Players To Watch At The NFL Scouting Combine (February 28 – March 6, 2017)

Hello again, Broncos fans! There’s been a lot of discussion regarding draft prospects in the daily threads here at Thin Air, but I thought it would be useful to take a good look at several players who are likely on the Broncos’ radar in one easy-to-reference location. This post (and the comments below it) will serve as a convenient list of names to watch at the upcoming Underwear Olympics in Indianapolis. So let’s get to it.


Without delving too deeply into a draft needs analysis (which will be part of my annual Draft Preview posts in April), let’s just take a quick look at the list of current needs I’ve identified for the Broncos. As always, needs are divided into three categories: Primary; Upgrade; and Depth. (See definitions for each category of need in my 2016 Broncos’ offensive needs analysis, which can be found here.) Right now, I see Denver’s needs as follows (needs within each category are loosely ordered by priority.)

Primary: T, NT, Slot WR, KR/PR

Upgrade: TE, G, ILB, 3-4 DE

Depth: QB, RB, CB, Edge

None: C, S, K, P, LS

These needs are likely to be shuffled significantly during free agency, but leading up to the Scouting Combine this is where Denver stands.

Day 1

Who’ll Be Gone?

First, let’s look at some guys who the Broncos could certainly use, but who will likely be off the board by the time Denver first steps to the podium (barring a trade up) at #20.

Primary Needs: Currently there are no T, NT, or Slot WRs certain to be gone by the 20th pick.

Upgrade Needs:
Name Position Height Weight School Remarks Scouting Report
Reuben Foster ILB 6002 246 Alabama Draft Profile
Jonathan Allen 3-4 DE 6025 295 Alabama Draft Profile

Both Foster and Allen would represent HUGE upgrades for the Broncos, but they are just too good to slip that far.

Depth Needs: Teams generally do not have the luxury of selecting players to fill Depth Needs in the first round. There are exceptions to this rule (e.g. Shane Ray), but for the most part teams will target more urgent needs this early in the draft. Nevertheless, here are several potentially game-changing prospects who would fill Depth Needs for the Broncos, but will most likely be gone by the 20th pick.

Depth Needs:
Name Position Height Weight School Remarks Scouting Report
Leonard Fournette RB 601 230 LSU Draft Profile
Dalvin Cook RB 511 206 Florida State Draft Profile
Marshon Lattimore CB 600 192 Ohio State Draft Profile
Myles Garrett Edge 6051 261 Texas A&M Draft Profile
Solomon Thomas Edge 603 273 Stanford Draft Profile
Derek Barnett Edge 603 265 Tennessee Draft Profile

Who’s Left?

Now let’s take a look at some names I consider to be first round options for the Broncos:

Primary Needs:
Name Position Height Weight School Scouting Report
Ryan Ramczyk T 606 314 Wisconsin Not participating at the combine Draft Profile
Cam Robinson T/G 606 310 Alabama Draft Profile
Garrett Bolles T 605 300 Utah Draft Profile
Caleb Brantley NT/3-4 DE 6021 300 Florida Draft Profile
John Ross III Slot WR/KR 511 190 Washington Draft Profile
Christian McCaffrey RB/Slot/KR/PR 600 202 Stanford Draft Profile
Upgrade Needs:
Name Position Height Weight School Remarks Scouting Report
O.J. Howard TE 606 251 Alabama Draft Profile
Forrest Lamp G/T 604 300 Western Kentucky Draft Profile
Jabrill Peppers S/ILB/KR/PR 601 205 Michigan Draft Profile
Jarrad Davis ILB 6013 236 Florida Draft Profile
Haason Reddick ILB 601 230 Temple Draft Profile
Zach Cunningham ILB 604 230 Vanderbilt Draft Profile
Malik McDowell 3-4 DE 604 276 Michigan State Draft Profile

We’re all at least somewhat aware of the first round options at T at this point, and it’s understandable why many Bronco fans aren’t excited about them. There are reasons for optimism, however. Ramczyk looks like the best of the bunch, and while we’d normally never expect the best T to be available at #20, Ramczyk has just enough flags (only one year in FBS; hip surgery; not working out at the combine) to potentially push him down to that spot. Robinson has issues with technique and will need to be coached up, but if we view him as a potential RT or G he looks a lot more promising than he does as a LT. Bolles is the somewhat the opposite of Robinson in that his technique is sound and he projects better on the left than on the right, but there are questions about his strength and his advanced age. Bottom line – Ramczyk looks good as a 20th pick; Robinson and Bolles represent trade down options. A great workout from either player could change how we view the position, though.

John Ross III and Christian McCaffrey are electric offensive play makers who would help jump start the Broncos offense. Ross would likely be used primarily in the slot; McCaffrey is more versatile, and would be used in the slot as well as the backfield. Both men are explosive in the return game.

One name that may appear out of place here is Jabrill Peppers. I believe the Broncos will be forced to take a hard look at Peppers, though, primarily because of his ability to play as a S/ILB hybrid who would be a big boost for the Broncos in nickel and dime packages. He can run, cover, and hit, and he would be effective in neutralizing opposing RBs and TEs in pass coverage while also providing strong run support. If that isn’t enough, Peppers could fill a big need as a return man as well. Lastly, looking one year to the future, the presence of both Will Parks and Jabrill Peppers on the roster would provide the Broncos with the flexibility to move on from T.J. Ward if his asking price gets too high.

Day 2

While some of the Day 1 options listed above will surely slide into Day 2, let’s assume for the sake of this exercise they won’t. The following is a list of potential second and third rounders who might end up in orange and blue.

Second Round

Who’s Left?

Primary Needs:
Name Position Height Weight School Remarks
Roderick Johnson T 607 311 Florida State Draft Profile
Taylor Moton T/G 605 328 Western Michigan Draft Profile
Antonio Garcia T 606 302 Troy Draft Profile
Elijah Qualls NT 601 321 Washington Draft Profile
Dalvin Tomlinson NT 602 305 Alabama Draft Profile
Curtis Samuel Slot WR/KR 511 200 Ohio State Draft Profile
Dede Westbrook Slot WR 511 174 Oklahoma Draft Profile
Upgrade Needs:
Name Position Height Weight School Remarks Scouting Report
David Njoku TE 604 245 Miami Draft Profile
Evan Engram TE 603 227 Mississippi Draft Profile
Bucky Hodges TE 607 245 Virginia Tech Draft Profile
Dan Feeney G 604 305 Indiana Draft Profile
Dion Dawkins G/T 605 320 Temple Draft Profile
Dorian Johnson G 605 315 Pittsburgh Draft Profile
Pat Elflein G/C 603 300 Ohio State Draft Profile
Ethan Pocic G/C 607 302 LSU Draft Profile
Raekwon McMillan ILB 602 240 Ohio State Draft Profile
Duke Riley ILB 600 227 LSU Draft Profile
Alex Anzalone ILB 602 241 Florida Draft Profile
DeMarcus Walker 3-4 DE/Edge 603 273 Florida State Draft Profile
Chris Wormley 3-4 DE 6034 296 Michigan Draft Profile
Depth Needs:
Name Position Height Weight School Remarks Scouting Report
Alvin Kamara RB 510 215 Tennessee Draft Profile
Joe Mixon RB 601 226 Oklahoma Not participating at combine Draft Profile
D’Onta Foreman RB 601 249 Texas Draft Profile
Quincy Wilson CB 601 213 Florida Draft Profile
Jourdan Lewis CB 511 186 Michigan Draft Profile
Tre’Davious White CB 5112 195 LSU Draft Profile
Carl Lawson Edge 6022 258 Auburn Draft Profile
T.J. Watt Edge 605 243 Wisconsin Draft Profile

Mismatch-exploiting TEs, rangy ILBs and solid cover CBs highlight the Day 2 prospects. There are some T prospects, too, so let’s take a closer look. First, Roderick Johnson is a perfect-framed, 6’7″ 311 pound LT prospect with tremendous power. However, by all accounts his footwork and balance need a great deal of work. I’ve listed Moton with the Ts here, but if I’m being honest he probably projects better inside. With the dearth of pro-caliber Ts in this draft, though, a glass-half-full kind of guy might point to his potential at RT. Much like first round prospects Robinson and Bolles, Antonio Garcia is the yang to Roderick Johnson’s yin. Garcia has all the athleticism necessary, but lacks the power. Anyway you slice it, tackles taken on Day 2 of the draft will need some work. Then again, that’s almost always the case. There is potential here, and if the Broncos miss out on one of the top 3 Ts, they’ll almost certainly look to this second tier for a developmental prospect.

Day 2 also gives Denver a chance to fill several other needs, and with three picks (one second, two thirds) the Broncos have multiple chances to find contributors. NT is screaming for attention, and I think both Qualls and Tomlinson look like very nice additions. At Slot WR, Curtis Samuel and Dede Westbrook offer big potential.

None of us should be surprised to see one of these TEs come off the board with the Broncos’ second round pick. Engram has picked up any momentum lost by Njoku, and I’m higher on Bucky Hodges than most. He is a fast, athletic, 6’7″ matchup nightmare.

Third Round

Who’s Left?

Primary Needs:
Name Position Height Weight School Remarks Scouting Report
Adam Bisnowaty T 606 305 Pittsburgh Draft Profile
Chad Wheeler T 606 310 USC Draft Profile
Carlos Watkins NT 6035 313 Clemson Draft Profile
Vincent Taylor NT 602 310 Oklahoma State Draft Profile
Jaleel Johnson NT 6027 311 Iowa Draft Profile
Larry Ogunjobi NT/3-4 DE 603 304 Charlotte Draft Profile
ArDarius Stewart Slot WR 601 204 Alabama Draft Profile
Upgrade Needs:
Name Position Height Weight School Remarks Scouting Report
Adam Shaheen TE 605 277 Ashland Draft Profile
Jake Butt TE 606 250 Michigan Draft Profile
Jordan Leggett TE 605 260 Clemson Draft Profile
Gerald Everett TE 604 240 South Alabama Draft Profile
Nico Siragusa G 603 323 San Diego State Draft Profile
Tyler Orlosky G/C 604 298 West Virginia Draft Profile
Isaac Asiata G 603 323 Utah Draft Profile
Anthony Walker, Jr. ILB 601 235 Northwestern Draft Profile
Elijah Lee ILB 603 220 Kansas State Draft Profile
Kendell Beckwith ILB 6024 255 LSU Draft Profile
Jalen Reeves-Maybin ILB 6002 229 Tennessee Draft Profile
Davon Godchaux 3-4 DE 604 293 LSU Draft Profile
Nazair Jones 3-4 DE 605 295 North Carolina Draft Profile
Tanoh Kpassagnon 3-4 DE/Edge 606 285 Villanova Draft Profile
Depth Needs:
Name Position Height Weight School Remarks Scouting Report
Samaje Perine RB 510 234 Oklahoma Draft Profile
Wayne Gallman RB 601 215 Clemson Draft Profile
Cordrea Tankersley CB 600 200 Clemson Draft Profile
Desmond King CB 5101 201 Iowa Draft Profile
Gareon Conley CB 601 195 Ohio State Draft Profile
Adoree’ Jackson CB 511 185 USC Draft Profile
Ryan Anderson Edge 6024 258 Alabama Draft Profile
Tarell Basham Edge 604 259 Ohio Draft Profile

That’s it for now, Broncos fans. Hopefully these lists will prove helpful throughout the draft process. With the Combine and Pro Days still to come we can expect a lot of movement on the board; still, there’s a solid chance most of Denver’s first 4 picks are included in one of the tables shown above. For now I’ve ignored most of the deeper Day 3 prospects in the interest of simplicity.

So what did I miss? Who will you be watching this week in Indy?