3 undrafted college free agents Broncos fans should know

Brett Rypien in the East-West Shrine Game. Credit: Douglas DeFelice, USA TODAY Sports.
Brett Rypien in the East-West Shrine Game. Credit: Douglas DeFelice, USA TODAY Sports.

The Denver Broncos have an interesting way of looking at the NFL draft.

John Elway isn’t afraid to take some gambles, and he even selected a tight end in the first round for only the second time in team history this year. All-around, Denver’s 2019 draft class is shaping up to be one of the best in the NFL, including the aforementioned Noah Fant, Drew Lock, Dalton Risner and stud defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones.

However, it’s not just the crop of drafted players which could impact this team immediately and into the future, but the undrafted college free agents as well.

Any Broncos fan will you tell Phillip Lindsay wasn’t drafted last year and then ran for 1,000-plus yards, was one of the most exciting rookies in 2018 and even made the Pro Bowl. Before Lindsay, Denver discovered Shaquil Barrett, Wesley Woodyard, C.J. Anderson and even Chris Harris Jr. after the draft’s process was concluded, which begs the question: Who will be the UDFA to make the roster this year?

First of all, here’s the class of college free agents signed by the Broncos, with the first 10 followed up by seven additional signings:

Name

Pos.

Ht.

Wt.

College

Quinn Bailey

OL

6-6

323

Arizona State

Trinity Benson

WR

6-0

180

East Central

Joe Dineen

LB

6-2

235

Kansas

Austin Fort

TE

6-4

244

Wyoming

Ahmad Gooden

LB

6-2

245

Samford

Romell Guerrier

WR

5-10

171

Florida Tech

Devontae Jackson

RB

5-7

170

West Georgia

Jaylen Johnson

DL

6-3

286

Washington

John Leglue

OL

6-7

310

Tulane

Brian Wallace

OL

6-6

320

Arkansas

Second Group

George Aston

FB

6-0

240

Pittsburgh

Ryan Crozier

OL

6-4

294

UConn

Alijah Holder

CB

6-2

188

Stanford

Kelvin McKnight

WR

5-8

186

Samford

Malik Reed

LB

6-2

235

Nevada

Brett Rypien

QB

6-2

202

Boise State

Josh Watson

LB

6-2

240

Colorado State

 

Who of the 17 can make the roster in 2019?

Brett Rypien, QB, Boise State

Rypien was a player many expected to be drafted, so for him to slip through the cracks was a great get by the Broncos. We wrote about Rypien as a player Denver should consider drafting, and instead, the team got Mark Rypien’s nephew without using a pick.

Of course, the Broncos are in search of that quarterback of the future, and even though they drafted Drew Lock with the No. 42 pick overall, they aren’t just handing him the keys to the team in 2020. Lock’s going to have to earn his spot, and Rypien could end up being the better quarterback in the end.

Rypien was a four-year starter at Boise State, taking many of the Mountain West Conference passing records from Andy Dalton, who starred at Texas Christian before playing in the NFL. Boise State’s QB threw for 13,581 yards with 21 300-yard games and 90 passing touchdowns while leading an explosive Broncos (college) offense.

Plus, his 64.0 completion percentage is importantly strong and his 3-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio is superb as well. Rypien will have to work to become the Broncos’ backup quarterback ahead of Lock, but it’s certainly possible.

Joe Dineen, LB, Kansas

Dineen was a monster in the middle for Kansas, starting all 12 games for the Jayhawks as a sophomore, then as a redshirt junior and senior. His final two seasons, his tackle numbers are incredible, with 133 and 142 respectively, and 33.5 of those coming in the backfield for a loss.

In fact, his 142 tackles last season were the fourth-most in the entire FBS and he was named second-team All-American by Sports Illustrated, meaning he could be a diamond in the rough for Denver. Dineen is dominant when it comes to filling gaps in the run game, although he does lack a little speed in terms of sideline-to-sideline range. He is still decent in coverage, enjoying an interception and six passes defended as a senior and could surprise some by becoming a key depth man at inside linebacker.

Josh Watson, LB, Colorado State

Watson was a tackling machine for the Colorado State Rams, just an hour north of Denver in Fort Collins, where he was a three-year starter and four-year contributor. At 6’2″ and 240 pounds, he possesses the size to immediately impact the Broncos, at least on special teams or in a practice squad role, which is how former CSU star Barrett made his way onto the team.

Watson led the Rams in tackles his last two seasons, with 131 and 109 respectively, and he added 8.5 tackles for a loss his senior season to be named second-team All-MW. The Broncos are certainly in need of depth at middle linebacker and if Watson can put his all on the field during OTAs and training camp, he could make the roster.

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