Perfect Picks: Denver Broncos
With the NFL Draft approaching we will be looking at each team and evaluating where they need to improve. In this particular series we will run a seven round mock using the Draft Network Mock machine and find the ‘Perfect Picks’ for each franchise.
We will highlight four players that could help each team. This will feature picks 1 and 2, a mid round gem and a late round sleeper.
The Broncos find themselves under new leadership this year as John Elway steps aside. In his place will be new GM George Paton. His first job will be deciding how they want to approach the quarterback position. They have Drew Lock but his 2020 performance left plenty to be desired.
The Broncos could make a splash in the first round and try to maneuver into position to take a new signal caller or stand pat and add talent around Lock. There is a level of unpredictability given Paton’s inexperience but both he and Head Coach Vic Fangio will be desperate to improve on Denver’s previous 5-11 record.
Round 1 - Pick 9 - Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
The Broncos sought to improve their defense this offseason through free agency. They were often pegged to a rookie cornerback but adding Kyle Fuller makes that a less pressing need. Having invested draft capital in the defensive line in recent years the area that will cause the most concern on that side of the ball is linebacker.
In addition to that Kareem Jackson is approaching 33 years old. Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah would be a solution to both the linebacker and safety needs. He is a physical specimen who has shown comfort as a box defender and also has smooth coverage ability. That overhang style defender is becoming an important piece in modern defenses. JOK would be the perfect tone-setter and eventual leader for the Fangio defense.
Round 2 - Pick 40 - Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
The Broncos decided to move on from Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon enters a contract year in 2020. That means that running back becomes a position of interest for the Broncos. At this point in the second round should a player with the ability of Clemson’s Travis Etienne still be on the table it would certainly be tempting.
What Etienne immediately brings to the backfield is pure speed. When he hits the gap and finds open space he is difficult to catch. He excels bouncing runs out wide and when the offense can get him the ball as a pass catcher. That dynamism and dual-threat ability make him one of the most accomplished backs in the class. While his productivity took a hit in 2020 and therefore perhaps his draft stock, Etienne has the opportunity to be an elite game-changing back.
Mid Round Gem - Pick 71 - Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson
The Broncos made Ja’Waun James a handsomely paid right tackle in 2019 only for Covid-19 to hit and James to opt-out of the 2020 season. He should return this year and pair with Garrett Bolles to make a solid offensive tackle combo. That said, James’ contract becomes very cuttable at the end of this year. That could entice the Broncos to find a younger, cheaper alternative in this year’s draft.
Jackson Carman has the traits that teams will be drawn to but lacks some consistency in performance. Having arrived at Clemson a five star recruit, he inherited the left tackle spot in his second year. He was Trevor Lawrence’s blindside protector for those years, posting a PFF grade of 79.8 in his final year. He has good mobility when resetting on blocks and getting to the second level. Where he suffers is hand-fighting and having a tendency to get off balance. The athletic traits suggest there is an NFL starter in there but polish needs to be applied.
Late Round Sleeper - Pick 237 - Shaka Toney, Edge, Penn State
Edge rusher has been a position Denver has been able to develop well. Von Miller has been one of the league’s best for a long time now and Bradley Chubb is showing the promise his draft position indicated. The Broncos couldn’t afford to keep Shaq Barrett on board meaning the hunt for Miller’s eventual successor continues.
A late-round pick on Penn State’s Shaka Toney appears a nice fit. Toney, at 6’2, 242lbs is undersized, meaning he fits the outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense role. Toney excelled as a speed rusher, amassing 20.5 sacks for the Nittany Lions but that was based on his quicks alone. He will need to add bulk and a power rush to his game if possible but learning at the hands of Miller is a great spot to do so. To start, he will get the chance to flash on passing downs only.
Draft In Full:
9. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame (LB)
40. Travis Etienne, Clemson (RB)
71. Jackson Carman, Clemson (OT)
114. Bobby Brown, Texas A&M (DT)
152. Shakur Brown, Michigan State (CB)
191. Shaka Toney, Penn State (Edge)
237. Feleipe Franks, Arkansas (QB)
239. Pro Wells, TCU (TE)
253. Tommy Kraemer, Notre Dame (iOL)
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.com.