As the 2024 NFL Draft gets closer, analysts are starting to build up their initial mock drafts. Ahead of the conference championships, and with the top 28 picks already known, ESPN's Mel Kiper released his first mock draft of the season.
Kiper is a very well-known Draft analyst, as he has been analyzing prospects since 1984. As we all know, the Denver Broncos have multiple positions of need following an 8-9 2023-24 season win-loss record. Before the Draft, there is free agency, but at least there is an initial idea/thought on what teams might do in the Draft.
Last week, NFL.com Daniel Jeremiah, released his initial Mock Draft, and he had the Broncos selecting Alabama cornerback Terrion Arnold, a big surprise for many, as he had QB Bo Nix, OT Olu Fashanu, and TE Brock Bowers picked after the Denver selection. Now it's Kiper's time ... as I mentioned before, he released his first mock draft of the season.
With that being said, let's take a look at who does Mel Kiper Jr. has going to the Broncos ...
12th Overall Pick - OLB Laiatu Latu, UCLA
Kiper joins Daniel Jeremiah as big-name analysts that have Denver selecting a defensive player with the 12th overall pick.
In his article, Kiper mentions the following regarding Latu to the Broncos ...
""For Denver, adding Latu would be a boost to a pass rush that was just OK last season. The Broncos tied for 21st with 42 sacks, but overall they ranked 30th in yards per play allowed (5.8) and 32nd in yards per carry allowed (5.0). Latu has the potential to become a 10-sacks-per-season defender.""- Mel Kiper - ESPN
Latu started his college career in Washington and finished it at UCLA. He appeared in 61 games and had 100 tackles (61 solo), 35.5 tackles for loss, 24 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 4 pass breakups, and 2 interceptions. During his college career, Laiatu earned multiple awards/honors, including the Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year, Ted Hendricks, Lombardi, and Morris awards. Additionally, he is a 2x first-team All-PAC 12 and was a unanimous All-American selection in 2023.
""I love Latu's ability to bend the edge and get after the quarterbacks. He's a toolsy pass rusher who has a variety of moves and always has a plan of attack.""- Mel Kiper - ESPN
The Broncos have a huge need at edge/defensive end. Quarterback pressure was awful for Denver during the 2023-24 season. Veterans Randy Gregory and Frank Clark did not make it to mid-season. Gregory was traded and Clark was released.
Kiper has a couple of prospects that could intrigue Denver falling out of the first round. These are quarterbacks Bo Nix and Michael Penix Jr. If the Broncos somehow draft Latu in the first round and get Nix/Penix later, it would be two very successful selections, at least on paper.
What are your thoughts on Kiper's mock 1.0 selection for the Denver Broncos?