The Denver Broncos kicked off their draft with a bang, moving up in the first round to get quarterback Paxton Lynch out of Memphis.
While fans had their eyes on different mid-round sleepers who could become the quarterback of the future, the Broncos were aggressive and went after the No. 3 player at the position, solving a major problem on Day 1.
Of course, the draft is still just beginning, with two more days and eight more picks to improve the roster as much as possible. These will hopefully be used to fill some relatively big holes on the lineup.
Here is an updated look at what the Broncos might do next, with a new top-100 big board and predictions for the next six rounds.
The first round obviously took away a number of top prospects, but there are still plenty of options available in a deep class for the Broncos to target on Day 2.
While there is a reduced need for quarterbacks after drafting Lynch in the first round, a number of other key positions take precedent in the latest big board.
|5||Cody Whitehair||OG||Kansas State|
|6||Chris Jones||DT||Mississippi State|
|13||Emmanuel Ogbah||DE||Oklahoma State|
|14||Vonn Bell||S||Ohio State|
|15||Noah Spence||DE||Western Kentucky|
|16||Michael Thomas||WR||Ohio State|
|17||Jaylon Smith||OLB||Notre Dame|
|25||Nick Vannett||TE||Ohio State|
|26||Le’Raven Clark||OT||Texas Tech|
|27||Christian Westerman||OG||Arizona State|
|29||Sheldon Day||DT||Notre Dame|
|31||Nick Martin||C||Notre Dame|
|32||Shilique Calhoun||DE||Michigan State|
|33||Joshua Perry||ILB||Ohio State|
|35||Austin Johnson||DT||Penn State|
|38||Braxton Miller||WR||Ohio State|
|39||Jerrell Adams||TE||South Carolina|
|40||Kamalei Correa||OLB||Boise State|
|41||Kendall Fuller||CB||Virginia Tech|
|45||Kenneth Dixon||RB||Louisiana Tech|
|47||Javon Hargrave||DT||South Carolina State|
|49||Darian Thompson||S||Boise State|
|51||Carl Nassib||DE||Penn State|
|52||C.J. Prosise||RB||Notre Dame|
|54||Justin Simmons||S||Boston College|
|56||Tyler Higbee||TE||Western Kentucky|
|57||Joe Haeg||OT||North Dakota State|
|59||Nick Kwiatkowski||ILB||West Virginia|
|61||DeAndre Houston-Carson||S||William & Mary|
|64||Jack Allen||C||Michigan State|
|66||Kyler Fackrell||OLB||Utah State|
|67||Joe Dahl||OG||Washington State|
|68||Pharoh Cooper||WR||South Carolina|
|69||Willie Beavers||OT||Western Michigan|
|75||KeiVarae Russell||CB||Notre Dame|
|76||Darrell Greene||OG||San Diego State|
|78||Adam Gostis||DT||Georgia Tech|
|83||Rees Odhiambo||OG||Boise State|
|84||Will Redmond||CB||Mississippi State|
|85||Ronald Blair||DE||Appalachian State|
|93||Rashard Higgins||WR||Colorado State|
|97||Miles Killebrew||S||Southern Utah|
|98||Isaac Seumalo||OG||Oregon State|
Round 2, Pick 63: Jonathan Bullard, DE, Florida
There was a run on defensive linemen late in the first round Thursday, but there are still a whole lot of quality players still available and not enough teams ready to draft them. This will leave a bunch of quality options available at the position for the Broncos, even at the end of the second round.
One prospect who could be available is Jonathan Bullard, an athletic defensive tackle who is explosive at the line of scrimmage and can get into the backfield in a hurry.
Perhaps his best attribute is his versatility as Bullard has spent time at multiple spots along the defensive line. This would leave the Broncos with plenty of options, although he likely would be slotted as a 3-4 defensive end, filling in for the departed Malik Jackson. After excelling last year in the SEC, he should be able to contribute right away and potentially start in Week 1.
At 6’3″, 285 pounds, Bullard is a bit undersized to truly clog holes in the run game, but he has enough strength to take on blockers and free up space for the rest of the playmakers on Denver’s defense.
Round 3, Pick 98: Christian Westerman, OG, Arizona State
The Broncos got their new quarterback, but now they have to find a way to protect him. The offensive line was dreadful last season, and while the squad added a pair of veteran guards in free agency (Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson), the team still needs a lot of help at guard.
This is where Christian Westerman can help out as an advanced blocker who can succeed in both run and pass plays. The Arizona State player has good mobility in a small space with good enough technique to make a difference early in his career.
Westerman is also one of the strongest players in the entire class, leading all players at the combine with 34 reps on the bench press. He doesn’t just use this strength in the weight room either, as he knows how to push around bigger defenders and clear space for whoever is in the backfield.
Even late in Day 2, the Broncos can turn a weakness in the middle of the offensive line into a strength with one draft pick. Although the squad gave up the No. 94 pick to acquire Lynch, this would be a good selection if available at No. 98.
Round 4, Pick 136: Scooby Wright, ILB, Arizona
Scooby Wright is the type of player who has a disconnect from what he has shown on the field to what some are expecting him to do in the NFL.
A knee injury limited most of his 2015 season, but the concerns go behind just his durability. The linebacker is undersized at 6’0″, 239 pounds and doesn’t have great speed or athleticism. These flags could push him toward Day 3 of the draft.
On the other hand, Wright has shown he can be a dominant player when healthy, leading the nation with 164 tackles in 2014, including an NCAA-best 31 tackles for a loss. He won the Lombardi Award as the best defensive lineman or linebacker in college football that year and was a consensus All-American.
Wright dominated the college game thanks to his instincts and sure-tackling ability, two things that will continue to help him in the NFL. In a 3-4 defense alongside Brandon Marshall at middle linebacker, this could be an elite tandem against the run that will hold its own on all three downs.
Round 5, Pick 144: Josh Ferguson, RB, Illinois
The Broncos re-signed both primary running backs from last season, but they could use another option out of the backfield, specifically someone who could be a change of pace and potentially help out in the passing game.
Josh Ferguson fits this description after totaling 168 catches in his college career for 1,507 yards and eight touchdowns. While undersized (5’9″, 198 lbs), he has excellent quickness to make defenders miss and is extremely dangerous with the ball in his hands.
He brings something no one else on the roster can provide and could make the offense much more dynamic if used correctly.
While there are more complete running backs available earlier in the draft, Denver could still be in good shape by waiting and grabbing a playmaker like Ferguson.
Round 5, Pick 157: Jalen Mills, S, LSU
Jalen Mills provides both depth and versatility to an already-solid defensive backfield in Denver.
The LSU product has spent time at both cornerback and safety and could legitimately play either in the NFL. While he might be best at safety, he does have the coverage skills to handle the slot if needed.
No matter where he is on the field, Mills can use his athleticism to make a play on the ball and force turnovers or just break up passes. He needs to add some strength, but there is room to grow at 6’0″, 191 pounds. Still, the tools are there for the versatile player to have a long career in the NFL.
With the Broncos, Mills can provide depth for a pair of starting safeties who have missed time due to injury in T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart. If he develops as expected, he could become a starter down the line.
Round 6, Pick 219: Kyle Murphy, OT, Stanford
Stanford has produced a number of quality offensive linemen in recent years, and Kyle Murphy could be next in line. The offensive tackle is raw, but he has the physical tools necessary to succeed in the NFL.
The 6’6″ player needs to add some strength to his frame as well as improving his technique in pass protection. Fortunately, the Broncos don’t have an immediate need for a starter at tackle, with Okung, Stephenson, Michael Schofield and Ty Sambrailo all on the roster. There are questions about the future at the position, though, and the team would like to find someone who could be a franchise player at either bookend spot going forward.
While it would be a lot to expect this right out of the gate for Murphy, the upside is there and he is worth the risk in the sixth round of the draft.
Round 7, Pick 228: Greg Milhouse, DT, Campbell
Denver continues to add depth on the defensive line with another versatile player in Greg Milhouse.
The small-school player has a great motor and the athleticism to be a quality pass-rusher at the next level. Milhouse also found a way to be productive from the middle of the defensive line, tallying 49 tackles this past season with 12.5 for a loss and five sacks.
While he isn’t likely to make an immediate impact, Milhouse can be a part of the rotation along the defensive line and spend time at both tackle and end. If he continues to work hard, he could eventually see his role grow and provide the Broncos with some major value in the seventh round.
Round 7, Pick 253: Byron Marshall, WR, Oregon
While he could easily go undrafted, Byron Marshall would be a useful addition for the Broncos with the last pick in the draft.
When healthy, Marshall is a dynamic talent who rushed for over 1,000 yards as a running back and then tallied over 1,000 receiving yards when he became a wideout as a junior. He also made some big plays as a returner during his time at Oregon.
Although the spread offense helped make Marshall look good, he is still a threat with the ball in his hands and could be a weapon for Denver on both offense and special teams. With a need for a new punt returner after losing Omar Bolden, this could be the answer.
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