Denver Broncos 2014 Draft Picks: Results, Analysis and Grades
It is two weeks later than the normal time, but the NFL draft is finally here!
The Denver Broncos fell just short last year, losing to the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. This offseason they have been feverishly putting together a roster they hope can compete with and beat the NFC’s best.
They were one of the most active teams in free agency, and the Broncos arguably came out better than any other team in that market. Additions to the defense like T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib and DeMarcus Ware are all upgrades at their respective positions. Bringing wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders on board could give the team a real boost as well.
Now it’s time for the Broncos to continue this strong offseason with quality selections in the draft.
Here's a look at the picks the Broncos have made so far in the 2014 NFL draft. Make sure to check back often as I will update this post immediately after the picks are made.
Cecil Lammey can be followed on Twitter @CecilLammey.
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
The Broncos get much-needed depth at the cornerback position when they selected Bradley Roby out of Ohio State. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio wants to be strong at all three levels, and Roby gives them more aggression at the position. Roby is known as a talker on the field, and he plays with an aggressive playing style.
Roby is not the biggest corner, measuring in at 5’11” 194 pounds. However, he plays bigger than his size on the football field. Roby is an aggressive player who loves to attack the play. This helps when the play (either pass or run) is in front of him. He has the click-and-close ability to break on the play quickly.
He swiftly arrives at the football with natural violence. He’ll have to be cautious to dial that down a bit so he doesn’t get any personal foul penalties. Roby is always looking to make the big play, and he can get out of position on play fakes.
Roby is fast in a straight line, running a 4.35 second 40-yard dash. However, his hip transition needs work. He has to learn better footwork when backpedaling and transitioning to a sprint. Roby also needs to play with more discipline because he loves to lunge at the ball-carrier instead of wrapping up and tackling properly.
In addition to helping out as a corner, Roby can also help on special teams. He has the speed and initial quickness to be a return man, but he also can help out by blocking kicks.
Off field issues perhaps dinged Roby’s draft stock. General manager John Elway said “Those were all weight in. But you also look at the positive things with Bradley, and there’s a lot of positive things there. We expect those things not to happen now that he’s here.”
Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
The Broncos shocked some when they moved up in the second round to add wide receiver Cody Latimer from Indiana. Offensive coordinator Adam Gase gets another talented player to scheme with. Latimer gives them better depth at the wide receiver position, plus he’s got the size and aggression to be a disruptive player as a rookie.
Latimer has good size, measuring in at 6’3” 215 pounds. He can make plays “above the rim” which immediately makes him a fine threat in the red zone. Latimer has a large catch radius, and he also shows the willingness to go low for catches as well.
He’s raw as a route-runner, but Latimer has the body control to work well on routes near the sideline. He can look in the ball consistently, catch the pass with arms extended away from his body and get two feet down to move the chains. Some see Latimer as a possession receiver, but he can be much more than that.
Latimer is still raw at the position as he’s only played five years of organized football. His routes are not crisp, and he’ll need to stop rounding off his cuts in order to play up to his potential as a pro.
He has a basketball skill set, and he can use his frame to box out defenders. He’ll square his shoulders to the line of scrimmage to give his quarterback the largest target. Latimer can also leap to win jump passes at the highest point.
Latimer is aggressive off the line of scrimmage, and he can beat press coverage. This will help him get open in tight spaces. The Broncos are one of the most high-powered offenses in the league, and with Latimer they just get more octane for the offense.
Michael Schofield, OT, Michigan
The Broncos spent a pick in the third round to strengthen the depth on their offensive line. At the end of the third round they selected offensive tackle Michael Schofield out of Michigan. The offensive line gets better depth, and they get it at more than one position.
Schofield started 36 games in college, with 26 at right tackle and 10 at left guard. The Broncos already have a tackle-heavy roster, so perhaps Schofield’s best fit is inside. His skill set is versatile, but his natural talent is probably a better fit for guard.
He’s a huge player, measuring in at 6’7” 301 pounds. Because of his size, Schofield is difficult to move as a pass-blocker. His long arms (34 inches) and large wingspan (81.75 inches) also help him keep opponents away from the quarterback.
Schofield has a nasty attitude as a run-blocker and he’s a patient player who wins with leverage. He’ll push defenders around and anchors well against players who try to bull rush him out of the way. Schofield will square to the line of scrimmage and he’s a smart player who won’t bend too far reaching for a block, and his feet rarely get out of position.
He struggles when asked to make it to the second level as a blocker. This means he needs to work on his ability to be a sticky blocker at the second level.
Schofield is a competitive player with a blue-collar work ethic. He’ll finish blocks and can compete to be a starter at left guard in 2014.
Lamin Barrow, ILB, LSU
The Broncos traded away their fifth-round pick when they moved up in the second round to add wide receiver Cody Latimer. They got back into the fifth round when they traded down in the fourth round so the Chicago Bears could move up. The Broncos added more depth when they selected inside linebacker Lamin Barrow with the 156th overall pick.
Lamin Barrow has the athleticism to make a difference in coverage. He finds the ball quickly, and he can make a play to break up the pass when it comes into the tight end. Barrow has long arms (wingspan 79 inches), and he uses his length to make up ground in coverage.
He has the speed to cover from sideline-to-sideline. In addition to being fast, Barrow has quick feet and he can change direction without losing much speed. This helps him get to the receiver before and after the catch.
Barrow was known as a hard-worker in the weight room at LSU. He has been able to be a consistent contributor to the Bayou Bengals because of his work ethic and relentless motor. He’s a durable two-year starter with 28 career starts in his college career and 195 tackles over the last two seasons.
He is athletic, and Barrow can make plays in coverage. However, he struggles to succeed as a run-defender. He lacks the size (235 pounds) to be an impact player in between the tackles. Barrow will too often let a blocker get on him and easily move him out of the way.
Matt Paradis, C, Boise State
The Broncos selected center Matt Paradis from Boise State in the sixth round with the 207th pick. The offensive line gets more depth in the middle, and the Broncos get themselves another developmental player.
Paradis began his college career as a defensive player, but it didn’t take him long to get used to playing on the offensive line during his sophomore season. He was a three-year letterman for the Broncos in college, and now he’ll compete as a reserve player on the line for the Broncos in the pros.
He’s not the biggest center, measuring in at the scouting combine at 6’2” 306 pounds. While he’s not huge, Paradis does have good quickness and athleticism for a center. This helps him smoothly get to the second level of the defense as a run-blocker.
His athleticism and short-area quickness also helps him in pass protection. He plays with proper knee bend, and he will seal most defenders away from the quarterback. Paradis was a 25-game starter at center on a team that averaged less than one sack per game (.695) during that time.
He struggles with bigger and more powerful defensive linemen. Paradis will square his stance, but he lacks power in his base. This allows stronger opponents to push him back into the quarterback.
Paradis was a team leader in college, and he fits in well as a reserve player to begin his pro career. He could eventually develop into a decent spot starter if he builds better core strength as a pro.
Corey Nelson, OLB, Oklahoma
The Broncos wrapped up the 2014 NFL draft with more developmental upside. With the 242nd pick they selected outside linebacker Corey Nelson from Oklahoma. The team adds depth at the linebacker position, and they get a versatile player who can line up on the weak side or on the inside.
Nelson burst onto the college scene in 2011 when he finished the year with 58 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks. The rest of his college career was marred by injury and inconsistency.
He’s coming off surgery to repair an injured pectoral muscle that ended his final season at Oklahoma. Nelson was healthy enough to compete at the Sooners pro day, so his health is unlikely to be an issue at this time.
When healthy, Nelson can make plays in space. He’s got the speed to find the ball quickly, and he can break up passes. During his college career, Nelson broke up 10 passes total.
Nelson even can get his hands on the ball for an interception. He picked off a pass against Notre Dame in 2013 and returned it for a touchdown. It’s this type of athleticism that is attractive for the Broncos scouting department.
Durability is a concern because of the way Nelson plays the game. He’s flies around the field with little regard for his personal safety. Nelson will arrive at the football with plenty of force, but that could end up wearing him down as a pro.
Nelson was known as a team leader, and he regularly took younger players under his wing to guide them. He’s got a strong work ethic, and Nelson knows how to get the most out of his natural ability. At the very least, the Broncos have a reserve player who could be a spot starter or special teams player.