The Broncos could use a left tackle to protect Paxton Lynch, and Bolles could be the target of teams trading up for him.
In his one season at Utah, Bolles (6-5, 297) showed that he is really talented with quick feet and athleticism on the edge. He also is tough in the ground game and plays with a physical mean streak. Bolles had a rough upbringing and some off-the-field issues, but a number of teams say he interviewed well at the combine and they feel he has matured. Some do have concerns about his ongoing mental health, however.
Bolles will need to work on pass protection for NFL speed rushers. He will also be significantly older than most rookies as he turns 25 a few weeks after the 2017 NFL Draft.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Carlos Watkins, DT/NT, Clemson
The Broncos could use a replacement for Malik Jackson.
Watkins notched 50 tackles with 13.5 for a loss, 10.5 sacks and four passes broken up in 2016. He caused a lot of disruption. To end the season, the senior dominated Ohio State and played well against Alabama. As a junior, Watkins produced a strong season with 34 tackles, 7.5 for a loss, 3.5 sacks, three passes batted and an interception. The 6-foot-3, 312-pounder didn't record many stats in his prior seasons as he was buried on the depth chart by a lot of good talent at Clemson.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida
The Broncos could use more backfield talent.
Mack (5-11, 213) ran well for the Bulls in 2016. He averaged 7.1 yards per carry on the year for 1,187 yards with 15 touchdowns, plus snatched 28 receptions for 227 yards. 2016 was Mack's third straight 1,000-yard season. He had 1,381 yards as a sophomore and 1,041 yards as a freshman. The junior is a sleeper back who could be a nice role player in the NFL.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Jonnu Smith, TE, Florida International
The Broncos could use a receiving tight end for their offense.
Smith made nationwide news in 2016 by suffering a serious injury off the field. His pregnant girlfriend poured boiling water on him after arguing about him not spending enough time with her. The senior totaled 42 receptions for 506 yards with four touchdowns on the year. He had quality production as a junior (36-397-4), sophomore (61-710-8) and freshman (39-388-2).
The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder is a quick, athletic receiving tight end to be a potential mismatch weapon. Some sources have Smith grading out as a third- or fourth-round pick. Multiple team sources have compared Smith to being a Charles Clay-type player in the NFL.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma
The Broncos could use receiving competition and a speedy slot candidate.
Westbrook was a clutch receiver for Oklahoma in 2016 with 80 receptions for 1,524 yards with 17 touchdowns. The 6-foot, 178-pounder is very slight for the NFL and needs to add weight in order to hold up. He could fit as a speedy slot receiver. As a junior, Westbrook had 46 catches for 743 yards and four scores.
I think there is a good chance that Denver lands Kirk Cousins this offseason. That would allow the Broncos to add another talent to help build for another shot at the Super Bowl while they still have an excellent defense. Denver could use more help on the offensive line to reestablish a rushing attack and protect its veteran signal-caller. Here's a difference-maker on the interior for the Broncos, and Nelson could help Garett Bolles. <br> <br>
Nelson was exceptional throughout 2017, dominating opponents on a weekly basis. He has superb strength to blast open holes and is a true road-grader as a run blocker. As a pass protector, Nelson is very athletic with balance, agility, and quickness to shut down pass-rushers. Some league sources say that Nelson is the highest graded guard they've ever scouted, and that includes the likes of Logan Mankins and David DeCastro. <br> <br>
The 6-foot-5, 325-pound Nelson was dominant in 2016 as well, showing strength at the point of attack to open holes in the ground game and athleticism in pass protection. That year, teams sources told me that Nelson was receiving first-round grades prior to him deciding to return for his senior season. One general manager told me in fall 2017 that they have Nelson as clearly the best guard prospect for the 2018 NFL Draft. They have Nelson as a top-five prospect at any position.
As I reported in <a href="/nflhotpress/article/228">the Hot Press</a>, the Broncos are aggressively scouting the top quarterback prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft. Denver clearly doesn't believe in Paxton Lynch, while Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler have proven they are just backup-caliber quarterbacks. <br> <br>
WalterFootball.com was first to report that Allen would enter the 2018 NFL Draft, and he announced his declaration after Wyoming's bowl game. Allen has a great skill set, but is not a well-developed quarterback. He really struggled during 2017 in games against Iowa, Oregon and Hawaii. Allen displayed his big skill set with size, toughness, athleticism, and a strong arm. There were plays where he looked like a young Ben Roethlisberger, but then there were other plays where he showed bad decision-making and inaccuracy. Allen is a definite work in progress who will need some developmental time. In 2017, Allen completed 56 percent of his passes for 1,812 yards with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. He notched five rushing touchdowns as well. <br> <br>
Allen's completion percentage and interception total from 2016 provide evidence for the developmental assessment, too. He completed 56 percent of his passes for 3,203 yards with 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions that season.<br> <br>
Allen (6-5, 222) became a discussed prospect late in the 2016 season, but he wisely decided to return to Wyoming. He has a special skill set, and some draft analysts were projecting him high in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, but one general manager told WalterFootball.com that he had Allen as a third-day prospect and thought Allen should improve before going pro. Other team sources that did advance work for National Scouting for the 2018 prospects really liked Allen and compared him to Ben Roethlisberger, so don't be surprised if he is a polarizing prospect. Still, Allen has a great skill set with tons of upside.
This is now where the draft begins. This puts the Broncos in a good but awkward position. The QB they really like, and would have taken to develop behind Keenan was Rosen. He is gone.
The QB that is likely the best 'fit' for their offense is Mayfield. They signed Keenum this offseason to a 2 year deal. It was annouced at the same time as the Cousins to Minnesota deal,.. but actually Denver & Keenum agreed terms before Cousins actually agreed with Minnesota. This is the QB that Denver wanted.
Keenum is 30. They have also signed a veteran backup. They could draft a future QB, but the Bronco really are in 'win now' mode. They had a bad year last year essentially because of their QB play. They believe they have a couple of year window to make a serious run at a superbowl.
Therefore, the Broncos are going to take the best player they can get that will help them win,... NOW. That would be likely be Barkley. If they have faith in Keenum,.. they have good receivers, a good line, they would want to add a dominant running game to balance the offense,.. and Barkley can do that. On his own,.. with no other help.
Again,.. this is one of those picks that makes the whole offensive unit better, not just one position. It also gives the Broncos leverage in their negotiations with C.J. Anderson, helping resolve those issues as well.
Original selection - Saquon Barkley, RB Penn St.
Update <--- after reading the interview with Gettlemen about Darnold & the Giants options,.. I have to believe that if Darnold isn't available, they won't go QB, and will likley take Barkley. If this happens, then it's likely that Rosen would fall to the Broncos,. which if you can belive all the interviews, is the only QB they really like.
John Elway is a terrible at evaluating college talent and should try to find a veteran quarterback instead. If he is unable to do that he will probably be the GM who talks himself into Mayfield due to his moxie and leadership. However, I just do not see him working out with his style of play and size. Everyone wants to compare him to Brees and Wilson, but neither of those guys went in the first round. They are also the only two out of countless other quarterbacks to pan out in the league in general so comparing them to Mayfield is kind of a disservice to how special those two are. Mayfield's athleticism is not even close to Wilson's and his arm is nowhere near as good as either Brees or Wilson. This pick is made by media hype particularly by college analysts who want every Heisman winner to pan out in the NFL. Which, we know does not happen normally.
Last Mock's Pick: Josh Allen QB Wyoming
Before getting into the picks themselves, here are the pre-draft stipulations that occur in this particular mock draft scenario:
1) The Jets are able to land QB Kirk Cousins in free agency (explained during their pick)
2) The Browns arrange a trade of picks with the Seahawks well in advance of the draft; Cleveland would give picks #35, #65, and #101 (a total of 939 value points) for Seattle's #18 (worth 900 value points). Cleveland is willing to give up more in draft value to secure a third first round pick in the early going (March) and plan accordingly. The Seahawks love to do trades like this, and without 2nd and 3rd round picks from the Sheldon Richardson and Duane Brown trades, recouping the top picks in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round makes a ton of sense.
3) When it comes to picks, the Browns have enough quantity, but they’re still seeking quality, so a trade-up from #18 to #8 makes sense. This could happen in advance of the draft or on draft day. The Bears, who are not likely to satisfy their needs at WR in free agency, would be much wiser anticipatorily trading down into the mid-first. Based on value alone, a WR prospect should not go top-15 in this draft. Moving down ten spots to #18 is a sweet deal for Chicago considering that they get Cleveland’s prized #33 overall pick in the deal. Chicago’s #8 and #105 (a total of 1,484 value points) for Cleveland’s #18, #33, and #175 (a total of 1,501 value points) makes for a fairly even deal. Once again, the Browns are willing to sacrifice a slight bit of draft value to persuade their trade partner.
By the time the draft rolls around, here would be the changes in draft order within the top 4 rounds:
8) Cleveland Browns (from Chicago Bears)
18) Chicago Bears (from Seattle Seahawks through Cleveland Browns)
33) Chicago Bears (from Cleveland Browns)
35) Seattle Seahawks (from Cleveland Browns)
65) Seattle Seahawks (from Cleveland Browns)
101) Seattle Seahawks (from Cleveland Browns)
105) Cleveland Browns (from Chicago Bears)
Alright, let’s get this draft started!
Although the Browns add A.J. McCarron in free agency, the QB position isn’t answered, and a top-10 draft pick should be devoted to the position. However, should it be the #1 overall pick? Many, including Walt and Charlie, don’t seem to think so.
Meanwhile, if Denver strikes out on Kirk Cousins, I don’t think John Elway will look to add a middling starter via free agency after the middling QBs the Broncos have trotted out for the last few seasons. Sure, some of the free agent QBs available would be an upgrade over the Siemian/Osweiler/Lynch enigma, but that isn’t saying much. Rather, if Elway is confident in his ability to build the rest of the team all while surrendering what it takes to move up to #1, it makes sense to make the move to draft who might well be the best QB in this class, Sam Darnold.
The chances of Darnold being available at #5 are slim. Not only are the Giants a marked threat to take him at #2, but other teams could be jockeying to move up for a QB, and the Browns could be fielding multiple offers. Denver’s #5 and #40 (2,200 total value points) pull the Broncos within 800 value points of equaling the value of Cleveland’s #1 pick. Dealing their 2019 first rounder to Cleveland makes up for that difference. The Browns obtained slightly more moving down from #2 to #8 in the Carson Wentz trade, but they’re nonetheless happy to do business here, as they regain a pick at the top of the 2nd round all while maintaining three top-ten picks.
For the Broncos, Darnold is in place, the QB quandary should be finally answered, and it’s time to move on to building the rest of the team in rounds 3-7.
Show/Hide Other Mocks with Sam Darnold Going to Broncos
Rd. 1, Pk. 5
Bradley Chubb, DE
I think Saquon Barkley is the best player in this class, but some people whose opinion I respect believe Bradley Chubb is the top prospect. Either way, he's the best defensive player. Considering that the Broncos were able to land him at No. 5, that's amazing value. I can't give this anything other than an A+. Chubb and Von Miller are going to create major havoc for quarterbacks in the AFC West.
Rd. 2, Pk. 8
Courtland Sutton, WR
Maybe I'm just in a good mood, but I think this is another steal. Courtland Sutton could've easily been chosen in the late teens or 20s. It's debatable that he might have been the best receiver in the class. If you're wondering about need, there was talk about the Broncos moving on from Demaryius Thomas this offseason. Denver will keep Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, but at least one of them could be gone after this upcoming year. Sutton should be a starter in 2019 and beyond.
Rd. 3, Pk. 7
Royce Freeman, RB
Royce Freeman thrived at the combine, surprising some with his athleticism. He moved into third-round consideration, so the range makes sense. He also fills a big need in the wake of C.J. Anderson's inexplicable release. This is a logical, albeit unexciting pick.
Rd. 3, Pk. 35
Isaac Yiadom, CB
The Broncos coached Isaac Yiadom at the Senior Bowl, so they obviously liked what they saw. Yiadom is a tall cornerback who has the potential to start one day, as he could replace Aqib Talib. I thought he'd go in the Round 3-4 range, so this pick is a very logical one.
Rd. 4, Pk. 6
Josey Jewell, OLB/ILB
The Broncos wanted Haason Reddick last year, but missed out on him. They finally get their upgrade at linebacker. Josey Jewell, a three-time captain, could've gone earlier than this. He doesn't have great athleticism, but he's a smart, instinctive linebacker who should be able to help Denver's defense.
Rd. 4, Pk. 13
DaeSean Hamilton, WR
The Broncos have made two solid selections thus far on Day 3. A second receiver in this class might seem weird, but it seems as though Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are not long for Denver, so finding two potential starters for the future makes sense. DaeSean Hamilton is a solid receiver who excels in route-running, but has issues with drops. He could've been chosen in the third round, so I like the value.
Rd. 5, Pk. 19
Troy Fumagalli, TE
The Broncos didn't get much production from their tight ends last year, but they have Jake Butt coming back from injury. Here's a tight end they can pair with Butt. Troy Fumagalli seemed like a fifth-round choice to me, so this pick makes sense.
Rd. 6, Pk. 9
Sam Jones, G
Sam Jones didn't allow a single sack in 2017. He's a sound technician, but he lacks strength right now. Perhaps being in an NFL strength-and-conditioning program will help him become an NFL starter, which could definitely happen.
Rd. 6, Pk. 43
Keishawn Bierria, ILB
Keishawn Bierria has severe athleticism limitations, but he's a hard worker who will do whatever it takes to contribute to a team. He could be a solid special-teams player in the pros. He makes sense here at the end of the sixth round.
Rd. 7, Pk. 8
David Williams, RB
David Williams is a plodder who will run for two yards and fall down if he gets NFL carries. I didn't think he would be drafted. He offers no athleticism or upside.