We’re halfway to the playoffs, which means we’re inching that much closer to the 2014 NFL Draft. The draft seems like a lifetime away at this point with eight games left to play plus the playoffs, but the draft hype is really going to pick up steam toward the end of this month and I’m always looking forward to that time.
For the Broncos, the draft will look far different than it has in recent years. From about 2008-2011, the Broncos were in a complete rebuilding mode and in 2010, they literally started from the ground up.
Now, the Broncos are going to be supplementing one of the most talented rosters in the NFL and possibly replacing a couple of big names in free agency, but John Elway has done a really good job of building this roster for the present as well as looking out for the future.
With the Broncos’ biggest need at this point appearing to be at the defensive end position (Robert Ayers, Shaun Phillips are both free agents), it makes sense that draftniks are projecting the Broncos to take that position in the 2014 draft.
Dane Brugler of CBS Sports’ NFL Draft Scout has projected the Broncos to select Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy, a 6’5″ 275 pound beast off the right edge who has three sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss so far this season.
Ealy isn’t gaining nearly as much national attention and hype as his teammate on the defensive line, Michael Sam, who has 10 sacks and 16 tackles for loss already this season, and is playing like a defensive player of the year candidate nationally.
Still, because Ealy has excellent measurables and athletic ability, he’s considered a higher upside professional prospect. Scouts love the motor that Sam brings to the table, which is one thing they wish Ealy could display on a consistent basis.
Obviously with Sam cleaning up this season, Ealy’s numbers are going to be low, but he has the ability to play end or inside as a tackle in a four-man defensive front, which will really attract the eye of Broncos scouts.
Since John Elway took over as the player personnel man for the Broncos, they’ve drafted a number of defensive linemen, including guys like Derek Wolfe, Sylvester Williams, Malik Jackson, and Quanterus Smith. I don’ think they’re done selecting linemen by any means and with John Fox and Jack Del Rio coaching up this unit, you’re going to see a lot of size at the end positions which is something Ealy provides.
Obviously the production isn’t as attractive as you’d like from a first round prospect, but scouts seem to believe the upside is very high. Ealy is only a junior, so he could easily opt to return for a senior season and be the top pass rusher there, but his stock right now is very high and Missouri has been playing at a very high level defensively this year.
It might be a good idea for him to cash in while he can, and he could very well end up a Denver Bronco someday.