Looking at the Denver Broncos NFL Draft class this year, it’s clear that general manager John Elway is building a monster to compete with the Kansas City Chiefs. “Building the offense” was a mantra that the coaching staff and the front office were preaching to Broncos Country at the end of 2019. So, with the 2020 Denver Broncos NFL Draft, Elway was able to focus on his offense and give his young gunslinger the tools to succeed. We will go round by round and give each selection a grade and describe how the selections make the Denver Broncos a better team in 2020.
Denver Broncos 2020 NFL Draft Grades
Round 1 – Pick 15 – Wide Receiver Jerry Jeudy – Alabama
Jerry Jeudy will go down as one of the most prolific Alabama receivers ever, mentioned in the same breath as other former Alabama greats Amari Cooper and Julio Jones. During his stint in Tuscaloosa, Jeudy was able to dominate the SEC, accumulating 2,742 yards with 26 touchdowns on 17.2 yards per reception. He is an elite route runner that has the ability to line up anywhere offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur sees fit. Jeudy is an instant starter for the Broncos and a 1,000-yard season should not be out of the question as Drew Lock‘s number two go-to.
Round 2 – Pick 46 – WR K.J. Hamler – Penn State
John Elway decided to double down on offense and get his team its own version of Tyreek Hill in the AFC West arms race. K.J. Hamler is a two-year starter out of Penn State known for burning defensive backs like morning toast. Although he didn’t run at the combine this year, it was reported that Hamler has been tested running in the 4.3 range. Working the best out of the slot at Penn State, Hamler was able to rack up 1,658 yards with 13 touchdowns on 16.9 yards per reception in two seasons. With Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy lining up on the outside, that leaves him in his best position at slot receiver. The only downsides with Hamler are his size and some questionable drops, but nothing too detrimental.
Round 3 – Pick 77 – CB Michael Ojemudia – Iowa
Coming into Iowa, Michael Ojemudia mainly played tight end and linebacker and was only a three-star recruit on most scouting outlets. The coaching staff saw that his 6’1” 200-pound frame was better suited lining up as a defensive back. During his first season starting, Ojemudia struggled a lot, allowing a passer rating of 118.0. He displayed significant improvement, however, leading up to his final year, where he allowed a passer rating of 55.6 with three interceptions. Denver does not need Ojemudia to start right away, which is perfect because he still has areas to improve on. Working mostly as a zone corner at Iowa, he should fit just fine into Vic Fangio‘s system, but some work playing press coverage wouldn’t hurt him.
Round 3 – Pick 83 – C Lloyd Cushenberry – LSU
The NCAA champion LSU Tigers put a boatload of talent into the NFL Draft with their Heisman winning quarterback Joe Burrow going number one overall. That being said, LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry is arguably just as decorated. The accolades he garnered during his two years at LSU are impressive in their own right. The number 18 jersey at LSU is awarded once each season to a player that exemplifies selflessness and is a model LSU Tiger student. He was the first offensive lineman to ever win the award in its history. Cushenberry also earned first-team All SEC honors as a member of the Joe Moore award-winning LSU offensive line. He is a day-one plug and play starter at center for the Denver Broncos and should be a Pro Bowler in short time.
Round 3 – Pick 95 – DL McTelvin Agim – Arkansas
A former five-star recruit coming out of high school, McTelvin Agim had his choice of schools but he decided to stay home and play for the Razorbacks. One of his biggest strengths is his versatility as a defensive lineman, as he is able to fit as a rush end in a 3-4 scheme or a rush tackle in a 4-3 set. Showing good explosion off the line, he is able to get his hands on offensive linemen quickly and overpower them. Agim needs to work on his lower body strength the most coming into the NFL so he can become more of a run-stopping presence.
Round 4 – Pick 118 – TE Albert Okwuegbunam – Missouri
Albert Okwuegbunam was one of the most physically impressive tight ends in this year’s NFL Draft class. Running a 4.49 40-yard dash at 258 pounds isn’t something you see every day. Luckily for Okwuegbunam, he gets to reunite with Drew Lock and become his safety valve and big red zone target, just like he was at Missouri. Pat Shurmur could very easily flex Okwuegbunam into the slot to dominate smaller nickel back defenders or keep him inline as a blocker in the run game. The only concern for Okquegbunam is his durability issues after getting beat up in the SEC for three seasons. If he can stay healthy for the Broncos, he should complement tight end Noah Fant perfectly.
Round 5 – Pick 178 – LB Justin Strnad – Wake Forest
Justin Strnad falling to the fifth round had more to do with a recent torn biceps in October and less with his play on the field. He is a rangy linebacker that has the ability to drop into coverage, but also has the speed to make sideline-to-sideline tackles. Strnad is a sure tackler that will play behind his pads but does have the tendency to get lost in a play by focusing on one guy. Strnad will be given the time to develop in Fangio’s scheme as a depth linebacker with the hope of becoming a larger contributor in the future.
Round 6 – Pick 181 – OL Netane Muti – Fresno State
Netane Muti could turn out to be one of the biggest steals in the draft if the Denver Broncos can keep him healthy. He missed time in 2016 and 2018 with Achilles injuries and then went on to play in only three games in 2019 after suffering a Lisfranc injury. According to most scouting outlets, Muti is a top-five interior lineman when healthy and a starting caliber player. He is a huge, punishing lineman in the run game that has the strength to dominate any starting defensive lineman. Muti will likely spend his first season watching from the sidelines and rotating in at guard when needed.
Round 7 – Pick 252 – WR Tyrie Cleveland – Florida
Likely a depth add at this point in the draft for the Broncos, Tyrie Cleveland is a receiver out of Florida that never really flourished as planned. That could very well be due to the bad quarterback play that has plagued the Florida program in recent years. Cleveland is not a polished route runner coming out of college, but his size and speed combination make him an interesting developmental prospect at the least. I do not see him breaking the 53-man roster, but he is a practice squad candidate.
Round 7 – Pick 254 – DE Derrek Tuszka – North Dakota State
Hailing from FCS powerhouse North Dakota State, Derrek Tuszka is coming off a season that saw him rack up 13.5 sacks on his way to a National Championship. He is an NFL level technician when it comes to using his hands to disengage blocks and he has enough quickness to get around slower tackles. The biggest thing holding him back is just overall strength and his smaller frame. If he can add some real power to his game, he could be an issue coming off the edge.
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