As an organization, the Denver Broncos began their journey to the 2018 draft at the Reese’s Senior Bowl when their coaching staff worked with the North team. After a 5-11 season, not only do they hold the #5 overall pick, but that also means they have high selections in each of the first five rounds. With virtually every piece of information now available to them, including their Fall scouting grades, all-star game exposures, Combine results, Pro Day workouts and personal interviews, it’s time for GM John Elway and head coach Vance Joseph to decide on their draft weekend objectives and craft a game plan that can achieve those goals.
Here are five major assessments they must make before the draft begins on Thursday, April 26:
1. Forecast the short- and long-term future of their QB position.
-This is THE most important evaluation the organization has to make. In signing Case Keenum to a two-year contract, the indication is that they believe he can be a short-term serviceable starter. The bigger question may be their evaluation of former 1st round pick, Paxton Lynch. The Keenum acquisition may have already signaled their answer, but with them sitting at #5, there is likely going to be a promising quarterback on the board, so that is the value judgment that must be made: take another QB, draft the best available non-QB prospect or trade down?
2. Evaluate Broncos’ roster vs. positional depth on draft board.
-In other words, they must determine how the prospects in the draft compare to what they currently have on their own team. This is an essential piece of the draft process and really merges the opinions of your college and pro scouting departments. Team “need” in relation to what is actually available can make certain positions a priority. Again, the overall quarterback evaluations will go a long way in determining what happens in the early rounds for them.
3. Project best combination of prospects available.
-Many media members and the mock drafts only focus on the #5 pick, but who is going to be available at #40 will help in determining the path the Broncos take at the very top of the draft. As examples, what pairing makes the Broncos a better team? QB Baker Mayfield/Oklahoma and OL Tyrell Crosby/Oregon, or OL Quenton Nelson/Notre Dame and QB Mason Rudolph/Oklahoma State? Or, is there some other duo of non-QB prospects with Keenum being tabbed as the starter for 2018?
4. Strategize very specific trade-down scenarios.
-If moving down from #5 is a distinct possibility, then the framework of a trade must be established for every pick from #7 Tampa Bay through #21 Buffalo (assuming that no trade would take place with #6 Indianapolis and the club would not want to go any deeper than #21). At what point would they demand a 2019 #1 draft choice? Chicago at #8, Miami at #11, Buffalo at #12 and Arizona at #15, would appear to be the most logical options for a major move.
5. Is there a current player on a different team worthy of the 5th pick?
-Probably not, especially when the contract ramifications for a high-performing veteran player are truly considered.
So, while 90% of the media’s attention has been directed at Cleveland, the Giants and the Jets, all holding picks in the top four, the intrigue surrounding the Broncos’ choice at #5 or an impending move down could really contribute to what should be a roller-coaster ride of a first round this year.