You may notice that Paxton Lynch isn't mocked within the first 31 picks. Check out my second round to see what's up with him. I believe he'll be chosen in the first round, but via trade with someone in the second frame.
If the Broncos don't move up for Lynch, Vonn Bell seems like a great choice. Denver doesn't need a safety right now with T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart on the roster, but that was the case last year with Shane Ray chosen despite being behind Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. However, Stewart is entering his contract year, and Bell, thanks to his excellent coverage skills, projects to be a great fit in Wade Phillips' defense.
*** OTHER 2016 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. A'Shawn Robinson, DE/DT - A'Shawn Robinson dropping to No. 31 may seem strange, especially since I've had him mocked as high to the Bears at the 11th pick. However, Robinson has interviewed poorly and hasn't shown much of a passion for football. However, Denver may decide that he's worth the risk at No. 31.
2. Paxton Lynch, QB - The Broncos could be the ones moving up for Lynch.
Rd. 2, Pk. 32
Christian Westerman, G, Arizona State
The Broncos have some issues on their offensive line that need to be addressed. Losing Evan Mathis was absolutely huge.
Rd. 3, Pk. 31
Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
If the Broncos miss out on Paxton Lynch, I imagine they'll be in the hunt for another quarterback, even if they trade for Colin Kaepernick.
Rd. 3, Pk. 35
Hassan Ridgeway, DT/NT, Texas
The Broncos had a nice pair of starting defensive ends in Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson, but the latter has signed elsewhere. A better nose tackle is also a possibility.
Rd. 4, Pk. 38
Isaac Seumalo, C, Oregon State
I had the Broncos addressing the guard spot earlier. Here's some help at center, where Matt Paradis can be upgraded.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Fahn Cooper, OT, Ole Miss
The Broncos signed Russell Okung, but he's a risky proposition because of his extensive injury history. Here's some insurance.
Pick change; previously Deon Bush, S
Rd. 5, Pk. 18
The Broncos are searching for another running back, and Peyton Barber is someone they've been linked to.
Pick change; previously Fahn Cooper, OT
Mock is currently being worked on. Last updated 35 years 5 month(s) ago
Lynch could easily go in the top 25, and I wouldn't be surprised if a team trades up to land him. I know Denver has already spoken with teams in the 20s about moving up, and given the Broncos' need at quarterback, it is understandable. Lynch is a good fit for Gary Kubiak's offense, and Denver have the staff to work with his impressive skill set.
To me, Lynch looks like a mix of Blake Bortles and Brock Osweiler as a prospect in terms of athletic skill set. In 2015, Lynch completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,778 yards with 28 touchdowns and three interceptions. His arm can make all the throws for the pro game, and he flashed the ability to pass accurately with precise completions into tight windows. Additionally, Lynch has the athleticism to make plays with his feet and throw on the run.
However, the redshirt junior is a project for the NFL. Sources said that Lynch (6-6, 244) has been taught next to nothing in terms of NFL X's and O's. Lynch has a great skill set, but needs work as a pocket passer with developing his field vision and understanding coverage. He also can get rattled by the pass rush, which impacts his field vision and accuracy. Lynch probably will go in the top 25 of the 2016 NFL Draft out of need and demand. In terms of physical skill sets, Lynch is worthy of being a first-round pick.
Pick change; previously Chris Jones, DT
Rd. 2, Pk. 32
Hassan Ridgeway, DT/NT, Texas
Denver lost Malik Jackson in free agency and could use more defensive line help. The Broncos were wise to re-sign Derek Wolfe, and Jared Crick is just a backup. Here's more talent for Denver up front. Ridgeway has upside and could play a variety of techniques for Wade Phillips.
The 6-foot-3, 303-pound Ridgeway can be overwhelming for the interior of an offensive line with his size and strength. He's shown the ability to be a stout run defender and collapse the pocket in the pass rush. In 2015, Ridgeway recorded 36 tackles with 6.5 for a loss and 3.5 sacks. He totaled 48 tackles with 9.5 for a loss and six sacks the year before.
Pick change; previously Dak Prescott, QB
Rd. 3, Pk. 31
Scooby Wright III, ILB/3-4OLB/OLB, Arizona
The Broncos lost Danny Trevathan in free agency, but here's a replacement.
Wright missed most of 2015, finishing the year with 23 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks. In the season opener, he suffered a knee injury - a lateral meniscus tear - that he underwent surgery for. Wright came back after missing only two games, but he clearly rushed back and wasn't the same. Wright sprained his foot in his first game back - a loss to UCLA - and didn't played the rest of the regular season. In the bowl game against New Mexico, Wright collected 15 tackles, 3.5 for a loss and two sacks.
Wright took college football by storm in 2014. The 6-foot, 239-pounder was a pass-rushing force for the Wildcats and one of the top defenders in the Pac-12. He had 14 sacks with 163 tackles, 29 tackles for a loss and six forced fumbles for the year. Wright is an instinctive linebacker and was all over the field for Arizona. In 2013, he notched 83 tackles with 9.5 for a loss and an interception.
Rd. 3, Pk. 35
Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama
The Broncos could use some depth in their backfield behind C.J. Anderson.
At most schools, Drake would have been a starter, but at Alabama, he was a backup to Derrick Henry among other future NFL halfbacks. In 2015, Drake averaged 5.4 yards per carry for 407 yards (76 attempts) with one touchdown. He also notched 27 receptions for 255 yards and a touchdown.
Drake (6-0, 210) ran well at the Senior Bowl and showed off his excellent quickness with size and strength. The big issue for him is durability. A broken ankle ended his 2014 season early.
Rd. 4, Pk. 38
B.J. Goodson, ILB, Clemson
The Broncos could use some inside linebacker depth after losing Danny Trevathan.
Goodson didn't see the field much until his senior year, but in 2015, he made the most of his opportunity with 108 tackles, 14 for a loss, 5.5 sacks, three passes batted, two interceptions and a forced fumble. Goodson (6-1, 242) has a nice mix of size and speed. He could easily go on Day 2 of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Pick change; previously Eric Murray, CB
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
John Theus, OT, Georgia
The Broncos grab some offensive line depth.
Pick change; previously Jayron Kearse, S
Rd. 5, Pk. 18
Eric Murray, CB, Minnesota
The Broncos could use some cornerback depth. Aqib Talib could be a trade candidate or cap casualty in a year, so they could develop another corner to backup Chris Harris and Bradley Roby.
And the final pick of the first round is a Quarterback that honestly I admittedly doubt will fall this low. Lynch has his flaws for sure, but he’s a potential franchise QB and those don’t grow on trees. I believe that some team will trade up for him, maybe St. Louis or Philadelphia, or maybe a team will reach for him as a future asset like Kansas City or Arizona. But, being unable to predict trades in this mock Paxton falls, to where I believe his value fits best. In my book he’s a late first rounder. He’s got all the tools, size, arm strength, mobility to succeed in this league, along with top notch production. On paper he looks like a bonafide top 10 pick. But some things are just missing. His accuracy is spotty, his anticipation skills and pocket awareness/handling of pressure all need work but the template is absolutely there. Going to Denver would be a great fit for Lynch. He gets the feeling and benefits of being a first round pick (the salary and contract differences are substantial between this pick and the very next one) as well as being able to hopefully sit for a bit and learn from Gary Kubiak with a stacked roster around him. Denver has dealt with a lot of attrition and turnover at the quarterback position this offseason as Peyton Manning retired and Brock Osweiler left to Houston and currently is left with only Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian at the quarterback position. Paxton Lynch can come in and learn and hopefully take over and keep this title window open.
I’m willing to bet a lot of money that this pick is a quarterback Which quarterback it is and which team (I really think this pick is going to end up being traded to a team like Cleveland or San Francisco who REALLY want that fifth year option that is attached to a first round pick) are still up for question. If the Broncos stay put here they too could, and probably should, go quarterback. It’s really strange to see a Super Bowl Champ with this much quarterback attrition in one offseason but like I said before the bottom of this draft is just strange. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of Connor Cook. I’d personally rather take my chance on a guy like Christian Hackenberg or take a risk on Dak Prescott or Cardale Jones (I have so much faith in that guy for some reason), but this is not a mock of what I would do but what I believe the teams will do. Scouts and teams seem to be high enough on this guy to take a chance in the first round. The biggest thing about him that scares me really is the character. He’s not a bad kid by any means, he stays relatively clean and out of trouble, but he seems really cocky and not a pleasure to be around (according to reports of course). Also, I can’t get it out of my head that he wasn’t a captain as a 4 year starter senior quarterback. Even the team he was already on didn’t look at him as a leader and that just scares me. His tape is pretty solid. He’s been efficient and effective most of his career but he doesn’t have any “wow” traits. Pretty solid arm, pretty solid pocket presence, pretty solid athleticism, and is very experienced and battled tested. He won a lot of big games against big time competition for a very good Michigan State team. But nothing he does jumps out at you, and his accuracy is a major concern. Struggles with his footwork and forces throws that he doesn’t need to force as well as missing some easier routine ones because he’s just not sound mechanically. He’s got good enough traits and good enough production to have a chance in this league, but I just don’t think he does anything that screams “franchise quarterback” to me, and drafting at the end of the first round necessitates that in my eyes. Someone is going to take this guy higher than I believe he should be taken, let’s see if he can prove me wrong.
The Broncos have me puzzled as far as what their plan is at QB. I would have to think they're looking to draft one since the Kaepernick trade hasn't worked out, but it wouldn't surprise me if they roll with Sanchez as their starter. They won the super bowl with bad QB play all last season, so maybe Elway thinks that this young core of talent can carry an average to below-average QB back to a deep playoff run. Meanwhile, Cody Whitehair can come in and start immediately for an offensive line that has been patchwork for a few years now.
Denver's defense is stellar and really do not need any upgrades or depth. Denver's offensive line is another story. One could make a case why each starter could be replaced: injury history, age, ineffectiveness, etc. Grabbing a talent like Jason Spriggs at No. 29 will look like a steal down the road. Spriggs (6'6", 305, SR) has the length and athleticism to stay at LT if Ryan Clady becomes a cap casualty. If not, plug him in at RT and let Ty Sambrailo and/or Michael Schofield bump inside to OG. Sprigg's elite athleticism will allow for Gary Kubiak's offense to really take off in Year 2 under Brock Osweiler.
If Denver doesn’t nab Kap and can’t pocket Fitzpatrick, they need to trade up for Lynch. It has to be done, and it’ll take a lot, but if he slides by Los Angeles it’ll be a worthy pursuit—if he doesn’t, they have to try anyway. If it’s Kaepernick or Fitzpatrick, the cap situation in Denver will necessitate the cutting of long-time, but declining tackle Ryan Clady—and even if Clady is retained, the Bronco offensive line is weak at the guard position. Enter Germain Ifedi, long and athletic offensive lineman from Texas A&M who can play either position. I project him more as a guard, to mitigate his poor footwork on the outside—but he could challenge free-agent acquisitions Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson, along with incumbent Michael Schofield, at the tackle positions. The defense is bleeding, yes—but the offensive line has been a problem for multiple years, and to stay competitive against Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin and…do the Chargers have any pass rushers?...they need to address it. If they know specifically that they need a tackle, then Jason Spriggs and Le’Raven Clark enter the conversation—guard, Joshua Garnett and Cody Whitehair. For crossover potential, it’s Ifedi.
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Rd. 1, Pk. 26
Paxton Lynch, QB,
I'm not sure about Paxton Lynch. He's very raw, and I don't think he's ready for the NFL. That said, I not only completely understand this pick; I'm in favor of it. The Broncos were very desperate for a quarterback. Mark Sanchez was the projected starter, for crying out loud. Denver absolutely had to make a move, and I'd rather spend the 27th pick in the draft than trade for either Colin Kaepernick or Sam Bradford. I think the Broncos need to bring Lynch along slowly, even if it means sacrificing the 2016 campaign, but he could eventually pan out. I should also note that while I'm usually not in favor of teams moving up, I get why the Broncos did it, given that the Chiefs were a serious landing spot for Lynch. The Browns were also a candidate to trade up.