Every year going into the draft, you wonder what players might slip to the later portion of the first round or even what guys might wind up making all the way to the second round.
I want to present to you a big board of sorts, but also for the purposes of this exercise you’ll realize why a lot of guys are never mocked to the Broncos. There are certain players with certain ceilings and floors in terms of where they will be picked.
This is my personal board, and 25 players I feel will be almost undoubtedly off the board by the time the Broncos’ selection pops up.
1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
2. Khalil Mack, DE/LB, Buffalo
3. Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
4. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
5. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
6. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
7. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
8. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
9. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
10. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
11. Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
12. Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
13. Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
14. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.
15. Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
16. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
17. C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
18. Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
19. Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan St.
20. Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
21. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
22. Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
23. Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
24. Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
25. Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
I’ve gone and ranked these players from top to bottom as well as given a “TIER” ranking to how highly I view that prospect. Here’s some more into that:
FIRST TIER: This is a prospect who is elite at their position. They have exceptional athleticism, production, and upside. These would be considered the best prospects in the draft in my opinion.
SECOND TIER: This is a prospect who is one of the best at their position. They have huge upside but aren’t set apart from the rest of the class of players in perhaps big or small ways. These are still very good prospects with Pro Bowl aspirations.
THIRD TIER: These prospects are not elite, but they are going to be very good NFL starters. They might not be ‘five tool’ prospects but they all offer a team the ability to start as rookies.
If the Broncos are able to get a first-tier player when they are on the clock, John Elway may need a change of pants. If they are able to get a second tier player, there would be a lot of celebrating in the draft room. Likewise if they were able to land a third tier player.
Now, let me just say that if you break the entire draft into tiers, the groupings would get larger and larger. There are obviously prospects not projected to go in the first round who will be stars, and even players who are heralded as late round sleepers could wind up providing more value in this draft than some of the others. But when you break it up into positions and look at it this way, you see exactly what kind of prospects the Broncos may or may not be getting when their selection pops up.
Last year, the Broncos were able to get a player in Sylvester Williams that they deemed a third tier player with a fourth tier level pick. Williams was rated in the top 20 on many boards, and Denver took advantage.
This is a list of prospects with similar value, and for the purposes of keeping the list to 25 players, you could argue that more players should be included in that “THIRD TIER” range as well.