When the Denver Broncos 2019 season ended in December, the team was set to have 12 draft picks. They ended up trading two of them away for veteran players and used the other 10 on draft weekend. Let’s take a look at how well they did using those 12 picks.
Round 1 pick 15, Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Widely regarded as a top 2 receiver in the Draft, getting Jerry Jeudy at 15th overall was a steal. There is a debate between CeeDee Lamb and Jeudy as to who was the better prospect, but both are extremely talented receivers. Jeudy has the best route running I have ever seen in a college receiver. His separation ability and agility after the catch will allow him to make an immediate impact in a way most rookie receivers can’t. He is a great complement to Courtland Sutton, and will be lethal on short and intermediate routes, but he also has the speed to hit the home run balls.
Round 2 pick 46, KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State
A surprise to pretty much everyone on day two of the draft, this pick showed the world that John Elway believes in Drew Lock. Elway passed on the top tackle and cornerback prospect available to take a second receiver for Lock. Hamler will come in and win the slot receiver spot on this offense on day one. Hamler has the electric speed needed to dictate coverage at an NFL level. He has some drop issues to clear up, but so did Courtland Sutton coming out of college. The Broncos offense in 2020 should be the best we have seen since Peyton Manning retired.
Round 3 pick 77, Michael Ojemudia, CB, Iowa
The first pick for Fangio’s defense this year, Ojemudia fits the scheme like a glove. He is long, fast, and very physical. Cornerback was the biggest position of need for the Broncos after taking two WRs in the first two rounds. Bryce Callahan missed all of 2019 with a foot injury and has still never played a full season in his NFL career. After AJ Bouye, the Broncos don’t have any known commodities at the CB position. Ojemudia has the potential to be the Broncos #2 corner, and at the least can be an impact player as the 5th or 6th defensive back in sub packages.
Round 3 pick 83, Lloyd Cushenberry III, C, LSU
Perhaps the best value the Broncos got in the draft, Cushenberry is a day one starter at center for the Broncos. That kind of player is an absolute steal in the mid-third round. Cushenberry is a high character leader, and a great football player. He also fills the biggest gap on the offensive line for the Broncos. Left tackle is still a position that needs to be upgraded, but Garrett Bolles is at least a serviceable starter (when he isn’t holding defenders). Finding a starter in the mid third round is a great draft pick.
Round 3 pick 95, McTelvin Agim, DT, Arkansas
This is probably my least favorite pick that the Broncos made. Agim is a quality interior pass rushing prospect out of Arkansas. He pushes through gaps really well and has good upside as a pass rusher. However, with premium linebacker talent like Troy Dye and Akeem Davis-Gaither still on the board, the Broncos would have been better off taking one of them at a position of bigger need.
Round 4 pick 118, Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri
Yet another weapon for the Broncos young QB Drew Lock, Albert was Lock’s favorite target for two years at Missouri. With the limited ability to work together with his receivers this off season, the chemistry with Albert is a big help. Albert might end up seeing more targets than people think given the chemistry he has with Lock already.
Round 4 pick 137, traded to JAX for A.J. Bouye.
The first big move of the off season, the Broncos traded away their late 4th rounder for A.J. Bouye in early March. Bouye fills the void left by Chris Harris Jr. in free agency. Bouye had a down year in Jacksonville last year, but the reasons are up for debate. He had to deal with the departure of Jalen Ramsey about halfway through the season, as well as trying to play through an injury. Bouye is a fit for Fangio’s scheme, and is a serviceable #1 CB. This move also let the Broncos pass on the crazy cornerback market in free agency.
Round 5 pick 178, Justin Strnad, LB, Wake Forest
The Broncos could afford to wait until now to address the LB position due to the breakout of Alexander Johnson in 2019. Another captain and high character draft pick, Strnad is the type of player Elway wants in the locker room. He shows great upside in coverage on tape and is decent value at 178.
Round 6 pick 181, Netane Muti, IOL, Fresno State
Regarded as one of the top IOL in this draft class, Muti’s fall all the way to the 6th round was quite advantageous for the Broncos. However, Muti is fresh off back to back season ending injuries, which is no doubt the reason he fell this far. His tape shows a day two talent at guard. He is an absolute mauler in the run game, and decent in pass protection. This pick provides a lot of depth on the interior offensive line.
Round 7 pick 237, traded to TEN for Jurrell Casey
Perhaps the biggest position of need on the entire Broncos roster entering the off season, the Broncos were slated to lose all their starters on the defensive line in free agency. Casey is an absolute steal for a 7th rounder. The veteran defensive tackle for the Titans has been selected to the last five consecutive pro bowls. Casey racked up 5 sacks and 25 pressures in the 2019 regular season. As a result, Casey will add some much needed interior pass rush to help the edge duo of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb.
Round 7 pick 252, Tyrie Cleveland, WR, Florida
Picks this late are generally consider just grabbing projected undrafted free agents to guarantee you land them on the team. A lot of players picked this late usually end up on the practice squad. Cleveland is fast, but never had a lot of production in college. It’s an OK pick that likely won’t make any difference in the Broncos season.
Round 7 pick 254, Derrek Tuszka, EDGE, North Dakota State
The second to last pick in the draft, Tuszka is a productive edge rusher out of NDSU. He is a good athlete with high upside. He also provides some healthy competition with Malik Reed for a roster spot. However, picks like this are just lottery tickets that you hope pay off. I do like the value though, as Tuszka has a great athletic profile and was productive in college.
Overall, I think John Elway and the Broncos knocked this draft out of the park. Not only did they trade two late round picks for impact veteran starters, they managed to snag three starters. Two at their biggest position of need, WR. The third being a plug and play starter at center in Lloyd Cushenberry. Also They added depth at corner and on the front seven. This marks the third in a recent string of very good drafts by John Elway.
Overall Grade: A+