There are still some players available, but few will make big news when they are signed. In essence, free agency has ground to a halt.
There are sporadic trade rumors, but the NFL offseason is in a lull. The next big event is the NFL draft. The Combine is long over and college Pro Days are in full swing leading up to the deepest draft in the last decade.
The draft can’t get here soon enough. I want to know who the Denver Broncos draft instead of just speculating, but alas that is all I can do for now.
It is a difficult business to predict when players will be selected in the draft and even harder to predict trades, but that is what I am going to do with this mock draft. Why? Because it makes sense for the Broncos to acquire more selections in a very deep draft. If the first round of the draft goes as I predict there will be teams clamoring to get back into the end of the first round to grab a couple quarterbacks who fell down the draft board.
Unfortunately, if it goes as I predict the Broncos will also miss out on drafting some key impact players since they will be gone by #31. I am talking about the likes of Ryan Shazier, CJ Mosley and any first round graded cornerback.
The Broncos should not only trade out of the first round, but also shop Chris Clark for a fourth round or better selection in this draft. It would be prudent for the Broncos to get additional selections in the second, third and fourth round. With Vinston Painter and the resigning of Winston Justice they have depth at tackle right now. Clark’s value is at it highest point and there are still left tackle needy teams that missed out on free agents.
I have poured through pro day reviews, watched game tape and have read as many scouting profiles as I can to learn as much about the draft prospects as possible.
Mock Draft 3.0
Round #2 (projected trade out of first round) – Gabe Jackson, Guard, Mississippi State
He is the second rated guard in the draft and he will be a day one starter. The Broncos are in dire need of filling the hole left by Zane Beadles. It isn’t a sexy pick, but guard is a need as is upgrading the offensive line. Jackson is a road paver in the run game and has nimble feet for pass protection. There won’t be any more defensive tackles bull rushing to the quarterback on the left side if he is the starter.
Round #2 – Marcus Martin, Center, USC
The center crop coming out of college this year is not spectacular, but Martin has a solid grade and good size for the position. He would immediately push Manny Ramirez with the potential to start in year one. He has a very high ceiling and brings a physical style of play.
Round #3 (projected additional pick through trade) – Pierre Desir, Cornerback, Lindenwood
Desir impressed me at his pro day. He chose to run in poor weather conditions and improved his 40-yard dash time from the combine. He has the all the skills, athleticism and physical attributes to be a starter in the NFL, he just needs some technique work.
Round #3 – Billy Turner, Tackle, North Dakota State
Turner will add depth to the offensive line at either tackle or guard and be a potential replacement if Orlando Franklin leaves via free agency next year. Turner brings a nastiness that the Broncos offensive line needs and he is very athletic. There would be a full on competition for the left guard spot between he and Jackson in 2014.
Round #4 (projected additional selection through trade) – Jordan Tripp, Middle Linebacker, Montana
Several draft gurus have Tripp listed at outside linebacker, because of his length and pass rush potential, but he was productive from the inside position at Montana. He is very instinctive, leading me to project him at middle linebacker. His 40-yard dash time, cone drills and shuttle drills show that he has the athletic ability to be good in coverage. The Broncos have interest in Tripp. There is also rumored interest from the Colts and Eagles in the middle rounds. The Broncos need to grab him before they do.
Round #4 – Jeff Janis, Wide Receiver, Saginaw Valley
A small school stand out with terrific size and athletic skills, Janis is projected to be taken slightly later in the draft. Teams will be willing to take a chance on him in the earlier rounds because of his combination of size and speed. He will replace Eric Decker’s role in a year or two and the Broncos have shown interest in him.
Round #5 – Walt Aikens, Cornerback, Liberty
This would be the fifth small school prospect I have selected and it seems a little risky to not take talent from the bigger schools. However, Aikens is projected anywhere from round two to round seven. If he is available this late then the Broncos will add much needed depth to the secondary with future potential.
Round #6 – Michael Campanaro, Wide Receiver, Wake Forest
Campanaro is not big, but has good speed and change of direction skills. He will be a good development player to eventually replace Wes Welker in the slot.
Round #7 – Deandre Coleman, Defensive Tackle, California
Coleman compares to Kevin Vickerson. He would add to the rotation at defensive tackle and with coaching can learn to be a solid reserve player. He has the size desired by the coaching staff with room to add bulk to his frame.