Bronco needs, talent available mean cornerback will be selected in draft


Nov 9, 2013; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers linebacker Chris Borland (44) tackles Brigham Young Cougars running back Adam Hine (28) during the first quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 9, 2013; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers linebacker Chris Borland (44) is a popular mock draft selection for the Denver Broncos. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

 The National Football League draft, usually a mid- to late-April event, has been moved back to May 8-10.

 The NFL says it was because there was a conflict in available dates for the draft site in New York City.  The real reason is the league just wants another couple weeks of ink as it goes headline for headline in the late spring with baseball.

 The Denver Broncos made their usual huge splash in free agency, but there is plenty of unfinished business with the draft, seven selections in seven rounds starting with the 31st pick if no trades are made.

 Yes, it’s mock draft time with everyone and his or her mother having “expert” opinions on which teams will take which players.  Mock drafts are interesting and occasionally make a good point or two, but they are about as silly as was Warren Buffet’s perfect bracket contest in NCAA hoops:  No one is going to be close to correct from start to finish.

 Most mock drafts I have seen have Denver going for a middle linebacker, offensive lineman or cornerback.

Middle linebacker makes sense in that the Broncos could use an upgrade at that position – Nate Irving and Steven Johnson are the two fellas currently listed 1-2 on the depth chart and neither has proven he can be a quality NFL starter.

Here are several reasons the Broncos won’t pick a middle linebacker with the 31st selection:

First, Denver had several games last season in which the middle linebacker was on the field for only a dozen plays.  The middle linebacker, not just in Denver but around the league and, yes, even in the college ranks, is going the way of the dodo.

Matter of fact, there are only two inside linebackers ranked among the top 100 prospects, according to ESPN’s Scouts.com:  C.J. Mosley of Alabama and Chris Borland of Wisconsin.

Mosley is the ninth-ranked prospect and will be long gone by Denver’s selection.  Borland is a possibility.  But why spend a first-round pick on a player who may be on the field a dozen plays and may be available in the mid- to late second round, maybe into the third?

While Borland was an every-down player for Wisconsin and could be an impact player in a position of need, it makes more sense for Denver’s staff to look elsewhere.

As recently as two weeks ago, popular thinking had it that the Broncos might draft another offensive linemen, one to play at either center or guard to replace the departed Zane Beadles.

That thinking became outmoded with the signing of veteran center/guard Will Montgomery last week.  Montgomery may be a starter, may be a backup, but he does assure the Broncos of enviable depth on the offensive front.

Denver will have tackles Ryan Clady, Orlando Franklin and Chris Clark – all better than average – as well as backups Winston Justice, an elderly veteran, and Vinston Painter, a second-year player who saw no action last season but is regarded very highly (the 49ers tried to steal him away).

And on the interior are the afore-mentioned Montgomery, last season’s starting center Manny Ramirez (who started at right guard the season before), All-Pro guard Louis Vasquez and possibly Franklin, who was a standout left guard in his collegiate days.

One other name to throw into the interior line mix is Ben Garland, who has spent the last two seasons on the practice squad and moved from defense to offense.  Garland is smart as his Air Force Academy days would show, has great feet and a tremendous work ethic.  The coaching staff loves him.

Yes, the offensive line is stacked and the Broncos won’t go that way with an early selection.

Where they will go is with another cornerback (you can never have enough and standout free-agent signee Aqib Talib has never played 16 games in a season).

The Broncos have two quality corners on the roster in Talib and Chris Harris and a young up-and-comer in Kayvon Webster.  They also have Tony Carter, a sometime starter who profiles as a fourth or fifth cover guy.

That’s about it.

That’s where immediate help is needed.

There are nine corners rated in the top 50 and as many as six could go in the first round.

Corners who should be gone by the time Denver picks are Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State, Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State, Kyle Fuller of Virginia Tech and Jason Verrett of TCU.

Corners who could be available are Bradley Roby of Ohio State, Marcus Robertson of Florida and Lamarcus Joyner of Florida State.

And the Broncos first pick will be … Stanley Jean-Baptiste of Nebraska, a 6-3, 218-pound monster who evokes images of Seattle’s evil Richard Sherman.

A bit more nasty won’t be a bad thing in Denver’s secondary, will it?

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Tags: Chris Borland Denver Broncos Nfl Draft Stanley Jean-Baptiste

  • anon76returns

    One thing you’re apparently missing on the MLB discussion Rick- Mosley could play the second (cover) LB in our nickel package along with Trevathan. Also, Mosley and Borland aren’t the only players mentioned to fill the spot- Mr. Bedinger first turned me on to Ryan Shazier, and at this point about half the mock drafts across the inter webs have the Broncos taking Shazier at #31. He’s usually listed as an OLB, but played a significant portion of his snaps inside at Ohio State. He also has fantastic cover skills and tremendous speed (faster 40 time than DT!). With Mosley slipping on boards because of injury concerns (and more dubiously the supposed dark history of recent Tide LB prospects), I think it’s highly likely that either Shazier or Mosley will be available to us.

    That being said, I’ve now run through nineteen(!!) full 7-round drafts using the fanspeak “on the clock” widget. In those 19 runs, I’ve selected 36 cornerbacks, so I definitely hear you on the need for depth. The thing is, of those 36 selections, only three were made in the first two rounds (Roby twice at #31, and Jean-Baptiste once at #63). Most of the times excellent corners can be found further back, with rounds 3-5 being a gold mine. Antone Exum, Rashaad Reynolds, Phillip Gaines, EJ Gaines, Ross Cockrell, Dontae Johnson, Marcus Roberson, and Travis Carrie are all good-sized corners that could be productive in our system and available at picks 95 and up.