With minimal cap space remaining, Broncos will fill needs through draft

Feb 25, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Denver Broncos general manager John Elway speaks to the media during the 2020 NFL Combine in the Indianapolis Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos will shift their focus towards April’s NFL Draft now that the free-agent frenzy has settled down.

Denver put a bow on free agency Friday when they re-signed defensive end Shelby Harris to a one-year contract. The deal will leave the Broncos with minimal cap space moving forward this offseason, although the team still has plenty of holes to fill.

The Broncos currently own 11 total draft picks, five of which are in the first three rounds, including the 15th overall pick. There are several positions the Broncos could target with their first selections, especially wide receiver, cornerback and center.

Let’s take a look at players the Broncos could select at all three positions.

Wide Reciever:

The receiver position easily has the most exciting prospects within the Broncos areas of need.

There are three receivers Denver should target with the No. 15 pick: CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, and Henry Ruggs III. The problem is, all three players could be off the board when the Broncos hit the clock.

The New York Jets, Las Vegas Raiders and San Francisco 49ers all need receivers and are ahead of the Broncos on the draft board. With that, Denver may need to trade up if they want the chance to select one of the top wideouts in this year’s draft class.

Any of the three would be a game-changer for the Broncos. Denver does not have much depth at receiver, and drafting a top prospect would give some relief to Courtland Sutton and provide quarterback Drew Lock with another dynamic playmaker.

Ruggs has been compared to Tyreek Hill while Jeudy and Lamb are built to be impact players from the moment they hit the gridiron. Denver’s offense has been putrid for the last four seasons, and adding one of the top receivers would revolutionize their gameplan.

That said, if Lamb, Jeudy and Ruggs are all off the board, Denver should target another position with the 15th pick.

Tee Higgins, Brandon Aiyuk, or Denzel Mims could be alternate options for the Broncos later in the draft.

Cornerback:

The Broncos made a splash this offseason when they traded for Pro Bowl cornerback A.J. Bouye.

Bouye will replace Chris Harris Jr., who is now a member of the Los Angeles Chargers, but Denver still needs additional cornerback support. Given the unknown status of Bryce Callahan, Denver needs a legitimate No. 2 cornerback capable of holding his own, so they could look to draft one in the first round.

While the cornerback options are not as sexy as the receivers, Denver could get an impact player to bolster their secondary at 15 or later in the draft should they trade back.

Jeff Okudah is the top cornerback prospect in the draft, but he will be long gone by the time Denver hits the clock.

C.J. Henderson could be an option for Denver, but as Zach Seagers notes, he struggles to tackle in the open field, and his skill set is not an ideal match for head coach Vic Fangio. Still, the Broncos need could get Fangio to look past Henderson’s deficiencies and focus on his ability to help the team in man-to-man coverage.

Kristian Fulton is another corner Denver could look to draft, although it probably would not be with the 15th pick. Fulton is expected to be a first-round draft choice, but his name will likely be called towards the second half of the first round.

If the Broncos do not like how the board looks at 15, they could trade back and draft somebody like Fulton while gaining additional assets, like last year with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Center: 

Great offensive linemen are found few and far between in today’s NFL. Given the lack of talent on the line compared to other positions around the league, teams have put a strong emphasis on building their offensive lines via the draft.

There are at least five teams ahead of the Broncos on the board that have shown some interest in selecting an offensive lineman. With that, outside of Dalton Risner, the Broncos offensive line is razor-thin and lacking talent.

By drafting a lineman with the 15th overall pick, Denver could move on from Garrett Bolles, and (hopefully) add another pillar alongside Risner.

That said, center is the Broncos greatest area of need on the line. Matt Hennessy, Cesar Ruiz and Lloyd Cushenberry are the best centers in the draft class, but only Ruiz has a chance to be selected in the first round.

That said, Denver could prioritize drafting a center in the second round, or zero in on Ruiz at the back end of the first round.

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