Last week, I tried to decide between one of the fastest players in the NFL draft and quite possibly the BDPA. There seemed to be a little bit of despair over the fact that I passed on a linebacker.
So that was my goal this week.
There’s only one problem: because of the injury to Alabama’s Dylan Moses, it looks a lot like this year’s linebacker class is going to be a pretty shallow one. This leaves me with two options: take a first round flier on the Tide’s 6’3 235 pounder and hope he’s the next Myles Jack, or go after a “position-less” hybrid.
Four big things before I get off and running:
- Yes, I know the 2019 season hasn’t even started.
- Denver’s needs are all projections, 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.
- I’m going three rounds because of time constraints and the fact that we’re early enough for things to move so dang much between now and the Combine.
- The order is set by Las Vegas odds-makers, not me.
1st Round, Pick 11 - Isaiah Simmons - Linebacker*
I suspect Simmons will be one of those players who gets hammered by conservative analysts and coaches who can’t see past the fact that he doesn’t neatly fit into one position. For Clemson, that hasn’t been an issue. He’s lined up at safety, along the edges, and at weakside linebacker. Last Saturday against Texas A&M, Clemson utilized a three safety shell with Simmons in the middle and held the Aggies to one garbage time touchdown.
His versatility is on another level and he looks strong in space, which would give the Broncos a true three down stud on the second level. He’d offer the ability to match up in coverage against both tight ends and even some slot receivers when Fangio does go to man coverage.
He’ll need some time to really grow into a role, but let there be no doubt: Simmons shows the kind of mental processing and athletic gifts that will make him a tantalizing weapon in 2020.
2nd round, Pick 43 - Raekwon Davis - Alabama
Let me just say I was shocked he fell to me, which made it hard to pass him up. Davis stands at 6’7, 308 lbs and offers the kind of “dancing bear” athleticism you pray for with behemoths. His first step stands out and he’s quick enough to threaten blockers when asked to penetrate. He has strong hands and shows promising club and rip moves. His kind of raw strength will be dangerous with the bull and push-pull combination.
His length could work against him on the interior, and up until this point, his innate talents have been enough to win more often than not. At the next level, he’s going to need to improve his technical skills to become a true game-changer, but if he makes it to Denver, he’ll have Kollar to teach him.
It’s obviously early, but if you told me today that Davis would fall to Denver in the 2nd, I’d be ecstatic.
This week on the Journey To The Draft Podcast, I broke down #RollTide DL Raekwon Davis, an ELITE player in the upcoming #NFLDraft.— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) August 30, 2019
Davis compares to former Top 10 pick DeForest Buckner. I'd love to see him at the @seniorbowl.
Listen for full report: https://t.co/GTnvrLHiOR pic.twitter.com/ERteZnPNuu
3rd round, Pick 75 - Lloyd Cushenberry III - Center/Guard
3rd round, Pick 86 - Donovan Peoples-Jones - Receiver
Conner McGovern’s contract expires after the season, and Ron Leary’s probably going to be a cap casualty. While Elijah Wilkinson could step into Leary’s shoes, the uncertainty with McGovern as well as a lack of depth along the line means the offensive line is an underrated 2020 need.
That makes Lloyd Cushenberry III hard to pass up. One thing that’s really appealing about the LSU Tiger’s game is how he brings the athleticism and mindset to thrive at the second level in time. With Scangarello’s offense utilizing more outside zone, the offensive line will be asked to block in space a lot more often. That’s exactly what the 6’4 315 excels at.
Adding him may depend on how the Broncos view his ability to play off the pivot if they keep McGovern and play him at center. Cushenberry will also need to improve the angles he takes, and blocks at the POA may be an adjustment for him at the next level, but he would give Munchak a very intriguing guard prospect to groom.
Last week a reader asked me why I chose Henry Ruggs in the first for a draft that looks so deep at receiver, so I made an effort to sit on my hands before addressing the position for this mock. Peoples-Jones looks like he’ll check a lot of the boxes I want in an Emmanuel Sanders replacement:
- Versatile skillset to play Z or slot.
- Displays multiple ways to separate from defenders.
- Return specialist.
- Willing blocker.
Now, he comes with a couple questions that still have to be answered. Personally, I put a lot of weight on timed speed for receivers. While there’s the occasional exception, by and large athleticism is critical to success in pass catchers.
The second question is something Peoples-Jones can’t help at the moment: he was in a walking boot last week and missed the Army game. Here’s hoping he can get back on the field for the Wolverines.
On Day three, I’ll be looking to grab defensive line, safety, and tackle help, as well as a potential third back and quarterback.
What grade would you give the draft Broncos Country?
This poll is closed
A - Would love this draft!
B - Would like this draft.
C - I feel empty inside.
D - You blew it.
F - Fire the GM.
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20+ yard plays...— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) September 9, 2019
Ravens - 9
Chargers - 8
Cowboys - 7
Lions - 7
Chiefs - 7
Patriots - 7
Jets - 0
Big play business! Gotta create 'em, gotta prevent 'em!
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Great stat showing a big reason why Belichick is the GOAT = adaptability https://t.co/LtiuqhYeQm— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) September 9, 2019
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(Charts from @NextGenStats) pic.twitter.com/NDTrxXwQ6T
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They're figuring it out
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