It is plain and simple, the Denver Broncos desperately need a young quarterback for the future and getting one in this draft would be the best course of action. Unfortunately the first round graded quarterbacks will be gone before the Broncos even have a chance to trade up to get one. That is unless they are willing to sell the farm to trade up ala LA Rams or Washington Redskins. John Elway is no dummy, so he isn’t going to give up that many potential starters for one player. The Broncos will be patient and take the best player available. Regardless of what the media pundits are saying (because frankly most of them hate the Broncos) the Broncos are still loaded with talent. Sure they lost a few free agents, but they have quietly replaced all of them with either homegrown talent or free agents. Other than at quarterback of course.
Round 1 – Jaylon Smith – Linebacker
It is a huge risk taking Smith here, but the reward could be reminiscent of the Randy Gradishar days. There are reasons for them to take the chance. Smith was a top five selection before his injury and if he heals completely he would be a three down linebacker for the next decade. The Broncos are one of a few teams that can afford to take the risk because they have Todd Davis penciled in as the starter and have depth at the position. In other words, they can afford to let Smith heal for a year. Finally, the way the draft will unfold there isn’t going to be a great selection at #31 who will fill a position of need for the Broncos. Smith’s medical recheck wasn’t as bad as it sounds. He is expected to make a full recovery, but won’t play until 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 have two safeties with game experience on their roster until the re-signing of Shiloh Keo happens on 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
Even if the Broncos bring back Ronnie Hillman they need to find 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.