Denver Broncos Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Lamin Barrow, LB, LSU – Round 5
This was a tough choice to make, but Barrow could be a third-day steal for Denver. The Broncos have needed some more thump in the middle of their linebackers, and after battling SEC ground games the past few seasons, Barrow is ready to fill that void for Denver.

The 6-foot-1, 237-pounder is strong at the point of attack but also has the speed to defend runs on the perimeter. Barrow totaled 91 tackles with 4.5 tackles for a loss and two passes defended in 2013. While he didn’t receive a lot of acclaim, Barrow played well at the Senior Bowl and was impressive in practice.

The player ahead of Barrow on the depth chart is Nate Irving, and he has been a disappointment since being selected by Denver. Barrow could come in and push Irving for playing time quickly. It wouldn’t be surprising if Barrow eventually ends up earning more snaps over Irving.

Most Likely To Bust

Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State – Round 1
I’ll preface this by saying that Roby has the physical skill set to be a good No. 1 corner in the NFL. He is extremely fast and athletic while having quality size (5-11, 194). In 2012, Roby showed the ability to be a big-time play-maker who flies around the field while providing blanket coverage. However, he had an ugly junior season that causes me to see a lot of bust potential.

In the leadup to the 2014 NFL Draft, it was well documented that Roby was torched by Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis. Abbrederis kept the Badgers in the game as he went over 200 yards receiving, including one touchdown at Roby’s expense. Abbrederis would’ve beaten Roby for more points, but Badgers quarterback Joel Stave couldn’t get Abbrederis the ball. Even great athletes are prone to a bad game here or there, but Roby was burned repeatedly in 2013. Northwestern and California both had their way with him. By the end of the year, he wasn’t covering the other team’s No. 1 receiver.

Roby has to improve his eye discipline and propensity to be beaten on double moves. Abbrederis is a great route-runner and was constantly getting separation from Roby. Denver’s staff is going to have to coach Roby out of some bad habits and inconsistency. On top of the coverage issues, he has had some off-the-field problems, including a suspension and run-ins with law enforcement. With on-the-field and off-the-field concerns, Roby is a true boom-or-bust pick; he could also have been the choice for the next category.

Potential Boom Pick

Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana – Round 2
I think the Broncos made an astute move in taking Latimer in the second round. It wouldn’t completely shock me if he is a long-term upgrade over Eric Decker as Denver’s No. 2 receiver with Demaryius Thomas. Latimer has excellent size at 6-foot-2, 215-pounds yet runs extremely well. He has quickness to get open and is a dangerous run-after-the-catch receiver.

It was hard for Latimer to stand out playing at Indiana, but he was a quality producer for the Hoosiers. Latimer finished 2013 with 72 receptions for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns. As a sophomore, he had 51 receptions for 805 yards with six scores.

Latimer has reliable hands and is diverse enough to hurt defenses in the short, middle and deep part of the field. knows teams that were considering him late in the first round and early in the second round, so he was a nice value pick for Denver. Latimer has the potential to be a great No. 2 receiver with Thomas.

Future Depth Player

Corey Nelson, LB, Oklahoma – Round 7
Going with a seventh-rounder is a bold prediction considering less than 10 percent of seventh-round picks end up making it in the NFL. However, I really like this pick by Denver. Nelson made a lot of plays for the Oklahoma defense in 2013 his season ended early with a torn pectoral muscle. The 6-foot-1, 230-pounder is a fast and instinctive linebacker who should be able to be a good contributor on special teams.

The Broncos have been adept at scouting and developing similar fast late-round linebackers in Wesley Woodyard and Danny Trevathan. Nelson has the speed and athleticism to develop into a plus pass-defender in the NFL and has some pass-rush ability. Considering the Broncos play lots of pass defense while defending leads, he’s a good fit in the Denver defense.

Nelson may not develop into a full-time starter, but I think he stands a serious shot of being a quality backup and core special teams player.

Walt’s 2014 NFL Draft Grades:

31. Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State: A- Grade
You know what’s great about Denver’s win-now philosophy? They won’t care very much if Bradley Roby gets into trouble down the road. The Broncos had to find players who could help them win right now, given Peyton Manning’s career status, and Roby should help them do that. Roby had a brutal 2013 campaign, but he was stellar in 2012. Had he declared last year, he would’ve been a top-10 pick. Denver can coach him up and have him perform up to his ability.

56. Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana: A- Grade
Peyton Manning gets another receiver. Well, he needs one, considering Eric Decker left for the Jets and Wes Welker isn’t going to be around much longer. Cody Latimer is physically impressive, and he provides great value at this selection, given that some projected him to sneak into the first round.

95. Michael Schofield, OT, Michigan: C Grade
Michael Schofield probably should have gone a couple of rounds later, but the Broncos are getting a tough lineman who should provide solid depth in the wake of Zane Beadles heading to Jacksonville. The Broncos are moving Orlando Franklin to guard, so they had to find someone to play behind Chris Clark.

156. Lamin Barrow, LB, LSU: B Grade
The Broncos really wanted C.J. Mosley, but he didn’t make it to their first-round pick. Better late than never for a linebacker, I guess. Lamin Barrow was viewed as a fifth-round prospect, so this is a logical selection.

207. Matthew Paradis, C, Boise State: B Grade
A center is a need – especially after what happened in the Super Bowl – and Matthew Paradis fits the range, so this selection makes sense.

242. Corey Nelson, OLB, Oklahoma: C Grade
More linebacking depth makes sense, but the Broncos probably could have chosen a superior prospect.

2014 NFL Draft Team Grade: A- . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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