the first round, but he isn’t as strong a pass blocker as the 0 sacks he allowed the last two years suggests, which could cause him to slide. If he stays at tackle, he’ll need to get better with his kick slide to handle speed off the edge in the NFL. For Denver he’s a guard and a dang good one.
3. Cody Ford - OFFENSIVE LINE
Yes, I know that Ford will probably go in the first, but I have him here. I wonder about his fit in the Broncos outside zone scheme. There are some concerns about his ability to make blocks past the first level and he has a few injury concerns. He also lacks the experience Risner and Lindstrom offer, which makes him a wee bit riskier. I do like that he’s a guard/tackle tweener who plays in pads better than he looked in shorts. Will need some work with his bend, punch, and consistency but would provide Munchak with a versatile, talented, and athletic mass of clay. I prefer him at guard for Denver, where he could step in day 1 and be the kind of road grader Phillip Lindsay would love.
4. Amani Oruwariye - CORNERBACK
I have Amani as my number 2 corner for the Fangio D. He’s going to need coaching to reach his ceiling but offers near limitless potential. He didn’t become a full time starter until his last year at Penn State and still looks like he’s learning on the fly, but he uses the boundary well and looks like he’ll be a playmaker at the next level. He flashes the route recognition, click and close, and tools that had me strongly considering him a good bit higher than this on my board. If there’s one big concern, it’s his tackling, but with coaching he could easily become the best cover man from this class.
5. Greedy Williams - CORNERBACK
99% certain Greedy goes much higher than I have him. This ranking isn’t meant to be controversial, but merely a reflection of how I think he fits the Broncos scheme. He’s a first round talent, but the things he does best won’t be valued as highly in the Fangio system. He’d probably be my number one corner if I thought Denver was looking for a press man coverage artist. They aren’t. He also isn’t big on tackling, which hurts him.
6. Dexter Lawrence - NOSE TACKLE
Some see a nose and worry if he’s a dinosaur trying to survive in the Cenozoic era. I see the Loch Ness Monster. He probably won’t notch a ton of sacks in the league, but should push the pocket and dominate the run game. At his absolute worst, I think he has a high floor as a behemoth space eater. But if you turn on the 2018 Bears, you’ll see Fangio using Eddie Goldman as his nose for base 3-4 personnel and a 2i for nickel sets. Lawrence could step into just such a role and turn into a Pro Bowler.
7. Erik McCoy - CENTER
Much like quarterbacks, I tend to love the linemen who have played a lot. There’s no real substitute for game experience, and McCoy has it in spades, playing 39 games in the SEC during his collegiate career. He’s faced off against some of the best linemen from this class and didn’t embarrass himself. He doesn’t have the same kind of quickness Bradbury does, and he isn’t going to maul people, but he’s brings everything you need to the center position. He’s strong at the point of attack, mobile enough, and has the technical savvy to start day 1 at center or guard. I’d bet he’d be a quiet steal in the Broncos offense.
8. Darnell Savage - SAFETY
Looks like a corner, but plays like a safety. Savage is a versatile defender that plays every bit as fast as he ran his 4.36 40. With Denver I think he’d eventually grow into the strong safety role where he can jump routes in the intermediate area, bang ball carriers at the second level, and yet still have protection over the top. When tasked with deep coverage, he’ll have some issues with jump balls due to his height and tendency to bite on fakes, but with enough tape study, he has the potential to eventually grow into one of the more dangerous playmakers in the NFL.
9. Juan Thornhill - SAFETY
Another safety with a ton of experience playing corner. I love Thornhill’s production, but if Simmons is the free safety in Fangio’s D, where does he play? He’s a bit lanky and I wonder if he’ll be as good in the box as some of the other safeties in this class, but he’s more trusty than punishing as a tackler. Ideally he’d be given a role where he can bait the quarterback into mistakes. I think in the Fangio system he could play a role similar to what Kareem Jackson currently does as a corner/safety hybrid, which has a ton of value. Word is the Cowboys want him at 58.
Fun fact: Thornhill won 3 state titles as a high school basketball player and even received scholarship offers to play on the hardwood.
Juan Thornhill posted a #RAS that will contend for the best ever at the #2019NFLCombine at cornerback, with great size, speed, and explosion. He did not complete agility drills.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 4, 2019
I've also posted him as a Safety, Where he comes in top 10. pic.twitter.com/HP4ZcaE1qv
10. Zach Allen - DEFENSIVE LINE
Think of him as a baby Derek Wolfe. Allen doesn’t have the kind of athleticism that generates a ton of buzz, but could fit nicely as a B-gap penetrator and solid rotation piece in the rotation. His explosiveness shows at the snap and he has an advanced set of moves to maximize his effectiveness. He’ll need to get stronger as he adjusts to the NFL, but there’s a lot to like.
11. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside - RECEIVER
Going into free agency, the hot rumor was Elway wanted to get a real burner as the heir to Emmanuel Sanders, someone to compliment Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton. So it’s been a bit of a surprise that they’ve shown so much interest in receivers like Harry, Deebo, and JJAW. The Stanford receiver is one of the best jump ball guys in this class, using his body to box out corners. He’s also run faster than his tape shows, which seems to be driving his stock up. He could be a sneaky good addition this far down the boards as a mismatch weapon, but may need some time to familiarize himself with pro route running.
12. Deebo Samuel - Z / Slot RECEIVER
If the Broncos are looking to grab a receiver who gives them yards after the catch, they could do a heck of a lot worse than Deebo. He looks like a running back with the ball in his hands, and looks like an advanced route runner with the kind of subtleties that should help him overcome less than elite athleticism. I knocked him some for his checkered injury history, but wouldn’t complain if he’s the pick. He also offers promise as a return weapon.
13. Chase Winovich - EDGE
If you dismiss Montez Sweat, you’ll notice that Winovich is my first edge defender. It isn’t because I prefer him to guys like Brian Burns or Josh Allen. It’s just that Denver won’t draft an edge rusher on Day 1.
As for the Michigan man, he wins with multiple rush moves and counters, as well as a quick burst. He brings the kind of recognition you look for from an edge and will chase plays down from behind at the next level. The Fangio defense essentially has two roles for the edge players, and Winovich would best serve as a depth player to the Mack role, as he won’t be the best coverage defender if left for long in space. That doesn’t mean he can’t be the number 3, but that the best use of his playing time would be moving forward and attacking. I love the Wolverine in that role. He’d give Fangio an embarrassment of riches with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb ahead of him. That’s a good problem for the Broncos to have.
14. Parris Campbell - Z / Slot Receiver
Campbell’s game is a lot of projection, but there’s a ton to like. He has the kind of yards after catch potential Deebo and Harry do, and is the kind of “blink and he gone” athlete Mecole Hardman is. I saw a lot of Percy Harvin in his game, and just like the former Gator, he’ll probably need a creative coach to get the most out of his talents. There’s a pretty decent chance he gets drafted earlier than this, as reports have suggested teams really like what he showed at the Combine working routes. I wouldn’t hate him in the 2nd, but he’s risky enough to push down a little.
15. Julian Love - CORNERBACK
Here’s a prospect who’s hard to pin down. He does nothing at an elite level, yet he’s incredibly productive. Much like Byron Murphy, he’s a guy who just does what you need a corner to do, sticking to his man like glue and breaking up 44 passes over his collegiate career.
Those who like him will tell you that he’s athletically similar to Byron Murphy. In fact, the Husky is smaller (189 lbs to 195) and slower (4.55 to 4.54 40) than the golden Domer. The two have similar games where they get by on outstanding technique and ball skills. They’re also both willing tacklers, a must for Fangio. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Broncos grab themselves a little Love on Day 2, just as it wouldn’t shock me if he proves size is second to heart.
3rd Round Targets
1. Kahale Warring - TIGHT END
My favorite tight end in this class. I talked about him at length a couple weeks ago, but I think he’s a long term solution at the position and an athletic mismatch to boot.
Keep in mind it’s lying season, but I did see a couple reports that teams were put off by him.
Scouts on TE Kahale Warring via McGinn: "Weird dude." "Going to need a lot of structure." "The type of guy that you will get fired." “Listening to the kid interview, all the engines are not firing. But he is super athletic.” Ugh.— Jesse Fritsch (@FritschJesse) April 17, 2019
He was a multi-sport athlete who got into football late, so this may be a case of a guy with interests beyond the gridiron turning some teams off. Maybe it isn’t, though?
2. Blake Cashman - LINEBACKER
If the Broncos are looking for a rangy sideline to sideline trash collector, this guy’s Cash money. His T-Rex arms aren’t getting longer so don’t ask him to make a bed, but he’d be a great running mate next to Todd Davis. He’s quick in all the aspects you want: making his read, moving into position, and attacking the line of scrimmage. If Elway can live with his short arms and shoulder surgeries, he could find a real steal.
3. Dru Samia - GUARD
Samia’s the kind of bodyguard you want by your side in a barroom brawl. My favorite lineman in this class is a textbook fit for the Broncos zone running game. He played in 48 games at Oklahoma and will punish defenders when given the opportunity. He needs to get stronger and keep his aggression between the whistles, but brings the ability to block in space and mentality you want out of your line. Love his game.
4. Jace Sternberger - TIGHT END
If Warring is my favorite upside tight end, Jace is probably number two. He’s the trendier one of the pair and had a ridiculous season for Jumbo Fisher, notching a 20+ yard reception in all but one game last year. He didn’t test as well as some anticipated, but looks faster in pads. Chances are good he will be a vertical threat and seam stretching weapon at the next level. He’s also a willing blocker, but is more effort than oomph at this point.
5. Dawson Knox - TIGHT END
Everyone has heard about his lack of scoring plays, but Knox would fit into the Scangarello offense as an athletic mismatch weapon and experienced blocker. His athleticism pops off the tape, and while he isn’t overpowering, he does a great job of mirroring defenders as he stays in front of them. I have questions about his hands, which is one big reason he’s lower for me, but he should be really good value this far down the board.
6. Mack Wilson - LINEBACKER
Early in the process I was out on Wilson, but I went back and watched again. I like him, but I don’t love him. At least not yet. That said, it’d be hard to pass on the value if he somehow slides this far down the board. He is more tools than finished product at this point, but offers the athleticism and range to play in coverage. He also has enough power in his hands to take on blocks. I suspect we’d be talking about him as a first round prospect if he stayed at Bama and came out in 2020. So is it worth it to take him a year early? I’m not sure, but he needs to take better angles and do a better job into blockers.
6. Sean Bunting- CORNERBACK
You can’t teach the kind of fluidity that Bunting has in his hips. Like many corners, the former Chippewa has experience at receiver in his background. Unlike many corners, it’s very apparent when you watch his tape. He’s willing to fight for the ball in the air and make it his, which is promising for his pro career. He’ll need time to iron out his footwork and hone his game, but offers a very high ceiling as a boundary corner.
7. Mecole Hardman- Slot RECEIVER / RETURNER
The closest this draft has to a Devin Hester. Hardman is so sudden that he’s a threat any time he gets the ball in space. He needs work as a route runner and won’t ever be confused for someone like Arcega-Whiteside or N’Keal Harry when it comes to fighting for contested balls, but if the Broncos want a vertical burner and return threat, this former Bulldog is the guy to chase.
8. Khalen Saunders - NOSE TACKLE
The small school DLaw. Saunders offers some pass rush potential but he’d come to Denver to grow into a nose who can also play inside on Nickel fronts down the road. Saunders is short and squatty, but deceptively quick. He’s the kind of player a coaching staff would love for his dedication. He stayed at the Senior Bowl when his wife went into labor and rationalized that it made sense so that he could best provide for his young family.
9. Elgton Jenkins - OFFENSIVE LINE
Jenkins is the kind of scrappy fighter that could really shine with the Broncos. He’s played both tackle spots and center at Mississippi State but needs to clean up his handwork if he’s gonna grow into Rocky. Maybe Munchak can get him chasing chickens. Ceiling is an interior starter.
10. Dre’Mont Jones - DEFENSIVE LINE
In a 4-3 scheme, he’d be a standard 3 technique. A sub-300 lb tackle, but incredibly quick and shifty for a man his size. He’ll excel at the next level as a gap shooting, disruptive playmaker, but could get washed out at the point of attack. Where he excels is pass protection and pursuit. He’s like a rat pressing underneath the door, able to squeeze through the smallest gaps to arrive in the backfield. Could see him as a role player for Fangio’s nickel personnel, and a good one at that. Denver brought him in for a private workout.
11. Amani Hooker- SAFETY
Stop me if you read this already, but he’s a versatile chess piece. Hooker is sort of like the bigger Savage, but lacks the top end athleticism that lets the Terrapin overcome his smallish stature. They both bring the kind of anticipatory skills it will take to make plays on the ball in the NFL. He’ll fight for the ball in the air, but isn’t really an ideal fit as a deep center fielder. Hooker would fit into the Fangio D as a strong safety where he could make plays in the intermediate zones.
12. Miles Boykin- X Receiver
He’s going to need time to develop, but his Combine opened the league’s eyes. He may not be on Elway’s radar, as he’s probably an X at the next level, but he could be a dynamic running mate with Courtland Sutton. Unlike most college receivers, Boykin played against and beat a ton of press coverage at Notre Dame.
14. Terry McLaurin- Z / Slot Receiver
If Parris Campbell is the freak athlete, McLaurin is the savvy route runner. The fact that he’s also sneaky fast has sort of been forgotten in that oversimplified narrative. He caught a touchdown for every 4 catches he made at Ohio State and impressed at the Senior Bowl, but seems to have been lost in the shuffle since.
15. Ben Banogu- EDGE
An upside gamble. but probably the best realistic option if Denver’s looking to this class in order to solidify the edge depth for the long term. Banogu’s lateral mobility pops off the tape and he looks comfortable from a two point stance. He has the athleticism to play in space when called for, but right now he doesn’t have the strength to blow you away at the point of attack. Banogu’s raw like a bad rope burn and needs to develop rush moves.
16. Bobby Evans - OFFENSIVE LINE
If you couldn’t already tell, I really liked last year’s Oklahoma line and see a lot of parallels to the Broncos new system. Evans was a 3-year starter and brings versatility with him into the pros. He’ll need to get stronger to really excel, but he did what it took to get the job done in college and has the kind of fighter’s mentality you want.
17. Jaylon Ferguson - EDGE/DEFENSIVE LINE
The NCAA’s All Time Sack Leader became a bit of a meme for his horrific 3-cone time at the Combine. Generally speaking, I tend to dismiss guys who throw up that kind of red flag, as the drill has proven time and again to be critically important to edge players.
Yet here’s Ferguson. Why?
Now, most of Ferguson's profile isn't that bad. In fact, if we remove the worst of his ten scores, he ends up in elite range for a pass rusher. Granted, he does so primarily by not having any athletic flaws elsewhere and not for any standout traits, but better than bad, yeah? pic.twitter.com/IrAiGuBHFd— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 15, 2019
Platte’s thread is well worth your time, as it lays out why Ferguson will have to be a true outlier if he’s to make it as a starting caliber edge rusher in the NFL. The good news is Denver isn’t looking to draft a starting caliber edge. They want depth behind Von and Chubb, and there’s enough to like about Ferguson’s tape to suggest he could be a decent option in such a role.
First of all, Ferguson didn’t simply disappear when Louisiana Tech got paid to get pinata’d by LSU. His first step, handwork, and speed to power still shows up against elite SEC competition.
I do think Ferguson will be a bit limited as a space player, the 8.08 doesn’t define him, but he’s closer to Bradley Chubb than Von Miller. That’s okay. The Bears defense used Khalil Mack in space at times, but essentially played him as a defensive end. Leonard Floyd tended to play the all around drop, run, and rush backer. Ferguson could step in as a solid number 3 rusher and Fangio would be able to make the most of all the strengths in his game.
While his ceiling is lower than some of the guys on tomorrow’s list, Ferguson could still improve if he can get stronger and add to his pass rush repertoire. He’ll probably never be a top tier end, but there’s a place for him in the NFL and he can become a valuable rotational player if Elway makes the call.