Grading the Draft: Denver Broncos

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Chris Tripodi

Draft Analyst Writer

It was no secret the Broncos were looking to upgrade their offensive line in this year's draft, and most mock drafts reflected that sentiment. Denver ended up with one of its most popularly mocked targets at No. 20.

1(20)

Garett Bolles

OT

Utah

2(19)

DeMarcus Walker

DE

Florida State

3(18)

Carlos Henderson

WR

Louisiana Tech

3(37)

Brendan Langley

CB

Lamar

5(1)

Jake Butt

TE

Michigan

5(29)

Isaiah McKenzie

WR

Georgia

6(19)

De'Angelo Henderson

RB

Coastal Carolina

7(35)

Chad Kelly

QB

Ole Miss

UDFA Signings: Deon Hollins, OLB, UCLA; Jamal Carter, S, Miami; Orion Stewart, S, Baylor; Tyrique Jarrett, DT, Pittsburgh; Shakir Soto, DE, Pittsburgh; Kyle Sloter, QB, Northern Colorado; Josh Banderas, LB, Nebraska; Erik Austell, OG, Charleston Southern; Marcus Rios, CB, UCLA; Ken Ekanem, DE, Virginia Tech; Anthony Nash, WR, Duke; Cameron Hunt, OL, Oregon; Dante Barnett, S, Kansas State; Jerrol Garcia-Williams, LB, Hawaii

Garett Bolles turned 25 less than a week ago, but his advanced age didn't keep him out of this year's first round -- Denver is a team concerned first and foremost with the upcoming season. A troubled youth who served a Latter Day Saints mission and played just one season at Utah after transferring from junior college, there wasn't much film to go on when it came to Bolles.

What he did put on film was impressive. A good athlete who blocks with a nasty attitude and good fundamentals, Bolles is NFL-ready as a pass protector but must improve his strength and learn to finish blocks in the running game. He provides an immediate upgrade for the Broncos at left tackle.

We projected DeMarcus Walker as a third-round pick, but he filled another big need for the Broncos, who watched their run defense slide last season. Walker is smaller than your typical two-gap end but moves well in lateral pursuit and is a sure tackler who could help against the run. He's often controlled by a single blocker and projects best as a situational rusher on passing downs.

Denver recouped whatever value it lost by taking Walker when they drafted Carlos Henderson in the middle of Round 3. A second-rounder on our board who was arguably the draft's most dangerous receiver after the catch, Henderson shows tremendous burst and soft hands but traps the ball against his body too often. He has serious playmaker potential as a third receiver behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.

Brendan Langley is an intriguing prospect who struggled at the Senior Bowl but has uncommon fluidity and movement skills for a cornerback with his length. A former receiver who has taken quickly to his new position, Langley will need time to develop but possesses the upside to contribute in a zone system.

If Jake Butt can return to full health after tearing his ACL in the Orange Bowl, he'll be one of the draft's bigger steals. A three-down tight end with natural receiving skills who blocks with good fundamentals, Butt can definitely develop into a starter for Denver despite his lack of seam-stretching speed (4.7 40-yard dash).

Isaiah McKenzie wasn't much of a receiver at Georgia, but the explosive 5-7, 173-pound wideout showed dynamic return ability with six special-teams touchdowns at Georgia. His size will likely keep him from making noise as an NFL receiver, but the Broncos will be happy if he gives their return units a boost.

Denver added another piece to its backfield by taking D'Angelo Henderson in Round 6. Henderson's quickness is his best trait, and he uses it effectively to hit the hole and change direction. At 5-7 his lack of height could be an issue, but Henderson shows well enough as an inside runner and receiver to make the roster.

Chad Kelly's off-field issues were well-publicized, but the Broncos spent the final pick of the draft on him to keep him from hitting free agency. A sandlot-style quarterback with a host of red flags, Kelly is a good athlete with poise who isn't afraid to challenge defenses vertically but must work on his timing, accuracy and mechanics before getting a shot under center.

The Broncos made several splashes after the draft with highly graded free agents, including three defensive backs. Orion Stewart, Dante Barnett and Jamal Carter are tough run defenders with athletic deficiencies who project as assets on special teams. Erik Austell will move inside to guard and is an explosive blocker with good movement skills who has an outside chance to become a starter in the right system down the line.

Analysis: The Broncos didn't make any flashy picks outside of Henderson -- who was possibly their best selection -- but they filled holes in the trenches and got decent value overall. Walker was overdrafted but has a chance to help the front seven situationally, and it's possible we look back on the Butt pick with admiration if he comes all the way back from his injury. Grade: B