2018 NFL Draft Denver Broncos thoughts and analysis on their draft and what it says about their direction for this season
Honestly, what a fun draft. I’m not sure if it was the amount of hype this year (which was at crazy levels) or maybe something they put in the water, but I can’t recall a more exciting draft in recent years.
Now that we’re a week removed from the action, I wanted to take a peek at the draft and throw out some thoughts on what we saw from the Broncos.
Day 1: Bradley Chubb taken with the 5th pick
Many of you already saw my quick review of our first pick but in case you missed it, let’s just say it one more time with feeling: that was a superb pick. I never thought in a million years Chubb would be there at 5.
The QB aspect of it was pretty straightforward: with Mayfield gone at 1 and Darnold gone at 3, the Broncos had no QB temptations getting in the way of taking the best player available. It wasn’t even close and I can’t imagine it was a difficult pick.
Like many of you in Broncos Country, I’ve looked at some of this young man’s college tape and a couple of things stuck out to me.
- Chubb is very advanced in his use of different techniques for pass rushing. He combos pulls with swims, inside spins as well as outside, and takes superb angle turns to get to the QB as quickly as possible.
- This guy lined up everywhere. His versatility is going to allow Joeseph and Woods to be very creative with their pass rushing calls and it is going to be causing nightmares for opposing offensive lines.
Day 2: Talent at skill positions
If you’ve been a fan of the Denver Broncos and really following their drafting during the John Elway tenure as GM, day 2 of the NFL draft is kind of a day you have learned to dread. For whatever reason, the Broncos seem to have a track record of some real head-scratching trades and picks with their 2nd and 3rd round picks.
My initial take after Day 2 is that Elway has taken a big step forward. The initial picks we took are impact players who have shown production at a high level. They are also guys you can tell have the space to grow in the NFL.
Courtland Sutton, WR SMU
I absolutely love this pick. Sutton is a guy my Cowboy fan friends were wanting to trade up to the top of the 2nd for (or even take in the 1st). He’s tall, fast, and has big-time catch ability.
He’s honestly going to have a very similar career track as DT. He needs to sharpen up his route running but is an athletic playmaker who wins on jump balls.
Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon
I absolutely love this pick. He’s a guy that can step in right away and make an impact for our team. I watched some scouting film on him and the one thing I noticed is what I’ve seen from our backs in the past couple of years: he made the best production happen while his linemen really lacked in blocking up front for him.
This guy is powerful, big, and has really deceptive speed for his size. He’s a gear faster than C.J. Anderson ever was and can run inside and outside. He also showed solid pass catching ability and more importantly has some really decent blocks on film which is normally one of the toughest jobs to transition to for college backs.
Isaac Yiadom, CB, Boston College
This is the one guy that makes me scratch my head just a little. He’s not a big name player and there were other corners on the board that projected much higher than him. That being said, the obvious tie is that the Broncos coaches got to work with him directly at the Senior Bowl and must have fell in love with what he brings to the table.
While I may question the coaching of the Offense and Head Coach, I absolutely trust Joe Woods and if he’s saying a defensive back is good, you can bet money he’s going to be good.
The guy does look like the kind of corner that is going to be a guy you develop as a man specialist that covers your slot receivers. We’ll see what impact he has in 2018, but I’m sure the Broncos are wanting him to be a guy that lets them put Chris Harris, Jr. on the outside more.
Day 3: Future starters and young depth
Let’s be real here: when you get down to the 4th - 7th rounds of the draft, it is going to be very unlikely to see many household names here. What you are looking for are football players who can contribute from a depth perspective and hopefully a couple diamonds emerge after a year or two.
I think given that kind of mentality, you have to look at what the Broncos did as both smart and resourceful. They targeted some players that dropped with big-time value in the 4th round, then got a bunch of guys in the later rounds that fit the bill of hard-working players who look like they have the potential to make it in the NFL.
Also worth noting, John Elway was very savvy in trading in the 5th round to get picks later in the draft. Some might say, “Why bother? Those later picks are less valuable!” Not this guy. The No Bull truth is that the Broncos scouts have a SUPERB track record finding talent late in the draft as well as UDFAs that have great success in the NFL. Turning our two 5th round picks into a 5th, two 6ths, and a 7th was very smart and in a few years, we may be looking back at it as some of Elway’s better trading in his tenure as the GM.
Josey Jewell, LB Iowa
Jewell is a very solid linebacker prospect who never should have fallen as far as he did. Most guys I talked to had him pegged as a day 2 guy. The thought is that he slipped because of poor numbers in the combine, but this is the classic case of letting measurables mess up what the eye test tells you. He has good football speed.
He’s a guy I see making a push this year or next for the Mike position in our defense (Todd Davis currently holds this role...Brandon Marshall has the Jack typically in base defense). He has the kind of smarts and play diagnosis that great linebackers have. If he can improve just a hair or two with our training staff, he’s got an opportunity to be a starter for us in time.
DaeSean Hamilton, WR Penn State
I mentioned before the draft that the Broncos still lacked a 3rd WR who can play the slot. This is their answer to that need and it also was a great value pick in the 4th. Hamilton is likely one of the best route running WRs in the draft. He has smooth ball skills and reminds me quite a bit of the kind of play we’ve seen from Emmanuel Sanders.
This is one of the picks that I find it fairly likely that we’ll see on the field for a good chunk of snaps as the season wears on. The Broncos need more production out of their TEs and the #3 WR in their offense and this is the guy I think that has a better than average shot at making an impact in that area.
Troy Fumagalli, TE Wisconsin
Now we are getting to guys I honestly don’t have much of a clue on. I’m not going to sit here and blow smoke...this guy could be awesome or he could suck. Just from what I’ve seen he looks like a guy that has the ability to block well as a tight end. I don’t see a ton of huge plays in the passing game from him, but he does catch the ball well and sometimes that’s all you need from a Tight End in the NFL off play action to move the chains.
Sam Jones, G Arizona State
FINALLY, we got a guard. Don’t think this guy is going to make an impact in 2018. He needs some size/strength work and looks more like a solid zone prospect than power guard. I feel like there’s guys on the team already who have a better shot at starting at guard for us this season.
Keishawn Bierria, ILB Washington
Another depth / special teams pick up late. The intriguing thing about Bierria is his play against the pass. He plays zone well and is a guy that has a nose for the football. If he can get his body in NFL shape, possibly adding a little speed and power, he’ll have a good shot at a NFL career. He projects as a solid depth player which is honestly all you can ask for in the 6th round.
David Williams, RB Arkansas
This isn’t a guy who’s going to light the field up with big plays. He’s the guy that can come in his rookie year and hold it down if asked to. One of the bigger things he brings to the table is a lot of solid work picking up blitzes in pass blocking. Usually RBs have trouble learning this skill which keeps them off the field at the NFL level. He really does everything else well though with good film catching out of the backfield as well as inside and outside rushing.
No Bull Thoughts reading between the lines
Shane Ray isn’t long for this team
The Broncos may entertain trades for Ray...though I’d start with at least a 3rd round pick as the baseline for any serious discussion because that’s what the guy is likely to get us as a compensatory pick.
What is more likely is that the team makes him play out his contract: this ensures the Broncos to get his best effort while developing his replacement.
Demaryius Thomas and Emmanual Sanders are on the hot seat
You just can’t ignore that the Broncos picked up two guys in the draft that are younger, less polished versions of our #1 and #2 WRs. Both guys have very expensive contracts that their production honestly didn’t meet in 2017.
That means this is the year both those guys need to fight to show the Broncos they are worth the final years of their contracts.
The Broncos aren’t as worried as you are about the O-Line
I keep mentioning that the product we saw on the O-Line was much better than it looked in 2016. It is good to see the team take actions that by all accounts agree with my assessment.
We had 4 holes coming into the 2017 season: LT, LG, RG, RT.
We have 2 holes coming into the 2018 season: LG, RT.
By not spending a higher pick on a guy that can come in this year, it tells you the team has plans already for the holes. They have Jared Veldheer coming it at RT and Connor McGovern (who will play RG which slides Ron Leary back to LG). Those two moves along with better coaching will likely make all the difference in 2018
I said before the draft that Elway needed to knock it out of the park in this draft. On paper, that is exactly what it looks like he did. The Broncos front office looked like a brand new Caddy rolling down the street in 2018. They didn’t reach. They picked a lot of (by all accounts) very solid players that made great sense for the team.
We’re entering the long dark quiet period for NFL fans of the post-draft. Keep checking in in the coming weeks for on Keenum, the Broncos coaches, the offensive line, and our revamped defense. I’ll do my best to give some interesting prognostication and ideas of things to look for as the season wears on which will indicate success or failure for your Denver Broncos.
As always, share your thoughts below and let me know what you think especially if you have insights on the players we picked and what the bring to the team.