Five Players Denver Broncos Should Target in First Round of 2014 NFL Draft

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Five Players Denver Broncos Should Target in NFL Draft

john fox
Matthew Emmons - USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos came up short in Super Bowl XLVIII and will prepare for the 2014 NFL Draft with an eye on retooling for another playoff run next season. To do that, they will need to address some glaring needs in the upcoming draft to give themselves the best opportunity to maintain their dominance over the AFC. At the top of their list for needs in this draft should be help for their pass rush and reinforcements for the secondary.

Denver finished in the middle of the pack in terms of sacks last season and did so without their best pass-rusher, Von Miller, for much of the year. They were helped by the great season of Shaun Phillips who recorded 10 sacks on the year in a resurgent 2013 campaign. But at 32 years old, Phillips can’t really be relied on to provide that kind of production again in 2014 and Miller will be coming back from a torn ACL suffered late in the year. Adding fresh blood into the rotation to provide pressure would be a major boost to the Broncos’ defense next season.

But if Denver can’t get to the quarterback, they need to replenish their talent pool in the secondary to prevent broken coverage down the field. Denver pieced together their secondary in 2013 having to overcome injuries to Champ Bailey early and Chris Harris late. They were helped by a strong season from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but likely won’t be able to get him back in Denver for next season once DRC hits the open market of free agency. Adding a talented young corner through the draft would help to secure the back end of the Denver defense in 2014 and beyond.

With those two areas designated as their biggest areas of need heading into the draft, there are plenty of options for the Broncos to pick from. Here are five players that the Denver Broncos should target with their first round pick at No. 31 in the 2014 NFL Draft.

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5. Dee Ford, DE Auburn Tigers

dee ford
Jayne Kamin-Oncea - USA TODAY Sports

Dee Ford helped lead the Auburn Tigers all the way to the BCS National Championship game in 2013 with an uncanny ability to get after the passer. He finished the year with 8.5 sacks, using his incredible quickness off the edge to get into the backfield and wreak havoc. At 6-foot-2, 243-pound, Ford is a bit undersized to hold up against the run as an every-down 4-3 defensive end, but he could definitely provide an immediate impact on passing downs as a rookie in 2014.

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4. Kony Ealy, DE Missouri Tigers

kony ealy
Kevin Jairaj - USA TODAY Sports

The Missouri Tigers were an SEC Championship game loss to Auburn away from playing for the BCS National Championship this season and Kony Ealy was a big reason why at defensive end. He recorded seven sacks in 2013 and has the prototypical build (6-foot-4, 275 pounds) of a 4-3 defensive end at the next level. Ealy showed incredible versatility at Missouri, often moving inside to provide an interior pass rush when needed. Paired with Miller and Phillips on passing situations would give Denver a formidable combination in 2014

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3. Jason Verrett, CB TCU Horned Frogs

jason verrett
Tim Heitman - USA TODAY Sports

While Jason Verrett doesn’t have the ideal measurable at just 5-foot-9 and 174 pounds, he has shown that he can be a very productive defender with the TCU Horned Frogs. He understands leverage against receivers and maintains excellent positioning down the field. There are questions about his ability to hold up against the more physical receivers in the NFL but has the quick-twitch ability to make up for it as a possible nickel corner. He’s got excellent hands and body control, making the most of his opportunities to create turnovers with interceptions.

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2. Bradley Roby, CB Ohio State Buckeyes

bradley roby
Raj Mehta - USA TODAY Sports

While the pass defense of the Ohio State Buckeyes was much maligned in 2013, there’s no denying the elite talent of cornerback Bradley Roby. He’s a prototypically sized corner at 5-foot-11, 193-pounds, and is built solid enough to get into receivers and prevent them from pushing off for separation. He’s shown an excellent ability to recognize plays developing and get into a position to make an impact in college and has the speed to turn and run with most receivers. Adding him to the secondary would give Denver a ready-to-contribute rookie in 2014.

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1. Loucheiz Purifoy, CB Florida Gators

loucheiz purifoy
Derick E. Hingle - USA TODAY Sports

Loucheiz Purifoy may end up being one of the best cover-corners in this year’s draft. While with the Florida Gators, Purifoy showed how athletic he was, lining up on both sides of the ball. He’s tall (6-foot) and lean with the frame to add some bulk. He shows excellent foot quickness and balance in coverage with excellent instincts for making a play on the football and can match up in press-man coverage with the best of them. He’s also shown a willingness to mix it up against the run and is an excellent tackler for his position. His ability to lock down receivers on the outside would go a long way in improving the Denver secondary.

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