The Denver Broncos are heading into the 2020 NFL season with higher expectations than in years past. However, the Broncos are far from a finished product. There are still a few major gaps: a second wide receiver, a shored up offensive line, and an additional strong defensive back. So with the 15th overall pick in the first round and the 46th overall pick in the second round, what are the Broncos options? There are two scenarios for the early rounds for the Denver Broncos 2020 NFL Draft.
Denver Broncos 2020 NFL Draft: Early Round Scenarios
If One of the “Big Three” Wide Receivers Are Available
This year is arguably the best wide receiver draft fans have ever seen. The top three prospects (Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb and Henry Ruggs) are all top-tier receivers and have a chance to turn around an offense. Some experts include Justin Jefferson in that list as well, but he is mostly regarded as a tier behind the acknowledged “Big Three.”
So what do the Broncos do if Jeudy, Lamb or Ruggs is available? While it is very unlikely that more than one will be available when the Broncos select, they should absolutely take whichever receiver is available, if any of them are. Most experts expect both Lamb and Jeudy to have been selected by the time the Broncos make their pick at 15. So this leaves them with Henry Ruggs, the speedy wideout from Alabama. Ruggs’ numbers may not jump off the paper, but after watching just a minute of film on him it’s very apparent why he is so highly touted.
He could be the perfect complement to Courtland Sutton. Sutton, a big body receiver, would pair perfectly with a burner, like Ruggs, who could take the top off the defense. The athletic trio of pass catchers of Sutton, Noah Fant and Ruggs would make for one of the best receivers corps in the league. Of course, if Jeudy and Lamb are available, they would also fit very well in the offense. Both of them are more polished route runners than Ruggs, but do not possess the same speed as him. So if the Broncos are able to select one of the top three receivers in the first round, what would they do in the second round?
There are a couple avenues the Broncos could consider with their second-round pick if they select a receiver in the first. The Broncos need help on their offensive line, however the mid-second round is a dry area for offensive linemen. If Austin Jackson, an offensive tackle from USC, or Robert Hunt, a guard from Louisiana, are available, the Broncos would be wise to select one of them. Both are a bit raw in terms of technique but have the tools to be excellent long term starters on the offensive line. With the addition of Graham Glasgow, the Broncos are starting to improve their offensive line, and adding a prospect like Jackson or Hunt would certainty continue to move them in the right direction.
If neither Hunt nor Jackson are available when the Broncos pick in the second round, they should consider drafting a cornerback. Damon Arnette from Ohio State would be a great pick. Arnette played injured for most of the last season so his production was not great, but he can still produce at the next level. He is a great man-to-man cornerback and would fit very well in the Broncos scheme. Another option at cornerback would be Jeff Gladney from TCU. Gladney put up constant production and is the prototypical shutdown cornerback. Defensive backs have trouble acclimating to the NFL right away, but both Arnette and Gladney could provide some depth and help to the Broncos secondary.
If None of the “Big Three” Wide Receivers Are Available in the First Round
If They Still Take a Wide Receiver in the First Round
If neither Ruggs, Jeudy, nor Lamb are available, the Broncos have two options. If the Broncos are all in on taking a wide receiver in the first round, they could select Justin Jefferson, who will most likely be available. Jefferson’s strengths fit perfectly to help with the Broncos offensive weaknesses. Jefferson excels in third down and red zone situations, and the Broncos ranked towards the bottom of the league in both those parameters last year. If the Broncos select Jefferson in the first round, then their second round plan can stay the same, with either selecting an offensive lineman or cornerback.
If They Do Not Take a Wide Receiver in the First Round
However, if the Broncos decide to go in a different direction in the first round, their best bet is to take the best available offensive lineman. Andrew Thomas, offensive tackle from Georgia, is the most logical fit. But if Mekhi Becton, Tristan Wirfs, or Jedrick Wills Jr. are available, the Broncos would select one of them. But the likely reality is that they will all be selected before the Broncos’ 15th pick. Andrew Thomas, however, should be available. And he has the versatility to play both right and left tackle. He is a natural run-blocker, and in the past year, he improved tremendously in pass-blocking as well. He still has room to grow in pass-blocking situations, but he has the physical build and athleticism to improve quickly.
Selecting an offensive lineman (or any position that isn’t wide receiver), will almost guarantee the Broncos targeting a wide receiver in the second round. Luckily for the Broncos, this is a particularly outstanding wide receiver class and there would still be many receivers left that would be considered top-tier prospects in any other year. Denzel Mims, Jalen Reagor, and Laviska Shenault are all viable options for the Broncos at pick 46. Mims is a sensational athlete, but possibly a bit too similar to Sutton. Jalen Reagor is a burner, and possibly the fastest player in the draft. He would be an excellent fit for the Broncos. Shenault is a natural fit as he went to school in Boulder, Colorado. He excels with the ball in space. He is not the most polished wide receiver of the class, but his play making ability is second to none.
The Broncos will have to make some decisions on the fly, as their draft heavily hinges on who else is selected prior to their 15th pick. The Broncos may also move up in the draft to guarantee they get one of the top-tier wide receivers. Anything can happen on draft day.