The NFL Combine has concluded and scouts are putting away their stopwatches and tape measures, at least until college pro days begin. George Paton and Nathaniel Hackett both made appearances in the stands, surveying the field for worthy candidates to don a Denver Broncos Jersey come April.
Not every draft pick is a slam dunk contributor so it was encouraging to see Broncos brass out in force looking for the next diamonds in the rough.
Here are a few combine gems that should be on their collective radar.
Pierre Strong Jr, RB, South Dakota State
The Broncos may be looking at the departure of Melvin Gordon as free agency hits leaving a void in the running game. Mike Boone did not get a chance to spread his wings and show his value after an early injury derailed him and any other backs on the roster aside from Javonte Williams are a bit of a question mark.
Williams will most assuredly be the workhorse back for the Denver Broncos next season but a change of pace back and playmaker would be a huge asset in Nathaniel Hackett’s run focused scheme.
Pierre Strong Jr. is an intriguing player who showed his elite athleticism during his NFL Combine experience. Strong tied for the fastest 40-yard dash amongst running backs at a lightning quick 4.39 seconds and was able to showcase his elusiveness and overall explosion.
SDSU's Pierre Strong Jr. just dropped the fasted 40 time among RBs this year!
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) March 5, 2022
Outside of his ability to run with the ball, Strong has very good hands and catch the ball and make plays in space. Strong is more of a between-the-tackles runner but he and Williams’ style would mesh together very nicely, and the Broncos could likely get him in the early fourth round. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Denver give him reps as a returner as well so his value is multi-tiered.
Lewis Cine, S, Georgia
A player who certainly increased his draft stock in Indianapolis was Georgia safety Lewis Cine.
Cine posted a blazing 4.39 second 40-yard dash, an explosive 36.5-inch vertical leap and the furthest broad jump of any safety at 11-feet, 1-inch. He also has very nice measurables at 6-foot-2 199 lbs. Adding some strength and additional weight will be a need for effectiveness at the next level but he should be able to do so with relative ease. These numbers should give evaluators a nice toolbox to access when attempting to project Cine’s NFL ceiling.
Georgia’s Lewis Cine from 10-11 to 11-1. Watch the in-between meditation. Monster💪😱 pic.twitter.com/BW3wrebyTx
— StaceyDales (@StaceyDales) March 6, 2022
With the uncertainty of Kareem Jackson’s future in orange and blue there may be a big vacancy that needs to be addressed. Caden Sterns flashed his ability last season, and many are excited to see what he can do in a starting role, but depth becomes a concern and Sterns is not a lock as a starter next season.
Cine can bring depth not only to the safety group, but to the special teams unit as well. On a special teams unit that has a reputation of making huge gaffes and losing games for a competitive team, any player who can improve that outcome is worth a look. It may not be the reason to draft a player, but it should factor into the equation.
The Georgia players showed out across the board and the defensive MVP of the National Championship, Lewis Cine, may be the most electric of them all and the Broncos need to at least consider his impact on this roster.
Dylan Parham, G/C, Memphis
If the Broncos are looking for versatility and value on the offensive line, they need to look no further than Dylan Parham. As a former tight end his size and frame do not exactly scream NFL, but he has an athleticism and fluidity that will help him bring positional flexibility to an offensive unit.
Parham ran an official 4.93 second 40-yard dash with 20-yard and 10-yard splits comparable to the best prospects in the class. He showed an ease of movement as he went through drills that revealed his high level of athleticism as well.
Not only did he perform well in the drills, he was also an engaging interview and was able to exhibit his charisma and intellect on the spot.
— Ryan Edwards (@redwardsradio) March 3, 2022
Interior offensive line is not always the most exciting or glamourous position to assess and select, but the Broncos need competition and depth. Dalton Risner’s play arguably declined this last season and Lloyd Cushenberry’s contribution was not exactly prolific. In a game where quarterback play is key, the more bodies you have to roll out in protection, the better. Parham could fill positional gaps and learn as he goes, all for a reasonable price.
Kyle Philips, WR, UCLA
A little-known receiver that did enough to gain some traction during his combine debut, Kyle Philips could be a great Day 3 value for the Denver Broncos.
Philips had a very successful, if not underrated career at UCLA and has the trappings of a solid NFL receiver. His measurements were nothing special at 5-foot-11 189 lbs, but watching him run routes and catch the ball with relative ease, you can see the potential. His 4.50 second 40-yard dash may not be eye-popping, especially directly following speedster Chris Olave, but it’s faster than the likes of players like Davante Adams, Cooper Kupp, and CeeDee Lamb in their combine outings.
— Sam Connon (@SamConnon) March 4, 2022
He most notably is being compared to one-time Bronco Wes Welker as well as Raider’s receiver Hunter Renfrow; good company to be grouped in with. And if there were any doubts about his potential on the next level, he met with the Patriots at the Shrine Game. Knowing the relationship between Bill Belichick and UCLA coach Chip Kelly, you’d have to imagine there’s some personalized information the legendary coach may be privy to.
If the Broncos could snag a true slot receiver late in the NFL Draft this spring, they could have even one more offensive weapon the league will have to look out for.