With the release of my first round NFL Draft board, there’s been a few questions about certain players. While time was a bit of a pinch this year thanks to finishing school, I also made a point to try and eliminate players who did not appear to be clean fits for the Broncos. Some of these were taken off for character and my belief that Elway won’t gamble on them. Others were because close to no NFL players are truly scheme transcendent, and smart teams rarely value a guy highly if he does not fit what they’re trying to run.
So what follows are three players who did not make my final cut-down and why.
Tee Higgins - WR, Clemson
It’s been trendy to beat up on Higgins on Draft Twitter for almost a year now. There was a decent period there where I felt like one of the few in Broncos’ Country who didn’t hate him. While I did not rank him in my pre-Combine Receiver Rankings, I did say this.
If the Broncos want to get a rich man’s version of Tim Patrick and go with a triple tower type of offense, the Tiger would be a fun way to do so. I have questions about his ability to separate at the next level and his route running isn’t close to the top tier technicians in this class. That said, his frame, catch radius, and ball skills make him hard to bet against.
Higgins is hard to slot for Denver because of how I believe he’d fit with Courtland Sutton on the roster. The work I’ve done on him suggests he’d ideally fit as an X-receiver down the road and perhaps a big slot while he figures out how to consistently beat press coverage. Sutton’s already and X, and Higgins’ adequate top end speed makes him a bit of a redundant complimentary talent on a roster with Patrick and Hamilton.
While the Broncos did have an informal meeting with Higgins in Indianapolis, I do not believe they will value him highly enough to take him where he’s bound to go. For that reason it felt like a waste to spend a ton of time honing in on him, and so I left him off the board.
If Elway shocks me and drafts him I’ll go back over his game at length though, because I do think he could find success in the league.
Marlon Davidson - DL, Auburn
How highly do the Broncos’ value a player’s ability to stack and shed blocks? That’s been a question I’ve ruminated over for the last four months. Ultimately, what Fangio said about scheme fit along the defensive line has stuck with me. For that reason, Davidson didn’t get as much attention from me. Ultimately I didn’t see enough evidence to argue with all of the scouting reports that knock him here.
Now last season the Broncos took Dre’Mont Jones, another player who’s more like a rat squeezing under the door than someone who will win a fight to hold his ground. Denver’s reported interest in Robert Windsor could also be a hint that they’re open to a talent like Davidson, and if so I’ll be excited to look into his game. Watching the big uglies is one of my favorite position groups and Davidson is a former edge player who’s probably going to live as a big end or interior player in the league.
Yetur Gross-Matos - EDGE, Penn State
Probably not a great excuse, but I was pretty late to most of the edge class because Von Miller and Bradley Chubb made it a lower priority. In the end I wound up looking at the edge prospects that seemed like cleaner fits and/or who could be available farther down the board. I wound up overlooking Gross-Mators because it’s hard time to believe the Nittany Lion will hang around into the third round.
“Why wasn’t _____ tackle on the board?”
I wrote about this for my Tackle Rankings last week.
Everything I’ve seen studying the Broncos since Munchak came on board combined the players they’ve shown interest in leads me to believe Denver wants a certain kind of tackle. These players tend to look like they fit in a zone blocking scheme, but also have potential as drive blockers. I suspect this is partly because Risner’s (and now Glasgow’s?) ability to pull out and lead the way is a big part of the running game, so a tackle who’s quick enough to protect the vacated space as well as hold up in an island in pass pro is valuable. I also believe Elway’s last two years suggest that character is an important part of the evaluation.
So no, I did not forget about the following players. I just don’t believe they fit what the Broncos want. If they surprise me, I’ll be happy to go back and try to identify why.
- Mekhi Becton - Louisville
- Isaiah Wilson - Georgia
- Saahdiq Charles - LSU
- Tyre Phillips - Mississippi State
- Yasir Durant - Missouri
- Trey Adams - Washington
Let me know if there’s anyone else I omitted that you’re curious about Broncos Country!
On Saturday night, CBS Sports Network re-aired the 2010 Wild Card matchup between the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers, remembered simply as “Tebow’s playoff win.”
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