Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate DNVR Sports Community!

Who Broncos fans should watch in the upcoming college football season

Andre Simone Avatar
September 1, 2018

Football is back!

No, it’s not an official NFL game but this weekend the college football season kicks off, and for Denver Broncos fans who like to sit on their couches on Saturday’s, dreaming of how these young amateurs can help their team, it’s still a pretty special time.

As we’ve now done for the past three seasons, here’s our inaugural Big Board, previewing the top-50 prospects in college football from an NFL standpoint.

Before giving you those 50 players—which you can find at the bottom of this article—here are a few prospects and position groups that Broncos fans should watch for.

The interior DL rules the day

You can’t talk about the 2019 NFL Draft crop without starting up front in the defensive trenches, a position group that’s absolutely stacked this season. It starts with Houston’s Ed Oliver, a 6-foot-3 290-pound athletic phenom, who in only two seasons of college football, as a true freshman and sophomore, has racked up a ridiculous 39 tackles for a loss.

Oliver’s natural ability to play with leverage and his athletic talent to penetrate the line or run down players who are 100 pounds lighter than him is unreal. 

There are many more interior lineman who deserve consideration in the top 10, like Rashan Gary and Dexter Lawrence, who are both special talents in their own right.

The beauty of this class is regardless of where the Broncos will be picking in the draft, they’ll have options at the position with 10 prospects already in our top 50 and many more who just barely missed the cut.

With Derek Wolfe and Kyle Peko getting up in age, the Broncos will have plenty of options to find a blue-chip replacement in their front three.

Zero separation among the signal-callers

As anyone knows, the Broncos not taking a quarterback in the 2018 draft was somewhat of a surprise, and while there are plenty of options this year, there’s far from a consensus top prospect, with plenty of kids who have potential but all of which need to have big years to warrant being taken in round one.

As the season starts, it’s a similar class to what we had going into the 2016 NFL Draft, where Jared Goff and Carson Wentz eventually went one and two but weren’t anywhere close to being projected to go that high entering their final collegiate seasons.

For now, on our board, the top guys are all grouped together and all outside the top 25, as we wait for someone to emerge.

The most intriguing prospect at the position might be Oregon’s Justin Herbert, due to his combination of size and athleticism added to the flashes he’s shown with his arm. Herbert must be quicker processing information and making savvy decisions, while also proving he can stay healthy. If he can do that, his talent will take him a long way. 

Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham and Michigan’s new starting QB Shea Patterson, will be tested against great defenses and have promising deep ball accuracy, though, they need to be consistent.

Drew Lock probably possesses the best raw tools and arm talent of the group but will have to show he can be accurate under pressure and when going off of his secondary reads.

It’s possible no one emerges and we don’t have a first-round pick out of the group, though, at the same time someone we aren’t even considering could rise up out of the blue, much like Paxton Lynch did in 2016. Early dark horse candidates are Buffalo’s Tyree Jackson and North Dakota State’s Easton Stick.

Other QBs to watch who didn’t make our top 50 are:

Ryan Finley, QB, NC State

Will Grier, QB, West Virginia

Khalil Tate, QB, Arizona

Brian Lewerke, QB, Michigan State

Nick Fitzgerald, QB, Mississippi State

Jake Bentley, QB, South Carolina

Nate Stanley, QB, Iowa

Clayton Thorson, QB, Northwestern

K.J. Costello, QB, Stanford

Daniel Jones, QB, Duke

An offensive tackle renaissance 

After a few years of lacking depth and high-end talent in the draft, the offensive tackle crop in 2019 is extremely promising, with at least two potential top-10 picks in Alabama’s Jonah Williams and Mississippi’s Greg Little. Both are dancing bears with all the talent in the world. If either can clean up their technique and be more consistent, look out. They might even be in contention for the first pick.

Watch Williams here—No. 73 playing left tackle—get to the second level and open up a huge hole.

The depth is outstanding this season as well, with nine tackles in our top 50. More importantly, most of those nine guys have the feet and natural movement skills to project as blind-side protectors, something we couldn’t exactly say in the last two drafts.

Other names to watch are Washington’s Trey Adams, Virginia Tech’s Yosuah Nijman, West Virginia’s Yodny Cajuste, and Wisconsin’s David Edwards, just to name a few. The class is simply stacked. 

Sure, the Broncos offensive line has looked much better in the preseason but an aging Jared Veldheer, with an expiring contract, might need to be replaced next offseason, and it’s still possible that Garett Bolles could be best suited to play on the right side, where his strength as a run blocker could be exploited.

There will certainly be options for Denver to do that if the 2019 class can replicate what they’ve already shown on tape.

Third cornerback help

Maybe one of the bigger needs on the Broncos roster right now is at cornerback, where a true replacement for Aqib Talib has yet to be found and Bradley Roby’s contract will be up in 2019, in a big season for the former first rounder.

The cornerback depth isn’t what it has been the past two drafts, in historical seasons at the position, but there’s still some intriguing talent.

The head of the class is clearly Greedy Williams out of LSU, who’s a perfect prospect at the position with size, speed, and elite ball skills. 

For Denver to take him, they’ll have to be picking in the top 10 if not the top five. If that happens, the Broncos might just get a second chance to draft a stud LSU corner like they did when selecting Von Miller over Patrick Peterson in 2011. 

The rest of the corner class is fairly undersized, not what you’d expect in the modern NFL where there’s been an emphasis made on press-CBs. Still, keep an eye on Georgia’s DeAndre Baker, and Washington redshirt sophomore Byron Murphy; both are sticky cover men with nice ball skills who could be primed for big seasons. 

Another B1G TE

The tight end class was nothing special in 2018 and it was exceptional in 2017, this year’s crop falls in the middle. The depth is extremely lacking but the high-end talent is there, with two big names headlining the class: Iowa’s Noah Fant and UCLA’s Caleb Wilson. 

Fant is a freak, who can be a true mismatch problem, as he’s an incredible athlete at 6-foot-5 who promises to be an all-down player at the position. The kid had 11 TDs last year and could improve on those numbers in 2018.

Watch him here as he burns one of Ohio State’s talented DBs for a touchdown down the sideline.

Wilson had an injury-shortened year in 2017 playing in only five games. Despite that foot injury, UCLA’s TE still had 490 yards receiving, which is monstrous production for the position. 

Wilson’s a true mismatch problem in the passing game as he’s too athletic for linebackers and just dominates safeties physically. How he performs in Chip Kelly’s new offense will be very interesting.

Local readers can see him live at Folsom Field this year, a worthwhile live viewing. 

The ground game is here to stay

As first-round receivers have struggled to make an impact in the NFL in recent drafts, running backs have had a lot of success, and while the Broncos have a nice stable of young backs, it’s unclear if they have a stud who can take 20 carries a game and dominate.

Much like the great running back classes of 2017 and 2018, the 2019 draft class projects to have some special talents, starting with Stanford’s Bryce Love and Oklahoma’s Rodney Anderson.

Strictly as a runner, Love’s 2017 tape was better than what Christian McCaffrey did for the Cardinal. Even if the North Carolina native is only 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds, he’s a powerful runner who can dominate in between the tackles. His burst is phenomenal and he has true home-run speed making him a threat to take it to the house at any moment.

He was simply mesmerizing to watch last season, dominating the best defenses he faced, running through them like butter. Just watch him here as he carves up the USC defense. 

Despite all that, Love is a divisive prospect in the class, as his size raises major questions when you consider he only caught six passes a year ago and only has 29 receptions in the last three years. If he’s to go as high as I rank him here, he’ll have to show more of that on tape.

Anderson was the catalyst for Oklahoma’s offense a season ago, as they dominated once the Big 12 schedule began. He has good size, very intriguing vision, and lateral quickness which allowed him to embarrass some of the best linebackers he faced.

He’s also a talented receiver and could threaten to run for over 2,000 yards—a feat Love has already accomplished—next year.

Both Love and Anderson look like surefire first rounders as we enter the season but there are many more backs with enticing skill sets who could sneak into round one consideration.

We have three more in our top 50 but there were several others who could easily sneak in once we update our rankings. 

Top-50 Big Board

1. Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

2. Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State

3. Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan

4. Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

5. Devin White, LB, LSU

6. Andraez ‘Greedy’ Williams, CB, LSU

7. Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson

8. A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss

9. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford

10. Jonah Williams, LT, Alabama

11. Greg Little, LT, Ole Miss

12. N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

13. Joe Jackson, EDGE, Miami

14. Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma

15. Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama

16. Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

17. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

18. Taylor Rapp, S, Washington

19. Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State

20. Dre’Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State

21. Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson

22. Austin Bryant, EDGE, Clemson

23. Yodny Cajuste, LT, West Virginia

24. DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia

25. Ahmmon Richards, WR, Miami

26. David Sills, WR, West Virginia

27. Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky

28. Deebo  Samuel, WR, South Carolina

29. Zach Allen, DL/DE, Boston College

30. Jeffrey Simmons, DT, Mississippi State

31. Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan

32. Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn

33. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

34. Anfernee Jennings, OLB, Alabama

35. Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

36. Collin Johnson, WR, Texas

37. David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State

38. Aeris Williams, RB, Mississippi State

39. Kendall Joseph, LB, Clemson

40. Damien Harris, RB, Alabama

41. Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

42. Marvell Tell III, S, USC

43. Caleb Wilson, TE, UCLA

44. Chauncey Gardner, S/CB, Florida

45. Greg Gaines, NT, Washington

46. Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State

47. Trey Adams, OT, Washington

48. Yosuah Nijman, LT, Virginia Tech

49. Andre Dillard, LT, Washington State

50. David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin

Scroll to next article

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