What’s On Draft: 3 prospects the Broncos should trade down for

Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Buffaloes wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (2) during the second quarter against the Colorado State Rams at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.
Aug 30, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Buffaloes wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (2) during the second quarter against the Colorado State Rams at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Broncos will be moving up and down the board throughout the entire 2020 NFL Draft. Given their impressive arsenal of picks, ranging between nine and 12 in total, they should be one of the more active things on all three days of the draft.

The first round isn’t immune to that and considering some of the players likely to be on the board later in the round, the Broncos might be better off trading down than selecting at 15.

Here’s a look at three of those players that could fill a need and provide excellent value for the Broncos.

Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado

If the Broncos want to trade back in the 2020 NFL Draft, Laviska Shenault would be an ideal target.

Shenault is a freak of nature athletically. Despite standing 6’2” and weighing in at 220 pounds and there’s a good chance he runs a sub 4.4 40-yard dash. Unlike other big, fast receivers, he makes crisp cuts on runs after the catch and almost looks more like a power running back with his size, speed and willingness to lower his shoulder and fight through contact.

The superlative of “best receiver after the catch” is a toss-up between projected top-15 pick Ceedee Lamb of Oklahoma and Shenault, though Shenault’s speed arguably gives him the edge. He has as much upside at receiver as any player in this draft but his red flags could drop him all the way to the second round.

Shenault is very unpolished as a route runner and it will take time for him to develop in that area. He’ll need an offensive coordinator to be creative on how to get the ball into his hands, as he’ll struggle early to beat NFL corners with his routes. He also has a history of nagging injuries in college that will make his combine medical checkups very interesting.

Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU

The Broncos will need to add some talent at cornerback this offseason no matter what. One of the better, cheaper, younger options would be TCU’s lockdown cover-man, Jeff Gladney.

Gladney is an ideal corner for Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell’s defense. He has 4.3 speed, high-end quickness and the coverage ability to be a strong man coverage corner at the next level. He’s a smaller corner but has such incredible strength considering his size and speed (last offseason he was benching and cleaning 400 pounds and squatting 620) that Bruce Feldman ranked him 13th on his annual freaks list.

Gladney is also a very willing run defender, especially for his size and position, which is a must for Fangio.

The biggest concern with Gladney is his aforementioned size. TCU lists him at 6’, 183 pounds, but odds are he’s smaller than that. This leads to him getting beat at times by larger receivers, though he’s also shown the ability to lock down big men like Hakeem Butler, formerly of Iowa State and now a member of the Arizona Cardinals.

On paper, the size is a big concern, but Gladney should be able to bulk up and develop physically as his career goes on and, more importantly, he never plays small. He plays like a corner two inches taller and 20 pounds heavier because of how athletic he is in terms of speed and strength, so his size doesn’t bother me much.

Outside of Jeff Okudah — who is probably the second-best player in the draft — no cornerback would be a better fit for the Broncos than Gladney, and they could get him incredibly cheap.

Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

The Broncos found a diamond in the rough with Alexander Johnson but the inside linebacker spot next to him is still murky. Todd Davis is a restricted free agent and Josey Jewell, while strong against the run, is a liability in coverage.

Enter Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma’s one-man tackling machine. In 2018, Murray tallied the second-most tackles in all of college football with 155, and in 2019, he was one of just six players in the Big 12 to record at least 100 tackles. He’s excellent at diagnosing and stopping the run and he’s much better in coverage than Jewell or Davis, even though it isn’t his strong suit.

The biggest concern with Murray going to the Broncos would be his fit as an inside linebacker. He sometimes has a hard time shedding blockers and finding his way through the chaos of the middle and does his best work in space.

It should also be noted that LSU’s linebacker Patrick Queen would be a better fit for the Broncos given his play style and ability in coverage, though it would be hard for Denver to trade down and select him considering the Raiders’ reported infatuation with him at the 19th pick.

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