After focusing heavily on the offensive side of the ball through the first two days of the NFL Scouting Combine, this weekend saw the defensive players get a chance to measure their athleticism and, hopefully, improve their stock.

The Broncos have no shortage of needs on the defensive side of the ball with several key free agents departing this offseason.

Who could they pick to replace some of those key veterans? Let’s take a look.


The Broncos don’t have a pressing need at linebacker, but they could use some help behind Alexander Johnson inside. Todd Davis and Josey Jewell are good run-stopping linebackers, but both struggle in coverage due to their lack of speed.

The Broncos could look to upgrade their linebacking core in the first round with a player like Isaiah Simmons, who performed more like Julio Jones than his fellow linebackers.

He ran a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash, the fastest ever for a linebacker, and also finished third in the vertical jump and second in the broad jump among his position group. Unfortunately for Denver, it was already unlikely that Simmons lasted until pick 10 before his lights-out performance at the combine, now, him making it to the 15th pick seems impossible.

Simmons isn’t the only hybrid linebacker the Broncos could look to add though. Local prospect Davion Taylor out of Colorado is an intriguing option for later rounds. Like Simmons, Taylor is a defensive weapon that can be moved around like a chess piece.

Taylor finished with the third-fastest 40 in the position group, finished fifth in the bench press, fourth in the broad jump and three-cone drill, and sixth in the 20-yard shuttle. He’s also much cheaper than Simmons, as they could probably wait until early day three to land the former Buffalo.

Defensive Line

The defensive line is a much bigger hole for the Broncos to fill than linebacker, as Denver is primed to lose three or four of their key contributors to that group.

Derrick Brown solidified his status as a top-10 pick with an impressive combine performance that showcased just how quick he is for a man of his stature. With Brown out of their reach, the Broncos could target South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw at 15, who chose not to compete at the combine.

If the Broncos decide to wait until the second round to address the defensive line, they could look at Ross Blacklock or Justin Madubuike.

We already know the Broncos have interest in Blacklock, who they spent one of their 30 combine meetings on. Blacklock is a big man with deceptive movement and footwork for a 290-pound defensive lineman, but he’ll need some development, especially in regard to his technique.

It doesn’t appear the Broncos met with Madubuike, but if they weren’t interested in the former Aggie before the combine, they should be after his stellar showing. Madubuike was one of the most agile defensive linemen on the field Saturday despite weighing nearly 300 pounds. He also showed the ability to be versatile enough to play either at nose or defensive end for Denver, which should make him especially appealing to Vic Fangio.

Defensive Backs

Chris Harris Jr.’s departure is all but certain, and the Broncos have very little outside of him at cornerback, which makes replacing Harris a top priority for Elway and Co.

One player the Broncos have to consider at 15 is C.J. Henderson out of Florida, who had one of the best combines of anyone. Henderson isn’t the most physical corner, which may scare Fangio off, but he lacks in physicality he makes up for in man coverage ability and quickness.

At the combine, Henderson turned in a time of 4.39 in the 40-yard dash, tied for the third-best time among defensive backs. He also showed off just how explosive he can be with a vertical of 37.5” and a broad jump of 127” both of which placed him in the top-15 among his position group.

More important than the numbers though was how fluid Henderson looked during the on-field drills. He easily had one of the best performances of any defensive back during that section.