A THR-Influenced 2017 Broncos Mock Draft

Last year, I put together a mock draft using The Huddle Report’s two-board system.  This year, I shall do the same with Rob Esch’s value board and Drew Boylhart’s talent board.  To review, here are the rules that I hold myself to with this exercise:

  • I will not select a player that the value board does not project will be available for the Broncos at their respective picks.  So all players above #20 are off limits, anyone in the top 50 can only be taken with the first round pick, and so on.
  • I will not project trades up or down as it just makes things too complicated; however, in real life this should never preclude such moves, and you have to be prepared for your draft board to get jumbled.
  • I will not mock out the 6th and 7th round draft picks, as Esch’s board only goes to 200. However, I will note that Boylhart is unusually high on Chad Kelly, and John Elway has shown a regular habit of drafting QBs late.  If he decides to do so again in 2017, perhaps Kelly should be Mr. Irrelevant?

A review of the 2016 mock draft

I did not select Paxton Lynch in my final list because Esch had projected that he would be gone before the Broncos picked at #31.  However, I had made a note stating that “For example, if Paxton Lynch falls far enough to a place in which trading up is feasible, then you have to pounce on him.”  Clearly, John Elway agreed, and if I knew this would have happened, this would have nulled out the Jonathan Bullard and late round QB picks. I also absolutely nailed the Justin Simmons selection, the only difference being that Elway selected him a round higher than Esch had projected.

Other than those two and Anthony Brown, who looks promising for the Cowboys…yeesh, for the time being I did not select well.  I was quite disappointed at the time when Jihad Ward and Max Tuerk went to division rivals. However, while Ward started 13 games he didn’t look like a world-beater for the Raiders, while Tuerk was inactive all season for the Chargers.  Hopefully those trends continue.  Meanwhile, Jaylon Smith’s injury remains very concerning, Scooby Wright fell all the way to #250 and bounced between the Browns and Cardinals, while Keyarris Garrett spent the year on the Panthers’ practice squad.

Let’s see if I can put together a better product for 2017.

#20: Either Ryan Ramcyzk, T, Wisconsin, or Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State

For those that are down on Garrett Bolles, fear not: he is gone just one spot before the Broncos select. (Does another team trade ahead of them for Bolles?) Cam Robinson is also gone. Esch puts Forrest Lamp right at #20, but Boylhart generally concurs with the consensus that he is better suited at guard, not as pressing as a need for the Broncos as tackle. (Though I will admit that I would be OK with an educated gamble on taking Lamp here to see if he could do it, and if he doesn’t, he could be an improvement over Max Garcia.)

So what to do?  Boylhart has Ramczyk as his fifth best player overallHis only concern with Ramcyzk is the medical issue with his hip.  However, I do take serious the concerns of MarsLineman that this could be a serious long term problem for Ramczyk.  The question that I would ask, as a GM, is that if Ramczyk is indeed a ticking time bomb, is whether I can get four or five solid seasons out of Ramcyzk before that bomb goes off.

If the answer is no, the next player on my board is McDowell, who Boylhart ranks seventh overall and Esch has available at #40.  With a 20-pick difference, I would look to repeat the Derek Wolfe experience, and trade down–maybe more than once, and maybe out of the first round altogether.

I should also note that Esch is not buying that Reuben Foster is going to fall in this draft: he still has him at tenth overall–and also note that Esch also completely removed Gareon Conley and Caleb Brantley from his board. Boylhart is also high on Foster, so if he does fall, I would be quite tempted to select him at #20.

#51: Either Tanoh Kpassagnon, DL, Villanova, or Antonio Garcia, T, Troy

If Ramcyzk, Lamp, or another offensive lineman is the 1st round pick, than Kpassagnon is the 2nd round pick.  Boylhart believes he can play any position on the line, and likens him to Bruce Smith. If McDowell is the pick, then I take a chance on Garcia, one of the few offensive linemen Boylhart says could play left tackle. But once again, I take serious MarsLineman’s contention that Garcia has the same problems that most offensive linemen have in this draft, and since he’d definitely be in my war room, he could probably twist my arm out of this pick.

#82: Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan

This is a pure BPA pick, and Elway has proven that he wants to be very deep at cornerback.  Adding a CB at some time in the draft gives the Broncos more flexibility in case Aqib Talib starts to decline or Bradley Roby’s contract situation gets dicey.  This is another spot where I would listen to offers from other teams to trade down.

UPDATE: May 15 – It was a mistake to make this pick.  See here for the reasons why.

#101: Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson

Since it’s more likely than not that Christian McCaffrey will be out of reach for the Broncos, we’ll have to piece together other players that can emulate his talent.  It starts with Gallman, a player who I always enjoyed watching alongside Deshaun Watson at Clemson, and Boylhart likens to Marshall Faulk.  Perhaps Gallman can be McCaffrey-lite? (Ted Bartlett also like Gallman, and also thinks he can be had later than Esch projects.)

#126: Shelton Gibson, WR, West Virginia

And here I would look to help fill needs at slot receiver and returner.  A comparison to Steve Smith doesn’t hurt.

#177: Ben Boulware, LB, Clemson

Boylhart only gives him a 4th round grade, but his actual profile of Boulware strikes me as far more positive.  One thing I will say is that the national champions were so impressive that they likely have multiple sleepers on their team while Watson and Mike Williams got the lion’s share of attention.  I’d look for Boulware to be a possible replacement for Todd Davis, and at the very least to contribute on special teams, something you’re always looking for this late in the draft.

  • SterlingMalloryArcher

    Ramczyk is the only one of the tackles who makes sense at 20, to me. Malik McDowell sure looks the part, but I agree with you in that I’d rather see them trade down if that’s who they’re after.

  • MarsLineman

    Great stuff, Nick! I don’t really have anything to add except that I’m looking forward to the draft tomorrow (and thanks for linking to my already-expressed thoughts). As usual, your research and attention to detail are unimpeachable

    • Nick

      Thank you! Your own detail in your realm of expertise is also valuable. My mind may work well with the financial and roster-building aspects of football, but it also lags badly in other aspects, particularly Xs and Os. Putting together many minds makes us strong!

  • Grover7874

    Thanks for your thoughts Nick. I like that you’ve gone with OL/DL (or DL/OL) for picks #1 and #2. That just makes a lot of sense given where the team’s at right now.

    I don’t follow college ball, so can’t talk specific names, but personally, I’m hoping the Broncos go TE with pick #3. I’m not happy with our current roster of injury prone under-performers at that position. You have all our other glaring needs covered in slot WR, CB, LB, and RB. Priority is a little different, as I’ve listed them in the order I’d take the rest.

    This gets me even more excited for the draft.

    • Nick

      Boylhart is much less enthused on the tight end class than most people are. I suppose Bucky Hodges or Jeremy Sprinkle would be OK mid to late round choices, but he sees them both as incomplete tight ends. It seems to confirm what Elway was saying this week about F vs Y tight ends.

  • Yahmule

    Now, for my THC-influenced mock draft. We’re getting McCaffrey, Corey Davis, Evan Engram and Sidney Jones. We’re also sending Cleveland a bunch of trash for Joe Thomas. Cheers!

  • PiperAR

    How’s the value for ILB at #20 or for trade back? Here’s my thought process. OT is the most glaring need, but only a fool would select from such questionable talent, and John Elway is not a fool. McDowell sounds good but I think the free agents will make the line serviceable. Also Gotsis is my pick for the breakout player of 2017, either becoming a stone wall or a wrecking ball. Meanwhile the ILBs on the roster pretty much are what they are. Davis is a two-down backer, Nelson sucks against the run, and Anderson might be the most likely to become a 3-down backer (better vs the pass than Davis and better vs the run than Nelson) but there’s a reason he had the lowest snap count. So, getting a 3-down ILB is the greatest upgrade for the first round.

    • PiperAR

      Counter-argument: The defensive staff likes Todd Davis just fine and are willing to go with a 2-down backer and sub him out on passing downs in spite of the risk it carries. The second round tender for Davis is either an insurance policy or a sign that the team likes Davis just fine.

      • Nick

        Yeah, this was the counter-argument I was going to put up. When the Broncos go into nickel, the second ILB is likely the one that goes off the field. Esch and Boylhart did tab Alex Anzalone as a possible good choice on Day 2, he almost made my final list.


        • PiperAR

          There are different possible combos for the front seven in a nickel, just as long as there are 5 DBs. I thought, given that Sly had just over 50% of the snaps and no other NT broke double digits, that the NT comes off the field, the DE’s become DTs, the OLBs become DEs for a 4-2-5 look.

          • SterlingMalloryArcher

            That’s how Phillips did it. I think most of Corey Nelson’s snaps came in the nickel, and of course Marshall was the other LB.

    • I’d actually be fine with Rueben Foster if he slid to the Broncos at No. 20 and both CMC and Ramcyzk were off the board (not sold on Bolles but might be OK taking him after trading down, and I’m not a fan of Robinson at all).

  • cjfarls

    I’d be fine with these picks. Nice idea and analysis. Thanks!

  • BlackKnigh

    Nice work, Nick! This would be a good draft. I like the idea of taking Garcia. I have had my eye on him for some time. But I am hoping that he can get better with time. The 2 days of mini-camp should tell Denver whether they really need an OT or not.
    My gut tells me that they will end up trading down.