The last time we sat down in the proverbial cover32 War Room, we talked about the Broncos going full defense due to some serious deficiencies on that side of the ball.
John Elway laughed, reached into his magical free agency hat, and pulled out three defensive Pro-Bowlers. Hard hitting strong safety, TJ Ward, lock down cornerback Aqib Talib, and sure fire hall of fame defensive end DeMarcus Ware.
With one of the more impressive free agencies in recent memory, Elway disturbed John Harbuagh and he disturbed me as well, as he took a flamethrower to mock draft numero uno.
So its back to the drawing board, or more fittingly, back to the draft board.
With the 31st pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select, David Yankey, offensive guard, Stanford.
Free agency shook up the Broncos needs, on top of taking care of some defensive holes, they lost guard Zane Beadles, putting a new premium on the offensive line in this draft. There are still some defensive deficiencies that could be adressed here, but last I checked, Denver still has a 95 million dollar investment in the backfield, and keeping him on the field is the most important thing for this team.
Yankey is a 6-foot-5, 311 pound, offensive line prospect that played both guard and tackle during his career at Stanford. He is proficient in both run and pass blocking. He was named a First-Team All-American by multiple outlets, and should be on the board when the Broncos are selecting.
It’s not a flashy first round pick, but if everyone made flashy first round picks, everyone would be the Raiders. Yankey should be able to step in right away and fill a big hole on the line for the Broncos.
Previous pick: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State.
With the 63rd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select Shayne Skov, Stanford.
Inside linebacker was the one big defensive hole that Elway was unable to fill in free agency, but in somewhat of a weak class at the position, the Broncos probably aren’t going to get cream-of-the-linebacker-crop CJ Mosely at 31. Luckily, they shouldn’t have to worry about waiting until their spot in round two to grab Skov.
The first thing that pops out to you about Skov is that he just looks the part of that nasty, wrecking ball, middle linebacker, and when you see him play, that’s exactly what he is. Skov has the ballhawking instincts that are essential for the position and at 6-foot-2, 245 pounds, he has all the physical tools to go along with it.
Skov finally recovered from an ACL and MCL tear suffered in 2011 last year and strutted his stuff in the Pac-12, recording a team-leading 109 tackles, including 13 for a loss and 5.5 sacks, earning himself first team all conference honors.
On top of his skill set, Skov possesses all of the intangibles you look for in a middle linebacker, and has the potential to be the leader of the Denver D for a long time.
Previous pick: Pick did not change.
With the 95th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft the Denver Broncos select Paul Richardson, wide receiver, Colorado.
One of the big things about the Broncos patching up the defense before the draft is the fact that they could use a pick like this one to add a weapon to what was already one of the best offenses of all time last season. Richardson could be that weapon.
A 6-foot, 175 pound deep threat, Richardson ran a 4.4 official 40-yard dash at the combine, but looked even faster on the field at Colorado. Throughout the season, there seemingly wasn’t a corner in the Pac-12 that Richardson couldn’t eventually get behind. He seems to reach another gear when the ball is in the air, running under the deep ball with the best of ‘em.
“P-Rich” as he was affectionately referred to by the Colorado faithful, was a First-Team All Pac-12 selection, and leaves the school as their all time leader in single-season receiving yards.
Denver traded Eric Decker for Emmanuel Sanders in free agency, but Richardson can add depth at the position this year, while giving them options of what to do next year if Wes Welker decides to go back into free agency. Having Richardson, who lined up wide, in the slot, and even in the backfield, for Colorado last season, and Sanders who can play inside or out as well, the Broncos would not be in desperate need at the slot position.
Previous pick: Deone Bucannon, SS, Washington State.
With the 127th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, cornerback, Nebraska.
The Broncos learned the hard way what can happen if your depth in the secondary goes thin at the wrong time, so despite the addition of Talib, and the eventual return of, friend of the site, Chris Harris, Denver should still be looking to bolster the corps in the defensive backfield.
Jean-Baptiste is a big corner at 6-foot-3, 218 pounds, built to go toe-to-toe with bigger possession receivers. A former wide receiver, he possesses big time ball skills, and has a knack for high-pointing the ball. His 4.61 forty time may be what allows him to fall to the Broncos here, but he fits the mold of the big bodied corner that is becoming so valuable in today’s NFL.
Previous pick: Will Clarke, DE, West Virginia
45 days separate us from the NFL’s biggest offseason event, and the biggest draft of John Elway’s tenure in the front office. It’s essential for No. 7 to hit the type of home runs he hit in free agency in this draft, for his own reputation in the draft, and the Broncos Super Bowl chances.