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What happens when the Broncos grab the unicorn of the 2020 draft?

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For this week’s Mock Draft “Monday,” Joe takes Isaiah Simmons, the hybrid star of the Clemson Tigers

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Clemson
Is he a linebacker? Is he a safety? One thing is clear, he’s really good.
Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

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:

  1. Yes, I know the 2019 season hasn’t even started.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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.

Poll

What grade would you give the draft Broncos Country?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    A - Would love this draft!
    (64 votes)
  • 36%
    B - Would like this draft.
    (113 votes)
  • 22%
    C - I feel empty inside.
    (69 votes)
  • 5%
    D - You blew it.
    (16 votes)
  • 16%
    F - Fire the GM.
    (50 votes)
312 votes total Vote Now

Your Broncos Links

MMQB: Lamar Jackson, Sammy Watkins, Dak and the Pats Light Up Week 1 | SI.com

You can have your Joe Flacco debut. I’m more excited to see what Von Miller and Bradley Chubb look like playing in Vic Fangio’s defense tonight for Denver

A look around the rest of the AFC West

Making sense of Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill’s SC joint dislocation - Arrowhead Pride

Our in-house injury expert, Aaron Borgmann, weighs in on the injury Hill suffered on Sunday.

Tyreek Hill injury: Chiefs “may take a couple days” before deciding - Arrowhead Pride

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is reporting that Kansas City is weighing its options.

Sammy Watkins: ‘We have the coaches’ to win sans Hill - NFL.com

Sammy Watkins had a dynamic debut for the Chiefs with three touchdowns over the Jaguars. Can the offense be as explosive with Tyreek Hill on the shelf? Watkins said K.C. has the personnel to figure it out.

Tyreek Hill heads back to Kansas City after night in Jacksonville hospital – ProFootballTalk

The Chiefs headed home to Kansas City without wide receiver Tyreek Hill on Sunday night because Hill remained in a Jacksonville hospital after suffering a sternal clavicular joint injury in the win over the Jaguars.

Los Angeles Chargers Surge or Static: Ekeler was a one-man air band - Bolts From The Blue

Davis was around the ball a lot, yes, but that doesn’t always mean he’s making stops near the line of scrimmage or coming up clutch on third downs. In this case, Davis was cleaning up missed tackles by others and was usually chasing Colts players because of a blown assignment.

Chargers week 1 snap counts - Bolts From The Blue

Coach Anthony Lynn said that Forrest Lamp was going to play, and technically, he didn’t lie. Lamp got 2 snaps, both as an extra lineman in heavy sets. Honestly that was super disappointing to see. Although they won’t be able to keep ignoring him. Between the poor play from the tackles and an overall below average day from Michael Schofield (he had a few nice blocks but it wasn’t great for most of the game), they’re going to have to at least give Lamp a shot.

NFL Links

Was Antonio Brown’s Patriots Signing Part of an NFL Long Con? - The Ringer

The All-Pro wide receiver’s move to New England sent shock waves across the league. It’s also prompting us to view his Raiders antics in an entirely different light.

Brady on A.B.: We’ll ‘figure out how to make it all work’ - NFL.com

The New England Patriots signed Antonio Brown on Saturday after the Oakland Raiders jettisoned the receiver. Tom Brady expects A.B. to slide right into the Patriots’ offense.

Pats cut Melifonwu, Kendricks to make room for A.B. - NFL.com

New England is waiving safety Obi Melifonwu and releasing tight end Lance Kendricks ahead of Brown’s addition to the active roster, NFL Network’s Mike Giardi reported Monday. Brown takes Melifonwu’s roster spot now that he officially has signed with the team, per the league’s transaction wire.

Antonio Brown: Patriots add $20M option year for 2020 onto contract | SI.com

Brown signed a one-year deal with the Patriots on Saturday.

FMIA Week 1: On Cusp of Antonio Brown Addition, Patriots Roll Steelers and Tom Brady Says: ‘Let’s Go Do It’ – ProFootballTalk

Peter King’s Football Morning in America column begins with Tom Brady on Antonio Brown and also covers all the NFL Week 1 action.

The Winners and Losers of NFL Week 1 - The Ringer

Football is back, and Lamar Jackson has arrived. Plus: Melvin Gordon didn’t play and is a loser, Antonio Brown didn’t play and is a winner, and we’re hoping Kliff Kingsbury just didn’t know ties were a thing.

Everson Griffen cautions Vikings: “Don’t take the cheese” – ProFootballTalk

The Vikings had low expectations in 2017, especially after quarterback Sam Bradford made an early exit with a knee injury. They grossly surpassed them. In 2018, the expectations became sky high, with the arrival of quarterback Kirk Cousins. They failed to even make it to the playoffs.

Lamar Jackson and Dak Prescott Quieted Their Doubters in Week 1 - The Ringer

After many spent the offseason questioning the progress of these two young passers, they showed out in Week 1. And if this kind of play continues, the Ravens’ and Cowboys’ 2019 ceilings could be higher than we thought.

Roundup: 49ers RB Coleman suffers high-ankle sprain - NFL.com

San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman suffered a high-ankle sprain in Sunday’s win over the Buccaneers. However, the free-agent acquisition will nit be placed on injured reserve.

Report: Joe Mixon ankle MRI “all good” – ProFootballTalk

Bengals running back Joe Mixon was limited to six carries and two catches in Sunday’s 21-20 loss to the Seahawks because of an ankle injury that forced him out of the game early in the contest. Initial word was that Mixon sprained his ankle and he went for further tests on the ankle Monday.

Redskins’ Derrius Guice (knee) likely to miss time - NFL.com

Washington Redskins running back Derrius Guice will undergo an MRI on his right knee Monday, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. Guice was sidelined all last year with a torn left ACL.

Jaguars placing Nick Foles on IR; trade for QB Dobbs - NFL.com

The Jaguars are placing Nick Foles on injured reserve with a likely designation to return, Ian Rapoport reports. With Gardner Minshew its lone QB option, Jacksonville traded for Steelers QB Josh Dobbs.

Pete Carroll admits Seahawks were “involved” in Antonio Brown pursuit – ProFootballTalk

Antonio Brown had many suitors. Or at least more than one. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll admitted during a Monday interview with 710 ESPN in Seattle that the Seahawks were among the franchises vying for the receiver’s services after he was released by the Raiders on Saturday.

Brian Flores “can’t speak to accuracy of” report that some Dolphins players want out – ProFootballTalk

On Sunday, multiple Dolphins players emerged from a 59-10 loss to the Ravens with a clear message to their agents: Get me out of here. On Monday, coach Brian Flores was asked about the report. “I can’t speak to the accuracy of that one,” Flores said, via Chris Fischer of NBC 6.

Why ESPN Picked Booger for ‘Monday Night Football’ - The Ringer

The NFL’s flagship broadcast hasn’t had an African American analyst in the booth in decades. But now, Booger McFarland has ditched the BoogerMobile and ascended to sports broadcasting’s penthouse suite.