After a disappointing to last season, the Denver Broncos hired former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio as head coach. This off-season will be highlighted by two factors: how the Broncos approach the quarterback position and how they find players to fit Fangio's defensive scheme.
Part of the quarterback problem has been answered, as general manager and team president John Elway traded for veteran Joe Flacco. While still capable of starting games, it's unlikely that Denver is comfortable with Flacco as a long-term solution. Especially after a 2018 season with one failed stop-gap quarterback, Denver should be in the quarterback market early in the 2019 NFL Draft.
The second part of their off-season equation has been addressed during free agency, with the signings of veteran cornerbacks Bryce Callahan and Kareem Jackson. After Bradley Roby signed with Houston, Denver was in dire need of depth at the position. However, the front seven will need some additions, which will likely come throughout the 2019 NFL Draft.
Round 1, Pick 10: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
Denver brought in Joe Flacco and John Elway has expressed confidence in the veteran, but this is one of those “I’ll believe that when I see it” type of situations. Flacco hasn’t been a plus starter for any significant amount of time in his career, so it’s hard to imagine that Denver won’t bring in a rookie.
While early on in the draft process it appeared that Denver wouldn’t have the option to select Dwayne Haskins, his value may not be as high as currently anticipated. It’s possible that Denver is able to choose between Haskins and Missouri’s Drew Lock, who’ve they have been linked to since the Senior Bowl. Haskins’ efficiency makes it difficult to believe that an NFL team will grade him lower than Lock, making him the choice for Denver.
Round 2, Pick 41: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
Denver badly needs talent at inside linebacker in the middle of Vic Fangio's 3-4 defense, especially one with a coverage presence. Mack Wilson provides physicality, run fits and is fluid in coverage with excellent ball skills. While he needs to improve his block destruction and eye discipline, he projects as a starter early on in the NFL career.
Round 3, Pick 71: Nate Davis, OT/IOL, Charlotte
Denver has a spotty offensive line, even after the signing of free-agent right tackle Ja’Wuan James. They need a starting-caliber interior offensive lineman and tackle depth, and Nate Davis provides both.
Despite playing both tackle and guard in college, Davis’ flexibility and size better project him to the interior. Davis took most of his reps at the Senior Bowl at guard, suggesting that the NFL views him there. Former undrafted free agent Elijah Wilkinson started seven games for Denver last season, and Davis has the potential to supplant him at right guard.
Round 4, Pick 125: Corey Ballentine, CB, Washburn
While second-year cornerback Isaac Yiadom showed promise as a rookie and Denver added two free agent cornerbacks, they will still look to get younger at the position as Kareem Jackson and Chris Harris Jr. with both be in their 30's by the start of the season. Corey Ballentine has flourished during the pre-draft process, alleviating concerns over his level of competition. With a positive showing in Mobile and at the NFL Scouting Combine, he provides value early on Day 3.
Round 5, Pick 148: Gary Jennings Jr., WR, West Virginia
Denver has two promising second-year wide receivers in Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton, but neither one is a legitimate field stretcher. With Emmanuel Sanders entering his age-32 season, the Broncos will look the the NFL Draft for a player who can take the top off of the defense.
Gary Jennings Jr. showed the ability to stretch the field while at West Virginia and during the Senior Bowl, and his 4.42s 40-yard dash verified his long speed. He projects as a complimentary piece with upside, and the versatility to fit nicely into the Broncos wide receiver depth chart.
Round 5, Pick 156: Isaiah Buggs, DL, Alabama
Vic Fangio’s 3-4 defense calls for some particular requirements along the defensive line. Denver will be searching for players who fit their base front, but can also get after the quarterback when the fronts are varied and specific pressure packages are inserted. Isaiah Buggs fits that mold of player, as the former Alabama defensive lineman produced 9.5 sacks last season while weighing around 290 pounds.
Round 6, Pick 182: Calvin Anderson, OT, Texas
After three years as the starter at Rice, Anderson took over as the starting left tackle for the Texas Longhorns in 2018. He’s relatively limited as an athlete, but has a nice frame and length for the next level. He’s an experienced prospect who projects as a solid swing tackle in the NFL.
Round 7, Pick 237: Johnnie Dixon, WR, Ohio State
Depending on the health and future of Emmanuel Sanders, Denver may decide to double-dip at the wide receiver position. In this scenario, they land a college teammate of Dwayne Haskins in Johnnie Dixon, a very fluid slot receiver with a nice floor as a prospect.