Denver Broncos likely to draft linebacker early in 2018

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01: Quarterback Baker Mayfield
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01: Quarterback Baker Mayfield /

The Denver Broncos seem likely to draft a linebacker early in the 2018 NFL Draft. Vance Joseph spoke about the possibility…

The Denver Broncos have two starting linebackers in Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis under contract, but that won’t prevent them from drafting someone in 2018.

Not only should you expect them to draft a linebacker (or two), you should expect one of those picks to be in the top 100.

Head coach Vance Joseph spoke about the possibility of linebackers coach Reggie Herring getting to work with someone who was drafted higher than the Broncos usually pick players at that position:

"“We have nine picks in the draft and that’s always a critical spot. I thought Corey as a linebacker was coming on big. As a part-time player for us—obviously as a [special] teams player—he was a core player for us. That’s definitely an area we have to address in the draft. Having nine draft picks, it going to be fun to finally draft a guy that [Linebackers Coach] Reggie [Herring] can develop and become a full-time player for us. We’ve drafted lower-round guys and [signed] free agents more often at inside backer but we have a chance to draft a guy maybe higher. That’s going to be fun to watch Reggie coach.”Vance Joseph (Quotes via Broncos PR)"

To be fair, the Broncos have had great success drafting linebackers in the later rounds, or finding guys from seemingly nowhere who can contribute.

The team drafted some guy out of Kentucky in 2012 named Danny Trevathan, who wound up being a pretty good player.

They found Brandon Marshall unsigned and added him to their practice squad before he was eventually promoted in 2013.

Todd Davis was poached off of the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad after going undrafted in 2014.

Corey Nelson, whom the team valued highly this offseason despite his departure, was a seventh round compensatory selection in the draft.

You get the point.

The Broncos have found players without great draft status who have become stars for them. I’m willing to call them that.

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Imagine what this coaching staff could do, then, with someone who is drafted in the first three rounds.

The last time the Broncos drafted an off-ball linebacker in the top three rounds was John Elway’s first draft with the team, when they selected Nate Irving out of North Carolina State.

This year’s draft class is loaded at the linebacker position, and it wouldn’t shock me to see the Broncos pick two players that can come in and play right away, both defensively and on special teams.

Which players might the Broncos consider? Well, we’ll get into that as the draft approaches, but to list a few names:

Roquan Smith, Tremaine Edmunds, Leighton Vander Esch, Rashaan Evans, Darius Leonard, Jerome Baker, Josey Jewell, Fred Warner, Malik Jefferson, Genard Avery, and Shaquem Griffin — just to name a few.

The Broncos will not only be able to get starter caliber players into day three, but they will likely be able to find two new future starters at this position with two of their nine picks in the top five rounds.