I have a mock draft problem, Broncos Country. Far too often I head over to The Draft Network and make a quick run through their machine. I do this when I’m putting off some film, or writing, or heck when I’m waiting in line for a coffee. One time I slipped on black ice walking my dog because I was trying to decide between Zack Moss and Cam Akers.
Draft season is a good time to open up about this, but it’s been a year long thing for me. I love going through hypothetical situations, and with a war chest of picks on top of more than $50 million in cap space, this is THE offseason for hypothetical situations.
Which brought me to today’s conundrum: should the Broncos take Henry Ruggs III or Javon Kinlaw at 15? I couldn’t decide, so I played around with a draft where I took one, and then the other. Let me know what you think!
A. Obey the Kinlaw
15. DL, Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
I’ve been infatuated with Kinlaw for a little over a month now. Truth be told, I think he’s a better fit for the Fangio defense than A.J. Epenesa is. Standing at 6’6 and a little over 300 lbs, he brings heavy hands to the position and incredible burst for such a mammoth man. He has experience 2-gapping, as well as the versatility to play anywhere along the defensive line.
46. OT, Josh Jones, Houston
After watching Jeff Gladney get scooped up at the end of the first, I had my heart set on a receiver here ‘til Jones slid to me. He represents too talented a prospect to pass up at a position of relative need. The end of the Garett Bolles era is now within sight.
Josh Jones putting in work against a top edge defender in Bradlee Anae pic.twitter.com/XGtygIJEyD— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 22, 2020
77. LB, Troy Dye, Oregon
Was praying Denzel Mims slid to me here, but alas it looks like the Baylor Bear has finally caught the attention he deserves after a stupendous Senior Bowl week.
I have some concerns about how this Duck will fit into Fangio’s base 3-4 because he’s listed a few hairs shy of 230 lbs. But since the Broncos will play in a nickel front on more than 60% of their snaps, his range in space is hard to pass up. He may need some time to get better at reading the field, but his upside is intriguing.
Teams are going to fall in love with Oregon's Troy Dye at the @seniorbowl.— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) January 8, 2020
All of the things I've heard about his character are incredible, and he's one of few off-ball linebackers in this class that can make splash plays/hold their own in coverage. pic.twitter.com/GgTM7MsQkZ
83. CB, Cameron Dantzler, South Carolina
This is a pick that has as much to do with the time of year as anything. Rumor is the Broncos will look to upgrade their cornerback corps in free agency this year, but since I didn’t run a simulated spending free corner looks like an underrated need. Enter Dantzler, on the shortest of lists for guys who did not get burnt up against the LSU Tigers in 2019.
Beautiful Back Shoulder Fade Coverage from Mississippi State CB Cameron Dantzler!— Coach Dan Casey (@CoachDanCasey) September 26, 2019
➡️ Hop-Step Retreat to Catch Technique
Chest to Chest + Mirror Hand pic.twitter.com/4XmO3XGRKE
96. RB, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU
Speaking of Tigers, I couldn’t resist CEH here. I almost wrote about him last week, but decided to wait until I’ve had more time to go back over his film. Love his game and think he’d add a dimension to the Broncos’ offense the current stable lacks.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire...— J.R. (@JRDrafts) January 25, 2020
Complete mismatch when being covered by LB's in the open field. So many teams in the league could use a guy like this. pic.twitter.com/VU4iKDZPJt
108. WR, Bryan Edwards, South Carolina
I won’t lie, this feels like stealing. In a normal year Bryan Edwards would be generating the kind of buzz Jalen Reagor and Laviska Shenault Jr. are. But this will probably go down as the deepest receiver class in a generation, so most don’t know this Gamecock’s name.
Let me just say I’d be okay if the Broncos took him a round (or two) above this.
It speaks to this deep receiver class that Broncos' fans haven't said much about Bryan Edwards yet. Size and speed in spades. pic.twitter.com/jL9TtXoh1o— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) January 26, 2020
128. OL, Hakeem Adeniji, Kansas
I got it bad for experienced, athletic linemen. Adeniji is a smooth mover who has played more than 40 games at tackle for the Jayhawks. He slid inside to guard for Senior Bowl week and quietly had himself some nice practices. I’d be over the moon if Denver comes away with him.
Hakeem Adeniji does not need shoulder pads. Ridiculous upper body muscle mass— Jeff Risdon (@JeffRisdon) January 21, 2020
161. DB, Terrell Burgess, Utah
Fangio’s defense puts a priority on safety’s who can hold up in space while also filling against the run. In an ideal world, the coverage shells will be more 2-high than most systems in the league. With Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons expected to return in 2020, the short term need at the position is depth and a guy who could contribute as a nickel player and on special teams.
Really nice play by Terrell Burgess here to range over to the flat and make the tackle. Good closing speed is shown off here. I'm a big fan of Burgess and he only helped himself at the Senior Bowl. pic.twitter.com/yy8pdxQHPT— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) January 27, 2020
214. WR, Jauan Jennings, Tennessee
Another receiver that has gotten buried by the class. Jennings is a strong yard after catch player who should provide depth and potentially contribute on slants, crossers, and underneath passes down the road.
Nagy: Tennessee WR Jauan Jennings is "truly unique." Wired mentally with a real competitive edge. Will bring a tone-setter attitude and play tough in the middle of the field. Plus play special teams.— Chase Goodbread (@ChaseGoodbread) January 21, 2020
B. Ruggs’ floor
21. WR, Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
In this scenario I took advantage of my board having three different players I liked and called up the Eagles. Ideally I’d be able to move back slightly and pick up extra ammo, but the TDN trade machine drives some really hard bargains, so instead I worked out a bit of a crazier move down to pick up extra picks. (For what it’s worth, the Steelers trade to get Devin Bush last year is impossible to pull off in the current simulator. Take from that what you will.)
As far as this pick. Ruggs is one of my favorite prospects in the entire draft. If Denver is going to chase a speedy Z receiver, he’s number one for me. There’s a legit possibility his NFL Combine performance creates a situation where 15 may be crazy low for him, and I held my breath after the slide down, but alas he was there.
53. WR, Prince Tega Wanogho, Auburn
I almost panic traded back up to get Jeff Gladney here, but instead rode the board and took the best left tackle prospect left. He has farther to go to become a starting blind side protector in the league, but this Tiger has athleticism in spades and could give Munchak a lump of golden clay to mold for 2021 and beyond.
Three pretty big names that would make sense for the #Broncos to draft have been declared medically ineligible for the Senior Bowl:— Nick Kendell (@NickKendellMHH) January 21, 2020
Prince Tega Wanogho OT Auburn
Loki Fotu DT Utah
Brandon Aiyuk WR ASU
Worth monitoring what medical concern(s) they were diagnosed with pic.twitter.com/bd8uVBbQUY
77. WR, Rashard Lawrence, LSU
Lawrence is one of those players I’m intrigued with in the event Derek Wolfe and Shelby Harris depart. He’ll need to improve upon the technical parts of his game, but I like what he could do for the defense in nickel situations lining up next to Dre’Mont Jones and think the pair could provide a young foundation upon which to build the interior pass rush.
83. CB, Darnay Holmes, UCLA
Fangio tends to like corners who are projected to the nickel for most defenses, and this would be true on Holmes. His size has many thinking his future is in the slot at the next level, but he has the athleticism and tenacity to potentially hold up on the perimeter for Denver. I like how he battled at the Senior Bowl, and with time he could be a real asset.
Darnay Holmes just smoked Colin Johnson in team drills. pic.twitter.com/8qv27bBOG2— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) January 21, 2020
96. OG, Damien Lewis, LSU
If you watch LSU tape, you’ll notice Lewis’ ability to pull and blow up defenders on the move. One of the Broncos’ best running plays in 2019 was a shotgun run with Dalton Risner leading the way, but they rarely ran it going to the left. Lewis would give them a guard that opens up that possibility.
Do yourself a favor and watch LSU's Damien Lewis (RG).— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) January 25, 2020
108. S, Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne
Dugger is one of those small school guys who has a scouting report that reads like a sports movie. He played snaps at defensive back, linebacker, running back, and returned for the Bears.
117. DL, Jordan Elliott, Missouri
Another player to add to the interior line rotation on passing downs. Elliott was a force rushing the quarterback in the SEC last year and adds some needed beef to the defensive front.
Missouri IDL Jordan Elliott declared for the 2020 NFL Draft. Has a nice combo of power and hand quickness as a pass rusher. pic.twitter.com/5HBQRo98Zq— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) December 2, 2019
128. WR, Devin Duvernay, Texas
One of the receivers I like for Broncos’ new offense. Duvernay brings straight line speed to threaten a defense and turns into a running back once the ball’s in his hands. He may need time to improve as a route runner, but could immediately upgrade Shurmur’s options for Mesh concepts, smoke screens, and the like.
148. TE, Adam Trautman, Dayton
After his standout Senior Bowl performance earned him some TE1 hype, this could represent a huge steal. By now you may know that Pat Shurmur ran 11 personnel on more than 70% of the Giants’ offensive snaps the last two years, but did you know 12 was his second most utilized grouping? Trautman could serve as an upgrade on Troy Fumagalli and eventually challenge Jeff Heuerman as the inline tight end.
There's a buzz among scouts I've talked to this morning and last night about Dayton TE Adam Trautman— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) January 21, 2020
The guy everyone seems to want to see this week
161. CB, Lamar Jackson, Nebraska
I need to go watch this Cornhusker’s tape, but he had some moments in Mobile that caught my eye. He’s big for a corner and is probably limited to an outside role in the Fangio defense, but he’s a physical player who gives the Don of Defense a developmental prospect for the Prince Amukamara type of role.
Nebraska CB Lamar Jackson stays in phase with Pittman throughout the route pic.twitter.com/OEvp50jEwy— Billy M (@BillyM_91) January 22, 2020
214. RB, Darius Anderson, TCU
If the Broncos feel comfortable with the current stable of Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay, but want to add a pass catcher they could do a lot worse than this Horned Frog.
C. Wirfs up, baby
15. OL, Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
Bolles long term status is a huge question mark. Ja’Wuan James had a torn up knee in 2019. There is a legitimate possibility that neither will be in orange and blue in 2021. Even if both return, there are looming questions about Ronald Leary and Conner McGovern.
Wirfs provides an opportunity to turn the offensive line into a troubling concern to more like an annoyance. He played right tackle for the Hawkeyes, but also swung to the left side when Alaric Jackson was hurt. In this scenario the Broncos could take him to plug the hole at right guard for 2020 while they wait to see what the tackle positions look like in a year. His physical and athletic brand of football should also help him survive and even thrive inside.
Just finished watching tape on Iowa OT Tristan Wirfs. We all know that’s he w/o a doubt one of the best tackles in the draft and he’s arguably OT1.— Jared Feinberg (@JrodDraftScout) January 21, 2020
But my god can this young man MOVE. The change of direction there is just bonkers. pic.twitter.com/vVIRWoFcaN
46. DL, Ross Blacklock, TCU
There’s been a lot of talk about how Derek Wolfe’s return to Denver seems like a foregone conclusion. Until it happens, I’m not completely sure. His asking price, size, and medical history all leave reason to believe Elway could make a business decision on the popular veteran.
If neither Wolfe or Harris return, a guy like Blacklock could make a ton of sense. He has the size and explosiveness to 2-gap when necessary and still provide disruption against the pass.
TCU IDL Ross Blacklock is a really good player, and he shows off just how you beat a double team here on this 'duo play'.— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) January 26, 2020
Here's my video breakdown on just how he does it. pic.twitter.com/mK121rFbWM
77. WR, Denzel Mims, Baylor
Full disclosure, I almost made this pick in the second round. Mims destroyed the Senior Bowl like no other receiver in Mobile, and if you go back and watch his games at Baylor it’s all there. He’s a better route runner than he’s been given credit for and has the hands and catch radius to turn into a dynamic number Z-receiver for the Broncos.
Truth be told, He probably won’t be here unless he puts in an abysmal showing at the NFL Combine. I don’t expect that.
83. RB, Zack Moss, Utah
Imagine if you took the best parts of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman’s games, put them in a blender and took away a bit of the top end speed. There’s Moss. He has the vision, hands, and contact balance to turn into a strong workhorse in the Shurmur offense.
Zack Moss between the tackles is a monster. As the starter, he averaged 5.8 YPC and accounted for 49.3% of Utah’s rushing production. Not to be disingenuous to his overall skillset, Moss also accounted for 12.2% of Utah’s receiving yards in 2019. Second only to Ke’Shawn Vaughn. pic.twitter.com/hWv9AW21aD— Jesse Reeves (@JesseReevesFF) January 24, 2020
96. DB, K’Von Wallace, Clemson
You read a lot about the versatility Isaiah Simmons brought to the Tigers’ defense, but one of the things that’s gotten lost is how many other players helped Brent Venables make the most of it. Wallace has experience in both the box and deep and could develop into an eventual starter in the secondary in time.
108. iOL, Shane Lemieux, Oregon
Wirfs had me sleeping on the fact that there’s a chance there could be holes at both right guard and center in 2020, so I felt compelled to grab an interior prospect here. Tyler Biadasz was a guy I had my eyes on ‘til the Lions took him at 99, but Lemieux isn’t a bad consolation prize. There’s some dispute about his athleticism and ability to block in space at the next level, but few question the power he brings to his game.
If you like experience in your OL room...— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) January 21, 2020
These guys have plenty A LOT of ball
Shane Lemieux - 3500 snaps at LG
Calvin Throckmorton - 3600 snaps LT, C, RG, RT
Ben Bredeson - 3200 snaps at LG
Scott Frantz - 3200 snaps at LT #2020NFLDraft
128. CB, Troy Pride Jr., Notre Dame
Without knowing what the Broncos do in free agency (and under the assumption they didn’t address corner because of it) this felt like a pressing need. Pride fought hard at the Senior Bowl and while it’s probably a stretch to expect him to step into substantial playing time early, he has starting upside.
Troy Pride Jr. caps off a fantastic week at the Senior Bowl!— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 25, 2020
161. DL, Marlon Davidson, Auburn
Leading up to Senior Bowl week I thought I saw some speculation that Davidson was more highly regarded by NFL teams, so keep that in mind. Regardless he was on my board when I made this pick and it was hard to pass him up. He’s listed as an edge, but at 6’3 298 would be an interior disruptor on passing downs and potential 5T in base personnel.
214. WR, Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty
I don’t like to make player comparisons because it often creates more confusion than it really alleviates. I do however see hints of Brandon Marshall’s game when I watch AGG’s film. He’s a big receiver who shows an ability to box out and fight defenders for the ball. His route running has a ways to go and maybe he isn’t going to torch NFL corners over the top, but his catch radius would make Lock “right” on all sorts of throws.
I’ve heard people tell me more over a month that they don’t see what I see in Antonio Gandy-Golden or that he is too slow. I haven’t seen a bad rep from the kid. Whether the ball is his way or not, he’s going 100mph and runs like he’s getting it— Chris Mallee (@mallee_chris_24) January 22, 2020
Which mock draft do you prefer?
This poll is closed
A! Kinlaw would be huge for the defense!
B! Ruggs would elevate the whole offense!
C! TACKLE BRO!
Your Broncos’ links
Broncos Country mourns Bryant’s passing.
Ruggs is the popular choice right now and I am going to keep that trend rolling. Broncos General Manager John Elway wants the teams offense to be more explosive and put more points up on the board in 2020. Well, Ruggs gives you someone with potentially 4.2 speed who can take it to the house whenever he touches the ball. Add that sort of speed and play-making ability with Drew Lock’s arm and you have a potential unstoppable pairing right here. I do worry his potential impressive showing at the NFL Scouting Combine could push his stock out of the Broncos reach, but for now, it seems like 15 is a sweet spot for Ruggs.
Derek Wolfe was our most productive defensive lineman in 2019, but does that mean the Broncos should re-sign the 30 year old defensive end?
Will the Broncos be able to afford what Shelby Harris’ market value may demand?
The Denver Broncos have both Shelby Harris and Derek Wolfe set to become unrestricted free agents. Should Michael Brockers also be on their radar?
If versatility and depth are a need on the offensive line, the Denver Broncos could bring in Daryl Williams who has played all over the line.
A great defense can never have too many good pass rushers, so re-signing a relatively inexpensive Jeremiah Attaochu only makes sense.
Bradley Chubb, EDGE, Denver Broncos After recording 12 sacks as a rookie for the Denver Broncos in 2018, Bradley Chubb was set to be in line for a monster season this year. Unfortunately, that breakout campaign was delayed to next fall after an ACL tear. Expecting he is fully recovered by that time, I have no doubt Chubb will return as one of the most ferocious pass rushers in the league — right where he left off. His ability to convert speed to power is nearly unparalleled today. Von Miller’s presence opposite of Chubb will once again take attention away from him, and I predict he will either match or top his 12 sacks next year with ease. Don’t be surprised if we’re talking about Chubb next year at this time as a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate — he’s that good. I hope you didn’t forget.
NFL Draft Links
Broncos Jerry Jeudy WR, Alabama
Many are saying that this wide reciever class rivals that of the 2014 class. Looking at just how well the top receivers turned out that year, I can’t go that far with this 2020 class. But I am comfortable saying that this year’s group might be the deepest we’ve ever seen. Because of that, and the thirst for quarterbacks and offensive tackles, there’s a chance a team like the Denver Broncos could have an incredibly talented playmaker like Jeudy fall to them at No. 15. If not Jeudy, maybe it’s Lamb or Henry Ruggs.
15) Denver Broncos: Javon Kinlaw, DT South Carolina The burly defensive tackle had a standout performance at the Senior Bowl, impressing evaluators with his superhuman strength and explosiveness off the ball. Kinlaw has violent hands and plays with outstanding leverage. Derek Wolfe and Mike Purcell are unsung veterans that play their roles well, but the unit could use a spark. If Kinlaw sustains his momentum from the Senior Bowl, his draft stock is only going higher.
South Carolina wide receiver Bryan Edwards is quite possibly the quietest, yet most productive, prospect you will come across in the 2020 NFL Draft. Edwards is leaving South Carolina with an array of school accolades, including: most consecutive games with a reception (48), career receptions (234) and career receiving yards (3,054). He also sits third in career touchdowns with 22, which is only one behind Sidney Rice and Alshon Jeffery. His 48 games with at least one reception means he caught a pass in every single game he played in at South Carolina! Believe it or not, Edwards ranks third in SEC history with 234 career receptions and fourth in the league all-time with 3,045 yards.
If you could only add talent to one position group on the #Broncos this offseason, what would it be?— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) January 26, 2020
“You just took the drive that I take every day and there’s nothing to the outside world right there,” Reid said. “It’s calm, it’s dark, and then I go in this building and I study. Then when I leave it’s dark. It’s calm, and I go home and sleep and rest and then come back and do it again. That to me, is what’s real. That’s what I enjoy. I don’t worry about the other stuff. I don’t go there. Everybody’s gonna have their opinion on whether you can coach or can’t coach. Or this or that. I’ve been doing it a long time. Loved every minute. I love the relationships maybe most of all. I love putting the strategy together with my young coaches. I get in there and grind with them. I got some great minds that love to study and be creative. Everything else? Eh. It is what it is.”
“When we made the trade in the middle of the season, Kyle was probably the most conservative with it,” York said. “Everybody from Mandy Shanahan [Kyle’s wife] to all our fans were ready for him to start Day One.
“But we had to make sure that we did it the right way. And we didn’t do something just because it was going to get the fans fired up. We wanted to put Jimmy in the right situation to be successful.”
“He’s able to utilize not just me, but everybody,” McCaffrey said, via ESPN.com. “And put everybody in a position they can best help the team win. That’s something that’s not easy to do. It’s not one system. It’s a constant changing. You look at what he did with the LSU program this year, possibly the greatest college team of all times. It was fun to watch as an outsider before I knew he was our coach. Now that I know he is [the Panthers’ coach], I’m extremely excited.”
“I’m really waiting until football is totally done,” Brees said Saturday from the Pro Bowl, via Amie Just of NOLA.com. “Obviously being here, I’m just very much focused on my family and this opportunity to be around the guys, playing the game. “Then, I’ll kind of lay low for a little bit, get away and then assess. I kind of have a process in mind. And I’ll give it a month or so.”
“When he was on practice squad his rookie year, I actually called my financial advisor about him,” Bledsoe recalled. “I was like, ‘I really like this kid. He’s never gonna be a starter. He’s gonna be Jason Garrett or one of those guys who’s just going to be around forever. You’ll really like the kid.’ And we really liked the kid, we kind of brought him in, he was over at our house for dinner probably once a week. I really liked the kid, and still do. But nobody, outside of maybe Tom himself, would have ever predicted that he would go on to be a starter in the league and be in the conversation as maybe the greatest of all time.”
“I would love that, but me and Ben don’t have the best relationship. I believe that bridge is burnt.”
It went up in flames when, in his first training camp with Denver in 2014, Sanders said Peyton Manning was a “far better leader” than Roethlisberger and “this is the first time that I had a quarterback that stays every single day after practice” among other comparisons he made between the two. Ironically, Antonio Brown admonished Sanders, saying it was “terrible” and “you don’t throw your quarterback under the bus.” Sanders said none of those comments he made more than five years ago were taken out of context. He meant them but did say he thought “Ben grew up a lot” since then.
The Carolina Panthers hired Joe Brady to be their offensive coordinator on January 16. Brady’s rise to this position has been remarkable. He was an analyst for the New Orleans Saints for two seasons before being trusted to modernize LSU’s passing offense in 2019. It’s safe to say he accomplished that task for the Tigers.
This general premise that we have a major problem that needs to be solved always feels a bit spoiled to me. It’s like getting out the pitchforks and torches because you were only served cookies when you also wanted ice cream. I definitely want more, but that does not stop me from appreciating what we have. The level of desperation and anger feels out of proportion with the state of the team.