Following a very underwhelming 2017 NFL draft, Denver Broncos General Manager John Elway put together a very solid class in this year’s draft. Many expected the Broncos to trade back if they weren’t going to select a QB, but they stayed put and drafted the best available player instead.
The Broncos entered the draft with a few needs, including the offensive line, front-7 depth and secondary depth.
Here is a full list of the Broncos’ selections:
Round 1, Pick 5 (No. 5 overall): Bradley Chubb, EDGE, NC State
Round 2, Pick 8 (No. 40 overall): Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Round 3, Pick 7 (No. 71 overall): Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon
Round 3, Pick 35, (No. 99 overall): Isaac Yiadom, CB, Boston College
Round 4, Pick 6 (No. 106 overall): Josey Jewell, ILB Iowa
Round 4, Pick 13 (No. 113 overall) DeaSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State
Round 5, Pick 12 (No. 156 overall): Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin
Round 6, Pick 9 (No. 183 overall): Sam Jones, OL, Arizona State
Round 6, Pick 43 (No. 217 overall): Keishawn Bierria, LB, Washington
Round 7, Pick 8 (No. 226 overall): David Williams, RB, Arkansas
Broncos 2018 draft grade: 8.7/10
Denver Broncos 2018 NFL Draft Review
The Best Player: Bradley Chubb
Without question, Bradley Chubb is far and away the best player the Broncos drafted this year. In most drafts that don’t include four potential franchise QBs, a talent like Chubb would easily go top two. Chubb can get after the QB as well as consistently stop the run. The only question with this pick is Chubb’s ability to fit into a 3-4 scheme. He is seen as a better fit in a 4-3 scheme, but expect to see Chubb playing both OLB as well as DE in 3-4.
Chubb is the type of player who will make an immediate impact. With Von Miller getting double teamed, expect tons of production early from Chubb. Not many expected the Broncos to be able to land Chubb, but Broncos Country is about to fall in love with this kid.
The Head-Scratcher: Where is the offensive line?
The Broncos had an excellent draft, but they didn’t exactly draft for need. Anyone who has watched the Broncos over the past couple of years knows their biggest need is fixing their offensive line. Many expected the Broncos to focus on the offensive line early in the draft, but instead they went with the “best player available” approach.
In the first round, it was expected the Broncos would trade back and select either a DB or Quenton Nelson. Instead, the Broncos were pleasantly surprised when Chubb fell to them at 5 and bit the bullet. Later on, the Broncos could have traded back in the first round or early in the second to select Will Hernandez who fell a bit. Even later on, the Broncos passed on Tyrell Crosby who kept falling in the draft.
The Broncos did eventually select Sam Jones in the 6th round. Jones likely projects as RG and the Broncos may need him to contribute right away with the uncertainty at the guard position, especially since they didn’t address that need early in the draft.
The Surprise: Troy Fumagili
The Broncos selected Troy Fumagali, TE out of Wisconsin in the 5th round. With the loss of Virgil Green to free agency, the Broncos needed a blocking tight-end. Fumagili projects to help the Broncos offensive line woes. So why is this a surprise? If the Broncos wanted to improve their offensive line, why would they select a TE they probably could have gotten a round or two later instead of drafting an offensive lineman?
At this point in the 5th round, there were a few offensive linemen still available that could have helped the Broncos right way. Trenton Thompson (Georgia), Matt Pryor (TCU) and Jamil Demby (Maine) were all available. A couple of those may have been a bit of a reach, but at least they would be able to make an impact as true offensive linemen.
Now, Fumagili can be a very solid player in the NFL, and eventually even develop into a reliable pass catcher. But he likely would have still been available in the 6th round and the Broncos could have gotten a better offensive lineman in the 5th than they did in the 6th with Sam Jones who has many injury questions.
The Steal: Desean Hamilton
Desean Hamilton is not your typical slot-receiver. Hamilton is a slot-receiver in an outside-receiver’s body. There is almost no pro-comparison because he is such a rare player. Picture a big version of Randall Cobb, but even that doesn’t do him justice.
Hamilton isn’t a steal in the sense that he went a couple rounds later than he was projected, but this is a 4th rounder who can ultimately produce like 1st rounder. With Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders on the outside, expect the attention to be off Hamilton, allowing him to make big plays up the middle.
Hamilton doesn’t carry the same ego problems as many young receivers. He is considered wise and mature beyond his years. He will be able to learn behind Thomas and Sanders, and eventually be a top slot-receiver in the NFL. The Broncos got an up-close look at him at the Senior Bowl and fell in love with his precise rout running and ability to get over the top of the defense. Expect him to have an impact early for the Broncos this year.
Most Likely to Turn Heads in Training Camp: Courtland Sutton
Training camp is typically when the young athletic WRs make a name for themselves. Courtland Sutton is just that. Sutton is 6’3 and 218 pounds and has the ability to get above the defense. The Broncos don’t have a lot of depth at WR with the loss of both Cody Latimer and Benny Fowler, so expect Sutton to get plenty of attention at the WR position.
Sutton has the ability to blow by the defensive backs with his speed but also high point the ball and beat out the defenders in those 50/50 balls. Expect to see plenty of highlight-reel plays out of Sutton this summer. Whether his highlight making ability in college will be able to translate to the pros has yet to be seen, but his athleticism alone will allow him to make a name for himself early.
Another name you can expect to hear a lot in training camp is Josey Jewell, a linebacker out of IOWA. He may not shock anyone with his athleticism, but his ability to make plays all over the field will create some noise out of Dove Valley this summer.
The Broncos addressed the loss of CJ Anderson by selecting Royce Freeman, out of Oregon in the 3rd round. Freeman is a big body back and can play on all three downs due to his pass catching and blocking ability. The Broncos also selected RB David Williams in the 7th round. He will have to prove himself early to make the roster, but if he can be effective in short down situations, he may have a role in Denver.
The Broncos further bolstered their secondary with the selection of Isaac Yiadom in the 3rd round. Yiadom is a big CB who can eventually develop into their Aqib Talib replacement. Expect him to compete with Brendan Langley for the 4th CB spot.
The Broncos finally took an offensive lineman in the 6th round by selecting Colorado native, Sam Jones. Jones will likely start his career as a guard. His 2016 foot injury scared some teams away. With the Broncos thin at guard, he may need to make an impact sooner rather than later.
The Broncos addressed their need for front-7 depth with the selections of Josey Jewell in the 4th round and Keishawn Bierria in the 6th round. Jewell can make plays all over the field and can cover the run as well as drop back in coverage. Bierria is a natural leader and has a very high football IQ, but lacks the same measurables as other linebackers.
The Bottom Line
Elway proved in the draft that the Broncos are in win now mode. The Broncos selected players who can make a difference right away. Instead of drafting project players who can make an impact in the future like he has in the past, Elway drafted players who can help them this year.
Many expected the Broncos to select a QB, but the Broncos not drafting a QB shows their belief in Case Keenum. Keenum proved that he can be an effective and winning QB with the right pieces around him, and that’s exactly what the Broncos plan to do this year. The Broncos continue to surround Keenum with playmakers on offense, and continue to bolster their defense in hopes of getting back to the Super Bowl.
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