8 NFL Draft Prospects Denver Broncos Can't Afford to Pass Up

Travis Wakeman@@traviswakeman10Featured Columnist IVMarch 26, 2014

8 NFL Draft Prospects Denver Broncos Can't Afford to Pass Up

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    After making plenty of noise in free agency, the Denver Broncos must now turn their attention to the upcoming NFL draft, which is just about six weeks away.

    The team will be searching for players who can contribute immediately as well as those who would be considered more of long-term projects.

    The team needs an upgrade at middle linebacker and the interior of the offensive line, while positions such as wide receiver and the defensive secondary could stand to use more depth.

    Finding the right player at the right time is the key to the draft. While the Broncos likely have hundreds of prospects on their draft board, which ones will they be able to acquire at the right time?

    Here is a look at eight players that the team can't afford to pass up, should Denver have the opportunity to select them.

    Their names shouldn't just be circled—they should have a few gold stars next to them as well.

David Yankey, Guard, Stanford

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    The Broncos will select near the bottom of each round, and with the No. 31 overall pick, David Yankey would be an excellent choice if he is available.

    He played in a pro-style offense with David Shaw at Stanford and is ready to make an impact in the NFL. He is a strong, athletic player who could become a 10-year starter for the team that selects him.

    Yankey displays strong hands and the ability to open big holes in the running game.

    Denver lost Zane Beadles to Jacksonville through free agency this offseason. More than a solid replacement, Yankey would be a vast improvement.

    The Broncos should consider solidifying the interior of the offensive line. Yankey would be a great place to start.

Chrs Borland, Linebacker, Wisconsin

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    It's no secret the Broncos could use an upgrade at the middle linebacker position. At the same time, fans should not be surprised to see them turn the job over to Nate Irving next season.

    At the bottom of Round 2, Chris Borland is a player that the team must consider.

    He is an athletic and intelligent player who could blossom into the field general that has been missing in Denver for some time.

    On top of being an excellent tackler who is great at diagnosing plays, he offers the ability to drop back into pass coverage.

Keith McGill, Cornerback, Utah

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    Gus Ruelas/Associated Press

    With the recent signing of Aqib Talib, the Broncos have their starting cornerbacks for the 2014 season—as long as Chris Harris bounces back from injury with no issues.

    Second-year player Kayvon Webster will also see extensive action. Still, the Broncos could use more depth in the secondary. In today's NFL, you can never have too many cornerbacks.

    Keith McGill fits the bill of a player who could grow in their system.

    With great size (6'3", 211 pounds), he has quick hands and impressive ball skills. He is a good tackler, but he could improve in that area.

    With his length and athletic ability, McGill would be a good pick at the bottom of the third round. Denver could groom into a future star.

Shayne Skov, Linebacker, Stanford

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    If not for his injury history, Shayne Skov would be drafted much higher than he's projected to be in this draft. If Denver can get him in the fourth round, the team must take him.

    He has natural leadership qualities and would bring a new attitude to the Denver defense. He covers the middle of the field very well and displays the ability to put pressure on the quarterback.

    In addition, he is adept at taking on linemen and getting through gaps to meet the ball-carrier in the backfield.

    There is concern about his ability to chase runners to the edge, but he showed more quickness in 2013. He may be just as good as he was before tearing his ACL in 2011.

    Skov is the type of player who will make the team that drafts him very happy.

Tyler Larsen, Center, Utah State

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    Taking a center will never be a sexy pick, but that doesn't mean it's a bad one.

    Tyler Larsen is athletic for his size (6'4", 313 pounds) and has the ability to clear running lanes due to his quickness off the snap.

    He can operate out of the shotgun—something the Denver offense favorsand he is very durable. He started the final 51 games of his collegiate career.

    Manny Ramirez played well at the center position last year, but that all seemed to go out the window when he sailed the first snap of the Super Bowl over Peyton Manning's head, resulting in a safety.

    Though Denver was likely satisfied with the performance of Ramirez, he should be a reserve offensive lineman. Larsen could be a fixture at center for a decade.

Marqueston Huff, Safety, Wyoming

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    Selecting Marqueston Huff in the sixth round would allow the Broncos to add depth to the safety position. But much like the potential selection of Keith McGill, he could easily blossom into a star.

    Playing under the radar at Wyoming, Huff tallied 127 tackles in 2013. In the season opener against Nebraska, he made 18 tackles and had one pass defensed.

    The best part of his game is his versatility. He played cornerback in college before transitioning to safety and showed he could play both positions during the Senior Bowl.

    He is a physical player who has the ability to cover most wide receivers. Potential suitors will love his ability to cover tight ends like Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski.

    In Denver, he could learn the system while being a force on special teams and gaining knowledge from a player like David Bruton.

    That sounds like a good fit.

Michael Campanaro, Wide Receiver, Wake Forest

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    With the re-signing of Andre Caldwell and the free-agent acquisition of Emmanuel Sanders, the Broncos have their wide receiving corps in place for next season. But what about beyond?

    Michael Campanaro translates to a terrific slot receiver in the NFL.

    He has great hands as well as a knack for getting open over the middle of the field. Sounds a little like Wes Welker, right?

    Over the course of his college career, Campanaro hauled in 229 passes for 2,506 yards and 14 touchdowns.

    He wouldn't need to see extended playing time early in his career, but he would be a solid choice in the seventh round if he is available.

Kapri Bibbs, Running Back, Colorado State

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    If Kapri Bibbs goes undrafted, it would do the Broncos little harm to give him a shot in training camp this summer. Behind Montee Ball, the team has just Ronnie Hillman, C.J. Anderson and Jerodis Williams at running back.

    Bibbs may have left school a year too early, but he is a strong runner who could pay dividends for a team that takes a shot on him.

    In his only year at Colorado State, he ran for 1,741 yards and an incredible 31 touchdowns. He proved that he could pick up tough yards in short-yardage situations as well.

    He would need to show that he could catch the ball out of the backfield. He could be brought in to push a player like Hillman, if nothing else.