The team in the position that every other wishes to be in this time next year. If the Broncos hope to repeat, they had to deal with the cost of success with the demand on their free agents, and to overcome the unusual situation of losing both their starting quarterback and the young backup who was meant to take over.
Day 1 – Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis (Rd 1, #26)
Elway loves tall quarterbacks with physical traits; if we didn’t know for certain before, we do now. After selecting the 6ft 8 Brock Osweiler in his first draft four years ago, he replaces him with another long passer in the 6ft 7 Lynch. He was the target all along, and there was competition for his services, with at least the Cowboys and perhaps others attempting to make a deal to take the Memphis QB. The Broncos did what they had to do in order to land Lynch for themselves, which required moving up a few spots to secure his rights. Some won’t be a fan of this move, as they don’t believe in Lynch, but it’s hard to deny the exceptionally high ceiling he potentially has. Osweiler was very inexperienced and a significant project at the time he was selected too, and if Elway believes they can do similar with Lynch then I’m not going to criticise at all. What is important to note about Paxton is that he didn’t just come on the scene in one year with the Tigers, he was a three-year starter who steadily improved each season over his college career. That is encouraging to believe he can continue to do so at the next level too, while being coached up on more pro-style concepts. The difference between he and Brock though is that there may not be quite the same time-frame here. There’s a chance Lynch has to start at some point this year, and it’s not hard to predict some growing pains if he had to do that in 2016. Overall though, Lynch was a late-first round prospect who was taken in the right range by a team who certainly needed him.
Day 2 – Adam Gotsis, DL, Georgia Tech (Rd 2, #63). Justin Simmons, S, Boston College (Rd 3, #98)
The Broncos turned to the defensive side of the ball for their two selections on Friday of the draft. The loss of Malik Jackson left a spot open in the lineup, and long-term, they’re hoping that will be taken by Gotsis. There’s a good chance he would have been gone by the time of their next pick, the final one of day 3, so they don’t chance it and take Gotsis here. Denver will have to wait before getting contributions from their second rounder though, as the big Australian is currently recovering from an ACL injury. The fact that he was taken as early in the draft as he was indicates that his recovery is clearly going well. Once he’s healthy, he should be a great addition on this talented defense, bringing length, power, athleticism and a complete all-round game. Simmons was added next, and similarly has a very high floor, as a talented and versatile defensive back who has nothing missing from his skill set. The former BC Eagles safety has length and good range, along with excellent vision and football IQ. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him start early. These feel like two very safe (as safe as any draft pick can be) and solid choices that both provide talent, versatility, NFL size and dependable games.
Day 3 – Devontae Booker, RB, Utah (Rd 4, #136). Connor McGovern, OG, Missouri (Rd 5, #144). Andy Janovich, FB, Nebraska (Rd 6, #176). Will Parks, S, Arizona (Rd 6, #219). Riley Dixon, P, Syracuse (Rd 7, #228)
The Bronco’s definitely get a top grade from best pick announcement, with that Jake-Plummer-on-the-slopes-complete-with-falling-mascot moment. They took the highly productive Booker with that pick. Some couldn’t believe he lasted as long as he did, but I can, and not just because of the running back value that saw many go later than their skills deserve. Booker is older, put up some poor numbers against better opponents, had a very heavy workload over the last two years along with an injury. Those last two combine to create enough concern over his long-term prospects and durability to not invest too highly. That said, this is a great fit for him in Kubiak’s offense, so it would not be a surprise to see him be a big hit early on for the Broncos. McGovern was a great get. He doesn’t have great length, and is a lesser valued interior lineman, otherwise he’d have gone earlier. He can be a starter immediately. The Broncos’ guards struggled last year, and McGovern can be an instant upgrade at a position of need as a 3rd round talent landed in the 5th. A pair of utility players in Janovich and Dixon were very solid additions, and Parks was a versatile tackling machine who has what it takes to make the roster as well.
There’s a lot to like about what the Broncos did over draft weekend. They got their target in the first as they look to find the solution at quarterback. And if there was some risk involved there in a player with a lot to learn, the rest of the draft was the opposite, getting talented, productive, proven (at the college level) players. It’s quite possible that four or so of their day 2 & 3 picks are contributing early (plus Gotsis later depending on recovery time).