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7 things I think I think about Day 4 at the Combine

This receiver class is bonkers.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Sugar Bowl - Georgia v Baylor
It’s time to learn the name Denzel Mims.
Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The underwear Olympics are officially upon us!

There is a ton to digest from Thursday. The Broncos revealed some more players they had formal interviews with, many of the guys we know they’re interested in worked out, and a couple of juicy rumors found their way to the light. Let’s dig in.

1. The Broncos will meet with another running back.

If you read yesterday’s news you know that the Broncos met with Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins. Today 9News’ Mike Klis revealed Elway will also sit down with Boston College’s mammoth back A.J. Dillon.

Standing a little over 6’ and weighing in a couple of hamburgers shy of 250 lbs, Dillon was compared to the former Giant Brandon Jacobs by Pro Football Focus. He’s one I’ll get my eyes on in the next few days, but I’ve heard is that he’s shown good top end speed on tape but needs to build up to it.

Putting one and one together, it seems pretty clear the Broncos plan to add another big runner to their backfield.

2. Broncos also dig into some lesser known prospects.

Klis also tweeted out that the Broncos had a meeting with Boise State’s Ezra Cleveland, he’s one I’m intrigued by. A toolsy left tackle who should look good as the week goes along, he threw 225 lbs up 30 times with 33 3/8” arms, which exceeds the 75th percentile for tackles.

The Complete Guide to the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine – The Athletic

Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State If he were a stock, I’d be buying. A finely tuned athlete, Cleveland will create some buzz in Indianapolis after his combine workouts. I expect him to shine in the short-area agility drills like the shuttles and three-cone.

On the other side of the line of scrimmage are Ross Blacklock, Josiah Coatney, and Derreck Tuszka. You may have heard of Blacklock because he’s been floated as a top 50 guy by more than a few draft analysts. He needs some refinement but brings the kind of size and athleticism that is hard to ignore. Coatney and Tuszka both look like Day 3 guys who could contribute in depth roles.

I plan to dig into all of them more, but it’s interesting none of the interior linemen Denver’s made formal plans with as of now really fit the kind of size I expected. It may mean nothing as the Broncos plan to chase beef in free agency, but it could also be a sign that Fangio wants more penetrators with Kansas City to contend with.

3. Gotsis is out, Attaochu may be back.

Adam Gotsis leaving is not a huge surprise as he looked like a bad scheme fit before getting benched for Shelby Harris and Mike Purcell. Kicking the tires on Jeremiah Attaochu is not shocking either because he really showed something down the stretch and brings pedigree as a former second round talent. If Denver can bring him back for a depth role, it’d be great.

4. Mixed signals on the Derek Wolfe front.

There was a weird thing on social media yesterday where it appeared that Wolfe was caught up in a Johnny Bowlen Instagram story. This preceded yet another report by Klis that the Broncos had met with Wolfe’s agent and the talks were “positive”.

Right now I expect the 30-year old to return in 2020 given the reports that Shelby Harris is a priority for the Indianapolis Colts. There’s been some talk about how Wolfe does not intend to give Elway a discount to come back, but given his medical history and the mileage on his body it will be interesting to see how the Broncos structure what will probably be his last significant contract.

5. The Broncos will not be tendering Da’Vante Bausby

This was a surprise for a couple of reasons. First and foremost is the 2nd round tender is not expensive and if Denver cuts Joe Flacco as expected they will have almost $80 million. Second is the fact that minus Bausby, the cornerback depth chart now consists of Davontae Harris, Isaac Yiadom, Bryce Callahan and Duke Dawson. Lastly, Bausby showed a good bit of promise before his season ending neck injury.

Now, there remains the possibility that Elway will see what happens in free agency and the draft and then reach out to Bausby if he’s available. Letting him test the market is definitely a sign that the Broncos have other plans for the secondary, perhaps with a Darius Slay or maybe Byron Jones?

Why the Denver Broncos should trade for Darius Slay

6. The defensive back prospects were measured.

Of course, Elway may also want to see about adding talent to the secondary by taking advantage of a deep cornerback group.

Leading up to the Combine I spent three different weekends trying to finish my early rankings. I failed in part because there are so many guys I want to see workout, as well as the juggling that is a Master’s Thesis, Podcast, and life.

That said, there were some really interesting numbers in the group.

  • TCU’s Jeff Gladney is currently my CB2. The big knock on him was concerns over size, but he was 5 10 2/8” and 191 lbs, just shy of LSU’s Kristian Fulton in both weight and height. He had longer arms.
  • Virginia’s Bryce Hall is build like a young Prince Amukamara, with the kind of long vines that really aid him in pressing and disrupting passing lanes. I want to see how he runs, but both he and Trevon Diggs’ games are built around their physicality and length. Both looked the part.
  • Louisiana Tech’s Amik Robertson is a straight up baller who’s had a ton of ball production and showed up against the Texas Longhorn’s, but he’s a mighty mite. Measuring shy of 5’9” and 190 lbs is not going to help his draft stock.
  • I have Alabama’s Xavier McKinney as my DB2, but one of the big questions about him has been how he’d look in Indianapolis. He’s a nickel/safety hybird and came in with short arms, which isn’t a death knell, but isn’t a great start.

7. The receivers ran and jumped.

Before we start obsessing too much over 40-yard dash times, I want to recommend this research by Rotoworld’s Hayden Winks on what workouts actually matter. Crazy numbers help draft stocks, but it often has little to no bearing on what a player will do in the NFL.

Combine Breakdown: Which Combine Tests Matter By Position - Fantasy Columns

WR (Under 6’0) - Speed Score, Forty, Vertical (kinda)

WR (At least 6’0) - Speed Score (kinda), Broad Jump (kinda)

TE - Speed Score, Forty, Three Cone, Vertical (kinda)

With that behind us, let’s obsess over some workout numbers.

  • Henry Ruggs ran a 4.28.

There were people complaining because he was supposed to break the 4.22 mark. Maybe that slow speed or the quad injury will cause him to slip to 15, but I doubt it. Expect more than a few takes on why Elway should trade up to draft him now.

  • Denzel Mims is going to be a first round pick.

Back when I wrote my Pre-Combine receiver rankings I listed this Baylor Bear as my WR4 and called him Everything you’d want from a Z but the 4.3 speed.” and dang it if I didn’t sell him short.

If that wasn’t enough, he also ran a 6.66 3-Cone, which paced the field.

  • Jalen Reagor jumps out of the gym, but runs a 4.47.

At one point Daniel Jeremiah wondered on television if he got too heavy leading up to the Combine. It’s a fair question. Reagor weighed in above 200 lbs, but on top of his slower than expected 40 he clocked in a 7.31 3-Cone and 4.46 Short Shuttle. His agility numbers are below the 50th percentile for receivers, and he was expected to challenge Ruggs in the 4.2 range.

Before today I would have bet he winds up in round one and he’s my bet for the Broncos if Ruggs isn’t there, but now I’m left with questions. When in doubt, I lean towards the tape, but it isn’t like Reagor’s tape is on par with the top two tiers of this class.

  • CeeDee Lamb ran a 4.51 twice.

Of the top three receivers, he was the one I was willing to bet NFL scouts would cool on. It looks like at least in some corners of Indianapolis that’s beginning to happen.

  • Jerry Jeudy, WR1?

I’ve been debating Jeudy and Lamb for my top spot since I spent two weeks building my initial board. One thing that’s really helped Jeudy move up for me is all of the prep work I’ve done on Pat Shurmur’s offense for Cover 2 Broncos. The more I’ve seen what he could do for the Broncos new coordinator, the higher I’ve gotten on him.

He ran a 4.45 and had some really nice jumps today, but he was mostly checking boxes. We know he’s fast enough.

  • Justin Jefferson turned some heads.

He’s been slept on because of questions about his top end speed. Well, he ran a 4.43, better than both Lamb and Jeudy. There’s a pretty good chance he placed himself in the first round conversation for a team in need of a dynamic slot receiver.

  • Devin Duvernay burns up the track.

A 4.39 40 should get some evaluators looking back at the Longhorn’s tape. He’s been knocked for his route running and a bit of a weird build, but he’s a bruiser after the catch and has the kind of wheels that a creative OC can really turn loose. I hope Elway considers him.

  • Chase Claypool made himself a lot of money.

Coming into today, there was a lot of speculation that he was getting too big to play receiver. Benching 225 lbs 19 reps only fueled this theory, but after today it’s probably safe to assume he’s a receiver. He ran a 4.45 and jumped out of the building.

  • Michael Pittman is the Mini-Mims in turns of eye opening Combines.

There’s been questions about how the USC Trojan would look in shorts for a long while now. Even after he put on a solid outing at the Senior Bowl there wasn’t a ton of buzz about him. I’d expect that to change a little now. He had an outstanding 3 Cone and underrated 40-Yard Dash for a bigger receiver, and both his jumps were solid.

  • K.J. Hill can’t escape the DaeSean Hamilton comparison.

Before the Combine I didn’t list Hill on my receiver rankings because I wanted to see how he ran. He still has time, one of the big knocks on his game is his top end speed is just okay. He’s among the very best route runners in this class, but concerns about athleticism may put a glass ceiling on his draft stock.

  • Brandon Aiyuk, quicker than fast?

The Sun Devil’s workouts started out great with a 40” jump that had PFF’s Austin Gayle spinning. He also has a really freaky arm length for a 5’11 receiver and his tape is littered with the kind of quick accelleration and burst that had people excited for his workouts. So it isn’t that a 4.5 40-yard dash is bad, but people expected better. Last I checked before bed, he did not run in the agility drills.

  • Donovan Peoples-Jones did what he needed to.

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller had DPJ as a first round talent for most of the 2019 season. If you don’t look past the stats it’s hard to believe, but today was a bit of a redemption for him. He ran a 4.48 and almost broke the Combine’s Vertical Jump record with a 44.5” mark. His 139” Broad jump was also an inch shy of the 100th percentile for wide receivers. I have some concerns with his tape, but little doubt that he’ll surprise once he doesn’t have Shea Patterson throwing him the ball.

  • Laviska Shenault clearly ain’t healthy.

Plenty of people groan when a guy comes to Indy and skips out on working out. The proverbial wisdom is “if you’re healthy and don’t run, you’re slow.” That made the news that Shenault would run a good sign, even if it was just the 40-yard dash.

It turns out it was a bad decision, and one I hope the Buffalo can recover from at his Pro day.

  • Jauan Jennings bombed.

This Tennessee Volunteer gives me shades of Brandon Marshall when I watched his tape, and it’s been interesting to see how low the NFL is on him. The workouts looked like they may provide a way for him to catch their attention, but a 4.72 can’t be what he was hoping for. To make matters worse, his jumps weren’t great either.

I also took note of John Hightower, Gabriel Davis, James Proche, and others. It’s a really fun group. Here is my current top 5 as it stands today.

  1. Jerry Jeudy
  2. CeeDee Lamb
  3. Henry Ruggs
  4. Denzel Mims
  5. Justin Jefferson

What’s yours Broncos Country?