Josh Norris

Draft Decisions

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NFL Draft Preview: Broncos

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential solutions in May's draft.


For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by team draft preview schedule.


No. 1 Team Need: Linebacker


Silva's analysis


The Broncos struck gold when they drafted weak-side linebacker Danny Trevathan in the 2012 sixth round out of Kentucky, and Sam 'backer Von Miller is arguably the league's most dominant pass rusher when available for games. Miller underwent ACL surgery on January 9, however, and Denver lacks a stable middle linebacker. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio has worked with Mike 'backers of all shapes and skill sets. I tend to believe he would prefer one with sideline-to-sideline range and coverage skills, perhaps coming at the expense of some run-stuffing ability.


Norris' options


First day option: CJ Mosley, Alabama - John Fox has a long history with talented inside linebackers. With Miller playing a hybrid spot, the Broncos have focused on speed and range at the other two linebacker spots. Mosley started his career as a coverage linebacker and has progressed into a complete player. That ability to be comfortable in space will allow him to play early in his career.


Second day possibility: Telvin Smith, FSU - There’s a movement to project Smith as a safety. Why? Just because of his 220 lbs frame? Listen, Smith has tons of speed and a naturally physical style to his game. Do you think offensive lineman are worried if a linebacker is 250 lbs compared to 220 lbs? I don’t. In fact, I think they are more worried about speed and whiffing against more agile linebackers. Allow smith to play a nickel backer role early if there is not an opening on the weakside.


Third day flier: Avery Williamson, Kentucky - Williamson is not as athletic as other Kentucky linebackers in recent years, all of which have seemingly landed in Denver. He does have some range and played a variety of linebacker spots. I would suggest Christian Kirksey here, but I doubt he makes it out of the third-round.


Video: Norris on Denver's top need


No. 2 Team Need: Cornerback


Silva's analysis


GM John Elway has put together an awfully good roster, so we have to stretch and take a glass-half-empty approach just to identify potentially needy areas. New top corner Aqib Talib is prone to injury, having never lasted a full 16-game season. Would-be No. 2 CB Chris Harris tore his ACL in January. 2013 third-round pick Kayvon Webster was very inconsistent as a rookie. No. 4 corner Tony Carter is best suited to special teams. This would be an above-average position group on most teams, but the Broncos have annual Super Bowl intentions. They can afford to upgrade.


Norris' options


First day option: Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State - The buzz is pointing to Dennard dropping compared to other corners frequently mentioned in the first-round. The Broncos brought in Talib, and Dennard’s press style would fit right in. He can be a bit grabby, as he obviously took advantage of the lack of illegal contact at the college level, but Dennard knows how he wins and forces opponents to play at his speed.


Second day possibility: Keith McGill, Utah - Stanley Jean-Baptiste received some attention during the process, but McGill is the better prospect. The Utes set McGill up to fail on a regular basis, asking him to play off rather than press. Teams will attempt to mimic the Seahawks, and McGill should be a beneficiary.


Third day flier: Nevin Lawson, Utah State - Lawson does not wow you in any area, but he is consistent. He did not necessarily press, instead backing off a few yards, yet Lawson was able to sit on certain curl routes and be close to his opponent at the catch point. He also has slot experience.


No. 3 Team Need: Offensive Line


Silva's analysis


Again, I think the Broncos could enter the season with this position group as is, and be just fine. Incumbent RT Orlando Franklin could kick to left guard, replacing departed Zane Beadles, and 2013 LT Chris Clark could man right tackle. Getting Ryan Clady back gives this unit a huge boost. But Clady has now undergone two major surgeries (Lisfranc, shoulder) in the past 15 months, and Franklin is untested as an NFL guard. Denver may begin looking at more powerful offensive linemen in preparation for an increasingly run-based offense in the post-Peyton Manning era.


Norris' options


First day option: C Weston Richburg, Colorado State - The Broncos offensive line was shuffled last year, and will go through more changes this offseason. Richburg might not start right away, but both Manny Ramirez’s and Louis Vasquez’s cap savings increase after next season. Richburg is the top center in this class, a position that lacks depth and talent in the NFL. It could be viewed as the offensive counterpart to safety.


Second day possibility: G Trai Turner, LSU - Orlando Franklin, who is making the move inside, is a free agent after the season. Turner needs plenty of development in terms of not overextending, but he has so much natural ability. Turner is so good when asked to trap or pull. He is very agile for such a strong blocker.


Third day flier: T Garrett Scott, Marshall - Scott is one of my favorite sleeper prospects. He played left tackle at Marshall but might make a move inside. In a straight-line, he can be very powerful, and even flashed mirror skills on the edge. I do worry about him catching rather than delivering when blocking in pass protection.


Broncos 2014 Draft Picks (7)


First Round (No. 31)

Second Round (No. 63)

Third Round (No. 95)

Fourth Round (No. 131)

Fifth Round (No. 171)

Sixth Round (No. 207)

Seventh Round (No. 246)

Current Broncos First-Team Offense


QB: Peyton Manning

RB: Montee Ball

WR: Demaryius Thomas

WR: Wes Welker

WR: Emmanuel Sanders

TE: Julius Thomas

LT: Ryan Clady

LG: Orlando Franklin

C: Manuel Ramirez

RG: Louis Vasquez

RT: Chris Clark


Current Broncos First-Team Defense


LE: Derek Wolfe

RE: DeMarcus Ware

DT: Sylvester Williams

NT: Terrance Knighton

MLB: Nate Irving

WLB: Danny Trevathan

SLB: Von Miller

LCB: Chris Harris

RCB: Aqib Talib

FS: Rahim Moore

SS: T.J. Ward


 



Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for Rotoworld and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Josh Norris



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