Denver Broncos Mock Draft: Fresh 7 Round Predictions Post Week 1 of Free Agency
The Denver Broncos have been one of the most active teams in free agency this year. Under general manager John Elway, the Broncos look to fill holes via free agency and add depth—and developmental upside—through the NFL draft.
The defensive side of the ball has received the most attention during the free-agency period. Adding cornerback Aqib Talib, strong safety T.J. Ward and defensive end DeMarcus Ware were arguably the three-biggest splashes in free agency.
Denver made sure to take care of a couple of wide receivers as well. They retained free agent Andre “Bubba” Caldwell and they added former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders to top off the week.
The additions in free agency are likely to change some of the draft strategy for the Broncos.
Here’s a seven-round mock draft after the first week of free agency is in the books.
1st Round: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
You can never have too many pass-rushers. The Broncos add a future Hall of Fame player in DeMarcus Ware, but that doesn’t mean they won’t add more players who can put the quarterback under duress.
Dee Ford would be a fine first-round pick for the Broncos.
He has the ability to bend around the edge, and Ford has the closing burst to get to the quarterback in a hurry. He maintains his balance when turning the corner, and Ford does not get too deep with his pursuit.
With good snap anticipation, Ford quickly gets into his blocker. He will use multiple moves to get around an offensive tackle, and Ford does a good job of changing up his various moves.
He was a standout player at the 2014 Reese’s Senior Bowl earlier this year, and that performance may have cemented him as a premium pick.
Ford is a tough player who works hard when setting the edge. However, he’s not a large player (6’2” 243 pounds) and can get pushed around if a tackle gets ahold of him. He also wasn’t asked to cover much in college at Auburn.
2nd Round: Kyle Fuller, DB, Virginia Tech
The Broncos added cornerback Aqib Talib in free agency, but they could use additional depth at the position. That depth (and developmental upside) could come from Kyle Fuller.
He’s a physical corner who loves to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage. He has the strength to redirect receivers, and Fuller will regularly disrupt timing-based routes.
Fuller can play in the box as he has a nose for the football. He’s also unafraid of contact, and Fuller relishes punishing opponents. He has good click-and-close ability when a play is in front of him. Fuller also does a good job of covering deep routes.
His aggression can be used against him at times. Fuller is constantly looking to make the big play, and he can get out of position because of it. He also needs to refine his technique if he wants to play up to his full potential as a pro.
3rd Round: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
Just because they added Sanders doesn’t mean they will avoid drafting a wide receiver. A receiver that could interest them is Jarvis Landry.
He’s got a lot of Decker to his game as Landry runs crisp routes and can make difficult catches seem routine. He will struggle to gain separation quickly, but he can rip away contested passes from a defender.
Landry is not afraid to run routes over the middle, and he knows how to take a hit and keep his feet. He will also sacrifice his body to make a catch that is above his head or below his waist.
Like Decker, Landry will also suffer from concentration problems from time to time.
He knows how to work his way back to the ball, and he squares his shoulders to the line of scrimmage in order to present the biggest target to his quarterback.
4th Round: Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama
He’s tall (6’6”), and that makes him an intriguing prospect as that length can help him get to the ball-carrier quicker. Hubbard had a disappointing junior season, but he still decided to turn pro.
With proper coaching and motivation, Hubbard could prove to be a great value pick.
Hubbard has scheme versatility, as he can line up at end or outside linebacker. He’s good against the run, and Hubbard does not waste time with oncoming blockers. He can stack and shed quickly, then he has decent burst to get to the ball.
He’s not that explosive off the snap, and Hubbard’s motor doesn’t always run hot.
5th Round: Isaiah Crowell, RB, Alabama State (Georgia Transfer)
No team has made the move to add Knowshon Moreno yet. At this time, the Broncos don’t have any plans on bringing him back. It looks like Montee Ball will be the team’s lead back in 2014.
The Broncos could still use a running back for depth. That back may be Isaiah Crowell from Alabama State.
Crowell is arguably the most talented back in this draft class, but he’s going to fall down draft boards because of weapons charges (later dropped) he had during his time at the University of Georgia.
He’s a physical runner who can grind a defense down between the tackles. He runs through arm tackles with ease, and Crowell has the burst to get to the second level quickly.
Crowell runs with good balance, and he’s difficult to bring down when he builds a head of steam.
He’s not much of a receiver out of the backfield and could be used in Denver as a short-yardage banger and backup runner.
6th Round: Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming
The quarterback of the future for the Broncos is Brock Osweiler. Behind him Zac Dysert was a developmental quarterback in 2013. The Broncos may want to add competition for Dysert, and that player could be Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith.
At the Wyoming pro day last week, Smith told me, “I like to prove my doubters wrong, but I love to prove my supporters right.” He’s a player who has had to prove people wrong ever since he came out of high school as Gatorade Player of the Year in Oregon.
Smith leaves Wyoming holding several school records like 76 touchdown passes and 97 total scores. He’s an incredibly athletic quarterback who ran a 4.45 40-yard dash at his pro day. With a 10’8” broad jump and 10” hands, Smith has the measurable that scouts love.
He’s athletic enough to keep plays alive with his feet while keeping his eyes downfield. Smith is a confident quarterback who has no issues throwing to the middle of the field.
Smith’s arm has been knocked as being weak, but at the Wyoming pro day he was rocketing passes downfield that hit Robert Herron in stride over 55 yards away.
At Wyoming, Smith had an offensive line that barely gave him enough time to think. Because of this he had to get rid of the football quickly on many plays.
He’s a developmental quarterback who has a comparable (with greater measurables) skill set to Johnny Manziel. Smith won't be a first-round pick like Manziel, but he could be a nice sleeper for the Broncos to add.
7th Round: Avery Williamson, ILB, Kentucky
The Broncos were unable to secure a starting middle linebacker during the first week of free agency.
Mike Klis, from the Denver Post, reports the team will have Nate Irving and Steven Johnson compete for the starting middle linebacker job in 2014. Klis notes the team missed out on guys like D’Qwell Jackson, Karlos Dansby, Jon Beason, Perry Riley and Daryl Smith in free agency.
Adding a player like Avery Williamson could be a move they make in the late rounds of the 2014 NFL draft.
Williamson is a savvy player who diagnoses plays quickly, and he can flow from sideline-to-sideline. Over the last two years, Williamson has averaged almost 10 tackles per game.
He’s not a big thumper, measuring in at 6’1”, 240 pounds, but Williamson finished second in the SEC in tackles this past season.
Williamson could also contribute as a special teams player while developing his pro game.
Undrafted Free Agents
With the draft concluded, the Broncos will be looking for talented priority free agents.
In this mock draft, they have added players at defensive end, cornerback, wide receiver, outside linebacker, running back, quarterback and inside linebacker.
They could be looking for value plays at other positions, but the Broncos could also add more competition at the positions they’ve already added to.
Some players that might interest them at this point of the process include wide receiver Jeremy Gallon (Michigan), tight end Jordan Najvar (Baylor), offensive guard Ryan Groy (Wisconsin) and outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett (Colorado State).
The player to highlight here is Gallon.
He was a standout player at the East-West Shrine Game earlier this year, and Gallon was able to get open consistently during the week of practice.
He’s incredibly quick, and Gallon can make defenders miss in the open field. He essentially transforms into a running back after the catch, and he has the foot frequency to cut without losing much speed.
In 2013, Gallon proved he could be a threat in the red zone despite his lack of size. Six of his nine touchdowns this year came when the team was close to paydirt. He’s a tough, fearless receiver when running routes over the middle. Gallon can take a hit and hang onto the rock.
The Broncos could use a player like Gallon for wide receiver depth, and he could work as a return man for them.
Note: All quotes and injury/practice observations obtained firsthand. Record/statistical information provided via email from the Denver Broncos. All contract information for individual players is from Spotrac.com. Draft grades courtesy of NFLDraftScout.com. Cecil Lammey can be followed on Twitter @CecilLammey.