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The potential Broncos I’m watching at the Combine

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With more than 100 potential fits, there’s a prospect for everyone in Indianapolis.

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We’ve reached the dying days of that painful stretch between the Super Bowl and the real kickoff to the offseason. Yes, there was the Senior Bowl, which helped whet the appetite for draft season. There was also a full week where national writers were debating Taysom Hill’s bonafides as a franchise quarterback. Really.

The good news is this time next week we’ll have rumors linking teams to potential picks as well as free agents. Plus we’ll be able to obsess over NFL Draft prospects’ weights, heights, and athletic numbers.

To celebrate, I thought it was a good time to throw out my watch list. The following players are draft picks that have caught my eye because they could be potential fits for the Broncos. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list and it is not in a specific order. It is not a big board, though if you want to check out my early first round board it’s here.

Let’s get to it:

Running backs

Phillip Lindsay isn’t going anywhere, and the Broncos have Royce Freeman behind him. After that it’s anyone’s guess what Pat Shurmur is thinking for this group. Elway could seek to invest in a bellcow or reinforce the depth. One thing that seems very evident is any incoming runner will need some pass-catching chops.

  • Cam Akers
  • Darius Anderson
  • Eno Benjamin
  • J.K. Dobbins
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire
  • JaMychal Hasty
  • Joshua Kelley
  • Zack Moss
  • D’Andre Swift
  • Jonathan Taylor
  • Ke’Shawn Vaughn

Receivers

There has been rampant speculation since the 2019 season ended that John Elway would prioritize upgrading this group in the spring. Courtland Sutton just made the Pro Bowl, but behind him there are a number of questions. Fortunately, this looks like one of the best receiving classes ever. I released my Pre-Combine WR rankings a couple weeks ago, but there are a number of other prospects I’m intrigued by.

  • Brandon Aiyuk
  • Quartney Davis
  • Devin Duvernay
  • Bryan Edwards
  • Aaron Fuller
  • Antonio Gandy-Golden
  • KJ Hamler
  • Tee Higgins
  • John Hightower
  • K.J. Hill
  • Isaiah Hodgins
  • Justin Jefferson
  • Van Jefferson
  • Jauan Jennings
  • Jerry Jeudy
  • Collin Johnson
  • Juwan Johnson
  • Tyler Johnson
  • CeeDee Lamb
  • Denzel Mims
  • Donovan Peoples-Jones
  • Michael Pittman
  • James Proche
  • Jalen Reagor
  • Henry Ruggs III
  • Laviska Shenault Jr.
I’m curious to see how Pittman runs.

Tight ends

Pat Shurmur loves 11 personnel, but as Jeffery Essary and I discovered, he’s also a big fan of using two tight ends as well as utilizing his receiving tight end as a big slot. That means Jeff Heuerman and Noah Fant will see plenty of time, but it could mean there’s a need for another blocker behind them. Most consider this a weak class for the position, but there’s a few guys who fit the bill.

  • Cole Kmet
  • Thaddeus Moss
  • Adam Trautman

Offensive Linemen

In case you didn’t already know, Mike Munchak was retained after Vic Fangio made the offensive coordinator switch. That means Denver’s blocking scheme in 2020 is probably going to look a lot like their 2019 blocking scheme: a hybrid zone/gap blocking scheme.

What could change is the personnel performing it. Ja’Wuan James, Dalton Risner, and Garett Bolles probably aren’t going anywhere. Elijah Wilkinson should also return and may kick inside to guard. There’s even speculation that Patrick Morris is the early favorite for the starting center job. What looks certain is that depth is needed.

  • Trey Adams
  • Hakeem Adeniji
  • Tremayne Anchrum
  • Ben Bartch
  • Mekhi Becton
  • Tyler Biadasz
  • Ben Bredeson
  • Ezra Cleveland
  • Lloyd Cushenberry
  • Jake Hanson
  • Nick Harris
  • Matt Hennessy
  • Keith Ismael
  • Austin Jackson
  • Jonah Jackson
  • Solomon Kindley
  • Shane Lemieux
  • Damien Lewis
  • Lucas Niang
  • Mike Onwenu
  • Matt Peart
  • Tyre Phillips
  • Cesar Ruiz
  • Jon Runyan
  • John Simpson
  • Logan Stenberg
  • Andrew Thomas
  • Prince Tega Wanogho
  • Darryl Williams
  • Jedrick Wills
  • Isaiah Wilson
  • Tristan Wirfs
Michigan’s Onwenu is a massive man, it’ll be interesting to see how tests.

Defensive Linemen

Adam Gotsis, Shelby Harris, and Derek Wolfe are all free agents and may not return. The Broncos have Dre’Mont Jones, DeMarcus Walker, Mike Purcell, and a slew of unproven players without them. Whether it be in free agency or the draft, there’s a pretty good chance Elway adds to this group.

Two things stand out as key parts to any potential addition. He has to be able to contribute as a defensive end in the Bronco’s base 3-4 personnel and slide inside to rush as an interior rusher in the nickel. Fangio asks his defensive linemen to stack and shed blocks more often than his predecessors, so a prospects ability to two gap is something to keep an eye on.

  • McTelvin Agim
  • Ross Blacklock
  • Derrick Brown
  • Nick Coe
  • Marlon Davidson
  • Raekwon Davis
  • Jordan Elliott
  • A.J. Epenesa
  • Leki Fotu
  • DaVon Hamilton
  • Javon Kinlaw
  • Rashard Lawrence
  • James Lynch
  • Justin Madubuike
  • Raequan Williams
  • Chase Young
  • Jabari Zuniga
There have been questions about Kinlaw’s knee, so his medical checks could be big.

Edge backers

It feels almost blasphemous to mention this, but Von Miller’s entering the final years of his contract. Combine that with the fact that Bradley Chubb is coming back from an ACL tear and the depth behind them is pretty callow, and there’s no guarantee Fangio won’t want to mine for talent here.

  • Bradlee Anae
  • Zack Baun
  • K’Lavon Chaisson
  • Michael Divinity
  • Terrell Lewis
  • Yetur Gross-Matos
  • Khalid Kareem
  • Julian Okwara
  • Alton Robinson
  • Josh Uche
  • Curtis Weaver
  • Chase Young
The Broncos won’t be able to land Young, but his athletic performance is going to be freaky.

Linebackers

Alexander Johnson was a revelation last year and Todd Davis was his usual steady self once he made it back into the lineup. Elway may decline the latter’s option to free up $5 million in cap space. Even if he doesn’t, Fangio may seek an upgrade on Josey Jewell as depth.

  • Markus Bailey
  • Jordan Brooks
  • Akeem Davis-Gaither
  • Troy Dye
  • Malik Harrison
  • Kenneth Murray
  • Jacob Phillips
  • Michael Pinckney
  • Shaquille Quarterman
  • Patrick Queen
  • Evan Weaver
  • Logan Wilson

Defensive backs

This group really splits up into three distinct positions. There are nickel players, who have responsibilities like off ball linebackers. There’s boundary cornerbacks, and then there’s the safeties. I’m lumping them all together for now because Fangio may not necessarily see them the same way I or draft twitter do.

Last week I looked at teams’ draft history the last decade with Fangio at defensive coordinator. Between the Bears and 49ers, there was a notable investment in safeties. Denver didn’t take any last year and Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons will return, but don’t be surprised if they’re linked to a few in this class. It’s a promising one, especially for the way the Broncos use split safety shells.

  • Damon Arnette
  • Julian Blackmon
  • Antoine Brooks
  • Terrell Burgess
  • Jeremy Chinn
  • Cameron Dantzler
  • Ashtyn Davis
  • Trevon Diggs
  • Kyle Dugger
  • Kristian Fulton
  • Alohi Gilman
  • Jeff Gladney
  • Bryce Hall
  • Darnay Holmes
  • Noah Igbinoghene
  • Dane Jackson
  • Jaylon Johnson
  • Xavier McKinney
  • Jeff Okudah
  • Troy Pride
  • Amik Robertson
  • Stanford Samuels
  • Isaiah Simmons
  • K’Von Wallace
  • Antoine Winfield Jr.
Simmons is a linebacker/safety/nickel hybrid who could put on a show.

Your Broncos Links

What to do about Flacco, Harris and Diggs...oh my! - Mile High Report

“I think the Broncos will end up having to reach an injury settlement,” Krisztal said, adding that Flacco’s $10 million cap hit if he’s cut is not that much and he doesn’t see the Broncos being able to trade him in a year where a lot of better QBs are looking for a home.

6 players the Denver Broncos should chase in free agency - Mile High Report

If John Elway is serious about chasing the playoffs, he needs to put his money where his mouth is to get the Denver Broncos back into contention.

Denver Broncos: 2019 offensive tackle pass blocking review - Mile High Report

How did the performance of Garett Bolles and Elijah Wilkinson compare to other offensive tackles from around the league?

Denver Broncos film review: Things I liked from Drew Lock’s five starts - Mile High Report

One of the benefits the doldrums of the off-season afford is an opportunity to look back at the past year for additional nuggets on tape. Jeffrey Essary and I have been doing exactly that on the piece most critical to Denver’s success next season, starting quarterback Drew Lock.

With Byron Jones likely hitting free agency, does Denver pursue? - Mile High Report

The Cowboys defensive back is likely to command a high price on the open market, Denver could be interested.

Should the Denver Broncos trade for Darius Slay? - Mile High Report

The Detroit Lions have spoken with multiple teams, should John Elway pounce?

NFL Free Agent Profile: Cornerback Brian Poole - Mile High Report

The Denver Broncos figure to have some needs at the cornerback position heading into free agency. Is a guy like Brian Poole on their radar?

2020 NFL franchise/transition tag primer: No-brainer candidates? - NFL.com

4) Justin Simmons, S, Denver Broncos: Simmons was a beautiful match for coach Vic Fangio’s defense. It’s a rebuilding unit, but retaining Simmons as a core piece to build around makes too much sense.

2020 Free Agent Profile: Safety Justin Simmons | The Draft Network

It seems silly to discuss landing spots other than Denver for Simmons. The Broncos are clearly the leaders in the clubhouse and while it may come down to a franchise tag, Elway has proven to consistently get long-term deals done with players he slaps the tag on with Von Miller and Demaryius Thomas as recent examples.

‘Hard Knocks’ team in 2020? Steelers juiciest eligible candidate - NFL.com

2) Denver Broncos: The Broncos are compelling because of the man in charge. Few individuals in the sport carry the cachet and name-brand pop of one John Albert Elway Jr., the Hall of Fame quarterback turned front office wunderkind turned fan base scapegoat. The Broncos have missed the playoffs in four straight seasons since their conquest in Super Bowl 50, and Elway — in his role as general manager and czar of football operations — will be under immense pressure to get the organization back on track. Other savory subplots: the rap stylings of quarterback Drew Lock and the always entertaining Von Miller. One final note here: It’s fair to wonder if the Broncos’ unsettled ownership situation would prompt NFL Films to take Denver out of the mix for the time being.

NFL Draft Links

What should Broncos fans look for at the NFL Combine? - Mile High Report

Trevor Sikkema gives Broncos Country the players and position groups to watch for next week in Indy.

A Sit Down Conversation With Cameron Dantzler | The Draft Network

Q: Right now, what would you say is your biggest strength and weakness as a player?

D: I’ll start with my weakness and it’s my eyes. That’s something that I’ll have to work on because I had three different defensive coordinators and with a lot of them, we played mostly man, but when coach Bob Shoop got there, there was a bunch of backpedaling and shuffling. That’s something that I’ll have to work on with my game. A few of my strengths are tackling and press coverage.

Fighting Irish: Troy Pride Jr. Is 2020 NFL Draft’s Most Underrated CB | The Draft Network

I think one of the biggest things pundits point to is Pride’s lack of ball production. He only recorded one interception and six pass deflections in 2019, but I’d be wary of completely trusting the box score when it comes to judging a defensive back’s ball skills. For starters, Pride just wasn’t targeted a whole lot because he gives up little separation; which isn’t a bad thing.

D.J. Humphries’ Domino Effect: How Re-Signing Will Impact NFL Draft | The Draft Network

“One of the things I’ve always thought about philosophically was when you have a position group, and again they grade in a similar area when you look at the big picture, and you say, ‘Ok when I get to free agency, which players at that position exist in free agency,’ because, usually, people tie up left tackles, corners, quarterbacks — guys that are hard to find,” he said Friday. “So I would obviously lean in the direction of players that are hard to find and don’t really make it to free agency because they get extended.”

NFL Links

More playoff teams expected under new CBA, sources say

Under the current proposal that is expected to take effect in the new CBA when it is done, seven teams from each conference will qualify for the playoffs instead of the six that currently do. In addition, only one team from each conference will receive a first-round bye as opposed to the two that currently do, league sources said.

Quan Bray, Greg Robinson arrested for 157 pounds of marijuana - ProFootballTalk

A drug-sniffing dog alerted agents to several vacuum-sealed black bags full of a substance that tested positive for marijuana, according to TMZ.com. Agents also found 23 mason jars, a can sealing machine, an electronic scale and $3,100 cash in Bray’s jeans.

2020 Free Agent Profile: Linebacker Cory Littleton | The Draft Network

Denver Broncos With about $60 million in cap space, the Denver Broncos could be big spenders this free-agent cycle. Littleton fits one of the team’s biggest needs and putting a player with his speed at the second level behind one of the pass rush duos in the NFL — Von Miller and Bradley Chubb — makes too much sense.

Browns OC Van Pelt to change Mayfield’s footwork - NFL.com

”I have a belief and a philosophy of footwork and it’s extremely important to me and Kevin (Stefanski) as well,” Van Pelt said. “It all starts with the feet. The feet never lie. They get you through your progressions.”

2020 NFL free agency matchmaking: One fit for each NFC team - NFL.com

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Chris Harris Jr., cornerback

The Saints have less than $10 million to work with in cap space right now, but thanks to Monday’s news that Drew Brees will make another go of it in 2020, they at least have a better understanding of how to use their remaining money. An upcoming void is going to exist in the secondary, most likely at cornerback. Harris accounted for a little over $12 million in space for Denver this past season, but at 30 years old, he’s running out of time to make another run at a title. Perhaps he could be convinced to come to New Orleans for such a shot at a lower number, especially with the knowledge the Saints will be going for it again with Brees under center.

Redskins pick up 2020 option on RB Adrian Peterson - NFL.com

34-year-old running back Adrian Peterson will remain with the Washington Redskins for the 2020 season. The Redskins announced Wednesday that they will pick up AP’s $3 million team option,

Viable low-cost options at each position in free agency | NFL News, Rankings and Statistics | PFF

LB: NICK KWIATKOSKI

The Chicago Bears have some decisions to make at linebacker this offseason, as Kwiatkoski, Danny Trevathan and Kevin Pierre-Louis are all unrestricted free agents. Trevathan is the surest bet of that group given his experience and the several solid seasons that he has put together in Chicago, but Kwiatkoski might have the most upside. He doesn’t have a season of full-time work under his belt yet, but in his two most recent seasons as a partial starter (2017 and 2019), Kwiatkoski has earned overall grades of 80.5 and 72.6 with well-rounded efforts across run defense, tackling, pass-rushing and in coverage. Those numbers came on 382 snaps and 512 snaps, respectively, so it remains to be seen how he handles a full season with a starter’s workload. However, Kwiatkoski has shown enough to be intrigued by what he would look like in that role.