John Elway’s track record in the 5th round is hit and miss. In 2011, his first year as the Vice President of Football Operations, the Denver Broncos didn’t have a 5th round selection.
In 2012, the Broncos selected Malik Jackson out of Tennessee in the 5th. He has been a straight up gem for this team. In 2013, Jackson stormed on to the NFL scene as he saw increased snaps (601), filling in for the injured Derek Wolfe. Per PFF, his overall grade was +17.8, which made him the 3rd highest rated Broncos defender behind only Von Miller and Terrance Knighton. The Broncos are hopeful that Wolfe can return to form, but even if he does, Malik Jackson has earned regular snaps with his exceptional play.
In 2013, Elway took two players in the 5th round. Western Kentucky’s Quanterus Smith and Georgia’s Taverres King. With 12.5 sacks his senior year (including 3 vs ‘Bama) Smith dropped to the 5th round because of a torn ACL, and though he tried to fight through it, his rehab progress wasn’t as far along as the team had hoped in time the 53-man roster deadline, so he was placed on I.R. But he figures into the Broncos’ plans in a big way. The team is high on him.
King, a wide receiver, was released during the last wave of roster cuts and was subsequently claimed by the Carolina Panthers. A busted pick.
This year, Elway hopes to hit big time in the 5th round. One player the team could target is Alabama State (by way of Georgia) running back, Isaiah Crowell. He is arguably the most talented, pure runner in this draft class.
At 5’11, 224lbs, Crowell possesses a rare size/speed combo. He has rare athleticism and elite burst in hitting the hole. He’s not afraid to lower his pads and aggressively deliver the hit to the opponent. He’s great at keeping his feet churning and is not easy to bring to the ground. Once he hits the open field, he has the speed to take it to the house.
The risk with Crowell, is on the character side. During his time at the University of Georgia, he failed a drug test and had two counts of felony possession of a firearm. He was dismissed by the Bulldogs. Since landing at Alabama State, he’s stayed on the straight and narrow, however. Perhaps he’s learned his lesson.
The other concern with Crowell is durability, as he’s often times struggled to stay on the field with what seemed like minor injuries. His toughness could be questioned by teams. However, he has all of the natural skills to be an elite NFL running back and if drafted to the right team, with a high quality locker room culture, I think his character concerns would go by the wayside.
Crowell has the skills to immediately contribute for the Broncos as the backup to Montee Ball. Had he not gotten into trouble and remained at Georgia, he’d be in the conversation for the first RB off the board this year. He doesn’t have a lot of experience receiving out of the backfield, nor does he have an advanced ability in pass protection, but NFL coaching could hone these crafts. Honestly, Crowell reminds me of former Broncos RB, Clinton Portis. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him off the board much earlier than the 5th round.
Tags: Isaiah Crowell