There was a key theme surrounding the Denver Broncos draft this year, draft captains, draft leaders and draft immediate contributions. I’m not sure what has changed in comparison to the last few years in the front office but I’m glad we’re moving away from the ‘pure talent and athleticism’ mantra (Latimer, Lynch, Ball, etc). Hopefully, we’ve got it right this year.
Unfortunately, no draft is perfect and we’re likely to experience a bust somewhere down the line. It’s hard to think that way right now because optimism is extremely high (which is why I love this time of year). We won’t know for a couple years how this draft class turns out, but I’m excited for it.
tangent: I’m excited that we have a coach with a lot on the line (IE — his job), we have a lot of new coaches looking to make an impression and a lot of pissed off veterans ready to push these rookies way harder than they did last year. If these rookies embrace the challenge and don’t expect shit to just be handed to them, we’re going to be successful.
I looked at a lot of footage, scouting reports, and opinions on most of these prospects this year (way more than usual) so here are my initial impressions of the 2018 Denver Broncos draft class.
I’m basing all of this off of my own draft board which is based on my opinion, obviously. I could end up being absolutely wrong on everything, but that’s what’s fun about the draft.
I’ve broken this draft down into 3 sections based on where they were drafted vs the value they’ll provide.
Denver Broncos Sleepers
Josey Jewell, ILB
I had a third-round value on Jewell and the Denver Broncos snagged him in the fourth round. Elway absolutely nailed it with the first pick in the fourth round with Jewell. He’s got a relentless motor, high-level football instincts/IQ, and solid technique to be a quality tackler and coverage guy.
The biggest limitations on Jewell is his lack of elite athleticism and the concern that will hinder his success in the NFL, but athleticism and success aren’t mutually exclusive. This pick gives us a very solid backup ILB and special teams guy with the potential to be a stud someday. The hope is his natural football skills overcomes his lack of size and athleticism (think Wes Welker).
Sam Jones, OG
I had a fourth-round value on Jones and we snagged him in the sixth round. Jones does have some skills that impress me; He is a great athlete with the quickness you like to see from a modern-day lineman.
The biggest problem with Jones is he isn’t super strong and must put on weight to make it as a guard/ centre. I’ve got faith in Landow to put the right weight on Jones and make him a quality backup centre and compete with McGovern for a guard spot. The upside is a capable starter for the Denver Broncos.
Jeffery Holland, EDGE
How on earth nobody took a punt on Holland in a pass rush needy league is amazing. I had him going in the 5th or 6th round, possibly late 4th. Bargain for the Denver Broncos.
When I think of Holland, I immediately think of Shaq Barrett. Holland won’t blow you away with athleticism or size and is a liability in coverage, but he plays extremely hard, doesn’t take plays off, and is a stout run defender that can get into the backfield impressively well.
Maybe teams don’t think he can get rid of the bad weight and add the good weight? I’m not sure but I’m excited we added him and he just made our already STRONG pass rush group even stronger.
Bradley Chubb, OLB
Much like the rest of the world, I had chubb as a blue chip, obvious success. Nothing in the NFL is guaranteed but when you know, you know. I’m surprised he fell to us to be honest, how Cleveland didn’t take him I’ll never know.
We’ve added the best defensive player in the draft to team up with Ray and Barrett opposite Von Miller to wreak havoc on offensive lines all across the league. Chubb is a complete player, plays above any scheme mismatches, and will just be a beast for us.
Courtland Sutton, WR
Elway said they had a first-round value on Sutton and I understand why, but for me, he went exactly where he should have. Sutton is a big-bodied receiver that I hope we use often in the red zone (hopefully we can make it to the red zone this year). I didn’t have Sutton as a first-round pick mostly due to his poor route running. The talent and mental makeup are there and with a little bit of polishing could be the next DT.
Royce Freeman, RB
I had a 2nd round value on Freeman from a talent perspective and a 3rd from a likely success perspective and we snagged him with our first pick in the third round. I think value wise I’m happy, it was a deep running back draft but i’m satisfied. Royce was a player I rated in the top 5 running backs coming out of the draft behind Saquon (not second best, second favourite).
Royce is a good all-around RB that received pretty heavy usage at Oregon buthe was always very consistent. He has a good size-speed combination, and he had a better yards-per-attempt average than Barkley did (wink, wink).
Royce reminds me a lot of Jordan Howard in Chicago. I honestly love this pick and can’t wait to see him push Booker for the starting spot. Regardless of who wins the starting RB spot there will definitely be a running game by committee this season (which may suit Freeman) and I just hope Joseph, Musgrave, and Modkins can figure out how to use all their strengths better than Joseph, McCoy, and Studesville did.
DaeSean Hamilton, WR
I had a third/fourth round value on Hamilton and the Denver Broncos took him with our second pick in the fourth round. This pick sent a clear message to Henderson that he needs to get his shit together and come out hot during camp this summer. It would not surprise me one bit if Hamilton opened up the season as our slot receiver.
Hamilton is a precise route runner (what I want Sutton to be) and has a strong ability to find the ball and make the tough catches. Why was he a fourth-round pick? His lack of speed and quickness. Hopefully, he is a better version of what we hoped Fowler would turn into.
Phillip Lindsay, RB
I didn’t expect Lindsay to be drafted and he wasn’t. I am glad we brought him in though as I always love seeing the local guys find a way to the Denver Broncos. There is a lot to like about Lindsay and he has a great chance to make it somewhere in the league.
What I think is holding him back is the lack of size (which can be overcome) and his wild running style (which can be fixed with good coaching). A team just needs to spend the time with him and he has the potential to flourish. His realistic ceiling though looks like that of a solid runner in the top 15.
Austin Schlottmann (C), Jimmy Williams (WR), Trey Marshall (S), Leon Johnson (OT)
No idea who any of these guys are, I’ve tried to read a little into them all but there’s nothing which gives me a strong opinion either way, possibly a good player here, but then again possibly not.
Isaac Yiadom, CB
I had a fourth-round grade on Yiadom and he was drafted with the Denver Broncos second pick in the third round. Not a big reach, but just based on my value I would have liked to take him later on. A lot about Yiadom screams Brendan Langley to me (mostly his size), but there is a lot to like about him as well. This is the pick I’m most disappointed in.
Troy Fumagalli, TE
Fumagalli is a player I love from his name alone, I had a late 5th, early 6th on Troy and we took him the 5th round.
the reality is that Fumagalli is a really solid blocking TE and an average route runner. He actually is a pretty solid all around player with some limitations with his athleticism but I don’t think it’s anything that can’t be fixed with proper coaching and attention. I hope he turns into what we all had hoped Virgil Green would be. Expect him to fight with Austin Traylor for that third TE spot (maybe even second TE spot if Heuerman gets hurt again).
Keishawn Bierria, ILB
I had a seventh-round value on Bierria and we took him with our second pick in the sixth round. I think he could have very easily dropped to the seventh round (or even went undrafted), but we jumped on him in the sixth.
He is a very consistent, hard-nosed player that probably has a ceiling of being a solid backup. His average athleticism is the big thing holding him back. I expect him to contribute on special teams (if he makes the team) and fight with Zaire Anderson for our LB4 spot.
David Williams, RB
I don’t know anything about this guy, word on the street is that Williams was okay to average in college, he was just there. I assume he’ll be waived unless he massively outplays Lindsey. Not a strange pick but not one that I would have personally made (especially with Zaire Franklin, Bo Scarborough and Will Clapp still on the board).
Lowell Lotulelei, DL
Not strictly a reach but I had a late 7th value on Lotulelei and we will sign him as a UDFA. Obviously not a huge difference as he just as easily could have been drafted as undrafted, but still thought maybe he would sneak in the seventh round.
Probably nothing more than a training camp body, but there is some far off potential if he decides to actually try hard and find that desire to play football. He’s got some deficiencies with his size as well but plays with speed and aggression.