I’m back from beautiful New York City and the 2012 NFL Draft. Every year I had a blast covering the Draft in person and now it’s time for me to grade every team to see how they measure up. I’ll start today with your hometown Denver Broncos.
Oakland Raiders – they didn’t have a pick in the first two rounds of the draft due to various trades, so let’s take a look at how they did with picks outside of the “starter rounds.”
Second-round, 36th overall, DT Derek Wolfe– Cincinnati: I thought Wolfe was slightly overdrafted here. I felt the Broncos could have gotten him with the 57th overall pick, but they must have had intelligence that showed interest from other teams that caused them to pull the trigger here. Wolfe can work as a situational rusher on passing downs. He’s very active and has a relentless motor to get after the QB. He’s got a strong initial punch and uses his hands well to disengage from blockers. One on one Wolfe can be nearly unstoppable. However, there are concerns about him wearing down at the end of games and he can be pushed out of the play if double teamed. On passing downs opponents will be more concerned with Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil than Wolfe. Advantage: Broncos.
Second-round, 57th overall, QB Brock Osweiler– Arizona State: He’s a very raw prospect but will get the time to develop as a pro behind future Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning. Osweiler is tall (6’7”), sees the field well, and is athletic for a man of his size. Some in the scouting community compare his upside to that of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger. Osweiler has a strong arm and is not afraid to throw into coverage. He’s got a ¾ motion which he can adjust if oncoming D-Lineman have their hands up to block the passing lane. Osweiler’s accuracy is poor and he needs to change his footwork in order to improve that facet of his game. I would also like to see him throw his receivers open better as he too often will put the ball on the wrong shoulder or behind a moving target. If all goes well with Manning we won’t see Osweiler for at least three years. In that time the one-year college starter should be able to develop into a quality starter.
Third-round, 67th overall, RB Ronnie Hillman– San Diego State: Simply put, Hillman is my favorite pick in this draft. He reminds me of Eagles’ RB LeSean McCoy. Hillman can make defenders miss in the hole and has ankle breaking elusiveness. He likes to jump cut when he’s in the open field and this running style is very reminiscent of Hall of Fame RB Thurman Thomas. Hillman gets to top speed in a hurry and he doesn’t lose much speed when he changes direction. He proved last year in college that he could be a reliable receiver out of the backfield and is very difficult for a LB to cover. Yes, Hillman is not the biggest back but that didn’t stop him from getting over 300 carries last year. Hillman also showed his toughness playing through little injuries during his time with the Aztecs. The Broncos were looking for a big weapon at the RB position and he could certainly be that. I believe Hillman will begin the year as a complementary back behind McGahee, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him replace him as the starter before the mid-way point of the season.
Fourth-round, 101st overall, CB Omar Bolden– Arizona State: Another Sun Devils player joins the Broncos here. Bolden missed all of last year due to a knee injury he sustained in the spring. He’s nearly a year away from the injury and should be 100% healthy by the start of training camp. Great value pick here for the Broncos as Bolden plays bigger than his size and can play press/bail coverage at the line of scrimmage. Bolden is very good at catching tipped passes and has decent speed/moves in the open field after the interception.
Fourth-round, 108th overall, C Philip Blake– Baylor: The Broncos know that J.D. Walton is not the answer at the Center position. Walton has started every game of his pro career yet still fails to recognize a zero gap blitz. Like Walton, Blake played at Baylor and is a little bit old for a rookie (26). I like his ability to get out of his stance quickly and get his hands on an opponent. He also does a good job of getting to moving targets at the second level. This will be a training camp competition for the starting job and the best man will win.
Fifth-round, 137th overall, DT/DE Malik Jackson– Tennessee: I like the pick of Jackson here. He is position versatile and can play either Defensive Tackle or Defensive End. Jackson has good length and strength to push blockers away from his frame. He is best known for being a dominant force against the run and has an explosive first step. Jackson has violent hands and has good stack and shed ability while looking for plays to develop in the backfield.
Sixth-round, 188th overall, OLB Danny Trevathan– Kentucky: Here we have Wesley Woodyard 2.0 with the Broncos final pick. Trevathan is a rangy player who can play sideline to sideline. He’s shown good timing as a blitzer, is a good chase tackler on backside plays, and also has the athleticism to cover athletic move TEs.
As you can see the Broncos added to many different positions of need in this draft. I would have liked them to get better value in return in the trades they made to move down in the first-round. However, I can honestly say they picked some quality players at nearly the correct value.
Overall Grade: B-
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