The 2019 NFL Draft was an eventful couple of days for the Denver Broncos. Not only did Denver trade up and down multiple times, but the Broncos managed to get three of their top players on the board in the first two rounds.
With that in mind, here is what the Mile High Sports staff thought of Denver’s 2019 draft decisions:
1.Who was your favorite pick?
Zach Segars (@Zach_Segars)
My favorite pick would have to be Dalton Risner. Not only was getting him in the second round a great value, as most considered him to be a first-round prospect, but he’s also from Colorado and will be an excellent addition to the locker room. Most importantly, though, he fills the Broncos’ biggest offensive need on the interior.
Rich Kurtzman (@RichKurtzman)
I’m a fan of the Risner pick. At 41, he was actually a great value and comes in with an NFL-ready body on the offensive line, where the Broncos need a lot of help. Unlike a lot of Elway’s o-line draft picks in the past, he’ll need to contribute immediately so hopefully he’s ready to do just that.
Justin Michael (@JustinTMichael)
Trading back into the second round to snag Missouri QB Drew Lock was a brilliant decision by Broncos GM John Elway. Not only is there less risk than if the Broncos would have taken him earlier, but the pressure for him to immediately start will not be there. Lock has a ton of upside, but will need time working under Joe Flacco to develop. This will allow him to do so.
2. Who was your least favorite pick?
Taking a tight end in the first round was a mistake. Fant has the build, the athleticism and be proved to be a great pass-catcher in college, although his blocking is somewhat lacking. From a play-making standpoint, he looks like a stud but the team should’ve gone ILB or DL at No. 10, or even 20 after they moved back and picked a tight end later in the draft.
Although Noah Fant has the potential to be a phenomenal receiving tight end, it’s going to be tough for Broncos fans to watch linebacker Devin Bush be a star with the Pittsburgh Steelers. As good as Fant is, the reality is Denver had other positions to address and could have benefited by doing so in the first round.
My least favorite pick is Juwann Winfree out of the University of Colorado. I interviewed him at CU’s media day last spring – his character is fantastic, the upside is there, and at the very least he should be a solid special teamer. However, he was widely regarded as an undrafted free agent. NFL.com, ESPN, Bleacher Report, and The Draft Network thought him being drafted was so unlikely they didn’t even write a profile on him in the run up to the draft, yet Denver traded up to take him in the sixth.
3. What player will the Broncos regret passing on?
Without a doubt, the player that Denver will regret passing on the most will be Michigan linebacker Devin Bush. Bush has all the skills to be an elite NFL linebacker for the next decade, and could have immediately made an impact on defense.
The player the Broncos will most regret passing on is North Carolina State wide receiver, Kelvin Harmon. Harmon was viewed by some scouts, to be the best wide receiver in the entire 2019 class, and was unanimously viewed as a top-100 talent. Somehow he slid all the way to the sixth round and the Broncos chose to take Winfree over him. They could’ve had a second or third round talent, and instead, they took an undrafted one.
Devin Bush will be missed. He’s not a surefire superstar like Devin White, who was gone at No. 5, but Bush will still be a solid player in this league for years to come. Denver still needs inside linebacking help immediately and in the future, but they must be OK with Todd Davis and Josey Jewell in the middle for now.
4. What are your final impressions of the Broncos’ 2019 draft class?
The first three rounds of the draft were arguably the best that the Broncos have had in the John Elway era. They filled pressing needs on the interior 0-line and tight end with huge upside players in Noah Fant and Dalton Risner. The Broncos found their potential quarterback of the future in Drew Lock as well. I loathed the idea of taking Lock in the top 20 as he was the 30th best player in the class and the value wasn’t there, but getting him in the second round was a steal. However, on Day 3, Elway struggled, taking a sixth-round talent (Justin Hollins) in the fifth, and an undrafted talent (Juwann Winfree) in the sixth.
Overall, it looks like a solid draft. Risner will be a stud, and if Fant can pan out quickly, he will after the team’s offensive attack some, making them more deadly. Getting Lock at 42 was a sensational value and it mitigates the risk a bit since he came in the second round. After those guys, Denver did well to address other needs at DL and WR for depth. The bottom line is: Fant cannot be the fourth first-round bust during Elway’s tenure.
The 2019 draft class definitely has potential to be the best of John Elway’s tenure as GM. The Broncos were able two get three first-round grade players in the first 42 picks of the draft, and didn’t have to gamble in the first round on a quarterback. Some of the later picks were somewhat questionable, but the theme was evident from Day 1 – find guys that bring immediate value to the team.