The Broncos authored one of the strongest performances across the first two rounds of the Draft, at the expense of some of their later selections. But two bonafide starters on an offense thirsting for impact talent is a big win, and John Elway deserves credit for that -- as well as waiting out an excruciating first round and sneaking in front of the Packers to secure future franchise QB in Drew Lock. That's hard to do.
I'll be the first to say Lock worries me even as a developmental player, but any potential starting QB drafted after Round 1 is a worthy risk, and I was glad to see the Broncos move accordingly. Dre'Mont Jones in Round 3? That's more a risk I'm unwilling to take.
Round 1, Pick 20: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
Round 2, Pick 41: Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State
Round 2, Pick 42: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Round 3, Pick 71: Dre'Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State
Round 5, Pick 156: Justin Hollins, EDGE, Oregon
Round 6, Pick 187: Juwann Winfree, WR, Colorado
The Broncos will ride with incumbent QB Joe Flacco this season for as long as he remains a passable option, but the next generation of Denver Bronco football is here: new coaching staff, new quarterback, and a wildly different AFC West than it was even two seasons ago. Expect a ton of change for Denver this season.
Best Pick: Iowa TE Noah Fant
Many expected Devin Bush to get locked up at pick 10, and he was -- just not by the Broncos. I'm not sure the return on that trade was terribly strong, but kudos to the Broncos for reading the field and feeling confident that they could still get a blue-chip player like Fant at 20. Mission accomplished.
Fant steps into the Kittle role in the Shanahan-inspired offense that new OC Rich Scangarello will run in Denver. He won't be Kittle, and anyone expecting him to be should quickly recalibrate -- but he brings seam-busting athleticism, route-running to threaten all three levels of the field, and a strong YAC profile as well. With Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton already in the building, the Broncos have a wonderful nucleus of young pass-catchers.
Worst Pick: Ohio State DT Dre'Mont Jones
Jones has been a buzzy prospect for a while, and I get that -- he has some really exciting flashes. The first issue is that he's had some really exciting flashes since he first donned the scarlet and gray, and those flashes haven't increased in frequency since. Jones continues to win some eye-popping reps with first-step quickness, bend, and length -- but his athletic testing illustrated a below-caliber NFL athlete, and his film shows a player without consistency, who's too willing to abandon his technique.
So why select him in the third round? Developmental DTs and penetration players can be had throughout Day 3, if you know where to look. I do like Jones' landing spot with Vic Fangio, who may add some mass to his long frame and find a fit for him at 3-4 DE -- but I'm not sold on Jones' upside at all.
Best Day 3 Pick: Colorado WR Juwann Winfree
One year after grabbing a Colorado skill player and making something out of him, Denver comes right back and drafts a player that few were discussing in Winfree. Dude has unbelievable routes, but struggled to stay healthy and get productive in the shifting tides of the Colorado offensive systems.
Winfree is a fun depth piece who is likely best in the slot, where his route running and spacing can be maximized. He's gotta become stronger and more durable at the next level, but there's a lot to like for him as a depth piece, as long as he can offer something on special teams (returner?).
Overall Grade: B
I don't love Drew Lock as a player, though I appreciate the logic and strategy of the pick. I don't love Dre'Mont Jones the player, and there's less of a redemptive reasoning there. That said, Fant and Risner is a great Day 1, and Hollins and Winfree are fine picks on Day 3, so the Broncos grade out as a good, if unspectacular class.