Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate Denver Broncos Community!

Focusing on potential Broncos in our updated NFL Draft big board

Andre Simone Avatar
February 21, 2018

With the erratic weather in the Mile High City, it’s hard to know what season we’re in, but in the NFL there’s no doubt; it’s full-on draft season. With the Combine fast approaching and the Senior Bowl in the books, it was time to update our big board before the “silly season” begins, as measurements and workout numbers skew everything.

We’re offering up our top 100 prospects and to put it all into context, we’re highlighting the biggest risers. Coincidently, all the prospects we’re featuring play positions that the Denver Broncos could target in the draft, depending on how free agency and roster cuts play out in the upcoming weeks.

Mind you, we already featured the biggest risers from our time during Senior Bowl week, so we’re giving the underclassmen some love here. This’ll be the first of lots of draft content to follow in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned.

Until then, enjoy!

Movers and Shakers

Ronald Jones II, RB, USC

It’s still somewhat of a mystery why Jones isn’t talked about more on the national stage. The USC back is explosive, with game-breaking speed. More importantly, he has a strong base and won’t shy away from running in between the tackles.

Jones is a name to watch for in the fast approaching NFL Combine, as he could experience a rise similar to what we saw happen to Christian McCaffrey a year ago. He isn’t a bell-cow back at only 200 to 205 pounds, but his game-breaking speed in today’s NFL should entice several teams and could see him go much higher than where he projects now. Regardless, he’s a special talent and is now tenth on our board in a class that’s lacking a bit in surefire blue-chip prospects.

Another playmaker at the position who’s risen up the board all season is Georgia’s Sony Michel, who was a star on the Dawgs run to a national championship. Like Jones, he isn’t a be a bell-cow, but he promises to be a big-play machine as a pro. Michel’s quickness makes him a pest to bring down in space and could make him a truly special NFL talent.

Don’t sleep on Rashaad Penny out of San Diego State either. Bigger than the other two backs, Penny was dominant in college, showing great balance and phenomenal long-speed for a 220-pound runner.

Two young backers

Ah, to be twenty and a future NFL stud.

That’s the case for two of the top off-ball linebacker prospects in this class, and both have moved way up our board in this latest update.

First is Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds, who’s our sixth-ranked prospect. Edmunds has a truly rare blend of size, closing speed and defensive range. He projects best as a strongside linebacker in a 4-3 front, but could easily be featured on the interior in a 3-4 where his blend of size and athleticism could turn him into an NFL star by the time he can legally drink—he’s only 19 at press time.

Georgia’s Roquan Smith doesn’t have the size benefit, and his instincts or ability to take on blockers is a bit behind too, which is why he’s only in the top 20, not the top 5. Still, Smith is reminiscent of a slightly smaller Myles Jack, the Jacksonville Jaguars star. Smith’s athleticism sideline to sideline is intoxicating. He can get to spots where few other interior linebackers could. He also has flashed the ability to turn and run with backs, tight ends, and even slot receivers, making him a very appealing chess piece to an NFL defense in sub packages.

Remember, both of these guys are very young and are barely scratching the surface of what they can do. It’s worth mentioning that the aforementioned Ronald Jones and his backfield mate Sam Darnold—who sits at the top of our board—are also both only 20. With some NFL coaching, both have the skills to be special talents.

Cornerbacks on the rise

Not unlike a year ago, this is a very strong cornerback class—a perfect counter to the collegiate advent of three and four receiver sets in spread attacks. As we’ve dug into more tape, several CBs have climbed up the board making this one of the strongest groups of 2018.

One corner who’s emerged as a first-round contender is Central Florida’s Mike Hughes, an aggressive player that has great closing instincts when facing the action in off coverage. He’s also physical and has the ball skills to shadow wideouts downfield. To boot, Hughes is an extraordinary returner which should add value to his stock—he returned three kicks for a score this season. Hughes is a one-year wonder after transferring from North Carolina and spending a season in junior college, but his talent is noteworthy.

Another corner who’s climbed up the board is Iowa’s  Josh Jackson, who made his stamp on the season by racking up eight interceptions. Three of those picks came in one of the 2017 season’s biggest upsets, as he dominated Ohio State, making three spectacular plays. Jackson’s ball skills and instincts are undeniable, and he’s already assured to be a star in a zone scheme. If he can show that he’s got the long speed to run with elite NFL receivers when matched up in man at the combine, he’ll be rising that much higher than the 22nd position he currently sits in.

Jeff Holland, EDGE, Auburn

Holland was a devastating presence on the Tigers defense, but hasn’t received much attention as of yet. Expect that to change once he shows off his electric first step in Indianapolis. Holland isn’t the biggest edge rusher, which makes him a bit of a tweener in a 4-3 front, but in a 3-4, he has all the traits to be an explosive speed rusher with a knack for getting after opposing quarterbacks.

The young speed rusher just gets it, he’s bendy and has long arms, so it’s no wonder that he dominated the SEC to the tune of 10 sacks and declared for the draft. He isn’t just an outside speed rusher either, as he uses his arms well and will attack a tackle’s inside shoulder too.

He’s just inside the top 50 now, but expect him to rise up most draft boards soon enough. Simply put, he’s a playmaker on the defensive side.

James Daniels, OC, Iowa

Daniels is one of the best center prospects I’ve ever studied, possessing dominant athletic skills that allow him to get to the second level with ease. That simply doesn’t happen with most interior offensive lineman.

Daniels also has a nasty streak and explosive hips that allow him to obliterate defenders, tossing them to the ground like rag dolls. He’s powerful enough to play in a power scheme, but his athletic tools are ideally suited in a zone scheme where he could be a devastating talent.

Daniels is second only to Quenton Nelson in the interior lineman class and has greater upside than the Notre Dame left guard. As a bit of a surprise declaration, he’s become the talk of the draft world the last few weeks as people dig into his tape. He’s now inside our top 30 and would be a worthy target for the Broncos in the early second round or even in a trade-down scenario from the fifth pick.

Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia

Wynn was a big standout during the week of practice in Mobile, where he transitioned from playing left tackle in the SEC to being a bull in the phone booth when moved inside. A major reason for the Dawgs success running the ball all year, Wynn has power for days and plays with sound technique. He can anchor with power and plays with great leverage in the run game, creating easy push with regularity. He’s talented at keeping his hips squared up and overpowering the defense.

As a well-seasoned blindside protector for Georgia, he’s also well equipped to handle pass blocking duties in one on one situations. He projects to be a plug-and-play starter who could go in the late first round. For now, he’s moved into the top 50 of our big board and is ideally suited in a power-blocking scheme. Daniels, Wynn, Nelson, Will Hernandez, and company form an extremely impressive interior offensive lineman class this year. If Denver losses Matt Paradis this offseason, they’ll surely have lots of options to strengthen the interior line.

Taven Bryan, DL, Florida

The Wyoming native is one of the most intriguing prospects on the board with infinite upside. Bryan is a known workout warrior who burst onto the scene in 2017 where he wrecked backfields with his explosive get-off.

Seriously, this guy just dominates lineman one-on-one. He’s a bit light, doesn’t have elite length, and more importantly, he’ll miss plays he should make when he’s regularly roaming the backfield. That said, the talent is undeniable, and in a 3-4, as an interior penetrator, his upside is off the charts. He’s now our top interior defensive lineman and inside the top 20 of our board. His stock has soared this season.

Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

He’s not as young as Edmunds or Smith, but Vander Esch has the advantage of having great size at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds. The Boise backer shows fine instincts on tape, sifting through the trash and making plays against the run.

More appealing to his NFL stock is that Vander Esch is a good athlete with nice sideline-to-sideline speed. He projects as an all-down linebacker who has some skill in coverage. If he improves as a pass rusher, he could be dominant in the near future—he certainly has the size to be better than he already is.

The Boise State product certainly warrants a top-50 pick and could move into the first round with a good performance in Indianapolis.

Big Board top 100

1. Sam Darnold, QB, USC

2. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

3. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

4. Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

5. Derwin James, DB, Florida State

6. Tremaine Edmunds, OLB, Virginia Tech

7. Arden Key, EDGE, LSU

8. Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State

9. Rashaan Evans, OLB, Alabama

10. Ronald Jones II, RB, USC

11. Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

12. Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

13. Connor Williams, OT, Texas

14. Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College

15. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

16. Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

17. Taven Bryan, DL, Florida

18. Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

19. Sam Hubbard, EDGE, Ohio State

20. Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

21. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

22. Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

23. Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

24. Ronnie Harrison, SS, Alabama

25. Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

26. Hercules Mata’afa, EDGE, Washington State

27. James Daniels, OC, Iowa

28. Vita Vea, DT, Washington

29. James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

30. Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

31. Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

32. Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida

33. Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA

34. Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State

35. Sony Michel, RB, Georgia

36. Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

37. Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

38. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

39. Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

40. Uchenna Nwosu, OLB, USC

41. Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn

42. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, EDGE, Oklahoma

43. Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia

44. Billy Price, OC/G, Ohio State

45. Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

46. Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

47. Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

48. Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State

49. Mark Andrews, TE/WR, Oklahoma

50. Jeff Holland, EDGE, Auburn

51. Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State

52. Donte Jackson, CB, LSU

53. Tim Settle, NT, Virginia Tech

54. Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

55. Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida State

56. Harrison Phillips, DL, Stanford

57. Matthew Thomas, OLB, Florida State

58. Rasheem Green, DL, USC

59. Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan

60. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

61. Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

62. Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

63. Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

64. Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame

65. Mark Walton, RB, Miami

66. Trevon Young, EDGE, Louisville

67. Mike McCray, OLB, Michigan

68. Nick Nelson, CB, Wisconsin

69. Lorenzo Carter, EDGE, Georgia

70. Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

71. Braden Smith, OG, Auburn

72. Jerome Baker, WLB, Ohio State

73. Jaylen Samuels, RB/WR, North Carolina State

74. Frank Ragnow, OC, Arkansas

75. Marcus Allen, S, Penn State

76. Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon

77. Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio State

78. Simmie Cobbs Jr., WR, Indiana

79. Andrew Brown, DE, Virginia

80. Dorian O’Daniel, OLB, Clemson

81. Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

82. Levi Wallace, CB, Alabama

83. Van Smith, S, Clemson

84. Anthony Averett, CB, Alabama

85. Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina

86. Bradley Bozeman, OC, Alabama

87. Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona State

88. Trenton Thompson, DT, Georgia

89. Jordan Lasley, WR, UCLA

90. Dorance Armstrong Jr., EDGE, Kansas

91. Jessie Bates, FS, Wake Forest

92. Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State

93. Lowell Lotulelei, DT, Utah

94. John Kelly, RB, Tennessee

95. Akrum Wadley, RB, Iowa

96. Desmond Harrison, OT, West Georgia

97. Chad Thomas, DE, Miami

98. Justin Jones, DT, North Carolina State

99. Kentavius Street, DL, North Carolina State

100. Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State

Just missed the cut

Justin Lawler, DE, SMU

Marcell Frazier, DE, Missouri

DeShon Elliott, S, Texas

Justin Reid, S, Stanford

Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State

Brandon Facyson, CB, Virginia Tech

Deatrick Nichols Jr., CB, South Florida

Holton Hill, DB, Texas

Auden Tate, WR, Florida State

Kevin Tolliver II, CB, LSU

Brian O’Neil, OT, Pittsburgh

Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame

Quin Blanding, FS, Virginia

M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina

Ito Smith, RB, Southern Mississippi


Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

The Comment section is only for diehard members

Open comments +

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?