Jussel: Who knows who Broncos will pick in NFL draft

Draft Day: It’s better than all birthdays except 16 and 21, better than Super Bowl Sunday unless your team is playing and better than Christmas unless you are 10 or younger.

Draft Day has become so big it is now actually seven rounds of rolling the dice spread over three days. The first night, the first round only, has become one of the most-hyped, thus most-watched events in sport. Rounds 2-7 are for the real psychos, with perfectly coiffed ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper and a host of “experts” reflecting endlessly, mostly about players we will never hear from again.

If you have been following the scouting reports, team needs, mock drafts, et al, as I have for the past two months, you know the Broncos have a need for defensive tackles and will already have penciled in names like Jerel Worthy, Michael Brockers or Dontari Poe as that 25th pick.

Don’t be so sure.

There is a very real possibility the Broncos don’t pick in the first round, instead trading their pick for more picks in the second and/or third round. This is a very deep draft with players ranked anywhere from 35 to 100 who are remarkably similar in abilities.

Let’s do the math. The Broncos currently have picks 25, 57, 87, 108 and 120 through the fourth round.

It’s conceivable the Broncos could trade Pick 25 for, say Pick 45 in the second round and Pick 85 in the third round, giving them 45, 57, 85, 87, 108 and 120 through the first four rounds. That’s why Friday may be the big night for Denver in rounds 2 and 3.

For one thing, Vice President of Football Operations John Elway said this week that the team’s staff is not as worried about the defensive tackles as others appear to be. He points to the fact they have two tackles coming back who didn’t play last year but were originally slated to start in Ty Warren and Kevin Vickerson, and have signed free agent Justin Bannan, who started with the Rams last season after playing regularly with the Broncos the previous season.

One other factor Denver’s staff has pointed to is the appearance on the roster of former Central High School and Air Force Academy standout Ben Garland, who impressed in camp two years ago before starting his active military commitment.

Garland has been granted his early release from active duty and is reportedly very much in the mix for a roster spot and playing time across the line because of his speed (sub-5.0 40 time at 280 pounds), intelligence and his work ethic.

Elway also said the staff has gone through countless mock drafts and is ready for any number of scenarios through the three-day affair — moving up to get someone it really wants, moving down, or staying in that 25th spot if the “best player available” is someone they think can make an immediate impact.

If Brockers is still available at 25, Denver takes him. Ditto middle linebacker Dont’a Hightower or corner Dre Kirkpatrick, both from Alabama.

They should all be gone, however, and I believe Denver will trade down and grab a second-and third-round pick, grabbing two studs for the price of one.

Defensive linemen will abound in the second and third rounds. Penn State’s Still, and other standouts like Kendall Reyes of Connecticut, Brandon Thomson of Clemson, Michigan’s Mike Martin or Alameda Ta’amu of Washington are possibilities.

Other second-round picks who could open eyes include running back Doug Martin of Boise State, corner Janoris Jenkins of North Alabama, wide receiver Stephen Hill of Georgia Tech — and, yes, a couple of quarterbacks who Denver’s brass has observed closely, Brandon Weeden of Oklahoma State and Brock Osweiler of Arizona State.

Lots of names. Lots of possibilities. Lots of Kiper.

Grab the remote, some sustenance and your favorite recliner.

It doesn’t get any better than this.


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