Based off of John Elway’s track record, there’s a pretty good chance that he’s going to be going with a defender when the Broncos come up on the clock for the first time at this year’s NFL draft. Since he first returned to Colorado, that’s exactly what he’s done each year, starting with Von Miller and on up to Shane Ray.

Where would he go, though? The defense is stacked, and there aren’t many holes in need of an immediate fix. The secondary may be the league’s best and the pass rush is legendary. Maybe linebacker would be a place to look, but there won’t be much value left on the board when Denver comes up at No. 31.

So defensive line is the way to go.

While this draft may only have a handful of truly elite prospects, it’s a very deep class across the board, especially at the defensive tackle position. In fact, there’s a legitimate chance that seven defensive tackles will be selected in the first round, and another three or four could be looking at the second round. There are guys that’ll be drafted in the third and fourth round who may have been early second rounders in another draft class.

And that’s all good news for Elway and the Broncos. It means that not only will they have the opportunity to draft a great talent with their first pick, but they could also wait a few rounds or so and end up with a guy who looks more like a first-round talent than a fourth.

So with that said, here are five defensive tackles the Broncos should be targeting when the draft rolls around in a few weeks.

5. Maliek Collins (Junior)


CAREER NUMBERS: 86 total tackles; 21.5 tackles for a loss; 8.0 sacks; 1 forced fumbles

Maliek Collins isn’t your prototypical run-stuffing defensive tackle; at his size, he often gets pushed around by double teams and isn’t the type of guy that’s going to match power with power. That said, he’s an athlete, and that’s something you take a risk on.

Collins is the type of guy you look for on the beginning of Day 3 and hope his strengths end up outweighing his weaknesses. It’s a gamble, yes, but if you end up with an athletic, pass-rushing defensive tackle that can slide outside and play some defensive end, you’re going to be plenty happy.