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Five late risers to keep an eye on for the Broncos in the 2020 NFL Draft

Luke Patterson Avatar
February 24, 2020

With the pre-draft All-Star games now in the books, the 2020 offseason is in full swing. The NFL Scouting combine is the next event in the pre-draft evaluation process, with players arriving in Indianapolis this week.

337 players will showcase their talents through a gauntlet of drills and interviews with all 32 teams in attendance. Other players, who were snubbed from receiving an official combine invite, are privately preparing for their college pro-day workouts in an effort to impress NFL scouts.

While rounds one through three may be considered the premier rounds of the draft, there is always significant talent that can be found in the mid to late rounds of the NFL Draft.

Here are five potential prospects that could fill the Broncos needs:

1. Josh Jones, OT, Houston (Combine Invitation: Yes)

Jones is a 6-foot-5, 311-pound offensive tackle from Houston. A four-year starter in college, his athleticism compliments his intimidating frame. Jones has quick punches in his three-step drops with lengthy kick steps that allow him to recover from pass rushers.

He also uses his violent hands to lock on to defenders in the running game. He’s consistently seen on film using his eyes to look downfield to engage defenders.

Although he’s praised for his quick hands, they can hinder his game by revealing his pass set too soon. Consequently, defenders can catch him off balance and bait him to lunge. At times he can be inconsistent and lazy with his lower body mechanics losing leverage to defenders. Jones will need to learn lower body fundamental blocking techniques in the NFL.

Many pro scouts view Jones as a developmental left tackle. His raw strength, athleticism, intelligence, and physicality make him an intriguing prospect in the upcoming draft. One highly touted aspect of his game is his awareness. Jones’ ability to pull and move down the line of scrimmage with ease could compliment left guard, Dalton Risner. Risner and Jones could turn power runs into counter plays, that reveal opposing defenses vulnerabilities.

With some polishing from Broncos offensive line coach Mike Munchak, Jones could be a diamond in the rough at the left tackle position. He impressed scouts at the Senior Bowl and has red hot momentum heading into the combine. With a strong performance in Indianapolis, he could raise his stock exponentially, making him a top-three offensive tackle in the loaded 2020 class.

Jones is projected to be a first-to-third-round prospect in this year’s draft.

2. Parnell Motley, CB, Oklahoma (Combine Invitation – No)

Motley is a 6-foot, 178-pound cornerback from the University of Oklahoma. In his four years as a Sooner, he logged 176 tackles, 33 passes defended, six forced fumbles, and six interceptions.

Considered to be undersized for the NFL, Motley’s a physical cornerback with a chip on his shoulder. He’s highly regarded for his relentlessness in press coverage. His low stance when backpedaling allows him to smoothly transition his hips when receivers change their routes. Motley makes his presence known on each play, constantly chirping and bumping receivers.

During a play at the Shrine Game practice, Motley recovered after initially being beaten on a route, deflecting the pass out of the receiver’s hands in a deep corner route. His tough mentality of playing through the whistle, annoyed receivers and running backs as he always punched at the ball.

Last season, he earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors and first-team All-Big 12 honors. The Broncos have an unknown future with Chris Harris Jr. and need depth in the defensive backfield. His size and strength are two factors that will work against his stock, but his attitude and physicality fit what head coach Vic Fangio requires from his defensive backs.

He could immediately step in and play slot cornerback. Motley could be a mid to late-round prospect in this year’s draft. (Rounds three-five).

3. Juwan Johnson, WR, Oregon (Combine Invitation: Yes)

Johnson is a 6-foot-4, 231-pound wide receiver from Oregon. He concluded his collegiate career logging 111 receptions for 1590 yards and six touchdowns. Johnson was a reliable weapon for his Duck teammate and projected first-round quarterback Justin Herbert.

Johnson consistently boxes out defenders, gaining position at the top of his routes. He shows explosiveness off the line of scrimmage running short to mid routes. For a large receiver, he has exceptional balance on his cuts and change of direction. There’s a natural comfortability for him to jump up and receive the deep pass.

During team drills at the Shrine Game, scouts took note of the large-bodied receiver’s willingness to block. He uses his large frame and powerful hands to lock on to defenders, driving them off the line of scrimmage. Multiple coaches praised him for blocking through the whistle and never quitting on plays.

While he’s very talented, Johnson’s route running lacks progression, and some pro scouts consider Johnson to be underdeveloped. His raw talent and explosiveness could compliment Pro-Bowl wide receiver, Courtland Sutton. Johnson could be a mid to late-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft who could be had at a nice value thanks to the depth of talent at receiver in the class. (Rounds four to seven).

4. Garrett Marino, DL, Alabama-Birmingham (Combine Invitation: No)

Marino is a 6-foot-1, 290-pound defensive tackle from Alabama – Birmingham. His high motor allows him to track the ball and shoot gaps with power and speed. In three seasons at UAB, he logged 57 tackles, 10.5 sacks, nine passes defended and a forced fumble.

Marino plays with a chip on his shoulder and is a natural, gritty fighter in the trenches. His quick hands demonstrate his ability to disengage offensive linemen during initial contact. While his height makes him an undersized defensive lineman in the NFL. Lack of exposure and strength of competition will continue to be obstacles for Marino prior to the draft.

At practice for the Shrine Game, DNVR caught up with Marino, asking him about his versatility on the defensive line.“I prefer to play defensive tackle. But I’ll play anything. This week, the coaches wanted me to play the nose guard position because there was nobody else here that could do it. I’ll play tackle, end, nose, it really doesn’t matter to me.”

After realizing that DNVR covers the Broncos, Marino said, “Dude, that’s my favorite team! Growing up, our house was like a Broncos and John Elway Shrine. For as long as I could remember, I’ve loved the Broncos.”

Marino later added that Derek Wolfe is one of his favorite players and that he models his game after Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, “Those guys wreck games!”

The Broncos need to revamp their defensive line depth as Shelby Harris, Adam Gotsis, and Derek Wolfe’s futures are uncertain. Marino could be a late-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft or a priority undrafted free agent signing. (Round six to UDFA).

5. Austin Mack, WR, Ohio State (Combine Invitation: Yes)

Mack is a 6-foot-1, 212-pound wide receiver from Ohio State. As a Buckeye, he recorded 79 receptions for 1050 yards and six touchdowns. A foot injury negated half of his senior season, simmering the momentum for what was projected to be a career year.

At the Senior Bowl, he was projected to be a large, physical slot receiver. He’s naturally athletic and fully extends his arms allowing him to reel in inaccurate throws. Mack’s film shows he’s fearless in the middle of the field, as he will consistently fight through contact. He thrives against zone coverage, recognizing spacing, sidelines, and the importance of positioning.

Mack runs excellent comeback routes and consistently beats defenders with a stutter step during double moves. His smooth route running compliments his crisp hands. Mack combats defensive backs using his strong upper body, and fast hands. He’s consistently praised for finishing his routes. Tracking the ball is also a strong talent that Mack uses after separation from defenders.

Although he’s a physical receiver, Mack will need to improve separation and hand placement when facing man coverage. With defenses game-planning for Courtland Sutton, the Broncos will add offensive weapons to assist quarterback Drew Lock. This ’20 draft class of wide receivers is extremely deep, and Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur needs talent in the slot. With a lack of experience and production in college, Mack should be available late in the draft and is expected to be a mid-to-late-round pick in 2020. (Rounds four to seven).

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