Denver Broncos May Scouting Report
The probability of landing one impact player in the first three rounds is a coin flip (.53). The probability of hitting on two impact players in the first two rounds is low (.07).
Hit Percentage: Round 1: 55% Round 2: 51% Round 3: 38% Round 4: 29% Round 5: 29% Round 6: 19% Round 7: 14% Total draft: 32%
Draft capital will always be the biggest driver of success and the people making the picks for the teams are also the ones doling out playing time. Round 1 offers the best chance to land a good player. Round 4 has the same odds as Round 5. Trading some selections for a known, veteran who has established himself in the NFL is a good strategy. This year-s draft, with all the opt-outs and uncertainty after a short season with scouting restrictions, is a total crap shoot.
Round 1 Pick 9 Denver passed on Justin Fields and trade down offers from Philadelphia, Chicago, and New Orleans. They drafted CB Patrick Surtain (Alabama), 6’2, 208 who can learn from CB Kyle Fuller, the perfect Fangio cornerback. Denver’s receivers will carry the burden of this decision. Denver will monitor the development of quarterbacks Spencer Rattler (OKA), Sam Howell (NC), Bo Nix (Auburn) and others. Paton is proceeding as if the Broncos have their guy at quarterback, but he will go get a quarterback when he and the coaching staff believe they have their guy. Paton wants stability at Head Coach and this pick gives Fangio a chance to succeed in 2021by adding the best cornerback in the draft to what may be the best secondary in the NFL. Surtain is as "safe" as you can get with your first pick. The value was too good to select another player and Denver had him graded as their best defensive player. Surtain is a complete player and has all of the tools to be an elite CB1 in the NFL. He is savvy and pro-ready with the size and wheels to go with it. Surtain is a plug and play lockdown CB.
Round 2 Pick 35 RB Javonte Williams. The Broncos have stuck with a committee approach over the past couple of seasons. And Paton believes you need 2-3 running backs. There's a chance that Williams (5’10, 220) could pass Gordon on the depth chart which translates to 60% of the snaps. The Broncos offensive line is improving, but they were in the bottom run-blocking. Williams could be an RB3 this year, but his upside is limited compared to Etenne and Harris as long Gordon is in Denver and healthy. Williams is a dynamic playmaker who preempts a future roster hole and gives Denver another offensive weapon. There’s a lot to work with for Williams to become a true three-down player.
Round 3 Pick 98 OL Quinn Meinerz Denver traded back twice in the third round and then drafted Meinerz who has all the traits to be the next standout non-FBS offensive linemen at the NFL level. He should have been taken much earlier in the Draft. Meinerz has an elite level of awareness that allows him to utilize his raw strength to move his man and his solid in both pass protection and run blocking. Meinerz has a lot of versatility and could easily play guard and center. Meinerz’s fundamentals and technique are impressive, as is his controlled aggression and high motor. Meinerz and Muti will serve as depth and swing guys.
Round 3 Pick 105 LB Baron Browning. The fact he can do a little bit of everything is one reason he fits so well with the Broncos/Fangio. He is a legit option in nickel and dime sub-packages. Browning and Justin Strnad are athletic linebackers that could succeed Alexander Johnson and Josey Jewell in 2022 (their walk year). There are some issues with the mental aspect of Browning's game that coaches will have to fix in the film room, but he has all the physical traits and athleticism to be great. He should get some situational snaps right away with a chance to become a long term starter at strong side linebacker.
Round 4 Pick 114 traded to Atlanta
Round 5 Pick 152 S Caden Sterns. Sterns will provide depth behind Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson as the number three safety. He is a developmental, versatile safety that can play in both zone and man. His biggest deficiency is run defense where ball carriers can win the corner for explosive plays. Sterns lacks physicality and bulk.
Round 5 Pick 164 S Jamar Johnson. The Broncos doubled up on safeties in the fifth round. Johnson has a physical profile and a nose for impact plays. He could develop into the number three safety and/or a starter. For Johnson, everything is see-ball, get-ball. He’s a ball hawk that needs to clean up his tackling.
Round 6 Pick 219 WR Seth Williams. Williams (6’3, 211) is a jump-ball receiver who can make contested catches. He is a red zone nightmare for defenses in slant, fades, 50/50 balls, and back-shoulder situations. He excels on special teams. Williams has the skill set to fit into any offensive scheme and is a natural hands-catcher. He has the size, speed, and game in the air to be a good starting NFL wide receiver. Sutton, Patrick and Hamilton are in their walk years.
Round 7 Pick 237 CB Kary Vincent Jr. Vincent is a developmental slot cornerback that may need to move to free safety. He is undersized and lacks length but he is an explosive athlete with exceptional quickness, fluidity, long speed and ball skills. If he can develop his processing skills and technique, he can be a valuable asset but there are some bad habits he needs to fix. He is a scrappy, energetic competitor that should fit in well as insurance for Callahan (health/2022 free agent).
Round 7 Pick 239 OLB Jonathon Cooper. Cooper is a designated pass rusher with speed to power, urgent hands, refined counters, and a persistent motor ln pursuit. He is an athletic player who brings strong leadership to the position. It remains to be seen how Cooper fits in Fangio’s defense. He will have to beat out Derrek Tuszka for a roster spot.
Round 7 Pick 253 DE Marquiss Spencer. Spencer is a situational pass rusher at best with limited ability to play on base downs. He has an intriguing blend of size and athleticism but he has weight-management issues and a hit-or-miss motor. D-line Coach Bill Kollar is Spenser’s chance to succeed.
Undrafted rookies signed
ILB Curtis Robinson, Stanford. Robinson lacks physicality, aggression and instincts. He plays more like a safety than a linebacker. WR Branden Mack, Temple. Mack is almost 6’4, 220 and his combination of size, hands and toughness will give him a chance to make the practice squad. OT Drew Himmelman, Illinois. Himmelman is a size prospect (6’9, 320) with growth potential who plays to his measurables. He’s a developmental prospect at right tackle and should make the practice squad. FB Adam Prentice, South Carolina. Prentice’s best shot is the practice squad. OL Nolan Laufenberg, Air Force. Laufenberg’s best shot is the practice squad. EDGE Andre Mintze, Vanderbilt. Mintze is a hard-charging defender who gets the most from his ability but lacks great upside. He’s a 3-4 pass-rush specialist. $85,000 in guaranteed money makes him a likely practice squad member in 2021. CB Mac McCain, North Carolina A&T. McCain’s best shot is the practice squad. WR Warren Jackson, Colorado State. Jackson (6’4.5, 219) is a vertical outside receiver. He is a red zone matchup problem in 50/50 jump ball situations and back-shoulder fades. He is a willing but not great run blocker. WR DeVontres Dukes, USF. 6’3, 216. A big receiver who can play special teams and is an end zone threat. LB David Curry, Georgia Tech. Curry has a limited athletic profile and will have to stand out special teams to stick. However, he does have a high motor, intangibles and blood line. TE Shaun Beyer, Iowa. Beyer’s ability as a run blocker gets him a look but receiver limitations and limited production won’t let him stick long term.
Transactions Re-signed WR Diontae Spencer. Traded for QB Terry Bridgewater. Resigned CB Nate Hairston. Exercised the fifth-year option on linebacker Bradley Chubb's rookie contract.
Paton has filled the key roster holes and provided the Broncos with elite depth. He drafted players who can play on special teams. And his roster tinkering is not done. He will look at the tackle (UDFA Himmelman) and tight end positions. He is looking to add "another big guy (UDFA Beyer) that can block in-line. Surtain and (J) Williams are impact players for Denver. Meinerz is a long term offensive lineman and UDFA Himmelman has the potential to be the same. Browning projects to be the answer for opposing tight ends and inside linebacker. (S) Williams is hedge for 2022 wide receiver losses and a definite sleeper. He may have found his third safety, a bevy of big receivers and high motor guys. The Broncos have not given up on Drew Lock. QB Josh Allen played 28 games in his first season. Lock played 17. There is time for Lock. He just needs to seize the day.
More to come next month!
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