The NFL 2017 has come to a close with the Super Bowl in Minneapolis on Sunday. For teams such as the Denver Broncos, the 2018 season has already started. John Elway has had a busy month between watching future prospects at the various college bowl games and then also attending the Senior Bowl a few weeks ago. With the list of combine participants announced today, it is time to look at a four round mock draft before the results of the upcoming combine.
Round 1 Pick 5: Baker Mayfield- QB Oklahoma
Watching the televised practice from the Senior Bowl, Baker Mayfield was easily the best quarterback in Mobile. However, he and Josh Allen were outplayed the day of the game. Despite this, Mayfield is the best quarterback prospect in the draft simply based off of last season and the Senior Bowl. His stats are comparable to even some of the most elite players in the NFL. The reason for Mayfield getting picked at five is because even if the Broncos get Kirk Cousins or another veteran, there’s been reports of both Brock Osweiler and Trevor Siemian not being with the team in 2018. Rumors have surfaced that Siemian will be traded to another team and Osweiler being let go as a free agent. This would leave only Paxton Lynch on the roster. Adding Mayfield on the roster would bring a high caliber player with a huge upside. Baker has the potential to change the team who is in desperate need of a franchise quarterback. The last true franchise QB was Denver Legend John Elway.
Edit: A strong consideration for this pick was Quentin Nelson- G Notre Dame
Round 2 Pick 8, 40th Overall: Michael Gallup- WR Colorado State
Michael Gallup is a player who has received national recognition out of Colorado State. Last season he posted 1272 yards and 14 touchdowns. In 2017 he posted up 1413 yards and only 7 touchdowns. In this mock draft, I had the best case scenario and have Gallup slide down to the second round and right into the hands of the Broncos. However more realistically he could be a potential first-round talent. This would be a great situation for a club who has found some great players from the Fort Collins team and could possibly be in need of a playmaker on offense. With rumors of either Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders on their way out, the team could be in need of some serious talent. If the Broncos were to lose one of their stars, they would be left with Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler, and Jordan Taylor. There have been reports that Latimer and Fowler may be headed for free agency due to a lack of production and cap space. Gallup would provide speed for a team that has struggled offensively of late.
Round 3 Pick 7, 71st Overall: Leighton Vander Esch- LB Boise State
Leighton Vander Esch is a player maybe a lot of people don’t know about. However, if anyone has watched Boise State play this season, at least once a game, this guy was making a play that changed the outcome. Despite being a junior, Vander Esch is 6′ 4″ and 240lbs. which is a beast of a player physically. The Broncos need some depth at linebacker with some players set to become free agents and DeMarcus Walker looking to be a better fit as a defensive end. Last season alone Leighton had 4 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 3 Ints and 91 solo tackles. While he doesn’t have many sacks, he would provide a great presence over the middle and be able to pass rush or go into coverage which would be a great help if the Broncos were to let go of Aquib Talib in free agency or trade him to create cap space. Vander Esch has the potential to be one of the Broncos greats. It will be very interesting to see how he performs at the combine and the Boise State pro day as well.
This mock draft would be an incredible slam dunk for the Broncos. However, there is a glaring issue of the offensive line that needs to be addressed. There may be the idea that Denver picks up a lineman in free agency. The big problem is that GM John Elway could be wary from the utter failure of Menelik Watson and Donald Stephenson. Elway has been keeping his plan under wraps and as I mentioned above, they could either draft Mayfield at #5 or also go with Nelson. This team has struggled on offense since 2013 when they were the leagues best offense. If they were to draft Mayfield and Gallup, the offense would clearly be in a better situation. The offensive line would still need help though. If they were to follow this blueprint for the future, they would be in great shape. The combine will tell a lot about where the prospects stand and will give teams a better idea of who is on their list and who isn’t.
Until next time, keep calm and Bronco on!