The Denver Broncos 2019 class has officially been decided, as President of Football Operations John Elway looked to add some talent to take the squad to the next level. In all, they obtained the following players:
- First round, 20th overall: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
- Second round, 41st overall:Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State
- Second round, 42nd overall: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
- Third round, 71st overall: Dre’mont Jones, DT, Ohio State
- Fifth round, 156 overall: Justin Hollins, LB, Oregon
- Sixth round, 187th overall: Juwann Winfree, WR, Colorado
Denver Broncos 2019 NFL Draft Grade: 7.9/10
Denver Broncos 2019 NFL Draft Review
The Best Player: Noah Fant
The Broncos could have drafted a better player if they stayed at number 10. The likely target there would have been linebacker out of Michigan, Devin Bush. However, their trade with the Steelers still landed them a top tier prospect in Noah Fant. I did not necessarily agree with the pick since I believed there were more pressing needs, but Fant’s talent cannot be overstated. The thing that sticks out about Fant is his athleticism.
Fant impressed at both his pro-day and combine. His numbers were amongst the top for all pass catchers. Although his stats in his last year at Iowa may not jump out at you, if you watched him play, he certainly jumps right off the screen. He can line up outside as a wide receiver, and he is also a willing blocker. He is a match-up nightmare against man-to-man defense. If you put a linebacker on him, he will blow right by them and, if you put a corner on him, he will be able to high-point the ball over them all day.
Fant needs to continue to work on his muscular strength as he has a tendency to get bullied with stronger corners and safeties, but his talent is unquestioned. Bronco Country should expect to hear a lot of “Flacco to Fant” this year.
The Head Scratcher: No Chris Harris replacement
The buzz in Broncos Country has been that Chris Harris’ days in Denver may be numbered. However, the Broncos not selecting a corner in the draft to replace Harris has me thinking that there may be a chance that Harris stays.
The Broncos had plenty of opportunities to draft top-level corners early on. The Broncos could have drafted Deandre Baker (Georgia), Byron Murphy (Washington) or Greedy Williams (LSU) with their first pick, but they elected to go tight-end instead.
Baker, Murphy, and Williams all project to be solid NFL starters, but none of them will be able to produce in the next couple years to the level of Harris. Broncos Country could either be concerned that Elway may not have a plan for the post-Harris era, or happy that this may mean Harris will be with the Broncos for years to come. I choose to assume the latter.
The Surprise: Drew Lock
Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a surprise in the sense that it’s shocking the Broncos drafted Lock, it is surprising in the manner they did it. If Elway truly believed that Lock was “their guy” and possible future franchise quarterback, why did he wait until the 42nd pick in the draft to select him?
Lock has all the makings of a big-time quarterback in terms of his size and physique, (cue the PTSD about Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch for Bronco fans now). However, Lock projects as a better pro than both Osweiler and Lynch. Lock compares himself to Aaron Rodgers, and while he has a long way to go in order to do that comparison justice, they do both share a rocket arm and ability to throw the ball deep down the field with considerable accuracy.
Now, Elway may not be completely sold on Lock if he waited this long to draft him, but if Lock can sit a couple of years behind Flacco and eventually be the franchise quarterback the Broncos have been searching for in their post-Manning era, this “surprise” pick will turn into a steal.
The Steal: Dre’mont Jones
The Broncos stole Jones at pick 71 in this draft. Jones comes from a very good system at Ohio State and is coming off a very productive year. He had 43 tackles, 8.5 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss. I had Jones as a late second, early third round prospect so getting him at 71 is solid value.
The Broncos are desperate for depth on the defensive line, and Jones gives them that. Jones is a bit undersized for his position, which partly explains him dropping to the third round despite his production. He may not be the kind of player that outmuscles offensive linemen on the line, but he will make a difference in the interior. Jones is excellent at shooting gaps in the run defense with his quick first step and can get to the running back in a hurry. Although he isn’t the strongest player and tends to get outmuscled, his quickness off the line makes up for it.
Jones needs to continue to work on his strength to get it up to par with his athleticism, but he is a great player that adds some depth to the Broncos D-line.
Most Likely to Turn Heads During Training Camp: Justin Hollins
The Broncos also got great value with Hollins at pick 156 in this draft. Elway has a thing for drafting team captains since last year it turned out to be a great success, so the pick of Hollins, a team captain at Oregon, did not come as a surprise.
Hollins is long and athletic. He plays outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, but Elway said he can play inside linebacker as well since it fills a need. Hollins is the only player in FBS history to have at least five sacks, five forced fumbles and an interception in one season. He produces and makes exciting plays.
One thing about Hollins is that he is electrifying. Hollins is 6’5 and ran a 4.5s 40-yard dash and had a 36.5” vertical. Hollins is going to make some plays at training camp that will simply make the coaches jaws drop. He may not be ready to be an every-down player just, yet but his athleticism will get him on the field quite a bit in his first year, and I guarantee some exciting plays from him.
The Broncos defense has been most successful in the recent past when they have speed at all positions. Hollins adds some much-needed speed at the linebacker position and he adds a bit of excitement as well.
The Broncos filled a significant need with Dalton Risner at guard in the second round. He can play either right guard or center for the Broncos, but due to need, he will probably start at right-guard right away.
The Broncos moved up to acquire wide-receiver Juwann Winfree from Colorado in the sixth round. Winfree has had injury concerns, but he is athletic, has the ability to make some incredible catches and helps the Broncos stretch the field.
Overall, the Broncos draft may have started out rocky with not filling an immediate need in the first round, but Elway made up for it with a successful day two and three. Elway once again drafted several team captains in hopes for injecting leadership into this Broncos team. This class has tons of potential, and if it can mirror similar success to last years’ class, Broncos Country is about to be very satisfied.
Embed from Getty Images