According to NFL Draft Analyst Tony Pauline, the Denver Broncos have been linked to Mississippi State inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney and TCU's Paul Dawson.
Draft buzz April 20th: Benardrick McKinney linked to St Louis Rams & Denver Broncos http://t.co/F9sIonamTt— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) April 20, 2015
Here is what Pauline had to say on his blog.
The Denver Broncos are another team I’m hearing linked to McKinney as they believe he’d fill their linebacker need. The other name associated with Denver in league circles is Paul Dawson of TCU. It must be mentioned the team has not shown a lot of interest in Dawson via the visit/workout route.
This is not the first time the Broncos have been linked to McKinney. They have already reportedly visited with the 6'4", 245lb linebacker, and MHR's Kyle even mock-drafted him to the Broncos in SB Nation's community blogger mock.
He's a versatile linebacker who has played inside and at edge rusher. He's also a good blitzer, and that skill will go well with Wade Phillip's who is expected to bring a more aggressive defense to Denver this season. He would also give the Broncos a bigger linebacker for their 3-4 scheme.
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McKinney is expected to be a late first to early second round pick in next week's NFL Draft.
Paul Dawson, linebacker, TCU
The other name mentioned by Pauline is former TCU linebacker Paul Dawson. This is the first time I have seen this connection, but it does make sense. Dawson has the talent to be a sure-fire first-round selection, but his character is apparently rubbing teams the wrong way.
Here is what one AFC West regional scout had to say about Dawson.
He's an early round player without any question, but you don't have to dig around very deep or very long to realize that his personal character is going to be a major issue for some teams. My grade will be two rounds later than just the talent grade. It has to be factored in."
While he's a bit of a handful for coaches, he's a monster on the field. Dawson averages a tackle every 5.3 snaps and either caused or recovered a total of 8 turnovers during the 2014 season for TCU. He's an impact player.
Dawson did not test very well at the NFL Combine, but his tape speaks for itself. He is expected to somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd rounds of next weeks NFL Draft.
Why are the Broncos looking at linebackers?
Many believed that the Broncos were set at inside linebacker heading into the offseason. Breakout star Brandon Marshall would man one inside linebacker spot, and a healthy Danny Trevathan would man the spot next to him. Then the rest of the younger guys behind them would battle it out for a roster spot.
However, health questions have changed this outlook a bit. Danny Trevathan suffered multiple knee injuries last season, and now Brandon Marshall underwent surgery for some sort of Lisfranc injury. So the Broncos do have some serious question marks at that position.
McKinney or Dawson could potentially start day one, and give the Broncos some insurance if either or both linebacker struggles coming back from injury.