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Breaking down Day Three: the Denver Broncos

Well, this marks the end of the final day of the NFL draft. The Broncos went into the day with 5 picks, and they kept it that way. Most of the picks on the third day will likely be camp bodies and depth pieces, however, every once in a while NFL teams find a diamond in the rough on this day; let’s see if the Broncos did.

118) Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri
For the last two years of Drew Lock’s career, Albert took the lion share of the targets. In two years with Lock at Missouri, Albert racked up 72 catches, 881 yards, and 17 touchdowns. This pick demonstrates the way that John Elway has approached this offseason; attempt to surround Drew Lock with as much skill position talent as possible.

Albert possesses quite the athletic profile. He is 6’5”, 258 pounds, and ran a 4.49 forty yard dash at the NFL Combine. However, the Broncos already have more than enough tight ends on their roster. Albert makes it seven, and also makes the addition of Nick Vannett in free agency all the more redundant. The Broncos will have to cut at least two tight ends before the season starts. Jeff Heuerman can save the Broncos $3.875 million against the 2020 cap if he gets cut.

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178) Justin Strnad, ILB, Wake Forest
With the emergence of Alexander Johnson in 2019, the Broncos found themselves in a comfortable position at starting ILB for the first time in a while. Justin Strnad was a five year player at Wake Forest and a team captain. He continues the trend of high character draft picks by John Elway in the last three years. Strnad adds some depth at the position while being a likely impact starter on special teams year one. His athletic profile limits what he will be able to do in the NFL, but he can craft his technique and football IQ well enough to be an impactful rotational piece on the defense.

Check out my reaction to the Broncos 2nd round!
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181) Netane Muti, IOL, Fresno State
Probably one of the most surprising falls in the draft this year, Muti shows great value for Denver in the 6th round. Muti was highly regarded as a top IOL prospect in the class. In fact, Pro Football Focus ranked him as their highest graded IOL in the whole draft class.

At 6’3” 315 pounds, Muti is a nasty mauler. He hit 44 reps in the bench press at the combine, which was the highest number at the Combine this year. However, Muti has a bad injury history. He suffered a season ending achilles tear in 2018, and a season ending shoulder injury in 2019.

This might remind Broncos fans of the Jake Butt pick in 2017, but I don’t think it’s the same situation. IOL is not a position that the Broncos desperately need right now. When Jake Butt was picked in 2017, tight end was a huge need for the Broncos. Denver can afford to take a risk on a bad injury profile at Muti’s position.

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252) Tyrie Cleveland WR, Florida
Speed, speed, speed, and more speed. If there is one thing John Elway wanted to do with this draft, it was to add speed to the offense. That theme does not stop with Tyrie Cleveland. Cleveland measured in at 6’ 209 pounds at the combine, along with a 4.46 forty yard dash. However, Cleveland was not the most productive WR in his college career; never once gaining more than 500 yards in a single season.

Cleveland has had a few off the field issues. In May of 2018, Cleveland along with five of his teammates was involved in an altercation involving airsoft rifles, a baseball bat, rocks, and a frying pan. None of the players faced criminal charges, but some, including Cleveland, were facing university punishment for lying to the police. This is a bit of a change in Elway’s high character priority draft philosophy. Cleveland is likely just a deep depth piece, with an outside chance to make the 6th WR spot.

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254) Derrek Tuszka, EDGE, North Dakota State
With the second to last pick in the NFL draft, John Elway selected Derrek Tuszka, an edge rusher out of NDSU. Tuszka is a great athlete, with a high upside. Tuszka interviewed with the Broncos at the NFL combine and posted a fast three cone time, 6.87 seconds, which correlates with successful edge rushers in the NFL.

Why would the Broncos draft an edge rusher with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb on the team? Well, Tuszka was likely the best player available by the Broncos standards. However, with existing depth at the edge rusher position, Tuszka is likely just there to compete with the fringe roster candidates. Furthermore, he was the second to last player taken, the expectations should not be too high for the former Bison.

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