Grading the Draft - Denver Broncos

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Chris Tripodi

Draft Analyst Writer

The Broncos were widely rumored to have interest in a quarterback at No. 5, but they went in a different direction with Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold off the board and replenished their talent on defense.

Round 1 (No. 5 overall): Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

Round 2 (No. 40): Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Round 3 (No. 71): Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon

Round 3 (No. 99): Isaac Yiadom, CB, Boston College

Round 4 (No. 106): Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa

Round 4 (No. 113): DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State

Round 5 (No. 156): Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin

Round 6 (No. 183): Sam Jones, OG, Arizona State

Round 6 (No. 217): Keishawn Bierria, LB, Washington

Round 7 (No. 226): David Williams, RB, Arkansas

UDFA: John Diarse, WR, TCU; Jeff Holland, LB, Auburn; Leon Johnson, OG, Temple; Phillip Lindsay, RB, Colorado; Trey Marshall, S, Florida State; Austin Schlottman, OG, TCU; Jimmy Williams, WR, East Carolina

Denver never envisioned itself having a shot at Bradley Chubb, who seemed likely to come off the board no later than Cleveland's pick at No. 4 overall, so the Broncos jumped on the opportunity to grab our second-rated prospect after the Browns surprised many by taking Denzel Ward. A powerful athlete off the edge with a high motor and good football IQ, Chubb could be an immediate terror for opposing linemen at the next level.

With Demaryius Thomas now in his 30s and facing a bloated 2019 cap hit, Courtland Sutton could end up as the veteran's heir apparent. Sutton's size (6-foot-3.5, 218 pounds) and after-the-catch skills are reminiscent of Thomas', and his game has progressed enough to think he could take over if Thomas is jettisoned next season.

C.J. Anderson is gone, and his replacement just might be Royce Freeman. Freeman isn't particularly elusive, but his short-area quickness and patience make him an effective interior runner who is a better receiver than many give him credit for. He could push Devontae Booker for the starting role right away.

We had Isaac Yiadom graded as a fifth-round pick, making him a reach inside the top 100. He has good size at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds and plays with physicality, but he needs to continue his improvement from last season if he wants to succeed in man coverage.

The Broncos don't have a long-term answer next to Brandon Marshall at inside linebacker, which makes Josey Jewell intriguing. His production over the past three years has been off the charts and while he lacks great size (6-foot-1, 234 pounds) and speed (4.82), he plays with elite instincts and is a sure tackler who can help on first and second down, at the very least.

Like Thomas, Denver can get out of Emmanuel Sanders' contract after this season. If they do, DaeSean Hamilton could end up seeing a similar bump to Sutton in 2019. An excellent All-Star circuit boosted Hamilton's stock heading into the draft after a breakout senior season, and his route running and ability to do the little things give him the potential to hit the ground running when he gets an opportunity, which could come as soon as this season.

We rated Troy Fumagalli as a free agent, but he was productive at Wisconsin despite his athletic limitations. While he doesn't excel in any one area, he does enough across the board to eventually develop into a No. 2 tight end.

The Broncos looked to the Pac-12 with their sixth-round picks. Sam Jones had a breakout junior season and has the size, athleticism and football IQ to develop into a future starter. Keishawn Bierria had first-round hype entering the season thanks to his pursuit skills, but something was off about his instincts in 2017. He could be a steal if he bounces back, or he could wash out quickly if his struggles continue.

We thought David Williams could be a bargain signing after the draft, but Denver didn't let him hit the wire. A strong downhill runner who is effective between the tackles, Williams could carve out an NFL short-yardage role if he sticks to his strengths.

Jeff Holland was productive at Auburn and has potential as a nickel rusher despite poor size and speed. Phillip Lindsay has game-breaking skills despite a lack of size (5-foot-7.5, 188 pounds) and can contribute as a ball carrier, receiver and returner.

Analysis: John Elway grabbed the draft's top edge rusher at a spot nobody thought he would fall to and added three potential 2019 starters at the offensive skill positions. Denver's Day 3 and free-agent darts provided some interesting developmental prospects to cap off what was an excellent overall effort. Grade: A-