5 Players Denver Broncos Should Target in 2013 NFL Draft
Elway Can Be Cool, Calm and Collected This Draft
The Denver Broncos have most of their needs secure going into the 2013 NFL Draft, which means that executive vice president of football operations John Elway is in an enviable position: let the draft come to him.
This doesn't mean that the Broncos do not have needs. Of course they need a pass rusher to offset the loss of Elvis Dumervil. They will also need a running back to supplement the aging and oft-injured veterans Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno.
This draft is heavy with quality lineman on both sides of the ball and there will be plenty to go around. Now, all Elway needs to do is sit back and check the players off his list with each pick. At number 28, there will be a player high on his board just waiting for the taking.
The only question that remains is which position the Broncos will target for their first round pick, or will Elway trade out of that spot for extra picks later in the draft.
There is only one player, other than a defensive lineman, that I would take in the first round. If that player falls to the Broncos pick, it would be interesting to see how Elway reacts.
Here are five players the Broncos should target in the 2013 NFL Draft, including that one player I hinted at in the last paragraph. Any of these five would undoubtedly help the Broncos in their championship quest and would be a big key to future runs.
Phillip Thomas-Safety Fresno State
I will happen to agree with my fellow Broncos writer, Joe Morrone, with his idea of taking safety Phillip Thomas in the second round of his mock drafts.
Everyone has been sleeping on this kid that boasts a mental toughness to go along with incredible instincts that make him a natural playmaker. While he may get burned a couple times because of his gambling on some play-action, Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio would love to have his presence in centerfield. Thomas recorded eight interceptions (three returned for touchdowns) and five forced fumbles this past season for the Bulldogs.
Everyone is talking about FS Matt Elam and CB Desmond Trufant as possible first round picks, but I do not believe either one will be around at 28. If they are, then by all means that would be an easy choice for Elway. But Thomas in the second round would be a perfect fit for this team.
Cornellius "Tank" Carradine-DE Florida State
"Tank" Carradine is a beast of a pass rusher that would fill a hole the Broncos have with the loss of Dumervil. The unfortunate issue is that his stock has fallen after an incredible season that ended on Nov. 24 with a torn ACL. In 12 games last year, Carradine recorded 11.0 sacks and 13.0 tackles for loss and was looking every bit a first round selection.
What every team needs to be careful of is the fact that "Tank" was not even a starter for the Seminoles before the season, and may need more time to grow within a system. Carradine takes a lot of off-sides penalties because of poor anticipation off the snap. He is a product that can be developed by NFL coaches and could very well be one of the best pass rushers to come out of the draft. As a second or third round pick, Carradine would help the Broncos forget all about when Elvis left the building.
Kawann Short-DT Purdue
Kawann Short is a DT that can play both inside and out, while getting a good first step with power and quickness. As the loss of Dumervil may have fans clamoring for that next big hit on the end, it may not necessarily be a strict pass rusher Elway is looking for.
In Short, you would get a player that can prevent the run while making some drops in pass coverage and also collapsing the pocket. He does it all. I see him as a possible first-round selection for the Broncos instead of a guy like Damontre Moore or Datone Jones who others have projected. I will have a full preview of this pick on April 17th when I explain selecting Short in the first round of the #RantMockDraft.
Montee Ball-RB Wisconsin
Running back is a huge need for the Broncos moving forward. Willis McGahee is aging and wearing down. Knowshon Moreno is often injured and has trouble holding onto the ball which leaves him in John Fox's doghouse. So where do the Broncos go from here while also having Ronnie Hillman on the roster?
Wait until the third round and pick Montee Ball, a solid runner that may look small, but packs a punch with his style. He is 5'10" and has 214 pounds on that small frame, and stays patient behind his blockers. This would be a tremendous pick-up in the third round for the Broncos and add a nice compliment to Hillman speed and elusiveness. If Elway gets a chance to pull the trigger on this one, McGahee can kiss the mile high city goodbye, and Moreno may just stick around as captain of the scout team for one more year.
Eddie Lacy-RB Alabama
This would be the only move in the first round for a player other than a defensive lineman that I would make barring the availability of either Elam or Trufant . Although I would never expect the best running back in the draft to make it to the 28th pick, if it happens, this would change the direction of each round for the Broncos. If Elway did not make this move, everyone should not only be surprised, but flabbergasted at the potential being passed up. Eddie Lacy is projected to go earlier in the draft to either the St. Louis Rams or Green Bay Packers, but it would be nice to dream, right?
At 5'11" and 231 pounds, Lacy is powerful and versatile, while always keeping his legs moving. His "run with attitude" style would be a welcome sight in Denver, with Hillman being the elusive complimentary back for years to come. Again, this pick is the longest of shots to happen. If it does, then you might be looking at a seven round draft that will be another major victory for Elway and the Broncos.