© 2024 ALLCITY Network Inc.
All rights reserved.
We’ve analyzed and scouted every single draft pick the Denver Broncos made in 2018, but the draft never ends after the seventh round. Undrafted free agent signings are a big part of any draft class, and I’m not sure there’s ever been one that, on paper, was more exciting than this one in Denver.
After bringing in 10 draft picks, this isn’t a deep group of UDFAs, but it has some real quality. In particular, John Elway and his staff were able to bring in three free agents who all had draftable grades and will be really hard to exclude from the team’s final roster.
We dug into the tape to see what these three lesser-known rookies could bring to the team, and why they’re real contenders to make the roster.
Phillip Lindsay, RB, Colorado
- Despite his size, Lindsay is a really good inside runner.
- He takes on contact and has a knack for breaking tackles; he runs with great physicality. He understands the low man wins and has powerful legs to churn out yards after contact.
- He possesses good speed and can be a home run threat—he put up a terrific 4.39 40 at his pro day.
- Lindsay is a phenomenal receiving back who had 53 catches in 2016. He can be a big threat in the screen game.
- He has unbelievable feet, is really quick and can stop and start on a dime.
- He’s a patient runner who has great acceleration. He’s explosive hitting the hole and runs like he’s shot out of a cannon.
- He has ample speed to get outside and can stretch runs out to the perimeter.
- Despite his size, Lindsay is gritty in pass protection—truth be told, he’s gritty in everything he does.
- He really stands out for his ability to almost always makes the first defender miss.
- The CU stud was a beast in the red zone. He has a nose for the end zone and fights for the extra inches to get the ball in for six.
- Ball security was a problem in 2016 with five fumbles.
- He lacks the power to break the first tackle. He needs a head of steam to unleash his power.
- He’s a smaller back with knee injury concerns coming out of high school. At only 5-foot-7 and 187 pounds, he’s extremely small for an NFL back.
- He doesn’t always play as fast as he tested at his pro day.
- He’ll need to adjust to an NFL run game, as he ran a lot out of the gun.
- He’ll need to be better running routes as a true scatback.
- Lindsay sometimes seeks out contact too much. He’ll need to be better in picking his spots as a pro.
- Due to his size, he’s a liability in pass protection against bigger blitzers, even if he’s feisty.
This was a slam dunk signing, and Lindsay could easily be a dark horse to enter into the Broncos rotation as early as 2018. He has a huge advantage in that no one else in the RB room has his set of skills, as a speedy, third-down, receiving back.
The Pac-12 star also brings an added advantage as a kickoff returner, where he averaged over 24 yards per return in his four years at CU.
What doesn’t show up on tape—actually sometimes it does—are his leadership and intangibles. It doesn’t take long to be around the Buffs program to notice him. He’s a contagious lead-by-example player with a fearless attitude.
At a wide-open position, Lindsay won’t just be a contender to make the final roster, but could see some significant playing time early in his career.
Jeff Holland, EDGE, Auburn
- The first thing that you’ll notice about Holland is that he’s a great finisher, once he gets into the backfield, he usually makes big plays happen.
- He uses his hands well. Has a good rip move and plays with active hands. He uses his long arms well.
- He’s a natural edge bender, gets under tackles pads and is quick to get around the corner and into the backfield. He plays with good leverage.
- He’s also efficient attacking a blocker’s inside shoulder.
- He has a good motor and doesn’t give up on rushing the passer if he doesn’t win with his first step. He’s slippery and hard to keep blocked for long.
- He’s hard to knock down despite his smaller size. He plays with good balance.
- He has a good first step and can blow by offensive tackles, especially RTs had real issues handling him.
- He was an assassin on third down and seemingly always got into the opposing backfield.
- Holland played some of his best football in his biggest games—of his 10 sacks, 5.5 came against ranked opponents, and he had 11 quarterback hurries versus the top teams he faced.
- Holland was used as an off-ball linebacker on certain occasions, mostly as a QB-spy. It’s not his ideal role, but he can do more than just be an edge rusher.
- He’s a good north-and-south athlete.
- He battles against the run and will get a few tackles for a loss due to his ability to get into the backfield against the ground game.
- Holland is a one-dimensional speed rusher, who doesn’t have a power element to his game.
- He struggles to disengage even from TEs against the run and just isn’t a stout run defender.
- He’s not a natural athlete in space and due to his size is limited to playing as a 3-4 OLB.
- He didn’t test well and plays faster than he tested.
- He’s undersized at only 6-foot-2 and 249 pounds.
- He isn’t a great lateral athlete.
- He doesn’t play great in pursuit.
- He’s not a dynamic blitzer from the interior.
- He’s a one-year wonder.
Holland was a personal favorite of mine as he dominated opposing right tackles and was a force for one of the nation’s best defenses in the country. He ended up with a second-round grade despite his obvious limitations.
In some ways, he reminds me of Shane Ray or former Auburn product and current Kansas City Chief Dee Ford, though not as athletically gifted as those two.
In 2015, the Broncos defense didn’t just have the top four edge rushers but also had Lerentee McCray, who was useful when DeMarcus Ware missed some time and insured the depth of the group was still reliable. Holland could play a similar role while also being an insurance clause for Ray or Shaquil Barrett if one of the two is not on the team past 2018.
He’s a productive one-trick rusher, who has a real knack as a finisher and ranked very highly coming into the draft process—beating some of the best offensive tackles in the country—but whose stock was hurt after the draft process was over.
He can be an effective pass rusher, and it says a lot that he picked the Broncos despite their deep rotation at the position.
Lowell Lotuleli, NT, Utah
- Lotulelei is powerful. He’s country strong and can just blow blockers off their feet.
- He can create push against the pass with deceptive penetrations skills. He’s more than just a conventional nose tackle.
- He uses his hands well and can play with a bit of an edge.
- When engaged, Lotulelei is a deceptive lateral mover.
- He consistently moves the pocket back and is tough to move off his spot.
- He can be a really good gap stuffer.
- At times, he can absolutely dominate interior O-lineman with his bull rush.
- He’s a pass rusher who can feast on single teams and can even slip through blocks.
- He’s strong enough to handle double teams regularly.
- He can be dominant in stretches and is physically imposing. He’s just a force in the middle of the line.
- He was team captain as a senior at Utah and an all-conference selection his sophomore and junior seasons.
- Lotulelei is coming off a bad year.
- He appeared too big, carrying bad weight in 2017.
- He can be very inconsistent.
- He plays too high too often and needs to be more consistent in his ability to win the leverage battle.
- His effort level and commitment to the game have been questioned.
- He’s a classic underachiever, didn’t dominate to the level that his natural talent should demand.
- He can be a bit lazy in pursuit.
- He could be more active with his hands trying to knock passes down at the line.
- He’s not very mobile on stunts.
- He can struggle against cut-blocks and isn’t very fleet of foot.
Lotulelei is the most inconsistent of this group and given some of the questions he has with effort, it’s not surprising why he went undrafted. He’s by far the biggest wild card but could be a true nose, with really good tape when he’s on.
He’s also the most naturally gifted of this group and was regarded as a potential top-50 pick coming into the season.
His ability to dominate the run and his potential added value on third down could give the Broncos a true nose tackle in their defense for many years. Having Bill Kollar coaching him should be ideal, as the Broncos defensive line coach won’t put up with any slackers and has groomed raw lineman in the past.
The sky is the limit with Lotulelei, and he has all the tools of a late day-two pick, the questions about his effort and consistency are the only thing holding him back.