In the final stretch to the 2014 NFL Draft, we continue to churn out all the info you need to be ready for the draft and impress your friends with enough knowledge to rival Kiper Jr. and Mayock. We'll start with an overall assessment of the Broncos draft needs followed by a round-by-round breakdown of who I think they should take.
Broncos Draft Needs
The Denver Broncos made huge splash in free agency through
the first 24 hours of free agency. They made a couple of other under the radar
moves in free agency in the last few weeks as well. Now that many of their own
free agents have signed elsewhere there is a clear picture as to the core
roster make-up. John Elway has made it
clear that the Broncos look to fill their needs through free agency and then
draft the best player available through the draft.
Tier 1 Needs (Possible Starters)
1. Middle Linebacker – This is easily the Broncos greatest
position of need after free agency. They certainly tried to address this hole, but were left empty-handed as D'Qwell Jackson, Jon Beason and Daryl Smith chose
to sign elsewhere. As of now, the Broncos starter would be Nate Irving. He was
supposed to be their starting MLB going into training camp last year; however,
Irving struggles in coverage. While he excels against the run at Strongside
linebacker, he did not show the instincts and play recognition that is needed
to play in the middle. The Broncos moved Wesley Woodyard and eventually brought
in Paris Lenon to play MLB. Obviously their confidence in Irving at MLB was
never high to begin with.
2. Cornerback – The Broncos signed Aqib Talib out of nowhere
in free agency and there is no doubt he brings physicality to the secondary
with the ability to cover any teams top target one-on-one, including Jimmy
Graham. At the other side, Chris Harris will be returning from a partially torn
ACL. Harris is as proven as any defender on this Denver Broncos squad, improving
every season. This Kansas Jayhawk duo have proven they can play at an elite
level. The concern with both of these players is durability. Magnifying that concern is the Broncos lack
of depth at the position. They will be counting on Kayvon Webster to step up in
a big way. He flashed well at the beginning of the year before being exposed as
the season went on. I love how physical he plays, but he needs to take as game
to the next level as the Nickel Cornerback was on the field two-thirds of the
defensive plays on this Broncos team. That third CB is a starter. If one of
these three guys gets hurt than suddenly we are counting on Tony Carter a lot
more than I would like to at any point next season.
3. Free Safety – The Broncos filled a huge need at SS with
the signing of 2nd team All-Pro T.J. Ward. He brings toughness and
leadership and can come up in the box and make plays. His compliment needs to
be a centerfielder type free safety. Rahim Moore would actually fit this role
quite well. His freak compartment syndrome is can injury that has no precedent
as far as an NFL player making a comeback. If he can return to full health this
will not be an issue, but that is a huge IF for a team with Super Bowl
aspirations. Quincy Carter hasn't been able to stay on the field in the three
years since the Broncos drafted him. Duke Ihenacho's biggest weakness is
coverage he is not a free safety.
Tier 2 Needs (Depth)
4. Guard – The biggest loss the Broncos felt was Zane
Beadles. He was a quality starter but they were not willing to overpay to keep
him in Denver; Jacksonville was. The signing of center Will Montgomery
significantly lowers the need here. It allows the Broncos to shift Manny
Ramirez back to guard and fill the hole at LG. The Broncos have also mentioned
trying Orlando Franklin at LG and letting Chris Clark start at right tackle.
Either way the Broncos look capable of filling this position, this need is now
purely for depth.
5. Running Back – Montee Ball will be given every
opportunity to be the Broncos lead back and they believe that he can be. I will
admit he showed a lot of improvement the 2nd half of last
season. Behind him C.J. Anderson and
Ronnie Hillman have not proven much to give any kind of comfort of the depth at
RB. Anderson had one good preseason game before getting hurt and Hillman is a
proven fumbler. They will use a mid-round pick on this position to add
6. Wide Receiver – The Broncos let Eric Decker walk in free
agency and then upgraded his position for less money with Emmanuel Sanders.
Sanders has explosive speed and excels after the catch. Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker fill out a
trio that will not miss a beat from last season. They also re-signed Bubba
Caldwell as their 4th WR. So why even list wide receiver as a need?
Wes Welker. This is likely his last season in Denver. His contract will be
expiring and he showed signs of his body starting to break last season. The greatest part of the Emmanuel Sanders
signing is his versatility to play either inside or outside. If Welker ever
goes down he can fill that role in the slot. But also after this season it
gives us the flexibility to add an outside receiver or slot receiver in the
draft to be groomed as a starter after this year. With the ridiculous depth at WR
in this draft it is fairly likely that the best player on the board will indeed
be a WR with one of the Broncos first three draft picks.
Now to touch on the players I think the Broncos will pick in this years draft.
2014 Broncos Picks
If you took a
look at my most recent first round mock , you'll have known that I predicted the
Broncos traded up to #23 with Kansas City. Kansas City is a prime candidate to
move down. They're without a 2nd round pick in this deep draft. After
losing both starting guards, that is clearly their greatest area of need. They
can move back and pick up a top guard while gaining an extra 3rd round pick
back. The Broncos are looking to move up grab an immediate impact player at LB
(Mosley, Shazier) and CB (Gilbert, Fuller, Dennard).
Broncos trade picks #31 and #95
Chiefs trade pick #23
This works out to be very even on the trade chart, the standard all NFL teams use to value draft picks for trade purposes.
The Broncos move up for one of the top corners in the draft.
He has elite speed (4.37) and good size at 6'0" 202. Gilbert has the talent to
come in and immediate start on the outside. He breaks to the ball and knows how
to make game-breaking plays. This will allow Chris Harris to move back inside
and play a majority of his snaps where he excels the most. Aqib Talib has yet
to play a full 16 game season and Harris is coming off a partially torn MCL. If
one of them goes down at any point in the season the Broncos will still be able
to rely on 2nd year man Kayvon Webster. Gilbert provides bonus value
in that he is a special talent at kick returner with ability to go the distance
every time he touches the ball.
At 6'2" 220 Donte Moncrief has very good size and answered
questions about his speed by running a 4.34 40 yard dash. Unlike Eric Decker he
has excels at creating separation coming out of his breaks and very good route
running. He also fits the mold as a Broncos WR with very nice blocking down the
field. This pick was made looking ahead towards next season when Wes Welker
will likely be gone. This will allow Emmanuel Sanders to move inside to slot
next year and allows more money for re-signing top weapons Demaryius Thomas and
131. Jordan Tripp LB, Montana
This could become one of the biggest steals of the draft.
Tripp has very good athleticism for a linebacker, testing better than C.J.
Mosley in nearly every category at the combine. He has the production to match
with enough instincts to play in the middle. There are questions about his
level of competition and short arms but he will immediately compete for the
starting MLB position. He may end up as a weakside linebacker but with his
speed he will at least be an immediate value as a nickel linebacker and special
171. Brandon Linder, OG, University of Miami
Linder has good size and plays nasty. Leader of the offensive line with 42 career starts and high character. He provides depth at guard with measurables and the work ethic to eventually become a starter.
207. Jonathan Dowling FS, Western Kentucky
Dowling plays aggressive hits hard and has good height at
6'3". He punishes receivers and has very good range to play centerfield. His
character is a concern after being kicked off the team at Florida. The Broncos
have shown interest in Dowling and the 5th round is late enough for
them to take a gamble.
246. Kapri Bibbs RB, Colorado St
Bibbs has nice vision and cutback ability. The Broncos have
certainly shown interest and he has a chance to come in and compete in their
For those of you that demanded more than just the Denver Broncos 2014 mock draft, our expert NFL draft correspondent, Marco "Kiper" Navarro, has put together an entire first round 2014 NFL mock draft (including his predicted trades and picks 33 and 34 because...well just because he said so).
Each player includes an accompanying link to a highlight video if you choose to peruse, so have at it!
Wow, with the free agent picks by
Elway you can't help but get excited about next year. But if Elway wants
to get back to the Super Bowl and help Peyton Manning out on the other
side of the ball, Denver needs to continue looking at the defense in the
draft to get younger and more physical. "In Elway I trust" and I believe
he won't disappoint!!!
Denver will trade out if they feel they can get Fuller in the second
round. Their trade partner will be the Houston Texans, who will look to trade back
in for a QB giving Denver an extra pick in the 3rd round. After
reviewing all of the corners in this draft, I like Kyle Fuller. He is a big
corner, physical against the run and is very good in coverage. Fuller would give great depth to the secondary in case of injury and could
With the signing of Talib, Elway wants to continue to
get younger and more physical in the secondary and will still draft
heavy on defense this year.
2nd Round: Deone Bucannon, SS Washington State 6'1, 216 lbs (alternate
pick: Ed Reynolds Stanford, FS)
After great picks in free agency, Denver can let draft talent fall to
them. It was hard not to get involved in all the hype with safety Calvin
Pryor(who is a very physical safety). But that hype died pretty quickly
when I watched Deone Bucannon play. Denver could land the best all-around safety in the draft without giving away picks. I know that Denver
signed T.J. Ward, but Bucannon would be too hard to pass up. He would
add more youth and physicality to the secondary. Deone is a very hard
hitting physical safety who reminds me of Steve Atwater. He puts fear into
wide receivers and would give Del Rio another option at safety in case
someone gets hurt like Quentin Carter (who has been hurt for two years).
He is also exponentially better in coverage then Duke Ihenacho and Calvin Pryor. In
fact, he is very very good in coverage. Some so called experts have him
as a 3rd rounder I have him as a high 2nd rounder!!
3rd Round: Marcus Smith DE Louisville 6'4, 260lbs (alternate pick:
Kareem Martin North Carolina, DE)
Smith has the potential to be a 2nd rounder, but it will depend on if
Denver feels Derek Wolfe will be healthy enough to play next year. Therefore, I think
Denver should get Smith here for insurance on Wolfe. It was hard for me
to let Murphy go as my pick, but I found a guy that has one thing Murphy
doesn't have and that's being explosive off the line. Smith, like Murphy, also had a ton of sacks - 14 this year - and reminds me of (Von) Miller with his
explosiveness off the line and mastery of the sack strip fumble on
Like cornerbacks, you can never have enough pass rushers as we seen
in the Super Bowl when Seattle had pass rushers coming from everywhere. With Von Miller getting healthy, Malik Jackson having a break out year,
Q. Smith coming off IR, Sylvester Williams getting better at pass rush up the
middle, Knighton dominating the middle, Derek Wolfe hopefully healthy
enough to play next year, and now Demarcus Ware WOW!!! Del Rio could be
drooling at the possibilities this D-Line could bring. Can you say...
With all the rumors of Denver trading up for ILB Mosley, I really doubt
Denver will do so. They don't have the extra picks and they have needs
elsewhere. In my opinion, Shayne Skov is an all-around ILB and should be
taken in the 1st and 2nd round, but because of injury concerns, he falls. Skov has the ability to become a three down LB. He is
really good in coverage, can get pass rush up the middle and can shed
blocks really well to stop the run. Denver would be crazy not to draft
Skov, who can be an instant starter at the ILB position. With an already
great Linebacker corp having Skov in the middle, Miller on one side and
Travathan on the other that is just a scary thought for QBs!
4th Round: Brandon Coleman WR Rutger 6'6, 220lbs (alternate pick: Mike
Davis Texas, WR)
There's no reason to think Denver will use a high pick on a wide
receiver because they resigned Caldwell and signed Emmanuel Sander. I
would be very surprised if they did given the needs on D. Yes, I know
there is some panic in Broncos Country, but Eric Decker is replaceable
and with a wide receiver class, one of the deepest and best draft classes
in years, Denver will wait. I know some women will beg to differ, but when it
comes to football, everyone is replaceable except Peyton Manning.
Denver solidified their defense with the first four picks, now they need
to replace Decker.
Brandon Coleman is the guy. He is huge at 6'6 220lbs and
has 4.5 speed, which is impressive for his size. Reminds me a lot of
Demaryius Thomas and I believe he could learn from Thomas on running
routes better. Denver would not miss a beat, adding Coleman to the
offense and it would help Manning out having two huge receivers and
a big tight end in the red zone, Manning would be licking his chops.
I thought long and hard about putting a running back on the board for
Denver, but in reality John Fox likes to have four running backs on his
roster. With Knowshon Moreno gone, that leaves Ball as the starter along with Anderson
and Hillman competing for the backup. If Ball
or Anderson get hurt, that would leave Hillman as the backup. That's a
scary thought because of his fumbling issues, so if I'm Denver they have
to get a running back late in the drafts, insurance on Hillman or just plainly for possibility of injuries.
I like Gaffney, he would be the biggest running back
on Denver's roster and is very hard to bring down. In addition, he's
pretty good in pass protection and, for his size, he runs a 4.4 and has
great vision. John Fox will want to take a lot of pressure off of Manning
next year and pounding the ball Gaffney could help out with softening up
defenses and give Fox his one-two punch with Ball and Gaffney.
6th Round: Marqueston Huff S/CB Wyoming 6'0
196 lbs (alternate pick: Matt Patchan Boston College OT)
John Fox loves to
have players that can play different positions. With Huff still on the board, he will be hard to pass up. He will give great depth at the corner and safety
position. Huff is a tackling machine notching 127 tackles along with 2 INT's last year. He is very good at playing corner and the safety positions. I believe Denver
will draft Huff so he can compete with Omar Bolden for the backup position. My prediction, Huff will ultimately win the back up position and Bolden will be released
before the season starts. Omar Bolden has been a draft bust and has struggled
playing corner and safety position. Bottom line, I have seen enough of Bolden and I believe the Broncos have too.
7th Round: Max Bullough ILB Michigan State 6'3 250 lbs (alternate pick:
Russell Bodine North Carolina, OG)
I believe Denver will go mostly defense in this draft
since that was their weakness last year and the high flying offense nearly carrying them single-handedly to the promise land.
Denver could go OL here as I have for my alternate pick, but with Denver
signing Montgomery at center and Denver developing offensive lineman so well
(Chris Clark, Manny Ramirez) no need to waste a pick an OL.
I like Bullough
to backup Skov. Bullough can really shut down the run and is pretty good in
pass coverage for his size, but could use some work. I believe Bullough could
get better and what better way to learn from a former linebacker turned coach
in Jack Del Rio. From what I have seen on tape, I believe Bullough would be able
to compete with Skov for the starting job because he has great instinct (like
Skov) and would add some crucial depth at inside linebacker for the future.
Well there you go Bronco Country. With the great picks in free agency, if Denver can land my picks and/or even my alternate picks Denver could
find themselves in Arizona with Peyton Manning lifting the Lombardi
History suggests it's hard to get back after losing the Super
Bowl, but history is made to be rewritten!!!! GO BRONCOS!!!!