Denver Broncos May Scouting Report
"I think we feel like we can go into the draft and draft the best player possible that's going to be able to help our football team," (Elway). So, the Broncos can draft the best player available that can help the team. "Any time you can add a good football player to your team, especially one who will touch the ball, if that works financially and works with the structure of your team, it's always a good thing to do," (Fangio). VP/GM John Elway is known for his reticence to enter the draft with any big needs. He also has a history of favoring PAC 12 players, defense ($123m) over offense ($63m), team captains and players who are good in the community.
Elway's tendency has always been to go for value in round one rather than make expensive trades up. The Broncos need some pop on offense. Defenses are more depth-dependent than star-dependent and being solid across the entire back-end provides the most value. The defensive line is critical in Vic Fangio's zone-centric scheme. His defensive line players have to be able to play all three downs; they have to be versatile; and, they have to be able to rush the passer. The 3T defensive tackle position is crucial. Fangio relies on his interior defensive linemen to create one-on-one situations for the edge rushers. Fangio's defensive backs must have speed, be able to 'cover' (not scheme dependent players), and tackle. And, his number three safeties play a lot. Transactions Signed to one-year free-agent tenders: RFAs: DT Mike Purcell, OL Elijah Wilkinson. ERFAs: WR Tim Patrick, WR/PR Diontae Spencer, DB Trey Marshall, OT Jake Rodgers and CB Shakial Taylor; waived punters Colby Wadman and Trevor Daniel; waived Bug Howard, TE, Tyvis Powell, S, Deyon Sizer, DL, Jay-Tee Tiuli, DL; signed DT Christian Covington. Draft It's important to have the leadership and the quality guys in the Denver locker room, but the four key attributes Denver should look for are: 1) Desire 2) Physical Ability 3) Psychological Orientation (performance under pressure) and 4) Technical Execution (technical proficiency and consistency). Elway has a much better position resource-wise heading into the 2020 draft than past recent years.
Pick 15 WR Jerry Jeudy. Jeudy is high-end slot receiver or a go-to target on the outside. He is the most polished route runner in the draft with route versatility, high-end speed and body control. He can be a difference maker for Denver. Orangeman's Take Jeudy will be Denver's #2WR with #1WR Courtland Sutton. At 6'1/193, (4.45/40), his route running will allow him to win at all depths of the field. He creates separation (routes) and finishes plays with stop-start moves after the catch. He needs to get stronger and his deep-ball tracking needs to improve but he could be a go-to WR1 who also thrives in the slot. Jeudy is a WR1 type of playmaker.
Pick 46 WR KJ Hamler. Hamler (5'9/178) is an unpolished, undersized downfield playmaker and mismatch. Orangeman's Take Hamler is a big-play (legit 4.2 speed) lid lifter from the slot or outside. He is limited in traffic and has drop issues. He is a WR2 with cleaned up drops and some development. Hamler's speed, short-area burst and elusiveness make him difficult to cover. Hamler is a high character player and outstanding kickoff and punt returner who could push Pro-Bowl returner Diontae Spencer.
Third-round picks don't always become immediate contributors. it's about what the coaches are looking for and what fits their scheme.
Pick 77 CB Michael Ojemudia. Ojemudia is a good zone corner with instincts and good run support tackling ability. Orangeman's Take Ojemudia is a good scheme fit and a Fangio type cornerback who will compete for a starting job. He provides immediate depth (CB/FS) and special teams help (4.45/40).
Pick 83 (Pit) C Lloyd Cushenberry. Cushenberry is a team captain with a selfless attitude who checks the boxes with physically and athleticism. Orangeman's Take Cushenberry will be the Broncos starting center as a slightly older prospect with strength, balance, and awareness.
Pick 95 (SF) DT McTelvin Agim. Agim is a work in progress with snap quickness and rush talent to build on. Orangeman's Take Agim has experience (3T), but needs development in strength and technique. He has versatility, but needs to improve his all-around game. He is weak against the run so he won't be in on rushing downs early in his career, but he has upside as a gap-shooting rookie pass-rusher. He is a solid developmental pick and eventual defensive line starter.
Pick 118 TE Albert Okwuegbunam. Okwuegbunam is a versatile tight end with touchdown upside. Orangeman's Take Okwuegbunam is a big (6'5/255) red zone target with 4.49 speed once he gets going. He's best on vertical shots and where his size and speed come into play. Okwuegbunam can be a starter, but isn't a 70+ catch player. He needs to improve his releases and route running. Okwuegbunam will reunite with his college QB Drew Lock (17 scores in 2 years together).
Pick 178 (Comp) LB Justin Strnad. Orangeman's Take Strnad is built like a tall safety and runs like one. He has good range if he is kept clean. He's an explosive athlete, aggressive hitter and sideline to sideline linebacker. He is special team ready. He will make the team and possibly be a starter in year two.
Pick 181 (Was) G Netane Muti. Muti is Top 50 talent who dropped because of injury concerns. Orangeman's Take Muti is a guard with heavy hands and upper body power, but limited game reps. He fits the zone-heavy run scheme and blocks on the move. He has a good mix of mobility, power and a tenacious mentality. Muti is a starter with improved technique: bend, control, footwork and hand technique. He's the type player (injuries) you take a shot at late in the draft.
Pick 252 (Comp) WR Tyrie Cleveland. Cleveland is 6'2, 209 lbs pounds, 4.46/40 and 39.5â€vertical jump. Orangeman's Take Cleveland brings more speed and athleticism to the wide receiver room. He is an end-of-roster/standout special teams gunner.
Pick 254 (Comp) Edge Derrek Tuszka. Tuszka has quickness with an extreme effort playing style. Orangeman's Take Tuszka is a plus athlete from a prestigious small school. Tuszka will a reserve spot behind Bradley Chubb and Von Miller.
Orangeman's Overall Draft Take
The Broncos had a good draft! Fifteen picks into the draft, their two top players on their board (and need) were still there. Elway devoted his top two picks (and more) to upgrade his receivers, assembling an arsenal of speedy targets. Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, Jeudy and Hamler give Shurmur a dynamic group for his 11-personnel sets. But Elway wasn't done. He also drafted a fast tight end and wide receiver and signed seven undrafted College free agents. He also reinforced the interior offensive line with a starting center plus a mauling guard (injury history). Elway didn't neglect Vic Fangio as he drafted Fangio type-players who fit Fangio's scheme at cornerback, defensive tackle, linebacker, and edge. This draft, Elway's third-in-a-row good draft, shows Elway's improvement as a drafter. Elway prioritized athleticism and production and now it's up to Vic Fangio, Pat Shurmur and Drew Lock to put it all together.
College Free Agents
Elway has a history of adding low-cost veterans and undrafted free agents post-draft. Undrafted free agents is an area where the Broncos have made hay in the past. This years group is more practice squad than roster players. RB LeVante Bellamy, S Douglas Coleman III and CB Essang Bassey all have a chance to make the roster. Signed: Zimari Manning, WR (6'1,200,4.44/40), Tarleton State; Riley Neal, QB (6'5, 225), Vanderbilt-arm strength to make all the NFL throws; Kendall Hinton, WR/QB (6', 195, 4.58/40), Wake Forest-quickness, decent speed, and the shiftiness/ has a chance; Levante Bellamy, RB (5'9, 192, 4.40/40), Western Michigan-electric, can create for himself, quick, can make defenders miss, finds the end zone ; Hunter Watts, OL (6'8, 307), Central Arkansas; Essang Bassey, CB (5'9, 191, 4.46/40/#3 safety/nickel), Wake Forest-best CFA signed, tackling concerns but can play nickel & deep; Douglas Coleman III, S, (6', 203, 4.58/40/#3 safety/nickel)-solid range, tackling and angles with some versatility/a Fangio defensive back.
Potential Post Draft Moves
Trade: DaeSean Hamilton, Tim Patrick;
Add Free Agent: CBs Logan Ryan or Darqueze Dennard or Eli Apple (more youth?) and S Eric Reid or Obi Melifonwu
Fantasy Draft Outlook
Denver's voluntary virtual offseason program has begun!
QB Drew Lock-QB 23; breakout fantasy quarterback
RB Melvin Gordon-RB18
RB Phillip Lindsay-RB34
RB Royce Freeman-RB62
WR Courtland Sutton-WR18 (WR1 upside)
WR Jerry Jeudy-WR43 (WR2 upside)
WR KJ Hamler- WR88 (Broncos #3 wide receiver)
WR DaeSean Hamilton-WR105
WR Tim Patrick-WR149
TE Noah Fant- TE12 (top 5 upside)
TE Albert Okwuegbunam-TE53
PK Brandon McManus- K15
More to come next month!
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