John Elway and Co. have their quarterback for the foreseeable future and it’s time to build around him. Broncos Country has been split all off-season in regards to the first round pick. Do we draft an offensive lineman to help protect our young gun-slinger or do we draft a stud wide receiver as a weapon for Drew Lock? I’ll admit up until the last month I’ve been all in for an offensive tackle but I’ve come to a point where I can accept either position, and am leaning towards a wide receiver more with every passing day.
It’s hard to deny that the offensive line needs some help, particularly at left tackle where Garett Bolles has been racking up holding penalties since he was drafted 20th in the 2017 NFL Draft. Although he seemed to have turned a corner the final three games of the 2019 season, it’s hard to get the bad taste of those drive stalling holding calls out of our mouths.
And then at wide receiver, Courtland Sutton has and will continue to emerge as a top wide receiver, but the drop off after Sutton on the depth chart is steep. The 2020 wide receiver class is deep, and to be able to come away with a top prospect to pair with Sutton and Noah Fant makes for an offensive nightmare for opposing teams.
Since the 2020 NFL Combine has started, official interviews have too. John Elway has interviewed a slew of players but guys like Jerry Jeudy (Alabama), CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma) or Jedrick Wills (Alabama) would likely be out of reach at 15 and require a trade up to snag. However, we’re going to look at options that are more likely to still be available at 15 in Henry Ruggs III (Alabama), Laviska Shenault (Colorado), Brandon Aiyuk (Arizona State), Tristan Wirfs (Iowa) and Austin Jackson (USC).
Tristan Wirfs’ measurements at the combine show him at 6’4″ and 320 pounds. He played both left and right tackle while at Iowa, starting as a true freshman. His junior year Alaric Jackson, the Hawkeye’s left tackle, was injured so Wirfs was shifted to the left side where he was just as natural as he was on the right. He allowed only one sack in 2019 and according to PFF he finished the 2019 season with an overall grade of 83.7. Wirfs would make an immediate impact both in the run game and protecting the quarterback.
Austin Jackson measurements at the combine have him coming in at 6’4″ and 322 pounds. Jackson, much like Wirfs, started as a true freshman, starting in all 14 games for the USC Trojans. Unlike Wirfs, Jackson played left tackle all of his college career. His drive for greatness is unmatched, after missing the summer practices of 2019 to donate bone marrow to his little sister, and then working his way back into game-day shape to start all the games his junior season as well. Jackson undoubtedly still has some room to grow, but his pure talent coupled with Broncos OL Coach Mike Munchak could turn him into an absolute monster at left tackle.
Henry Ruggs III came in at 5’11” and 188 pounds. Even while playing alongside Jerry Jeudy he managed to make a splash. As a junior in 2019 Ruggs III caught 40 receptions for 746 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s caught some flack for being a guy that is only a speedster, but he can jump and stake claim to the contested catches as well. It’s hard not to salivate at the idea of Lock, Sutton, Fant, Phillip Lindsay and Ruggs III.
Laviska Shenault measured at 6’1″ and 227 pounds. Shenault was a three year player and two year starter for the Colorado Buffs. He’s a big, physical wide receiver who doesn’t mind blocking for running backs either. His body size makes him a yards-after-catch monster and he wins most 50/50 balls due to his size and physicality. His deep threat is something the Broncos are currently lacking and Shenault would make an immediate impact.
Brandon Aiyuk measured in at 5’11” and 205 pounds. Aiyuk played two years at Sierra College and finished with just shy of 2,500 yards and 21 touchdowns, he also returned 11 kickoffs for 418 yards and 14 punts for 313 yards and a touchdown his sophomore year. After his two years in junior college he transferred to Arizona State where he continued playing both wide receiver and as a returner on special teams. His senior season at ASU Aiyuk was named to the All-PAC 12 for both receiving and returning. Aiyuk is another example of a wide receiver that would make an immediate vertical impact for the Broncos, and would double as a return specialist.
I’m not staking my opinion to either side and there are obviously other needs that will be tackled thru free agency and I will tackle through here. No matter what happens at 15, Broncos Country can breathe a sigh of relief that we aren’t searching for the future QB this year.
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