By this point in the NFL Draft process there’s little doubt you’ve seen a mock draft or two. Chances are, one of them had Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III landing with the Broncos at 15. It’s been an obvious pairing after Elway expressed a need to add speed to the offense at his 2019 season ending press conference.
Has there been a more telegraphed pick than Ruggs to Denver? This feels even worse than Bolles to Denver.— Brandon Miller (@BMiller4164) March 5, 2020
Henry Ruggs makes a ton of sense to pair with Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant. He’s a dynamic receiver who ran a blazing 4.27 40-yard dash. I’m not here to tell you he’s just a speed guy either, after all he’s my WR2 in this entire draft class.
Unfortunately for many in Broncos Country, there’s been persistent rumors since the NFL Combine that teams like the Eagles are trying to trade above 15 to get him. Even if they don’t, there’s also reports suggesting the New York Jets will consider him at 11.
This has led some to argue that Ruggs is worth a trade up to secure his services. I’m not so sure.
What would a trade cost?
If you’re assuming the Broncos can trade up to 10 in order to jump the Jets at 11, there’s recent history to guide the price. In 2018 Steve Keims of the Arizona Cardinals traded #15, #77, and a fifth round pick in order to move up to 10th overall to select UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen.
There’s only two problems with that scenario.
1. The Browns have been considered a lock for a top tackle if it is at all possible. Assuming one of the prospects they like are available, the Broncos would need to move up even further. Perhaps a trade for Trent Williams or signing Jason Peters in free agency changes their trajectory, or maybe all of the tackles they want are gone at 10 and they look to move down. If you’re counting on Cleveland these are things to root for.
2. If the Eagles or another team is also seeking to move ahead of New York, a bidding war could ensue.
The root of both scenarios come down to cost. If the Broncos do wind up needing to move up, the next teams that make some sense as trade partners are the Carolina Panthers at 7, the New York Giants at 4 if you believe Dave Gettleman will trade down for the first time in his career, or the Detroit Lions at 3. According to Drafttek’s Trade Value chart it would take about 450 points, or the equivalent of the Broncos’ pick at 46.
This raises an important question: is Henry Ruggs so much better than the rest of this receiving class that he justifies two top 50 selections, or three top 100 picks? When I’ve asked “whatever it takes” believers this, they cite how he could impact the offense. Words like “transformative speed,” “upside” and “gamebreaker” are often thrown around.
Once again it feels pertinent to mention how I have Ruggs as a top three receiver in this class, but it isn’t like he comes without a couple concerns. For all his speed he doesn’t always separate from defenders in coverage as you’d expect. In particular, beating physical coverage was an issue against teams like LSU. Both of these issues could make for more contested catches in the NFL, something that wasn’t a strength of his in college. He also left Alabama’s bowl game with a concussion, suffered a non-contact injury in September, missed a game in November and played through bruised ribs in the regular season finale.
Having watched as much of the receiver class as I have, it isn’t like Jalen Reagor, Brandon Aiyuk, Denzel Mims, Gabriel Davis or even John Hightower are slow. All could bring a vertical element to the Broncos offense. While Ruggs looks like the most complete receiver of these prospects right now, I wonder if that justifies losing out on a round two tackle, cornerback, linebacker, or guard.
Should Elway trade into the top 10 for Henry Ruggs?
This poll is closed
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With the free agency season about to kick off for the Denver Broncos, it is a great time to step back, take a look at the roster, and play a little armchair GM leading up to all of the excitement of possible free agent signings, trades, and of course the NFL Draft.
A third round pick would be more than worth it for a player of Trent Williams caliber. It hurts nothing for the Denver Broncos to put the offer on the table.
When free agency starts, the guard should be a top priority to add to the offensive line.
Jeff Essary joined Broncos Country Tonight to breakdown the trade and what other moves Denver might make.
Jeudy played a little over 50% of his snaps in the slot at Alabama in 2019 and profiles as a Z-receiver with inside/outside versatilty. With Pat Shurmur’s affinity for 3-receiver sets that makes Jeudy an ideal number two alongside Courtland Sutton as he can bump down inside if the Broncos want to bring a boundary receiver like Tim Patrick onto the field or stay at the Z if they elect to play DaeSean Hamilton or a slot. Additionally, Jeudy is a pro-ready route runner who should be able to seamlessly transition into a Shurmur offense that asks upon receivers to create space for themselves.
John Elway has made it clear he desires speed to compliment Courtland Sutton in the passing game. Ideally, they want a player who can upgrade the Z-receiver spot. With the change to Pat Shurmur means there will be more asked from receivers to create separation on their own and to make catches in tight quarters. Mims plays the game above the rim while offering the potential growth and athletic profile to develop into a top tier deep threat.
Edwards is experienced and offers the kind of size, speed, and power to excel with the ball in his hands on slants, screens, and quick hitting routes. While his route running and catch radius will need to improve to become a top tier downfield threat, the talent is there to grow into a legitimate number two or top tier number three option in time.
The Broncos deal for AJ Bouye almost certainly spells the end for Chris Harris in Denver. And that means leaves Von Miller and Derek Wolfe as the only starters left from the 2015 defense that won a championship—and Wolfe is 30 and set to hit the open market in nine days. That, I’d say, underscores while a great defense can create a championship window for a team, that window usually doesn’t stay open for long. That Broncos defense really came together in 2014, with the signings of Aqib Talib, DeMarcus Ware and TJ Ward. They were one-and-done that first year, won the Super Bowl in their second year, and never even made the playoffs again. Four years later, Miller, the Super Bowl MVP, is the only one left. Now, contrast that with the window a great quarterback can create, and you’ll see why there’s such an inequity in pay.
NFL Draft Links
1) Understand that all of our prospect rankings suck. Even multi-million dollar GMs are bad.
2) Seriously. Everyone sucks at this. Draft Twitter, anonymous scouts, Belichick. All quite bad!
3) With that out of the way… Try to trade down, unless you’re drafting a quarterback.
4) Adjust for positional value. QB > other positions > RB.
5) Athleticism matters more on defense than it does on offense, especially at EDGE.
6) Younger players are typically better. Adjust college production by age.
7) College production matters more at some positions (QB, RB, WR, EDGE, LB).
8) Counting and market share stats are more important than efficiency stats.
9) TFLs and solo tackles are more predictive than sacks for DT, EDGE, and LB prospects.
10) Players on good college teams are usually better. Small school prospects aren’t discounted.
15. Denver Broncos: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn. A really good run-stuffing DT with some ability to seriously disrupt up the gut in the passing game too, Brown had an underwhelming Combine. The Broncos seize upon the opportunity to shore up the middle-of-field defense.
Jerry Jeudy WR, Alabama How is this for a consolation prize? Speedy Henry Ruggs III is off the board, as are the top-four options at offensive tackle. With the Broncos bringing in Bouye and the anticipated return of Bradley Chubb from injury, they’re free to take the best available weapon to boost the pass game. That would be Jerry Jeudy — to hell with his bad shuttle time.
Broncos Ezra Cleveland OT, Boise State Garett Bolles played better down the stretch, but competition (and insurance for an injury-prone Ja’Wuan James) will give the Broncos flexibility when it comes time to make a decision on Bolles’ contract.
Broncos Davon Hamilton IDL, Ohio State Davon Hamilton is a stud in the middle. There’s not much value to true nose tackles these days but Hamilton is a great fit as a powerful presence in the middle.
Broncos Willie Gay Jr. LB, Mississippi State Denver’s inside linebacker group is smart but could use an upgrade in athleticism. Willie Gay Jr. was one of the biggest combine winners for his explosiveness.
Broncos Bryce Hall CB, Virginia With Chris Harris on the outs and Bouye’s addition, the Broncos’ secondary will look pretty different. If Bryce Hall returns to form after his ugly 2019 injury, he could push Bryce Callahan into the slot.
Giants general manager Dave Gettleman frequently defended his decision to trade for a player set to be a free agent, noting the team wanted to get an up-close look at the player once in the building. With a new coach Joe Judge in New York, it’s unclear how Williams might fit in defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s system.
Leonard Williams, defensive lineman: Williams is a better player than Beasley. He disrupts the pocket and is a more effective, versatile player than he’s given credit for being. He’s just nowhere near the player many expected him to be when he went sixth overall in the 2015 draft. Williams is exactly the type of player who gets overpaid in free agency. He’s an above-average starter with a prime draft pedigree that some team could squint and wish into superstar material. Williams has the added benefit this year of leverage over the Giants, who gave up a third-round pick for him in an odd October trade. New York won’t want to lose him for nothing, so a big long-term contract or the franchise tag could be coming for a player who didn’t exactly change the Giants’ defense when he arrived.
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