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 five players that could help each team. This will include a ‘flex’ pick where we give you two ways a potential pick could go depending on how the board falls. All in all you will get picks 1 and 2, a mid round gem and a late round sleeper. Let’s start at the top of the draft board with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Denver Broncos brought in QB Joe Flacco last offseason to steady the ship at what had been a revolving door at the position. At the same time, drafting Missouri’s Drew Lock signified the franchise knew the direction they were headed. Lock’s success at the end of the season, means the process has been sped up. Now is the time to put the pieces around a young signal caller on a rookie deal. There will be plenty of opportunity to add that talent in what is a pick-laden draft for Denver.
Round 1 - Pick 15 - Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
The Broncos have nine draft picks this year. Seven of those are in the first four rounds. With ammunition like that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them shift around the board. With particular needs at wide receiver, offensive tackle and defensive line they may choose to move up in round 1 to grab one of the top tier prospects.
If they do stay put, then replacing Chris Harris Jr could be an option. With the veteran set to leave through free agency, cornerback may be an important need. Outside of Jeffrey Okudah there isn’t too much consensus on the rest of the cornerbacks. Kristian Fulton impressed as a shutdown man-to-man corner at LSU. Comfortable getting physical at the line of scrimmage and tracking the ball deep, suggesting he is versatile enough to play in Vic Fangio’s scheme.
Round 2 - Pick 46 - Lucas Niang, OT, TCU
The Garett Bolles experiment appears to be over in the mile high city. The offensive tackle out of Utah has struggled to live up to his first round billing following another penalty-laden year. The time appears to have come to bolster their offensive line options. By pick 15, the top tackles may have vanished meaning the Broncos may sit tight until round 2.
As always with second round picks, they are rarely the finished product. Lucas Niang squarely fits that description. It’s more a case of getting the job done with the TCU product, he certainly doesn’t win style points. He isn’t particularly light footed but has excellent strength and anchor. His ability to create holes in the run game (see below) is also a major plus.
LUCAS NIANG the RT Tackle is well known as one of the nations best pass blockers. But tonight, his run blocking really impressed me. He had several blocks like this one. He’s fun to watch. pic.twitter.com/cY949dfUTt— Paul Alexander (@CoachPaulAlex) September 15, 2019
Flex Pick - Pick 46 - Justin Madubuike, DT, Texas A&M
With all of the Broncos starting defensive line potential free agents it’s highly likely that reinforcements will be sought in this draft class. Adam Gotsis had an underwhelming 2019 and Shelby Harris may get plenty of suitors. Broncos likely make Derek Wolfe a priority resigning target with depth added through the draft.
One candidate could be Texas A&M prospect Justin Madubuike. Turn on the tape and it’s clear that Madubuike is the standout performer of the unit. His ability to penetrate through opposing offensive lengths is clear. The knock on him would be consistency and pass rush plan. Too often he relies on pure power. Where better to hone his pass rushing technique around the likes of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb?
Mid Round Gem - Pick 77 - Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
The Broncos wide receiver unit could quietly be turning into a very solid group. Courtland Sutton is the number one threat and by the end of the year, Tim Patrick and DaeSean Hamilton showed plenty of promise. With talented tight end Noah Fant and electric running back Phillip Lindsay to add to the mix, it looks like an exciting offense for Denver going forward.
Adding a player like Brandon Aiyuk would be the cherry on top. He would provide an x-factor. Aiyuk’s speed gives a different dimension to the physical Sutton. His yards-after-catch ability makes him a threat on screens and reverses while he also offers a legitimate deep threat. Aiyuk’s body control and explosive acceleration mean separating from defenders is easy. So much so, he is likely to be off the board in the real thing by this point.
Late Round Sleeper - Pick 214 - Carter Coughlin, Edge, Minnesota
Keeping multiple pass rushers in the NFL is never easy. Elite edge defenders cost a premium in the modern day game. The Broncos are keenly aware of that having watched Shaq Barrett depart for Tampa and record a stunning 19.5 sacks last season. Luckily, the Broncos still have two of the best in Bradley Chubb and Von Miller but stockpiling at the spot by using late round picks remains a good idea.
Carter Coughlin would be an intriguing option to add depth to the pass rush rotation. He recorded 22.5 sacks in his four year career for Minnesota. A pure speed rusher he would be an ideal fit for the Broncos 3-4 formation. He has excellent athletic ability to chase down opponents in the backfield and could likely play a key role on special teams early in his career. With a lighter frame, he will get stonewalled at times but offers enough value to make him a draftable prospect.
Draft in full
15. Kristian Fulton (CB)
46. Lucas Niang (OT)
77. Brandon Aiyuk (WR)
83. Zack Moss (RB)
95. Jason Strowbridge (DE)
108. Markus Bailey (LB)
127. Brandon Jones (S)
161. Jake Hanson (iOL)
214. Carter Coughlin (Edge)
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