Zach Gotlieb | March 2nd, 2020
This offseason is one of the most critical offseasons in John Elway’s tenure as general manager. With a boatload of money to use in free agency that can grow a ton with cuts of a couple players, they’re fit to make big moves in free agency. They have to have another productive year in the draft as well. With the last two draft classes providing several starters, including Courtland Sutton (2018 draft), Dalton Risner (2019), and Drew Lock (2019), it seems Elway has turned around his draft woes and needs to show it again this year. They’ve got nine picks with the likelihood of 12 after compensatory picks.
To help with this mock draft, I used the Fanspeak mock draft simulator.
Make sure to check out all of our other NFL team mock drafts here.
Round 1, Pick 15: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
It’s been said by Benjamin Allbright, that Ruggs isn’t making it past 15. The reason for that is wide receiver is Denver’s most significant need. The most important requisite for that receiver is they need to have speed and be able to blow the top off the defense. Ruggs can undoubtedly do that. His route running may not be among the best in this class, but that’s a skill that can be developed. You can’t teach speed, though, which makes him a great pick at this spot for a team that desperately needs speed.
Round 2, Pick 46: Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State
Chris Harris Jr appears to be ready to test free agency. They also need another cornerback to go with Bryce Callahan, and likely a free agent corner. Arnette is the perfect pick at this spot. He’s fallen a bit under the radar with Jeffrey Okudah also coming out in this class from Ohio State. Still, Arnette is an excellent value pick in the second round. He’s got extremely sound man technique and thrives in press coverage. He’s a good tackler on the outside and projects to be able to play all over the field and on special teams, which makes him a good fit for coach Vic Fangio.
Round 3, Pick 77: Shane Lemieux, OG, Oregon
More of a need pick for Denver, but definitely wouldn’t be a bad pick. He’s an explosive run blocker that is really good at blocking off the line. He struggles at getting to the second level at times. He sometimes stays a bit top-heavy, heavily relying on his impressive upper-body strength. With Ron Leary having his option decline, they’ll likely sign a guard, but LeMieux is a guy that could be a starter in the league. He’s going to be a bit of a project, but having Mike Munchak on staff should help significantly in developing him.
Round 3, Pick 83: Saahdiq Charles, OT, LSU
It’s apparent that Garett Bolles and Ja’Wuan James are going to be starting at the tackle spots at least for this season, but Denver still needs to add depth. Charles would be an excellent pick-up that could come in and be a starter if an injury happens or even compete for a starting job out of the gate. He’s a natural athlete that does an excellent job of using his athleticism to keep the faster, more athletic rushers at bay. He’s probably gotta bulk up a little bit to make him more substantial against power rushes and in the zone run game. Still, he’s a legit NFL talent coming out in the third round.
Round 3, Pick 95: K.J. Hill, WR, Ohio State
Yes, Denver is going to double dip on receivers in this draft. That could change with how free agency turns out, but at the moment, the problems at receiver are a bit extensive. Tim Patrick is kind of like Sutton in terms of skill set. DaeSean Hamilton is a good route running receiver but has had some problems with drops and health in his first two seasons in the league. I don’t expect Hill to make a significant impact at least this season, with Hamilton having a similar skillset and gaining the trust of Lock at the end of last year.
However, he’d be a great compliment to two deep threats in Sutton and previously picked Ruggs. He profiles as a slot receiver that runs excellent routes that are crisp and clean. He gives me a bit of a Wes Welker vibe, almost in his ability to run clean routes from the slot and is very smart in finding the open holes in the zone.
Round 4, Pick 115: Jordan Elliott, DL, Missouri
Elliott is a guy that can be a solid player, but nothing top tier. He’s got a decent ability to break through gaps in the run game, but it occasionally lacks consistency. He doesn’t have a huge tackle radius or and isn’t particularly great off the snap. There’s potential for him to find a fit in a defensive line used the right way.
Denver currently has Adam Gotsis, Derek Wolfe, and Shelby Harris all set to hit unrestricted free agency later this month. They need depth pieces. They’re expected to re-sign Wolfe, which will help, but not much past that. They’re going to have to sign another lineman in free agency. If they can do that, Elliott won’t have to do too much besides be a rotational guy to keep legs fresh. That will be good for the depth of the team, and also give Elliott some reps to develop his skillset.
Round 4, Pick 134: Zack Moss, RB, Utah
Moss has the potential to be a very good running back in the league. He’s a bigger back at 222 pounds but has very good-elite ability to make quick cuts and patience to find the whole before making his move. He doesn’t have the elite breakaway ability. Still, he plays a very physical brand of football and displays excellent balance that lets him bounce off of tacklers to gain extra yards. With Devontae Booker not returning and Theo Riddick, a free agent, drafting a running back is not off the table. Moss would be an excellent selection in the fourth-round. He has decent receiving ability out of the backfield, which is a need for the Broncos running back room.
Round 5, Pick 178: Julian Blackmon, S, Utah
Blackmon is a corner converted to safety. In other words, he’s got good man coverage skills but still struggles with some of the safety concepts. He’s very good at tackling as was most of the Utah defense. He is an excellent physical player that has the tools to become a very good player. For Denver, Blackmon is a Kareem Jackson type player. He’s a strong, physical tackler, that’s spent most of his time playing slot corner and is making the transition to safety. Jackson’s contract has an option after next season, which would essentially make him the “heir” to Kareem. He could also play a pretty big role this year if Denver can’t retain free agent Will Parks or sign one in free agency.
Round 6, Pick 181: Davion Taylor, LB, Colorado
He’s an incredibly raw prospect with the possibility to be very good. He’s got track speed, PAC-12 qualifier in 100M track in his first year at Colorado. He does a good job of making plays on the ball after he dissects the play, but his play recognition needs to get faster to reach the top levels of the NFL. Denver does not need a day one starter at linebacker. That will be really helpful for Taylor, as it lets him really grow as a football player and learn the nuances of the game. They’ve got Todd Davis and Alexander Johnson to start and Josey Jewell to back them up. Still, Taylor has a real opportunity to see important reps this year with the potential to grow into the starter in the future.
Round 7, Pick 237: Michael Turk, P, Arizona State
Yes, a punter was selected. Denver needs a punter. Colby Wadman just isn’t cutting it. Denver can sign a punter in free agency too, but they’ll choose a punter also. At worst he’s competition. At best, Turk could turn out to be the starter and help in not having 40-yard punts when they’re deep in their own territory.
Round 7, Pick 252: CJ O’Grady, TE, Arkansas
A guy that has displayed good receiving ability and the ability to block. He seems to do quite a few things good, but nothing great. Noah Fant has locked down the starting tight end role. Behind him are three guys (Jeff Heuerman, Jake Butt, Troy Fumagalli) that can’t stay healthy. There are availability concerns with O’Grady too, only playing seven games this year. Still, he’d have a chance to get some reps in the case that other guys get injured.
Round 7, Pick 255: Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan
Patterson is a guy you take a flyer on because he has potential. Given the current status of the Broncos backup quarterback situation, he’s got a chance to compete for the backup spot. He has good pocket presence and ability to avoid the rush. His accuracy is fairly average, but decent in the short-intermediate range. At worst, he’s a training camp arm. At best, he’s Lock’s backup.
Questions and comments?
Follow Us on Twitter @thescorecrow
Follow Us on Reddit at u/TheScorecrow
Follow Us on Facebook at The Scorecrow
Follow Us on Instagram at The Scorecrow
Facebook Group where you can read and post articles at The Scorecrow
Reddit Group where everyone can post without fear of being banned at The Scorecrow
Follow Zach Gotlieb on Twitter @zachgotlieb
Main image credit: