John Elway’s first three drafts have been defined by value. Elway has not traded up in the first round of any of his drafts as the lead decision maker for the Broncos, and I don’t think he’s poised to do so in 2014 either despite some of the big names that have come to Denver for visits.
Guys like Justin Gilbert, C.J. Mosley, and Kyle Fuller are all likely to be top 20 picks according to most mock drafts, but all of those players have made the rounds this offseason and trips around the country including the Mile High City.
Many think these visits indicate the Broncos’ intention to trade up, but I think John Elway is getting set to stand pat and take advantage of a falling player they didn’t expect to do so.
In 2011, the Panthers opted for quarterback Cam Newton with the number one overall pick, leaving the Broncos at number two with the option of Von Miller, Marcell Dareus, or Patrick Peterson. All three players had the look of future All Pros, and the Broncos clearly made a fine choice save for Miller’s off-field troubles.
In 2012, the Broncos traded down twice. The first time they traded down from pick 25 to 31 and could’ve taken a number of guys including running back Doug Martin, but they traded the pick to the Buccaneers who took the rookie Pro Bowl running back. The multiple trades down the board suggest the Broncos had a number of players drop to their first round pick — twice — that they didn’t expect to before the ended up taking Derek Wolfe in the second round.
In 2013, the Broncos said after the draft concluded that in all of their draft preparations they didn’t have a scenario where Sylvester Williams made it to their pick. Ranked number 19 in NFL Draft Scout’s pre-draft rankings, Williams was a great value for Denver in terms of their board, and also filled a need up front for Denver.
In each of those three drafts, the Broncos had to address major needs. This year, they don’t have many pressing needs depending upon who you ask, even though they have areas to address.
If you base it solely on pre-draft visits, the Broncos are shooting for the stars with their first round pick. They appear to be fully expecting a player with a top 20 grade on their board to fall to their pick in such a deep draft.
On my personal board, the Broncos have brought in four players with top 25 grades on my personal board and a number of others who grade out as first round caliber players.
The interesting thing about this year’s draft is that the Broncos could be staring a dozen or more players in the face with their top selection that have no business being there due to the needs of other teams in front.
With runs expected in the first round on offensive tackle and wide receiver, the Broncos could reap the benefits of players who would otherwise be unquestioned top 25 picks like the aforementioned Justin Gilbert, C.J. Mosley, Kyle Fuller, Ryan Shazier, and then you get into names like Timmy Jernigan, Louis Nix, Jason Verrett, Bradley Roby, Kony Ealy, Ra’Shede Hageman, Jimmie Ward, Scott Crichton, and those are just names of defensive prospects who have been mocked in the first round at some point or another.
Offensively at the same time you could have guys like Cyrus Kouandjio, Marqise Lee, Donte Moncrief, Cody Latimer, Joel Bitonio, Xavier Su’a-Filo, Allen Robinson, Davante Adams, Brandin Cooks, Morgan Moses, and Weston Richburg available.
The list is extensive.
This draft is very, very deep. The Broncos appear poised to reap the benefits. They might not end up with a guy the caliber of Ryan Shazier, C.J. Mosley, Justin Gilbert, or Kyle Fuller, but someone is going to fall to their pick that has no business being there. Who will they deem the best on their board?
Of the aforementioned names, I would have a very difficult time picking one guy out of that group, but that would also mean that you’re going to get great value in the second round and so on. The value in this draft is in its depth, and the Broncos have a great chance to cash in with a true best player available style.