The 2020 NFL Scouting Combine is around the corner, kicking off on February 25. There are many prospects that will have to answer questions during the week in Indianapolis from interviews, medicals, and all the drills and testing they'll perform.
When it's done, there will be many prospects whose stock rises and falls.
Before the Combine, it's always interesting to see how things currently stand for the Denver Broncos, which leads to our traditional pre-Combine mock draft.
This isn't a full offseason mock, but I do break down a few free-agent moves I see the Broncos making, which will alter how the draft board falls.
Free Agents Signed
Joe Schobert, LB: The Broncos add an ILB that would help their issues covering tight ends. Todd Davis was solid last year, but teams quickly found ways to exploit him. Schobert is a natural fit in Vic Fangio's defense and would complement the ILB group.
Bashaud Breeland, CB: This is a talented corner who is a perfect fit for the scheme Fangio wants to run. There has been a lot linking the Broncos to the Cowboys' Byron Jones, but based on what I'm hearing, it doesn’t seem like the Broncos want to do a market-setting deal. That leads to a cheaper option, which also poaches a good player from a divisional rival.
Jordan Phillips, DL: Whatever deal Phillips gets will likely be team-friendly. He had a great season for the Bills, but he played less than 60% of snaps. Phillips is a big defensive lineman that would give the Broncos a nose tackle who represents an upgrade over Mike Purcell, especially with what Phillips brings as a pass rusher.
B.J. Finney, IOL: There is familiarity between Finney and Mike Munchak so there is an obvious link. The Broncos can also use more competition on their interior offensive line and Finney is a good depth option at guard or center where the unit needs help.
Paul Richardson, WR: A former CU stud, Richardson was cut by the Redskins after two years. Denver had interest when he was a free agent, and word is, they will this time around, too. Richardson would bring speed to the offense and give Denver a deep threat.
A.J. Bouye, CB: For this, Denver acquires the former Texans and current Jaguars corner. Bouye has been floated as a cap casualty in cap-strapped Jacksonville, but it wouldn’t be shocking if the Broncos make a call for a trade before that happens. The Broncos have had previous interest in Bouye, and he is still a capable corner. Fangio has a knack for revitalizing careers, and Bouye could be the next one.
With outside free agents decided, let’s dive into the mock draft. This is the first mock of mine to include trades by the Broncos. The trades focus on adding 2021 picks, which is something the Broncos may be looking to do.
TRADE: To kick it all off, the Broncos trade back from pick 15, also throwing in their sixth-round pick to Buffalo while getting the Bills' first-round pick (22 overall) this year and a 2021 second-round pick. A few years ago, there was a similar trade made where the team trading down didn't move as far but got a first and a fourth-rounder.
Remember, a draft pick for the following year is valued as a round later compared to the current year. So that 2021 second-round carries an early 2020 third-round value.
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Round 1: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
After trading down, the Broncos get a rising receiver. By picking up Richardson in free agency, there was some comfort in being able to trade down, picking up a 2021 second-rounder, and continuing to the board fall.
Reagor offers a lot to the offense right away. He is a fast receiver, very quick and shifty and brings more than just straight-line speed. There are some concentration-based drop issues, but they don’t pop up all that often. Reagor also has a good build for his size and gives another complementary piece to the Broncos' receiving corps.
Round 2: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU
Before you grab your pitchforks for taking a running back this early, just hear me out about Edwards-Helaire. He is one of the more complete backs in the class.
He's a very patient runner, has good burst, hands, routes, and is a decent blocker. This is a true three-down running back that would be a perfect complement to Phillip Lindsay, especially in Pat Shurmur’s scheme that values pass-catching running backs.
Round 3: Jordan Elliott, DL, Missouri
Elliott has the athletic upside to be a dominant force at the NFL level. His production doesn’t always match the tape with how disruptive he can really be. D-Line Coach Bill Kollar would have a project with tremendous upside to work with, but he will also have to keep Elliott's motor running the whole time he is on the field.
With Phillips added in free agency, plus Elliott, and Dre’Mont Jones, the likely loss of Adam Gotsis, Shelby Harris, and Derek Wolfe is mitigated. The next pick also helps Denver bounce back from those losses.
Round 3: James Lynch, DL, Baylor
Back-to-back picks on the defensive line? Well, when the Broncos are projected to lose as many as three former starters at defensive end, so, yes. Denver has to help their depth and keep a strong rotation.
Elliott has athletic upside, but Lynch has power. Lynch is very reminiscent of Wolfe when he came out of Cincinnati back in 2012. Lynch’s technique is solid but can be cleaned up. He is a really good run defender and offers up potential as a pass rusher if he can develop a more diverse arsenal of pass rush moves.
Round 3: Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas
Denver wants to add speed to their offense, and receivers that can do multiple things. Richardson brings deep speed, Reagor brings play-making ability and Duvernay brings even more of it. Duvernay also has very solid hands, so you don’t have to worry about drops with him.
Duvernay plays receiver like a running back and offers up versatility to the offense and good speed. Also can compete for returner with Diontae Spencer.
TRADE: Broncos send a fourth-round pick, acquiring a 2021 third-round pick to stack up more assets in the 2021 draft.
Round 4: Michael Onwenu, OL, Michigan
With the expectation of Ronald Leary being let go, the Broncos can use some help at right guard. Elijah Wilkinson will get a shot, but he can’t be just handed the job.
Onwenu is a big and power guard that has good mobility for his size. He would offer tremendous competition for Wilkinson and help Denver's depth.
Round 5: Joseph Charlton, P, South Carolina
Denver needs consistency from their punter and someone who can take advantage of the altitude in Denver. Charlton was second in the NCAA with a punting average with a 47.7 per punt. That average would have been best in the NFL for punters who had at least 10 punts.
Round 7: Davion Taylor, LB, Colorado
This is one pick that after the Combine may have to be moved up board-wise. Taylor is a raw linebacker that is still learning how to play football and play the position.
However, he has rare athleticism and explosion for the linebacker position that comes from being a former track runner. This gives Fangio a linebacker project to develop that can offer up special teams play right away.
Round 7: Cole McDonald, QB, Hawaii
You should draft a quarterback every year because you never know what you might find. That doesn’t mean drafting a QB early. McDonald had a lot of hype entering the season, but he never lived up to it.
He has tools to work with and is a good fit for what Shurmur wants to do and as a backup to Drew Lock. McDonald adds to the competition with Brandon Allen and Brett Rypien for the backup job.
Round 7: James Smith-Williams, Edge, N.C. State
With their last pick, the Broncos pick up a developmental edge rusher. Smith-Williams will compete this year, but he's likely a pick for 2021 or beyond.
He offers up good athleticism on the edge with size and length. He just needs time to get up to speed with technique.