Pre-Draft Needs: DT, WR, DE, RB, CB, C, QB (developmental)
Round 2-Derek Wolfe/DT
Round 2-Brock Osweiler/QB
Round 3-Ronnie Hillman/RB
Round 4-Omar Bolden/CB
Round 4-Philip Blake/C-G
Round 5-Malik Jackson/DL
Round 6-Danny Trevathan/LB
There was no question that coming into the 2012 NFL Draft, the Broncos had a major need at defensive tackle. Not only were they less than average against the run (126.3/game, ranked #22), but they had no depth and little talent at the position. The Broncos selected DT Derek Wolfe with their first pick in this draft, which happened to be in the second round. Wolfe, who had a monster senior season at Cincinnati with 9 ½ sacks and 70 combined tackles, will get into the rotation right away. In fact, he could also see time at defensive end because of pass-rushing ability and size (6-5, 295). Wolfe, a favorite inside the scouting community, has a realistic chance to start for many years to come—he’s that talented.
The Broncos, after signing veteran QB Peyton Manning earlier this year, didn’t really to add a quarterback early in this draft, but they did so in the second round with Brock Osweiler. However, Manning turns 37 in March, so drafting a developmental quarterback such as Osweiler is understandable. And the Broncos can get out of Manning’s contract after one year without owing him any more money, so adding a younger quarterback makes a lot of sense. Osweiler, according to personnel sources, needs major work on his passing mechanics, but he carries solid arm strength and good size.
Running back was a position of need for the Broncos coming into this draft. They badly needed to add speed, and did so with third-round pick Ronnie Hillman. The knock on the speedy back is his lack of size (under 5-9, 200), but his ability to make unblocked defenders miss is unmistakable. There’s no question that Hillman should be able to earn a decent role as a rookie in back of veteran Willis McGahee. But going forward, Hillman will need to prove he can handle a lot of carries if he wants to eventually take over as the starter. It should be noted that in his two-year career at San Diego St., Hillman averaged 22 carries/game.
Coming out of free agency, the Broncos still needed to add a cornerback at some point for depth purposes. And they did so in the fourth round with Omar Bolden. From a pure talent standpoint, Bolden might be one of the best available for this draft. However, because of major knee problems in college, he dropped to the fourth round. Bolden won’t be expected to play much as a rookie since the first four spots on the depth chart are essentially set. But by his second or third year, his role could increase. The last of the fourth-rounders, OL Philip Blake, figures to challenge for a backup job at center and guard. Blake, who turns 27 in November, saw time at right tackle and center at Baylor. Blake is known in scouting circles for his strong hands, balance and good mechanics, but isn’t known for carrying a lot of athleticism.
Defensive end was a clear need position coming into this draft for the Broncos. So the decision to select Malik Jackson in the fifth round shouldn’t come to a surprise. And Jackson played DE and DT in college, so that positional versatility should help him increase the chances of making the 53-man roster this fall.
The round out the draft, the Broncos selected LB Danny Trevathan in the sixth round. Known in scouting circles for his speed, the rookie defender figures to challenge for a job this season at WLB. Trevathan, because of the six-game suspension for starting WLB D.J. Williams, should have a legitimate shot to make the roster coming out of the preseason.
Overall, the Broncos addressed several needs in this draft. However, at first glance, they may only get one starter out of it over the first few seasons, but as many as three or four by the time their rookie deals are set to expire.