The defending champion Denver Broncos entered the 2016 NFL Draft with more holes than we would normally see from a team that hoisted the Lombardi just months before.
After seeing Peyton Manning retire and watching Brock Osweiler bolt to the Houston Texans in free agency, quarterback became a major issue. That’s where the acquisition of Mark Sanchez might come in handy.
Though, Denver did make sure to address the quarterback position in the 2016 NFL Draft by trading up for former Memphis signal caller Paxton Lynch. A true project coming out of college, it’s highly unlikely Lynch will be able to make an impact out of the gate.
Running through Denver’s selections in the 2016 draft, one player stands out as potentially being a huge steal here. Former Utah running back Devontae Booker has all the skills Gary Kubiak’s offense asks for in a running back. Adding him in the fourth round was a steal.
Let’s take a look at the Broncos 2016 draft class while giving you some analysis of the most-interesting picks of the bunch.
Broncos 2016 draft picks
Round 1, 26th overall: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Round 2, 63rd overall: Adam Gotsis, DT, Georgia Tech
Round 3, 98th overall: Justin Simmons, S, Boston College
Round 4, 136th overall: Devontae Booker, RB, Utah
Round 5, 144th overall: Connor McGovern, G, Missouri
Round 6, 176th overall: Andy Janovich, FB, Nebraska
Round 6, 219th overall: Will Parks, S, Arizona
Round 7, 228th overall: Riley Dixon, P, Syracuse
The sure-thing stud: Justin Simmons, S
Simmons was one of the most underrated defensive players in the entire draft. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound free safety boasts the necessary skill-set to to play single high in the defensive backfield. This is made possible due to his range in center field and ability to read and react to the play with relative ease.
With his experience outside at corner, Simmons knows full well how to keep the play in front of him. That coupled with plus-level athleticism will make him a coup for the Broncos.
Considering Darian Stewart is slated to man free safety for the Broncos in 2016, there’s a decent chance Simmons will get some run with the first team before all is said and done. If not, he projects as a Year 2 starter.
The sleeper: Devontae Booker, RB
Denver may have committed $4.5 million per season to C.J. Anderson when it matched the Miami Dolphins offer for him, but there’s no telling how the running back is going to respond. He started extremely slowly for the defending champs in 2015, picking it up as the season drew on.
But it’s readily apparent that the Broncos aren’t necessarily sold on him long-term after they gave him an original-round tender in restricted free agency.
Enter in a player of Booker’s caliber, and there’s a good chance Denver might just have found its running back of the future.
He put up nearly 3,400 total yards and 23 touchdowns in two seasons with Utah, showing an ability to catch passes (80 receptions) in the process. In reality, Booker is a perfect fit for Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking scheme.
His field vision and change-of-direction ability should come in handy in Denver, as should Booker’s plus-level pass protection ability.
The project: Paxton Lynch, QB
Denver made the smart long-term decision to trade up in the first round here. Lynch might not be ready to be an immediate impact producer, but he has as much upside as any quarterback in the draft class. That’s going to be a boon for John Elway and Co. down the road.
Unfortunately, there’s not a whole heck of a lot here to suggest that Lynch can take the job from Mark Sanchez as a rookie.
The biggest issue we see on tape is Lynch’s inability to progress through reads as an NFL level. he tends to latch on to that initial read, struggling to get to his secondary options in short fashion. That’s simply not going to work at the highest level football has to offer.
Couple this with a less-than-stellar consistency as it relates to arm strength, and there’s going to be an issue out of the gate. It’s not that Lynch can’t make every throw on the field. Rather, it’s that his mechanics causes him to throw some dead ducks, especially on intermediate out routes. That’s also a recipe for disaster at the NFL level.
These are issues that can definitely be fixed with some more seasoning. However, he’s not going to automatically pull up to Broncos’ training camp during the summer understanding the nuances of the NFL game. This makes Lynch more of a long-term project for the Broncos.