Broncos Draft Outlook Significantly Different Now


On Monday, the Denver Broncos received some fantastic news from the league owner’s meetings when it was announced that they would be receiving four compensatory draft picks in 2015 due to free agents lost and gained in the 2014 offseason.

That’s not a bad haul, considering the Broncos also came away from free agency last year with T.J. Ward, DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, and Emmanuel Sanders, among others.

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With those four players already under contract, the Broncos didn’t need to be overly aggressive on the open market this year, instead choosing to stand pat for the most part and make modest signings like bringing in tight end Owen Daniels and safety Darian Stewart.

The Broncos also took in some guys that were cut from their previous teams, like Vance Walker, Shelley Smith, and Reggie Walker.

Now that the Broncos have been awarded four extra picks in this year’s draft, it puts their total this offseason up to 10, giving them the following picks in April/May:

1st round: 28th overall
2nd round: 59th overall
3rd round: 92nd overall
4th round (comp pick): 133rd overall
5th round (from Bears): 143rd overall
5th round: 164th overall
6th round: 202nd overall
6th round (comp pick): 208th overall
7th round (comp pick): 250th overall
7th round (comp pick): 251st overall

Without the compensatory picks, the Broncos didn’t have a fourth round pick nor did they have any picks in the seventh round after previous trades.

During last year’s draft, the team traded up to get Cody Latimer in the second round, and surrendered a fourth round pick in this year’s draft to do so. They knew that pick would be recovered through their shrewd maneuvering in free agency.

They also were able to give up a seventh round pick for Brandon McManus when there was a need for a new kicker last offseason, knowing they’d get at least one recovered from the compensatory picks.

So, the Broncos technically could have 12 picks right now, but all is well that ends well. Having 10 picks is more than plenty, especially since you can only keep 53 guys on the roster and they might not even have 10 spots open as we sit here currently.

The roster is going to see plenty of shuffling between now and the start of the regular season, but the Broncos need to make developing their own talent a major priority. They need to establish starters and depth on the offensive line, and they need to add to their depth elsewhere on the roster, like the defensive line, free safety, and possibly even look at quarterbacks.

Having 10 picks can be a bit dangerous, too, because you don’t want to feel like you have to sacrifice some of those picks in order to move up and get a guy when you could be solidifying depth elsewhere. I don’t always agree with ESPN radio host Colin Cowherd, but he made a great point in regards to trading picks for picks in the draft when he said something along the lines of, ‘why would you trade prospects for prospects?’

And as many teams have proven in recent years, doing that is not always the wisest idea, especially when you get late in the season and your team is scrambling to the waiver wire for depth. There is a reason teams like Baltimore don’t often have to go to the free agency well, and it’s because they do such a great job of developing draft picks from top to bottom.

The Broncos are in a great spot with 10 picks, and it offers them flexibility to play the board exactly how they want to. The one hinderance could be they can’t trade their compensatory picks, so they can’t package those picks to trade up or down, but like last year they could possibly look ahead to some of the picks they ought to have next year through compensatory selections, and trade that corresponding round of pick this year if they want to move up.

For example, the Broncos could receive a third or fourth round pick next year for the loss of tight end Julius Thomas, and possibly another fourth rounder for Orlando Franklin, so it wouldn’t be out of the question for them to try to move up and use a future third or fourth round pick as a bargaining chip.

If they identify someone worth trading up for (not too unlikely, in this year’s draft), that could be an option.

Having a lot of picks also allows the Broncos to not have to reach for need. With just six picks, they might have to identify top needs and hit them hard. With 10 picks, they know they can find depth later, starters potentially, and use their high picks on players they’ve fallen for in the draft process.

That might not excite Broncos fans at this point, because the thought of using a premium pick on a quarterback in this year’s draft is enough to make most of us want to vomit. That said, the rumors are out there that John Elway has identified a player or two (Garrett Grayson, to name one) that could be ‘QB of the future’ types with Peyton Manning entering what is assumed his final season, and Brock Osweiler in a contract year.

What I think the Broncos need is to find at least three starters for this season in these 10 picks. They have major holes at left guard, right tackle, and possibly inside linebacker depending on the health of Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshall. They could also upgrade (potentially) at nose tackle if they aren’t satisfied with Sylvester Williams, or defensive end if they prefer Malik Jackson in tandem vs. as a starter.

Whatever the case, the Broncos’ draft outlook changed significantly with their receiving four extra picks. The strategy may remain the same, they’ll just have four extra opportunities to hit on players in rounds that Elway has been pretty successful with.

Next: Broncos Awarded Four Compensatory Picks