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
Peyton Barber, RB, Auburn
The Broncos are searching for another running back, and Peyton Barber is someone they've been linked to.
Pick change; previously Fahn Cooper, OT
Rd. 6, Pk. 43
Bryce Williams, TE, East Carolina
The Broncos have Jeff Heuerman set to take over at tight end, but they could use someone to challenge him just in case he doesn't live up to expectations.
Rd. 7, Pk. 7
Devin Fuller, WR, UCLA
The Broncos could use someone to pressure Cody Latimer, who has been disappointing thus far.
Rd. 7, Pk. 32
Deon King, OLB, Norfolk State
Mr. Irrelevant will be someone no one has heard of, save for the Broncos, who have at least worked him out.
The Broncos could use a left tackle to protect Paxton Lynch, and Bolles could be the target of teams trading up for him.
In his one season at Utah, Bolles (6-5, 297) showed that he is really talented with quick feet and athleticism on the edge. He also is tough in the ground game and plays with a physical mean streak. Bolles had a rough upbringing and some off-the-field issues, but a number of teams say he interviewed well at the combine and they feel he has matured. Some do have concerns about his ongoing mental health, however.
Bolles will need to work on pass protection for NFL speed rushers. He will also be significantly older than most rookies as he turns 25 a few weeks after the 2017 NFL Draft.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Carlos Watkins, DT/NT, Clemson
The Broncos could use a replacement for Malik Jackson.
Watkins notched 50 tackles with 13.5 for a loss, 10.5 sacks and four passes broken up in 2016. He caused a lot of disruption. To end the season, the senior dominated Ohio State and played well against Alabama. As a junior, Watkins produced a strong season with 34 tackles, 7.5 for a loss, 3.5 sacks, three passes batted and an interception. The 6-foot-3, 312-pounder didn't record many stats in his prior seasons as he was buried on the depth chart by a lot of good talent at Clemson.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida
The Broncos could use more backfield talent.
Mack (5-11, 213) ran well for the Bulls in 2016. He averaged 7.1 yards per carry on the year for 1,187 yards with 15 touchdowns, plus snatched 28 receptions for 227 yards. 2016 was Mack's third straight 1,000-yard season. He had 1,381 yards as a sophomore and 1,041 yards as a freshman. The junior is a sleeper back who could be a nice role player in the NFL.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Jonnu Smith, TE, Florida International
The Broncos could use a receiving tight end for their offense.
Smith made nationwide news in 2016 by suffering a serious injury off the field. His pregnant girlfriend poured boiling water on him after arguing about him not spending enough time with her. The senior totaled 42 receptions for 506 yards with four touchdowns on the year. He had quality production as a junior (36-397-4), sophomore (61-710-8) and freshman (39-388-2).
The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder is a quick, athletic receiving tight end to be a potential mismatch weapon. Some sources have Smith grading out as a third- or fourth-round pick. Multiple team sources have compared Smith to being a Charles Clay-type player in the NFL.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma
The Broncos could use receiving competition and a speedy slot candidate.
Westbrook was a clutch receiver for Oklahoma in 2016 with 80 receptions for 1,524 yards with 17 touchdowns. The 6-foot, 178-pounder is very slight for the NFL and needs to add weight in order to hold up. He could fit as a speedy slot receiver. As a junior, Westbrook had 46 catches for 743 yards and four scores.
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.
Show/Hide Other Mocks with Germain Ifedi Going to Broncos
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.