The 2017 NFL Draft is less than two weeks away, and this year’s selection process could hold some pleasant surprises. It may not look all that sexy at first glance. Some of the top-rated prospects in this draft class are Texas A&M defensive end Myles Jack, Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas, and Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore. In fact, the first few players off the board will most likely be defensive players. There isn’t a true franchise quarterback in the entire draft. Clemson’s DeShaun Watson is the most experienced signal caller, but questions about his accuracy may scare off some teams.
Yet, just because there may not be the household names at the top of this draft, doesn’t mean that this draft lacks for talent. There are a number of players that will last until later in the draft, that are going to make NFL rosters this season. That is great news for the Denver Broncos, who hold 10 selections in all.
We know that the Broncos have a history of finding late-round gems in the draft. Here are a few prospects that could be a steal for Denver in those later rounds.
5. Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State
It’s hard to believe that the all-time leader in rushing yards in NCAA Division I FBS history could last until the later rounds, but Pumphrey’s size will cause teams to hesitate. At just 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, he will be deemed as too small to be an every down type of back in the NFL.
However, we shouldn’t count Pumphrey out just yet. He’s been told for years that he is too small to play big-time football. All he did in his final year of college was rack up 2,133 rushing yards on 349 carries and scored 17 touchdowns.
Pumhrey is also a threat out of the backfield as a receiver, as he caught 28 passes for 416 yards, and three more scores. His size could allow him to possibly last until the final day of the draft, but with his quickness and cutting ability, there is no question that he could give the Broncos offense a much-needed big play threat.
4. Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky
There is no question that the Broncos need to take a look at a third wide receiver. Last season, the Broncos third leading wide receiver was Jordan Norwood with only 21 catches. There is no need to reach for a slot receiver early in this draft. Taywan Taylor should last a few rounds, primarily because he went to a small school, that focused on its passing scheme.
Yet, Taylor proved that he can compete against top competition when he hauled in nine passes for 121 yards against the Alabama Crimson Tide. In his final season, he totaled 98 passes for 1,730 yards, and 17 touchdowns. He may not have played against top cornerbacks every week at Western Kentucky, and their scheme might have inflated his numbers a little, but Taylor could be a very nice fit for the Broncos slot receiver position.
3. Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova
Villanova might be known more for their basketball team than their football program, but the Wildcats may have had a star playing on their defensive line the last few seasons. At 6-foot-7 and 289 pounds, Kpassagnon has the kind of frame that NFL scouts love, and he should be a good fit as a defensive end in the Broncos 3-4 scheme.
He is extremely athletic, and in his final season at Nova, he accounted for 45 tackles, 11 sacks, and 21.5 tackles for loss. Kpassagnon was very solid at the Senior Bowl, and had a good showing at the NFL Combine, which could raise his draft status a little. The Broncos may need to use a second or third-round pick on him. However, if they could get a young quality defensive end with a second or third round pick, it would be well worth it.
2. Dion Dawkins, OT/G, Temple
Yes, we all know that the Broncos desperately need offensive tackles. Following a season that saw Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson struggle nearly every week, the offensive front is a clear priority.
Unfortunately, there aren’t an abundance of offensive tackles in this draft, and the Broncos may be forced to grab one with one of their top picks. However, later in the draft, they could find some quality depth for this unit.
Dawkins played both tackle and guard while at Temple, and that versatility could prove to make him a very valuable late round pick. While at Temple, he was a three-year starter, and was named an all-conference player in his junior and senior seasons. He played left tackle in college, but could be more suited to the right side, or even at guard, in the NFL. Wherever he played in college, he proved to be a solid pass blocker, and the Broncos could definitely use one of those.
1. Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland
Tight end might not be the highest priority for the Broncos, but if there was ever a draft that you could get value in later rounds at that position, this might be it. There are a number of tight ends that can be picked up in later rounds that can play at the NFL level.
We know that Alabama’s O.J. Howard is probably the top rated tight end in this draft, and he will probably be a top 25 pick. David Njoku out of Miami and Evan Engram out of Ole Miss could also be selected in the first two rounds.
Yet, the Broncos may be able to grab an excellent tight end prospect even later than that, by looking to little Ashland University’s Adam Shaheen. A two-sport athlete, Shaheen is a physical specimen that has turned some heads in workouts. At 6-foot-6 and 278 pounds, he still moves like a much smaller player, and his basketball skills help him when the football is in the air. In his final season at Ashland, he grabbed 57 passes for 867 yards, with 16 touchdowns. He will need to become a better blocker, but Shaheen could be a steal with a mid-round pick for the Broncos.