This may sound sacrilegious, but let’s forget about Ruggs vs Jeudy for a little while. Let’s drop the great tackle debate. Push Javon Kinlaw and Derrick Brown from your mind.
Let’s talk about the Broncos Day 2. As of right now, Elway has four picks across the second and third rounds of the draft. That is a ton of top 100 capital and provides the Broncos a huge opportunity to land five core players from this class.
Smart teams are always planning one or even two steps ahead, and with players like Von Miller, Kareem Jackson, Todd Davis, Alexander Johnson, Mike Purcell, Garett Bolles, Bryce Callahan, and A.J. Bouye all reaching contract crossroads in the next two seasons, there is an argument to be made that Elway should fortify positions across the roster for 2021 and beyond.
For this reason and my general obsession with the NFL Draft, I wanted to share some of my favorite prospects who aren’t getting a lot of first round type of hype. Keep in mind that locking down a prospects draft stock is a bit of a guess in a normal draft cycle and it’s like blindly throwing darts at a moving car this year. Also a quick reminder that these aren’t necessarily guys who are supposed to meet an immediate need so much as they look like clear fits for the systems in place.
So who are some players that make a ton of sense?
ED/LB - Zack Baun - Wisconsin
One of the big adjustments Broncos’ Country had to go through last year is how Fangio asks his edge players to drop into coverage more than his predecessors. With that in mind, players who can make hay rushing the passer but also possess the lateral quickness and wherewithal to survive in space are going to be higher on Denver’s board. Baun is one such player, and if he slid all the way to 46 he’d make sense.
Early on the Broncos could use him in a way similar to their plan for Justin Hollins next year. He’s versatile enough to serve as an off ball backer, after all. He could also take pressure off Miller when he’s let loose to rush the passer, something Von didn’t get near enough of last year after Bradley Chubb was lost for the year.
WR - Brandon Aiyuk - Arizona State
I’ve already written about Aiyuk here, so I won’t wax too poetic on the Sun Devil. If the Broncos are looking to add speed to the offense after the first round he makes a ton of sense.
I haven't been able to forget this tweet for a month now.— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) March 27, 2020
Could be something we'd really look back on if we knew the #Broncos were having visits with guys like Jeremy Chinn, Kyle Dugger, Xavier McKinney... https://t.co/PJEAKBuYh6
LB/S - Jeremy Chinn - Southern Illinois
Because of the way Covid-19 has altered Draft prep this year, we’re really in the dark on official visits. With the Broncos that could be significant, since the last two years Elway made it pretty clear who he was targeting in the lead up. Chinn and Dugger stand out as two that I planned to keep an eye out for after the Combine because they both played safety in college but look like Day 2 hybrids as they hit the modern NFL.
Of the two, I prefer Chinn. Not because of the Steve Atwater ties so much as the fact that Dugger is already 24 years old. Chinn’s tape leaves you in this state of “what am I doing here?” as you watch it because he’s a dominant player wrecking future teachers, lawyers, and car salesmen, but he’s a ridiculous athlete who could give Fangio more versatility with his coverages. I’m definitely intrigued. Down the road, he could serve as the potential running mate with Justin Simmons.
So I have serious doubts Kristian Fulton will fall to 46. But I did write about cornerbacks here, and there are more top 50 talents at this position than will likely get picked. I’d be pretty happy with any the corners I listed winding up in orange and blue. One unsung fact about the secondary is its effectiveness is more closely tied to its floor than the ceiling of any one player, so the Broncos should continue to invest resources here to keep up Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs’ aerial circus.
LB - Akeem Davis-Gaither - Appalachian State
It’s been interesting following the popular narrative on this linebacker class. The word has been that it’s bad, but I think I prefer it to last year’s version outside of the very top. One reason for that is this class has a number athletic backers who will bring range and upside to the next level. Malik Harrison, Jordyn Brooks, and Willie Gay are all players that show some varying degrees of promise, but of them I found myself really hyped on Davis-Gaither.
While he’s going to probably need to gain weight to really thrive for Fangio’s defense in base personnel, you’d never guess he’s undersized by watching his 2019 tape. He brings a lot of fight to the field and the Mountaineers used him in a number of ways.
According to Pro Football Focus’ game charting, he played more than 250 snaps in the box, as a blitzer, and as a slot corner. He also logged a handful of snaps at boundary corner and deep safety. Considering the fact that Todd Davis was asked to cover in the slot on about 100 snaps last year, a backer who’s spent as much time in space as Davis-Gaither has real value. I also really love how he rose to the occasion in tight moments, such as a fourth down sack where he beat a South Carolina tackle to get to the QB.
After the "big 4" who is your favorite tackle prospect in the NFL Draft that fits the #Broncos?— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) March 27, 2020
This is a really tricky position to pin down for a couple reasons. I tend to listen to way too many podcasts about the Draft, and the consensus seems to be that as many as six tackles could go in the first round. Andrew Thomas, Tristan Wirfs, Mekhi Becton, and Jedrick Wills are considered locks, but depending on who you ask Josh Jones, Austin Jackson, and Ezra Cleveland could also be in that top 32.
There’s enough smoke to know that Elway and the Broncos’ coaching staff are definitely considering life after Bolles. Between the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine they met with Wirfs, Wills, Jones, Jackson, and Cleveland. There’s a pretty strong possibility that Denver could use 15 or 46 to scoop one of them up, if they’re available.
A little farther down the board it gets a bit hazier. The Broncos previous addition of Ja’Wuan James presumably locks down right tackle for the foreseeable future, but his injury last year and a contract that contains a potential out in 2021 means a prospect like Matthew Peart or Ben Bartch could make sense. Both are smaller school prospects who bring the kind of tools that suggest Munchak could turn them into an asset in time. Both will need to add strength and refine their technique, but the ceiling is enticing.
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An ode to the Josh McDaniels era. He was a terrible coach. A terrible general manager. And terrible for the Denver Broncos. But without him, we wouldn’t have Tim Tebow.
From Shannon Sharpe and Peyton Manning to Lyle Alzado and Tom Jackson, these guys brought entertainment to Broncos Country.
It was pretty cool to see the Broncos head coach cooking while listening to the King of Cool earlier this week.
I spoke with Bolts from the Blue’s Michael Peterson for another look at Gordon.
“I feel like I’ve outplayed my contract and I deserve to take care of my family, too,’’ Lindsay said. “But I’m under contract still. For me, my mindset is to play out my contract. The fact is, nothing has to be done. You can’t make anybody do something they don’t want to do.
NFL Draft Links
The crimson dancing bear. The Denver Broncos should consider Jedrick Wills if he is still available when they pick fifteenth overall.
Stick to Football - Jedrick Wills Interview; 7 Days of the NFL Draft? | Listen via Stitcher for Podcasts
Matt, Connor and Mello are joined by OL1 in the draft Jedrick Wills to talk Alabama, training during a pandemic and much more.
15. Denver Broncos: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama For my money, Jeudy is top wide receiver in the draft. It just so happens, at this very moment, there seems to be more buzz about Lamb and Ruggs. Jeudry is an excellent route runner with good hands. Those two attributes make people forget how fast he is on the field. Other option: The Broncos traded for A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan is fine in the slot, but the Broncos need a second outside cornerback. Henderson could get the nod if the top three wide receivers are gone.
Broncos Derrick Brown IDL, Auburn The Denver Broncos are outside of the strike zone to land one of the top-three receivers but that’s okay. The depth of the receiver class presents some exciting options on Day 2 and it allows Denver to truly go with the best player on the board. Derrick Brown is a steal here. Adding Brown and Jurrell Casey to the defensive line sandwiched between Von Miller and Bradley Chubb has the makings of a special defensive front.
15. DENVER BRONCOS – LAVISKA SHENAULT WR COLORADO EE: Whether Drew Lock actually played as well as his 4-1 record as a starter or not, he’s the Broncos’ quarterback, and they would be smart to surround him and superstar wideout Courtland Sutton with another playmaker. Shenault statistically comps to Robert Woods, who has been a revelation for the Rams’ offense since coming over from Buffalo in 2017.
While the Raiders signed Marcus Mariota to an incentive-laden deal, and have Derek Carr set to start, GM Mike Mayock has consistently said he’d look to upgrade all positions, including quarterback, if the situation presented itself. Doing due diligence with Herbert continues the work. If Herbert falls to where the Raiders, who own two first-rounders (Nos. 12 and 19), select, Vegas wants to know what sort of quarterback might be on the board. Given Herbert’s physical tools, he could also be the type of player that coach Jon Gruden falls for in the pre-draft process.
“I am extremely pleased,” Cain told Edholm. “If you told me four, almost five, months ago now that he’d be where he is now, I think I would have been very happy. I think he’s done extremely well for where he started out.”
The Chiefs would immediately free $14 million by trading or cutting Watkins, a move that would become easier now that receiver Demarcus Robinson has been re-signed. Clark’s deal could be restructured easily, with for example $10 million of his $12 million salary converted to a guarantee, pushing $7.5 million to future years. Ditto for Mathieu, who has an $11.15 million salary — but only two years over which to spread a signing bonus (absent an extension).
Hill has a $910,000 salary and a $15.2 million roster bonus. If the roster bonus already has been earned, it’s too late to convert it to a guaranteed payment. Jones, who is subject to the franchise tag, would surely emerge with a lower 2020 cap number if/when he signs a long-term deal. However, that’s usually a deadline-driven proposition. The deadline for signing franchise-tagged players to multi-year contracts is July 15.
Ranking the best available NFL free agents remaining in 2020 | NFL News, Rankings and Statistics | PFF
6. PRINCE AMUKAMARA Amukamara earned PFF coverage grades above 70.0 in each of the past three seasons, including a career-high 77.1 PFF coverage grade in 2018. In Chicago this past season, he allowed 36 receptions from 58 targets for 515 yards and two touchdowns en route to a 70.5 PFF coverage grade. He allowed more than 50 yards in coverage in five of the 15 games he played at least 20 defensive snaps in. He also logged just four passes defensed and zero interceptions in 2019. He’s recorded just three interceptions and 16 passes defensed in the last three years.
“I think the way they value the inside linebacker position especially in that defense, it wasn’t as valued as other places I guess in my opinion,” Martinez said. “Overall, it was one of the things where they offered me, and we were just in different wave lengths on where I valued myself and where they valued it. At the end of the day, it was one of the decisions that had to be made on both sides. It’s a business and right now I am extremely happy where I am and can’t wait to start playing for the Giants and finally get into the facility.”