GM John Elway entered the 2020 NFL Draft intent on completing the Denver Broncos' mini-rebuild post-Super Bowl 50. On the heels of two consecutive high-impact draft classes in which Elway took major strides to reset the roster foundation, the Broncos needed one more quality draft haul to put the finishing touches on the turn-around.
Elway's mandate? Build the nest — around second-year QB Drew Lock. As you'll see from the list of Broncos' draftees below, Elway met that challenge with gusto.
Fans aren't going to love each and every pick their team makes. But juxtaposing Elway's 2020 picks with the disastrous 2017 class, the quality of this year's haul takes obvious shape and reveals how far Elway has come as a draft czar.
How did the Broncos make out in 2020 and who are the names every fan should get to know? Without further ado, here's your 2020 draft haul.
Round 1, Pick: 15: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Elway landed the Broncos' top-rated wide receiver and he didn't have to maneuver for the privilege. Elway stayed patient and let the board fall to him. And now the Broncos will reap the rewards as Jeudy is hands-down the best route-running WR in the class. He immediately steps in as the starter opposite of Courtland Sutton.
Round 2, Pick 46: KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State
Elway surprised some by doubling up on WRs with back-to-back picks to open the draft. Hamler brings (unofficial) 4.27 speed to the table and special teams value as a returner. If the Broncos can cut down on his precipitous drop-rate and develop those hands, Hamler has the potential to be just as impactful as Jeudy. However, make no mistake, Hamler is nowhere near as polished or ready-made as Jeudy.
Round 3, Pick 77: Michael Ojemudia, CB, Iowa
Elway has now drafted a cornerback in the third round in three of the last five drafts. However, fans are hoping Ojemudia sets a new trend as a third-round CB for the Broncos. There's reason to believe that he will. He's not only fast (4.45s) but he has a nose for the ball, is a physical, sound tackler, and checks the high-character/high football IQ boxes. Ojemudia arrives on the Broncos' roster as a sleeper to win a starting job in 2020.
Round 3, Pick 83: Lloyd Cushenberry, IOL, LSU
The one undecided starting spot on offense was at center and the Broncos resolved it by landing Cushenberry, who was viewed by many draft analysts as a fringe first-round-caliber prospect. He slipped to late Day 2 but the Football Gods opened up a window in heaven and poured out a blessing to the Broncos. On the heels of winning a National Championship at LSU, Cushenberry projects as Denver's day-one starter at center.
Round 3, Pick 95: McTelvin Agim, DL, Arkansas
After losing Derek Wolfe and Adam Gotsis in free agency, the Broncos needed reinforcements to hedge against the future. Agim is a former team captain (character/leadership...check) and former edge defender who moved inside to wreck opposing QBs. With 14.5 career sacks as an interior defender, Agim projects as depth rusher in sub-packages with long-term starter upside.
Round 4, Pick 118: Albert Okweugbunam, TE, Missouri
While most fans didn't perceive tight end as a need, the Broncos couldn't pass up on the opportunity to add one who runs faster than 2019 first-rounder Noah Fant. Okweugbunam runs a 4.49s 40 and just so happens to be one of Lock's favorite targets at Mizzou. Drafting Okweugbunam might seem like a first-world surplus considering the logjam at TE but it could really come in handy down the road. Jeff Heuerman was put on notice by the Nick Vannett signing and Okweugbunam's arrival sends a not-so-subtle message to Troy Fumagalli and Jake Butt.
Round 5, Pick 178: Justin Strnad, LB, Wake Forest
Elway went back to the defensive well in round five, grabbing a linebacker who most draftniks expected to be off the board no later than the fourth round. Strnad is 6-foot-3 and 238 pounds and while he's coming off a bicep surgery, once he gets back to full strength and health, he'll provide Fangio with an athletic play-maker at LB who can roam sideline-to-sideline and sniff out the ball.
Round 6, Pick 181: Netane Muti, IOL, Fresno State
The Tonga native who made a name for himself in Hawaii is one of this class' true boom-or-bust picks. With Day 2 talent, Muti slipped to the Broncos' grasp in the sixth round due to some really bad luck with the injury bug. A couple of Achilles injuries and a lisfranc in college scared off most teams but if the Broncos' medical staff can get a handle on his well-being, he has starter potential. This kid led all prospects with a whopping 44 reps on the bench press at the NFL Combine (225 lbs). He's a powerful mauler in the run game.
Round 7, Pick 252: Tyrie Cleveland, WR, Florida
Cleveland is a 6-foot-2, 209-pound wideout who brings 4.46 speed to the table. But that's not his forte. Cleveland is simply a big, physical, supreme athlete but an unpolished WR. At the Combine, he tested in the 70th percentile and above in all categories except the bench press. Cleveland's testing implies that he's an explosive athlete. The onus is on Broncos' WRs Coach Zach Azzanni to find a way to translate that raw ability onto the field. Cleveland averaged 14.0 yards per catch last season for the Gators but despite appearing in 12 games, he only totaled 25 receptions and one touchdown.
Round 7, Pick 254: Derrek Tuszka, Edge, North Dakota State
Tuszka is a 6-foot-4, 258-pound edge defender who showed out impressively at the NFL Combine back in February. He threw up 24 reps on the bench press (225 pounds) and finished in the top 73rd percentile at least in both the vertical (33.5 inches) and broad jump (120 inches). Tuszka is a very explosive athlete. Right now, he's a rough stone rolling down a mountain and it's up to Vic Fangio and the Broncos' coaches to polish off the rough edges and uncover the gem.