And while the true grade of any draft class won’t be finalized until rookie contracts have run their course, this question remains: What would a good weekend of work look like for the Broncos at the 2020 NFL draft?
After months of conversations with personnel executives, coaches and scouts on top of hours of prospect game video, here is a look at which players might be available — hey, they’re not taking Joe Burrow at No. 15, people — when the Broncos make their picks Thursday through Saturday:
No. 15: LSU WR Justin Jefferson
An awful lot of discussion around the league indicates the top four offensive tackles will be gone by the time the Broncos pick at 15. If they don’t trade up, Jefferson fits their offense and would contribute from Day 1.
No. 46: TCU CB Jeff Gladney
He would be a steal here and many teams believe it would take a run on tackles and receivers to push him down the board enough to make it happen. He might be the most competitive cornerback, from first snap to the last of each game, on the board to go with 4.48-second speed over 40 yards.
No. 77: Mississippi State CB Cameron Dantzler
His 40-yard time at the combine (4.64) will influence some, but this is a big-framed cornerback whose game video consistently shows top-shelf work against a long list of the best receivers in this draft. Needs to tackle better, but he’s a confident, versatile player in coverage.
No. 83: TCU OT Lucas Niang
A run on tackles would see him selected before this, but there is a chance his hip surgery last season pushes him down the board given medical exams after the combine were hard to come by around the league. He’s a quality prospect whose work against Ohio State’s Chase Young and Nick Bosa in 2018 got plenty of pre-draft attention.
No. 95: Temple C Matt Hennessy
Hennessy is a three-year starter for the Owls. He has good movement skills and would have a chance to start as a rookie.
No. 118: Kentucky WR Lynn Bowden
Bowden is so versatile that he started eight games at quarterback for the Wildcats last season and still led the team in receptions with 30.
No. 178: California LB Evan Weaver
Some have him higher on the board. Weaver led the nation in tackles with 182 in 2019 at linebacker after he had started his career at Cal as a defensive end.
No. 181: Missouri T/G Yasir Durant
His ho-hum combine workout might dampen some folks’ enthusiasm about his potential, but he’s more advanced in pass protection than many in the draft and likely projects as a guard who can play some right tackle.
No. 252: Colorado QB Steven Montez
He’s a developmental prospect worth a long look. Plenty to work with as a tough, athletic three-year starter, but the game video does show throws that were head-scratchers.
No. 254: Ohio State S Jordan Fuller
He’s a smart, quality leader who was a first-team Academic All-American and has the skills to find a spot on an NFL roster. He’s a willing tackler and plays with good discipline.