Jaylon Smith was the choice in the first round, but his injury gets worse with every report so he is no longer a viable choice. His medical reports have pushed his player ranking out of reach of the first round and the analytics model adjusted accordingly. Here is the updated seven round mock draft for the Denver Broncos:
Round 1 – Vernon Butler – Defensive Line
The Broncos lost one key contributor on the defensive line (Malik Jackson) and if they don’t pick up Sylvester Williams fifth year option they could lose another. They did a decent job replacing Jackson with Crick, but losing two starters in two years would definitely put a dent in the rotation. Defensive line is one of a few positions that takes time for young players to develop and contribute on a high level. Grabbing Butler here would solve that issue. It would be unnecessary for him to be a major contributor on day one, but he could be very valuable to the rotation with an eye on the nose tackle spot in 2017. (This selection was generated by the draft analytics model)
Round 2 – La’Raven Clark – Offensive Tackle
The Broncos don’t need an offensive tackle this season with the signing of Russell Okung, but they do need one for the future. Okung and Donald Stephenson may only be short-term answers. Clark would be perfect for this situation. He needs seasoning, but has potential that is through the roof. He could learn for a season and be ready to take a starting role in 2017.
Round 3 – TJ Green – Safety
The Broncos had only two safeties with game experience on their roster until the re-signing of Shiloh Keo happened last Monday. The Broncos have two very good safeties in TJ Ward and Darian Stewart, but both have missed time with injuries. The Broncos need depth badly at this position. Furthermore, Stewart is slated to be an unrestricted free agent after the season, so finding his replacement is high on the priority list.
Round 3 – CJ Prosise – Running Back
The Broncos have re-signed CJ Anderson, but he has never been a running back who carries the load all season. Enter Prosise. He is still learning the nuances of the position and has fumbling issues, but he can become the every down workhorse back the Broncos have been looking for. A rotation of Prosise and Anderson in 2016 would be a strong running back crew with the eye on Prosise taking over the lead role in 2017.
Round 4 – James Bradberry – Cornerback
It may not seem like the Broncos need a cornerback with the big three of Chris Harris Jr., Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby, but they will need one soon. They could easily lose Kavvon Webster to free agency after the season and at some point Talib’s antics and salary will be too much for the Broncos to handle. Having three good cornerbacks is essential in today’s NFL and Bradberry could be ready to step into a bigger role in 2017.
Round 5 – Bryce Williams – Tight End
The Broncos currently have four tight ends on the roster, but Virgil Green and Jeff Heuerman are the only viable starting candidates/depth options. Heuerman is still a question mark after spending his rookie season on injured reserve. The Broncos have to find another tight end this season.
Round 5 – Tyler Ervin – Running Back
The Broncos brought back Ronnie Hillman, but his deal is for one year and it was very low cost. They are still in the market for a true change of pace running back who can be a threat every time he gets the ball in his hands. Hillman has been solid, but not spectacular. The Broncos need more. Ervin can fill the change of pace role as well as return kicks and punts.
Round 6 – Nick Kwiatkoski – Linebacker
The loss of Danny Trevathan is bigger than most people would like to admit. He was a great run stopper and was decent in coverage. The Broncos will fill his role with Davis and Corey Nelson, but it remains to be seen how that will work out. To add to the loss of Trevathan, Brandon Marshall will be an unrestricted free agent after the season and Todd Davis will be a restricted free agent, which could leave the Broncos desperately thin at linebacker in the near future. Kwiatkoski is a converted safety who weighs 243 pounds, but can still cover. He would be a three down linebacker for the Broncos.
Round 7 – Jeff Driskel – Quarterback
Quarterback has been the hot topic all off-season. Unless the Broncos can snag one of the three first round quarterbacks, they will need to develop a mid to late round prospect. All of the quarterbacks after the big three have issues or needs serious development. Why not take a late round flyer on a quarterback who has potential, but needs to refine his craft?
Round 7 – Joe Thuney – Guard
The Broncos need to build their offensive line for the future. Thuney is an offensive tackle who projects best at guard in the NFL. He could be depth in the beginning, with an eye on a future starting role as his skills progress.