The poor Broncos missed out on the top two quarterbacks. If they don't get a top-three selection, they'll either have to trade up for find a quarterback earlier in the offseason. Perhaps they'll be able to acquire Kirk Cousins somehow, or maybe Peyton Manning will talk John Elway into going after his younger brother.
As for this pick, the Broncos have a couple of liabilities in their secondary. Bradley Roby has been torched this year, while Darian Stewart hasn't lived up to his new contract. Denver could shore up the "No Fly Zone," which has been weak to deep passes this year.
Pick change; previously Da'Ron Payne, DT
Rd. 2, Pk. 6
Connor Williams, OT, Texas
The Broncos have to find a new quarterback, but I imagine they'll go the veteran route, acquiring Kirk Cousins or Eli Manning. If so, they'll need a new tackle to protect them.
Connor Williams has taken a dive in recent mock draft updates as a result of Charlie's report in the NFL Hot Press that teams have a mid-round grade on the Texas tackle.
The Broncos were going to consider Haason Reddick if he fell to them in the 2017 NFL Draft, so it would make sense if they addressed their linebacker situation at this juncture. They can't cover tight ends and pass-catching running backs.
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.
Sylvester Williams didn't work out as the long-term nose tackle for Denver. Domata Peko was a nice short-term signing, but he will turn 34 a few months after the 2018 NFL Draft. Thus, finding a long-term nose tackle is necessary for Denver. <br> <br>
Vea has 13 tackles and a sack so far this year. The 6-foot-5, 332-pounder was a load at the point of attack for Washington in 2016. He totaled 39 tackles with 6.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks, one force fumble and two passes batted on the season. Vea has a serious combination of size, length, strength, and quickness at the point of attack.
Jamaal Charles is a short-term solution for a back to pair with C.J. Anderson. Here's another back to go with Anderson. <br> <br>
Guice is averaging 5.7 yards per carry in 2017, totaling 711 yards with six touchdowns so far. He has six catches for 42 yards, but LSU doesn't really use its backs in the passing game. For a lot of this season, Guice has been slowed down by a knee injury.<br> <br>
With Leonard Fournette in and out of the lineup with an ankle injury in 2016, Guice (5-11, 212) took advantage of a larger than expected workload to have a breakout season. As a sophomore, he averaged 7.6 yards per carry for 1,387 yards with 15 touchdowns. Guice had nine receptions for 106 yards as well. He put together some massive games that season with 252 yards versus Arkansas and 285 yards rushing against Texas A&M.
The Broncos could use more offensive line help. Here's a tackle or guard competitor. I don't think Mitch Hyatt is good, but I thought the same about Ty Sambrailo coming out and Denver took him in the second round. <br> <br>
Hyatt is a third-year starter at left tackle for Clemson. As I reported in <a href="/NFLHotPress/Article/225">the Hot Press</a>, scouts from NFL teams have been disappointed in Hyatt's play this season and some sources say they have been grading Hyatt on the third day of the 2018 NFL Draft. The biggest issue for Hyatt for the NFL is a lack of strength. He is listed at 6-foot-5, 305 pounds, but the junior has been getting pushed around in 2017. Some are grading Hyatt in the fourth round and may drop him lower, but they acknowledge that tackles rise during the leadup to drafts, so it wouldn't surprise them if a team reaches on Hyatt in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The best move for Hyatt might be returning his senior year and getting stronger for the NFL.
The Broncos found their potential franchise left tackle with Garrett Bolles in this past draft so why not try to find him a running mate at the guard spot. Their blockers are still weak across the board and if John Elway is as smart of a GM as I suspect he will try and copy the Dallas model of building up your o-line for offensive success. Nelson is a Pro Bowl guard in the making who can come in right away and solidify a spot in the middle of the line. He would definitely be a massive upgrade over Max Garcia and Ronald Leary.
Last Weeks Selection: Bo Scarborough RB Alabama at Pick # 26
The Broncos continue to build up their offensive line. If they draft a bookend to go with Garett Bolles, they could move Menelik Watson inside to guard. <br> <br>
The 6-foot-5, 307-pound Rankin had a strong 2016 season as a run blocker and pass protector for Mississippi State. He received a second-round estimation from the NFL Draft Advisory Board for the 2017 NFL Draft, and he could definitely push that higher over 2017. Rankin is playing well at left tackle this season. In Week 3, he had some wins and losses against LSU's Arden Key, but Rankin has been impressive on the blind side this year. He is quick, athletic, and has the strength to run block. Rankin could continue to rise.