5 Best-Case Scenarios for Denver Broncos in 2014 NFL Draft
The Broncos have been insanely active in free agency, picking up premium players to both bolster the defense and keep the offense firing on all cylinders. John Elway and John Fox want to win now, and it's been obvious with every move that they've made.
The draft is, of course, usually about the future. It's about building the team. Clubs that win consistently tend to be the ones that draft well.
While the Broncos do have to keep that in mind, they also have to remember that they're throwing all of their chips on the table for the next three years. This draft has to have that sort of impact.
When looking at the best-case scenarios, the things to keep in mind are:
1. Instant impact to the team.
2. Filling a need.
3. The value of the pick.
Are the Broncos going to be able to get everyone they want in the draft? Certainly not. That never happens for any team, much less one that is picking so late. If they can get some of these guys, though, it would be an incredible haul, and that has to be the goal as they go into draft day.
Trading Up for C.J. Mosley
It may prove hard to get into a spot where Mosley will even be on the board, but if he starts sliding, expect the Broncos to trade up hard to get him. He has to be their top target at linebacker—a position they still certainly have a need for after the departure of Wesley Woodyard.
Mosley is a strong, instinctive linebacker who could start from day one. Playing in Alabama had him as close to the pros as you can get in college football, and he played in all 13 games during his freshman year on campus. He's won multiple national championships. He's the most pro-ready prospect that there is at the position.
Another huge upside is that he's versatile, so he could play where they need him. He's used to playing will linebacker at Alabama—at least in nickel sets—but he's projected as an inside linebacker for the draft, which is exactly what Denver needs. He could be the replacement for Al Wilson that the club has been seeking for years.
Trading Up for Justin Gilbert
This would be even harder to pull off than getting Mosley since some analysts—like Daniel Jeremiah—think he is by far the best corner in the draft. There is also slightly less of a need at corner since the top two in Denver should be set, but the need is still there—both for depth and because Chris Harris is no guarantee to return at top form right away coming back from his ACL injury.
If the Broncos could bring in Gilbert, they'd get a playmaker to go opposite Aqib Talib, which would be awesome since QBs are going to throw away from Talib when they can. Gilbert could have an instant impact with interceptions, which he has the ability to take to the house. He wants to score, and he has all of the physical tools—size and speed—to get it done.
The Broncos could also kill two birds with one pick because Gilbert has six touchdowns on kick returns, so he could take over those duties as well.
It is most likely that Gilbert will be long gone by the time Denver picks, so it will probably target someone like Jason Verrett, Bradley Roby or Kyle Fuller, but Gilbert would be the best-case scenario, hands down.
Taking Shayne Skov in the 4th Round
Shayne Skov of Stanford is as aggressive and powerful as it gets—a linebacker who played in and led a stalwart defense for years.
His aggressiveness can take him out of position from time to time, and he has a history of knee injuries, so there are downsides. But he also has the potential to be a starter when the season kicks off. His instincts for the ball are good, and he could both stuff the run and put pressure on opposing QBs. If nothing else, he would be excellent for depth and to groom for the future.
Taking Skov in the third round would be great, depending how the draft falls, but getting him in the fourth would be ideal. This would free Denver up to address other positions in the earlier rounds while still getting a possible starter as late as the fourth.
Taking Paul Richardson in the 3rd
Why not build a team in Colorado with players out of Colorado? Richardson was by far the most explosive weapon at CU, and he has both the speed and height to take that ability to the next level. In fact, some people have compared him to Emmanuel Sanders, who was just signed by the Broncos.
It never hurts to have insurance if Sanders—or Demaryius Thomas, for that matter—gets injured. Richardson is the type of player who could contribute right away, especially with Peyton Manning getting him the ball. That explosiveness would open up the field and keep the defense on its toes.
The problem here is that he is projected to go in Round 2 of the draft, so Denver may not be in a position to pick him up. They don't want to reach for him since they just signed Sanders, reducing the level of need at the position.
If he does fall into Round 3 because of his injury history—as he suffered a torn ACL two years ago—Denver should jump all over it. He's shown that he's almost impossible to cover on speed routes when healthy, and ACL injuries are not the career-long issues that they once were. It's very possible that it will never bother him again.
Taking Max Bullough in the 7th
It still shocks me that Max Bullough is projected by numerous people to go in Round 6 or Round 7 of the NFL draft. I think he could easily go in Round 5 with the career he put together at Michigan State.
That defense was frequently ranked among the best in the country, and he was the undisputed leader. He does lack a bit in speed, but he has the size and strength to play in the middle and dominate against the run.
If he does fall and Denver can take him in Round 7, the team should pick him up without hesitation. There's no risk that late, and the upside for Bullough could be huge. He has the raw sort of talent that you want, especially when picking that late. Even if they already got someone like Skov or Mosley earlier, Bullough would be a nice—and cheap—addition.