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Realistic Draft Day Trade Possibilities for the Denver Broncos

Cecil LammeyContributor IApril 29, 2014

Realistic Draft Day Trade Possibilities for the Denver Broncos

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    Butch Dill

    The Denver Broncos are making final preparations for the 2014 NFL draft. Preparing for the draft means the team has to be ready for players to rise or fall on the draft board.

    Teams have to be prepared for any scenario. Perhaps the player they wanted goes off the board earlier than expected. There’s also a chance that a player they didn’t expect to fall could be available when they pick in the first round.

    A tool the team can use to secure players they want is trading.

    Most teams follow a draft value chart similar to what you can find on a website like WalterFootball.com. This chart helps teams calculate what each pick is worth and what they can expect in return for a particular spot. These charts also help decipher what teams have to package together to trade up for a certain pick.

    Here are a few realistic draft-day trade possibilities for the Broncos.

Trade Up for C.J. Mosley

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    This may be the most likely trade scenario for the Broncos. They have a great need at middle linebacker as they were unable to secure a veteran free agent at the position. The Broncos want a defender who can stuff the run but also stay on the field during passing downs.

    C.J. Mosley is arguably the only inside linebacker in this draft class who can cover. He has the athleticism to cover from sideline-to-sideline, and Mosley plays with a closing burst that keeps him close to the play. He’s got a nose for the football, and Mosley is not fooled by play fakes or double moves on a passing play.

    In addition to being athletic enough to cover, Mosley can be a devastating run defender. He arrives at the ball-carrier violently, and Mosley will regularly wrap up and drive through his man. Mosley can also force fumbles because his strong hands will rip away the rock from an unsuspecting runner.

    If added in the draft, Mosley could immediately step in and start for the Broncos.

    He’s a hot prospect who could draw interest from teams ahead of the Broncos in the draft. Mosley had a private workout with the Baltimore Ravens and would be a nice fit on their ferocious defense. Jamison Hensley, from ESPN.com, reports the Ravens do have interest in Mosley even though middle linebacker isn’t a huge need.

    The Ravens have the 17th overall pick in the draft. Moving up in front of them would require the Broncos to surrender a first- and second-round pick. The Broncos roster is tackle heavy, so the team could move a guy like Orlando Franklin if they can find a taker.

    Mosley could fall past the Ravens. When he does, the Broncos may only have to move up a few spots to get him. If they want to move in front of the New England Patriots (who also have a need at inside linebacker), then perhaps trading with the Cleveland Browns would be a good move.

    Mary Kay Cabot, from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, recently reported that Browns general manager Ray Farmer has spoken with several teams about potential trades in the draft. They have the fourth overall pick, but Cleveland also has the 26th pick thanks to the trade that sent running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts.

    Moving up from No .31 to No. 26 would only require approximately 100 points on the draft pick value chart. That is essentially the value of a first- and fourth-round pick packaged together. This is a bargain price for a player the caliber of Mosley.

    If the Broncos really want Mosley, then perhaps trading up to insure they get him is the best idea.

Trade Up for Justin Gilbert

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    Justin Gilbert is arguably the best cornerback in this draft class. The mock drafts available at NFLDraftScout.com have Gilbert going off the board anywhere from 10th (Detroit Lions) to 15th (Pittsburgh Steelers).

    Moving up from 31st overall would be a huge move for the Broncos.

    Gilbert has everything you want in a shutdown corner. He’s fast and has the footwork to transition from backpedal to sprint smoothly. Gilbert showed off his speed for scouts when he ran a blazing 4.35-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine earlier this year.

    In addition to speed, Gilbert has a nose for the ball. He finished the 2013 season with seven interceptions and seven passes defensed. He returned two of those interceptions for touchdowns last year.

    Gilbert can also excel in press coverage because of his long arms, strong hands and aggressive attitude. This allows him to play close to the line of scrimmage and disrupt a receiver’s get off at the snap. His physical playing style can frustrate receivers throughout the game.

    There’s another added bonus a team will get when drafting Gilbert—he’s an elite return man. He has incredible quickness in the open field, and Gilbert loves to toy with would-be tacklers.

    However, there are recent reports that Gilbert might fall a bit in the draft. According to Bryan Fischer, from NFL.com, there have been executives questioning the ranking of Gilbert by NFL Network analyst Charles Davis.

    Davis said on Path to the Draft, "I heard reaction from around the league, a couple of people I really trust. I have him at No. 13, but they're not convinced he's the best corner in this draft.” Davis continued, "One called him a pile-inspector and not a willing tackler.”

    Even fellow NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock dropped Gilbert to his third-ranked corner behind Darqueze Dennard (Michigan State) and Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech). Both Davis and Mayock have their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the NFL, and they may be onto something.

    It’s interesting to note that Mel Kiper from ESPN recently moved Gilbert down (subscription required) from 14th overall to 18th overall in his latest big board.

    If Gilbert were to get by the Steelers, then the Broncos would have to strike. Teams may have cooled on adding Gilbert, but it won’t take long for him to be seen as an incredible value in the first round.

    Like moving up in front of Baltimore for C.J. Mosley (Alabama), moving up 10-plus picks would require a significant investment. With the need at cornerback (and return man), the Broncos may choose to pay the price.

Trade Down with the Jaguars

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    The 31st pick could be a very hot asset in the draft. The Jacksonville Jaguars are in the market for a quarterback, and they’re likely to add one with a premium pick in this year’s draft.

    They have the third overall pick, and selecting a quarterback at that position is a distinct possibility. Adding a player like Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M), Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) or Blake Bortles (Central Florida) would make sense.

    However, adding an elite pass-rusher like Khalil Mack (Buffalo) seems like the perfect fit. Head coach Gus Bradley is one of the best (and brightest) young head coaches in the league. His defensive mindset could make Jacksonville competitive sooner than some think. Mack would be a tremendous selection for Bradley’s swarming defense and aggressive coaching style.

    This would leave the team with only Chad Henne as their starting quarterback. A player they could draft and develop is Jimmy Garoppolo from Eastern Illinois. According to Peter King from Sports Illustrated, the Jaguars “really like” the young quarterback. King also has heard that the Jaguars, Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders "are strongly considering passing on quarterbacks with their first picks and waiting until their second or third selections."

    If those teams wait in the top 10, then perhaps quarterbacks like Bridgewater or Derek Carr (Fresno State) might even be available. Either way, there’s likely to be some talented young passers on the board when the Broncos are up in the first round.

    The fifth-year option is going to also add to the attraction. Under the new collective bargaining agreement teams can choose to pick up a fifth year on first-round picks. Players picked in the second round or later can only be signed to four-year contracts. This is helpful for every position, but it’s especially intriguing for quarterbacks.

    Teams who want a little extra time to evaluate a young passer can pick up the fifth-year option for a great deal. Players picked in the top 10 get a deal equivalent to the league’s transition tag number. However, players picked from No. 11-32 get an average salary of the 25 highest-paid players at the position, with the top three excluded.

    Jacksonville has the 39th overall pick, so the Broncos would essentially move back only eight spots. With the fifth-year option, the Broncos may even get to ask for an enhanced price on the draft pick value chart.

    This new wrinkle could make late first-round quarterbacks all the rage in the NFL.

Trade Down with the Texans

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    If the Houston Texans select a player like defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina) with the No. 1 overall pick, they could look to the end of the first round for a quarterback.

    The Texans moved on from Matt Schaub (Oakland Raiders) this offseason, and currently have Ryan Fitzpatrick as the most experienced quarterback on the roster. The need for quarterback is obvious, but the team will be looking for proper value.

    New head coach Bill O’Brien comes to the Texans after leading Penn State as their head coach for the last two years. During his time with the Nittany Lions, O’Brien preferred big pocket passers. His two starters during that time were Matt McGloin (6’1” 207 pounds) and Christian Hackenberg (6’4” 220 pounds).

    His offensive system at Penn State worked through these classic pocket passers. Those two combined for 44 touchdown passes over the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

    O’Brien may be looking for another big pocket passer now that he’s with the Texans.

    When looking at pocket passers available, there is one late first-round prospect who stands out—LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger. If the Texans don’t add a guy like Blake Bortles (Central Florida) with the No. 1 pick, then trading back into the late first round for Mettenberger would make sense.

    Mettenberger measures in at 6’5”, 225 pounds, and he sees the field well. This helps him easily scan from sideline-to-sideline for the open receiver.

    He’s got one of the strongest arms in this draft class, and Mettenberger can make every throw required (with proper velocity) in the NFL. His arm strength also helps him fit passes into smaller passing windows. He can make throws other quarterbacks can’t—or won’t—because of his rocket arm.

    In addition to size, Mettenberger has toughness. He will hang in the pocket until the last possible millisecond looking for a receiver. He exhausts his reads completely, and Mettenberger will challenge a defense vertically.

    Mettenberger needs to work on passing with better touch. He is not that athletic (like most pocket passers), and his mechanics falter when asked to throw on the run.

    NFL Films' Greg Cosell believes Mettenberger is the best prototypical pocket passer in this draft.

    As stated in the previous slide, the fifth-year option may prompt teams to get back into the first round for a quarterback. The Texans have the 33rd overall pick, so the Broncos would only move back two picks.

    Any player Denver has targeted at No. 31 could very well still be on the board when the 33rd pick comes up.

Trade Down with the Falcons

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    If the Atlanta Falcons are unable to move up for a pass-rusher in the first round, then they may want to jump on a player that has fallen to the end of the first round. They’re looking feverishly for pass-rushing help, and the first two rounds are full of impact defenders who can be playmakers at the pro level.

    A player that may be available when the Broncos pick is defensive end Dee Ford (Auburn). He’s a compact pass-rusher with the speed to get around the edge consistently. Ford can dip under an offensive tackle’s outside shoulder, then he has the closing burst to get to the quarterback.

    He is a hybrid player who can play with his hand in the dirt as a defensive end. Ford also has the capability to stand up as an outside linebacker to rush the passer. This versatility only adds to his allure. Ford can be moved around the formation to find the best avenue for attack.

    His wingspan is large, so when Ford can’t get to the passer he can at least clog up passing lanes by putting his hands up. He’s also adept at timing his jumps to bat down passes. Bottom line—Ford is a disruptive player.

    The Falcons could also find value in adding a guy like Scott Crichton (Oregon State). Like Ford, Crichton can play both defensive end and outside linebacker at the pro level.

    He’s an enthusiastic player who excels with heart and hustle. Crichton is not quite as athletic as Ford, but he’s a better run defender. He has the strength to anchor against the run, and Crichton knows how to keep containment on the outside.

    Crichton has multiple moves to get to the quarterback, and his strength will wear down an opponent as the game grinds on. He also plays with high football intelligence. Crichton is rarely out of position as he diagnoses quickly, and he rarely bites on play fakes.

    The Falcons have the 37th pick in the draft. The Broncos made a similar move in 2012 when they traded out of the first round to the 36th spot. With that pick they selected defensive end Derek Wolfe.

    Finding an impact player at No. 37 won’t be that much of a challenge, especially if there’s a run on late first-round quarterbacks.

     

    Note: All quotes and injury/practice observations obtained firsthand. Record/statistical information provided via email from the Denver Broncos. Transaction history provided by ProSportsTransactions.com. Contract information provided by Spotrac.com. Draft grades provided by NFLDraftScout.com. Cecil Lammey can be followed on Twitter @CecilLammey. 

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