Denver Broncos Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell
May 17, 2013

Solid Starter

Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina – Round 1
The Broncos have had problems on the inside of their defensive line the past few seasons and Williams could make a quick impact for Denver. He has good size to play the run with the quickness to get after the passer. Gradually, Williams could help make up for the lost pass rush with the departure of Elvis Dumervil. Williams’ ability to collapse the middle could cause quarterbacks to scramble outside of the pocket and make Von Miller’s outstanding pursuit skills all the more effective.

Williams also should mesh well with 2012 second-round pick Derek Wolfe. Having both of them pass rush from defensive tackle will set up some good single-block opportunities, especially with Miller drawing double-teams off the edge. There is no doubt that Denver could use improved play at middle linebacker, but having Williams up front should make the job easier for whomever is handling it. Williams looks like a safe pick to pan out and turn into a plus starter for the Broncos.

Most Likely To Bust

Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin – Round 2
There is a lot to be concerned about with Ball. First of all, he lacks speed for the NFL and that could have issues with hitting the hole before it closes. Plus, Ball may not have enough burst to consistently break into the second level of the defense.

There is also the problem that Ball already has a lot of wear-and-tear despite being a rookie NFL. Wisconsin saddled him with an intense workload of 663 carries over the past two year – 924 in his career. Conversely Packers’ rookie Eddie Lacy had 355 total carries in college, one carry fewer than what Ball had in 2012 alone. The former Badger may have already lost some of the tread on his tires.

On the flip side, Ball has proven durability, through he suffered a concussion from getting jumped last summer. The Broncos are very high on Ball however, seeing him as the second-coming of Terrell Davis, but I don’t think Ball has the speed for that. I wouldn’t be surprised if Knowshon Moreno and/or Ronnie Hillman end up playing better than Ball in 2013 and beyond.

Potential Boom Pick

Quanterus Smith, DE, Western Kentucky – Round 5
If Smith hadn’t torn his ACL late in the 2012 season, he would’ve gone a lot higher than the fifth round. Smith totaled 12.5 sacks with 18.5 tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles in 11 games in 2012. The Western Kentucky product didn’t just beat up on weak competition either, he was superb against Alabama with three sacks. Smith victimized the 11th overall-pick, Chargers right tackle D.J. Fluker, in that game.

If Smith hadn’t been injured, he would’ve gone against Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher in his bowl matchup. If Smith had played well against the future No. 1 overall pick, who knows how highly he could have gone.

With veterans like Shaun Philips and Robert Ayers, the Broncos can take their time with Smith and allow him to rehab his ACL thoroughly. It would be nice if he is able to contribute as a situational pass-rusher, but they don’t have to play him immediately. Smith (6-5, 250) should also add some bulk to improve his run defense for the NFL and he has the benefit of time to develop in Denver’s strength and conditioning program.

Smith has serious speed and burst off the snap as an edge-rusher. He also has a nice repertoire of moves and is excellent in pursuit. Smith could turn into a great long-term replacement for Dumervil and be an ideal edge-rusher on the other side from Miller. Smith was an astute low-risk, high-reward pick by the Broncos. This could turn into a steal akin to when they drafted Dumervil on the third day.

Future Depth Player

Kayvon Webster, CB, South Florida – Round 3
Webster was considered a third-day pick, but Denver took him in the third round. The Broncos have a number of veteran cornerbacks with Champ Bailey, Chris Harris, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Tony Carter and second-year pro Omar Bolden. Unless Denver has a rash of injuries, they won’t need Webster to play in 2012.

Webster doesn’t project to turning into a top corner who is capable of being Bailey’s replacement, so the Broncos will still need a suitable long-term replacement for their standout corner. Webster (5-11, 198) looks like he could develop into a contributing nickel or dime corner, but not a starting caliber NFL cornerback. I think he will be a nice depth player and special teams contributor.

Walt’s 2013 NFL Draft Grades:

28. Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina: A Grade
It was either Sylvester Williams or Tank Carradine here for the Broncos, and you can’t argue either choice. Help was needed all over on the defensive line for the Broncos, and Williams was discussed as highly as No. 18 to the Cowboys. Denver didn’t have an interior pass rush, so Williams definitely helps in that area.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

58. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin: C Grade
This is too early for Montee Ball. He’s a Big Ten plodder with tons of wear and tear on his body already. He fills a need, but the Broncos should have waited until later to pick a running back if they were just willing to settle for Ball.

90. Kayvon Webster, CB, South Florida: D Grade
This is the reach of Day 2. Kayvon Webster was widely considered a sixth-round prospect at best. If the Broncos loved Webster enough, that’s fine, but he doesn’t fill any sort of immediate need. I can’t support this pick.

146. Quanterus Smith, DE, Western Kentucky: B Grade
This is a bit later than I thought the Broncos would wait to find a potential replacement for Elvis Dumervil, but Quanterus Smith is a solid pick. He fits the range and fills a need.

161. Tavarres King, WR, Georgia: A- Grade
Tavarres King doesn’t fill a need at all, but there’s no denying his value near the bottom of the fifth round. Why not go with one of the top players available? King will definitely be useful if one of Peyton Manning’s receivers goes down with an injury.

173. Vinston Painter, OT, Virginia Tech: A- Grade
The Broncos didn’t really have a quality third tackle prior to the 2013 NFL Draft, so Vinston Painter makes sense. I had Painter pegged as a Round 4-5 prospect, so this is nice value.

234. Zac Dysert, QB, Miami of Ohio: B+ Grade
This is great value for Zac Dysert, who was seen as a Round 3-5 prospect. I’m concerned about the reports that say Dysert doesn’t love football, but if those turn out to be bogus, he’ll compete with Brock Osweiler to be Peyton Manning’s successor.

2013 NFL Draft Team Grade: C+ . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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