Analyzing the 2016 Locker Talk Sports NFL Mock Draft: Denver Broncos

Round 1: Pick 31:

Joshua Perry, MLB, Ohio State

My Pick: Connor Cook, QB, MSU

I doubt the Broncos will look this early for a linebacker in the draft, especially if they haven’t filled their QB need. I expect the Broncos to pick up Connor Cook with their first round pick. Besides Jared Goff, who will most likely be gone by this pick, Cook is the most NFL ready quarterback available. He had an extremely good record at Michigan State, going 34-4, and John Elway loves guys who win. In terms of fitting into the Broncos system, Cook played in a professional type offense at MSU where he rarely threw screens or took bootlegs. Cook is a great athlete as well, securing a top 5 finish in the vertical jump (4th), and a top 10 finish in both the 40-yard dash (6th) and the broad jump (9th) in the combine. He does struggle with accuracy at times and isn’t a great leader, but the Broncos won’t be needing a tremendous quarterback to win games. Cook is a solid guy who shouldn’t be a huge risk for Denver.

Round 2: Pick 63:
Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State

My Pick: Jihad Ware, DE. Illinois

Obviously if the Broncos draft Cook in the first, they won’t draft a QB in the second. This is why I expect them to take Jihad Ware in the 2nd. In this mock he’s said to go later in the 3rd round, but I think Ware is simply too good to drop that low. After losing Malik Jackson to Jacksonville, the Broncos will look to fill the void he left behind. They wont have to look any further than Jihad Ware out of Illinois. Ward is extremely versatile, something that Wade Phillips loves. He can play inside, or on either outside spots of the defensive line, and he can do it well too. One of the more athletic players for his size, Ward had the 10th most reps in the bench press, and tied for the 3rd best vertical jump in the combine. Ward is truly a force, standing at 6”6 and closing in on 300 pounds. He could be a great fill in for Malik.

Round 3: pick 94:
Nick Martin, C, Notre Dame

My Pick: Christian Westerman, OG, ASU

I do expect the Broncos to take an offensive lineman here, but I have them taking Christian Westerman out of Arizona State with the 94th pick. Martin struggled after having a knee injury and hasn’t looked the same as he did earlier in his collegiate career, so Westerman is the safer pick here. Westerman is extremely athletic, and has great footwork. He was an honorable mention for the All-Pac-12. Westerman posted the highest amount of reps in the bench press at the combine, showing his strength. His size may be a bit of a concern, as he is just under 300, and will have to go up against much bigger guys. He could be switched to center if it becomes a true problem.

Round 3: pick 98:
Jihad Ward, DE, Illinois

My Pick: Miles Killebrew, SS, Southern Utah

Like I said earlier, I don’t expect Ward to be available at this stage in the draft, but I do expect the Broncos to get the talented defensive end out of Illinois. With this pick, I think the Broncos will take Miles Killebrew, the safety out of Southern Utah with this pick. The Broncos have virtually no depth at the safety position, and they should address it in this years draft. Much like TJ Ward. Killebrew is an extremely hard hitting safety who consistently is making tackles. Killebrew is average at coverage, but the Broncos should be confident in taking him as their 3rd or 4th string safety. If available, the Broncos could also take Scooby Wright with this pick who could compete for the potentially un-filled linebacker spot.

Round 4: pick 135:
Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas

My Pick: Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas

This is a great pick for Denver, and I do think they will take Williams with their 4th round pick. The Broncos will likely be without Ronnie Hillman for the 2016/17 season, and have average depth at this running back position. Williams could potentially make a run for the 2nd or 3rd string back with Denver, as he had a great career in Arkansas. Williams has extremely fast footwork, and is a true craftsman when it comes to making guys miss. He knows how to explode through gaps and has good size. Williams didn’t take enough snaps in a swarmed backfield, and also had a tremendous offensive like ahead of him, which is why he’s dropped so far.

Round 5: pick 144:
Tyler Higbee, TE, Western Kentucky

My Pick: Tyler Higbee, TE, Western Kentucky

I agree with this pick, and expect the Broncos to take Higbee with their 5th round pick. The Broncos released Owen Daniels earlier in the offseason, and will most likely be without Vernon Davis as well. Enter Tyler Higbee. Higbee was a former wide receiver, and therefor has tremendous hands. Higbee is a great route runner and can accelerate quickly. He struggles mainly with blocking and can slip up on some shorter routes. Higbee suffered a bad knee injury earlier in the year which could make some teams scared to take him, but the Broncos need a tight end and should look for him with this pick.

Round 7: pick 225:
DeAndre Washington, RB, Texas Tech

My Pick: DeAndre Washington, RB, TT

These last few picks shouldn’t make a huge impact for Denver, so don’t be surprised if the Broncos take another running back here to add some depth and provide competition for the Broncos main guys. Washington’s style of running is not similar to the NFL, so teams are very cautious about him. He also played in an offense where passing comes first so Washington wasn’t the star at Texas Tech. He is a great pass catcher out of the back field however, and could be a threat in that department.

Round 7: pick 250 (Mr. Irrelevant):
Joe Thurney, OG, NC State

My Pick: Joe Thurney, OG, NC State

This is the last pick in the entire draft and almost every single “Mr. Irrelevant” that comes out of every draft usually don’t turn into much in the league. This is where the Broncos should look to bring a practice squad player onto the roster. Joe Thurney could provide competition for Denver’s subpar offensive line. Thurney is extremely versatile and can play pretty much anywhere on the line which is a nice thing to have up front. He is athletic enough to be drafted. Thurney has poor foot and hand work which is why he falls so far.

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