With the Broncos on the verge of finally turning this ship around in the post-Manning era, this draft will prove to be incredibly influential on their success over the next five seasons.
Denver had 10 picks in total, more than almost every other team, and five of them fell in the top 100. Repeats of their draft efforts in 2018 and 2019 could turn Denver into a young AFC superpower, while repeats of their 2016 efforts could send Drew Lock’s career careening off the tracks.
With that in mind, here’s how John Elway did with each of Denver’s picks:
Round 1. Pick 15: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
With the 15th pick, the Broncos managed to secure the top receiver on their board, without moving up, and immediately upgraded their offense by doing so. Jeudy was the most pro-ready of the receivers in this draft, and his ceiling is incredibly high too. Fills a need at a great value.
Round 2. Pick 46: K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn St.
This pick was much more controversial, especially if you joined us for the first-ever Mile High Sports draft stream, where the virtual room was very divided on the move.
Denver needed to add multiple receivers, and they got an incredibly special athlete at 46. It was a bit of a reach in terms of talent, but its clear that the Broncos wanted speed, and after Henry Ruggs, K.J. Hamler was the fastest receiver in the draft.
Round 3. Pick 77: Michael Ojemudia, CB, Iowa
It felt like this pick was the only true reach of Denver’s draft, which is an incredibly promising sign. Michael Ojemudia has excellent speed for his size and length, and he should also be a solid contributor to Denver’s run defense. Instincts and ball skills are a problem area, and he’ll require a fair bit of development from Fangio and Donatell, but the upside is apparent, and Denver desperately needed help at corner.
Round 3. Pick 83: Lloyd Cushenberry III, C, LSU
Entering the draft, you could argue the most glaring hole on Denver’s roster was the center position, as Patrick Morris was the only center on the team. That changed instantly with the selection of Cushenberry, who might be the best center in the entire draft, and has a good chance of being an upgrade on Connor McGovern from day one.
Round 3. Pick 95: McTelvin Agim, DL, Arkansas
The Broncos missed out on Javon Kinlaw in round one, but they got the bargain bin version with McTelvin Agim in round three. Agim showed a lot of promise as an interior pass-rusher at Arkansas and is an impressive athlete at the position. His technique has a long way to go, but he should be a plus as a rotational pass rusher from day one.
Round 4. Pick 118: Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri
Albert Okwuegbunam was the best athlete at his position in the entire draft, but he never produced to that level of athleticism during his time at Missouri and dealt with injuries throughout his college career. The Broncos really didn’t need to spend a round four pick on a tight end, especially one this risky, with how many solid players Denver already has at the position
Round 5. Pick 178: Justin Strnad, LB, Wake Forest
The Broncos finally drafted a linebacker who can cover running backs and tight ends out of the backfield in Justin Strnad. The Broncos have been lacking a linebacker like Strnad since Danny Trevathan left the team, and now they have two with Alexander Johnson also on the roster. Strnad fell due to injury, but he should be ready for day one and had no business dropping this far from a talent perspective.
Round 6. Pick 181: Netane Muti, OG, Fresno St.
The biggest swing for the fences yet just happens to be on Denver’s biggest player of the class. Muti is a mountain of a man who absolutely dominates the line of scrimmage with his size and power. If healthy, Muti is the biggest offensive line steal of this draft, but health is a major concern after he missed almost the entirety of the last two seasons with lower-body injuries.
Round 7. Pick 252: Tyrie Cleveland, WR, Florida
Tyrie Cleveland’s hands are inconsistent and his route-running is far from crisp, but he’s worth a seventh-round pick. He’s got 4.4 speed, stands at 6’2” and there aren’t many wide receivers that have both. He’s also a good gunner on special teams, which is important considering Denver’s now loaded receiver room.
Round 7. Pick 254: Derrek Tuszka, Edge, North Dakota St.
Derrek Tuszka is the greatest outlier in this draft class, by not being an athletic outlier. His build, speed and strength are all mediocre, but he has good technique and is great at using his hands to keep offensive linemen off of him. He isn’t flashy, but he’s incredibly productive.
Final Grade: A-
Sure, the picks of Michael Ojemudia and Albert Okwuegbunam are a little head-scratching, but the Broncos entered this draft with a clear goal in mind and they accomplished it. This roster is much, much faster and has a lot more athletes and weapons now. Plus, those two odd picks were offset by the Danny Ocean-esque heist of Jerry Jeudy and Lloyd Cushenberry. It would’ve been nice to invest a pick at tackle, but Denver’s offensive line is far from the tire fire some fans view it as, and Bolles played well down the stretch. Make that three straight killer drafts for Elway and Co.