Most important Combine takeaways for Broncos fans from Thursday

Henry Ruggs runs the 40-yard dash. Credit: Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports.
Henry Ruggs runs the 40-yard dash. Credit: Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports.

The first day of workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine saw quarterbacks, tight ends, and wide receivers take the field.

While the Broncos should have a low level of interest those position groups other than wide receiver, there was still plenty of takeaways from Thursday’s drills for Broncos Country.

Quarterback

For the first time in a millennium, the Broncos are no longer in the quarterback market when it comes to the draft.

While they will be looking to add a backup quarterback at some time this offseason, it would be surprising if they went with a rookie to backup the inexperienced Drew Lock. It’s far more likely the Broncos roll with a veteran behind the second-year gunslinger, though that doesn’t make the quarterback portion of Thursday irrelevant to them.

Sitting at the 15th pick, the Broncos are rooting for as many quarterbacks to be drafted ahead of them as possible, considering they aren’t in that market and every quarterback taken is one more defensive lineman, offensive lineman or receiver that is sliding down the board.

It’s already highly likely that we see three quarterbacks selected in the top six with the Bengals, Dolphins and Chargers all looking to the rookie class. A fourth could go before the Broncos’ pick if Jordan Love has an impressive showing this week.

Unfortunately for Denver, Love was just fine on the field today and had some ugly misses that are sure to be replayed in the run-up to the draft. Here’s hoping he performed better in the team interviews, the most important part of the combine.

Tight End

The Broncos shouldn’t be in the tight end market this year either, but it wouldn’t be stunning if they added a player at the position later on in the draft as they look to move on from Jake Butt and potentially Jeff Heuerman.

One name to keep an eye on is Missouri’s Albert Okwuegbunam, who was viewed as a potential first-rounder entering the season but disappointed and will likely slide down boards as a result.

Okwuegbunum is a little bit like a bull in a China shop. He’s incredibly fast, strong and powerful, but when it comes to rounding off his routes and making sharp cuts, he struggles mightily. His ridiculous combination of size and speed was highlighted when he ran just four-hundredths of a second slower than top wide receiver prospect Jerry Jeudy and outran CeeDee Lamb.

Another tight end the Broncos could look at later on is Thaddeus Moss, the son of Randy Moss. Moss showcased some impressive athleticism on LSU’s run to a national title, but a bone fracture in his right foot that was uncovered at the combine could send him tumbling down draft boards.

Wide Receiver

The wide receiver group was, without doubt, the group the Broncos were keeping an eye on most and, for the most part, the group was incredibly disappointing.

Henry Ruggs III, who was projected to give John Ross and his 40-yard dash record a run for it’s money, but finished with a 4.27, well short of expectations, though the fastest of anyone who ran today. Ruggs also finished tied for second in the vertical and fifth in the broad jump.

Jerry Jeudy was also disappointingly slow, as he was expected to run in the mid-to-high 4.3s, but instead turned in a time of 4.45. This was also the case with Jalen Reagor, who said he would give Ruggs a run for his money in the 40-yard dash. Instead, Reagor finished with a time of 4.47.

The only receivers to notably improve their stock today were Donovan Peoples-Jones, Justin Jefferson and Lamb.

Peoples-Jones recorded the second-best vertical among receivers at the combine since 2006. He’s the most talented receiver in the class you’ve heard the least about because, despite his top-20 ability, he was never able to produce at the University of Michigan.

Jefferson surprised with his athleticism, running a 4.43 40-yard dash and performing well in the other events. This was key because although he is one of the most polished receivers in this year’s draft, he was viewed as less polished than the others.

Lamb had the biggest day though with a flat 4.5 40-yard dash. That’s not a blazing-fast time by any means, but it’s on the very low end of what he was projected to run. Also, he finished just five-hundredths of a second slower than Jeudy, which is huge considering Jeudy’s greatest advantage over him heading into the draft was speed.

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