Football fans in the state of Colorado love their Denver Broncos. But it's often an added bonus when the team brings in a player with local ties.
The NFL draft is one of the best times of the year to be a football fan. Not only is it fun to see which players your team adds, but it's also fun to track where your favorite college players end up. When your favorite college player lands on your favorite NFL team, it's reason to celebrate.
That's what happened when the Broncos chose to bring in Phillip Lindsay, a running back born and raised in Denver who then went on to star at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
It's also what made the second-round selection of Dalton Risner last year so popular. Risner went to high school in the small town of Wiggins, Colorado before going to Kansas State in college.
The Broncos have a long line of players who have played at local schools that have been part of the team's past. That has given fans of the Colorado Buffaloes and Colorado State Rams extra reason to cheer.
The Broncos will consider hundreds of prospects as they prepare for the upcoming NFL draft, but here are six guys that played at a Colorado school that could possibly wind up in orange and blue this coming season.
Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
Projected round: 2nd
Shenault is not being put on this list just for fun. Any team that needs a wide receiver should be looking at him and guess what? The Broncos need a receiver.
Shenault was one of the best players not only at Colorado but in the entire Pac-12 Conference during his time with the Buffs. He has first-round talent but could drop due to some recent concerns.
Shenault underwent core surgery recently but still tried to push through the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine, turning in a 4.58-second time in the drill. That is slower than most would have liked to see. He was also unable to work out at Colorado's Pro Day.
Shenault should still be considered as a first-round pick and though the No. 15 overall choice is probably a bit too soon to take him this year, the Broncos could still try to work a trade up with the multiple picks they possess in this year's selection process to try and get Shenault or they could hope he falls to them in the second round.
Shenault is a monster on the field and might be the strongest receiver in this class. He runs like a running back with the ball in his hands and the way he can rack up yards after the catch is what will really attract attention from other teams.
The team that gets this guy will be getting one of the best playmakers in the entire draft.
Steven Montez, QB, Colorado
Projected round: 5th
The Broncos have Drew Lock locked in as the quarterback of the future, but that doesn't mean the team may not look to upgrade the backup position in the event that the team ends up cutting Joe Flacco.
Beyond that, the Broncos have Brandon Allen and Brett Rypien on the roster, but a guy like Montez probably offers more upside than both of them.
At 6-foot-4 and 231 pounds, Montez has great size and he possesses a strong arm. He left Colorado at No. 2 on the team's all-time passing yardage list and if he could have led them to a Bowl game in either 2018 or 2019, he would have been at the top of that list.
Montez looked solid at the combine and may have even slid onto a few teams' boards as a day two pick, though it's unlikely he'll be anything more than a late-round pick. With all of his potential, he is far from a perfect prospect.
Montez displays poor footwork a lot of time and has a tendency to throw off his back foot when pressured. His biggest weakness seems to be his decision making, where he makes some mind-numbing choices.
Remember the interception Jimmy Garoppolo threw in the Super Bowl against Kansas City? Montez had one of those every other week or so at Colorado.
The Broncos won't necessarily be in the market for a quarterback and it would be a surprise to see them take Montez, but with some coaching at the next level, he could prove to be a talented backup.
Marvin Kinsey, Jr., RB, Colorado State
Projected round: Undrafted
Kinsey isn't really on the radar of many teams in terms of a draft pick, so he will almost certainly have to go the undrafted route, but Lindsay has proven that can be done.
Kinsey was a solid runner for the Rams, racking up over 1,600 yards in his four seasons there while scoring 17 touchdowns. He added 40 receptions and scored another three touchdowns through the air to help some pretty poor Colorado State teams.
But perhaps his most impressive statistic is his career average of 5.4 yards per carry.
But Kinsey would not come without some concerns. Though he has good size at 6-foot-1 and 206 pounds, he was suspended during his senior season for reasons that have not ever fully come out and he also had an issue protecting the ball.
Those will be the biggest reasons for him going undrafted. The suspension is especially concerning, as it came during his senior season and that is the way his college career ended. At the time of the suspension, he was averaging 100.4 yards rushing per game which was best in the Mountain West Conference.
Still, teams have nothing to lose with undrafted players and Kinsey could be a nice addition to a 90-man roster as a guy coming into camp with something to prove.
Davion Taylor, LB, Colorado
Projected round: 4th
The fourth round might seem too high for such a raw prospect, but there have been talks of teams considering Taylor as a top-100 prospect in the draft.
We have already discussed how the Broncos showed interest in Taylor at his recent Pro Day and he could be a player squarely on the team's radar. He is one of the most interesting prospects in this draft and he could be a fun player to watch in Fangio's defense.
One of the knocks on Taylor is going to be his experience. Due to religious beliefs within his family, he did not play football in high school. He was still recruited to play at Colorado due to his athletic ability and he was perhaps the best defensive player on the team.
Watching the Buffaloes for the last few years has been difficult, but I can attest to the fact that when the team needed a play on defense, Taylor was there to make one more often than not. He is a sure tackler with terrific speed.
As a track athlete, Taylor has rare speed for a linebacker. He ran a 4.49-second 40 at the combine (faster than Shenault) and that speed could lead one to believe that he could help out with the Broncos' age-old issue of covering tight ends.
He will come with some questions as there will be many things he hasn't seen as a player, but with the right coaching, he could be one of the hidden gems in this draft and at absolute worst, should be a solid contributor on special teams right away.
Tony Brown, WR, Colorado
Projected round: 7th-undrafted
Though Shenault got all the headlines in Colorado's passing game, Brown was no slouch and as a result, is one of those late-round prospects who could sneak onto a roster and be productive in his career.
After beginning his college career at Texas Tech, Brown transferred to Colorado and became a consistent weapon in the team's passing game, catching 88 passes in two seasons there.
Brown was particularly good during his senior season as he snagged 56 receptions for 707 yards and five touchdowns in 12 games.
At the next level, Brown could help a team out with his crisp route running and strong ability to go up and make the catch on contested balls. He is also a tremendous back-shoulder receiver, a pass that more and more quarterbacks are starting to perfect.
Brown is a true outside receiver that can move the chains with his ability to get open and use great body positioning to make plays. As a late-round option, the Broncos could do a lot worse than Brown if they are still looking to add depth at the wide receiver spot on day three.
Jacob Knipp, QB, Northern Colorado
Round projection: Undrafted
This is a guy who, if the Broncos were to bring in, would be an instant fan favorite.
Knipp played at Ralston Valley High School and broke nearly every passing record there before going to Northern Colorado for college despite his dream of playing in Boulder for the Buffs.
At UNC, Knipp faced a multitude of injuries to his non-throwing shoulder and was forced to miss many games. But the NCAA granted him six years of eligibility at the school.
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Remember Kyle Sloter? Broncos fans fell in love with him a few years ago in training camp and preseason games, but Knipp was once the starter ahead of him at UNC.
Like we talked about with Montez, the Broncos may not be looking for a quarterback, but Knipp will likely go undrafted and because of that, is a more likely addition to Denver's roster.
Knipp is a resilient player who never gave up in college and those are the kind of traits you like to have, particularly at the quarterback position.
When the Broncos signed Sloter as an undrafted free agent, he put on a show that summer and many felt he should have been kept on the roster. There is nothing saying that Knipp couldn't produce a similar performance so long as he could stay healthy and then you never know, he might just earn himself a backup spot.
Should Knipp slip to the undrafted phase, there has to be a decent chance the Broncos bring him in.