Broncos look to add depth, potential in final four rounds of draft

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The final day of the draft marks when the Broncos typically excel. This is where area scouts excel, signing their name onto a hidden gem or projectable impact player.

Sunday featured trades, a fascinating pick at tight end, heavy doses of speed for special teams and a well-known quarterback as Mr. Irrelevant.

"You want guys who love to play and hate to lose. And these eight guys we picked fall into that category. It's an attitude game. You can't hope they have it," Joseph said. "You have to find those guys."

They made an intriguing selection when they finally picked on Saturday. The Broncos took Michigan tight end Jake Butt 145th overall in the fifth round. 

He represented a potential first-round talent before tearing his ACL in the the bowl game against Florida State.

"I have no regrets," Butt said.

Butt might not be available to play this season or be limited, depending on his recovery. However, he represents potential stability at a position where the Broncos have been seeking answers for the past two seasons. 

"We were holding our breath these last few picks hoping to get Michigan TE Jake Butt. A top-notch TE we're fortunate to select in the 5th," tweeted general manager John Elway.

Butt tore his ACL early in his college career, also requiring a meniscus repair. This latest injury recovery has been more seamless, he insisted. Butt returned early the first time, and believes he can be ready to play in September. Elway echoed the sentiment, listing a timeline of late August, early September.

"I know it's ambitious. But I set goals that people don't think I can reach," said Butt, who will collect insurance money for dropping into the fifth round. "I almost lost my breath when the call finally came. It was a dream come true. It was the call that will allow me to take the next step to change my life."

Butt, 6-foot-6, 246 pounds, was named the 2016 John Mackey Award winner as the nation's top tight end. He caught 46 passes for 546 yards and four touchdowns. His best game came against Colorado, hauling in seven passes for 87 yards.

"You are going to get a versatile tight end," Butt said. "I can move the chains on third and eight, getting open, and on third-and-one, I want to get that key block."

The Broncos didn't pick until the fifth because they felt they had too many selections. 

The Broncos did something about it, making multiple deals on Saturday. It began with a familiar face. The Broncos shipped running back Kapri Bibbs and a fifth-rounder in 2017 (177th overall) to San Francisco for a fourth round pick in 2018. Bibbs spent three seasons in Denver after starring at Colorado State. He showed flashes last season before injuring his ankle late in the year. The Broncos' depth chart includes C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker, Denver's lack of activity at the position showing confidence in the pair. It the Broncos felt like Bibbs wasn't going to make team, they moved up roughly from the 177th pick this year to between 100-120 next season. Bibbs' chances of landing on the active roster decreased when the Broncos signed Bernard Pierce in January. The Broncos snared a player similar to Bibbs on Sunday, drafting Coastal Carolina running back De'Angelo Henderson in the seventh round.

The moves kept coming. The Browns traded Nos. 145 and 175 to the Broncos for Nos. 126 (picked CB Howard Wilson) and No. 252, the second to last selection in draft. Another deal followed Saturday afternoon. The Broncos shipped the 175th and 238th picks for Packers' 172nd selection. They snared diminutive Georga receiver Isaiah McKenzie. He's 5-foot-8, 173 pounds, a speedy blur in the slot and on special teams. McKenzie returned six kicks and five punts for touchdowns for the Bulldogs. 

"He's an electric returner and productive offensive player," Elway said. "He gives us a dual threat."

Running back showed up late on Sunday. The Broncos took a man with breathtaking stats. De'Angelo Henderson scored touchdowns in 35 straight games at Coastal Carolina.

"He's a very productive back & plays bigger than his size," Elway tweeted.

Added Henderson, who boasts a C.J. Anderson body type, "I feel like  am a complete back. I can run, I can block and I can catch. It will be fun to compete for a roster spot." 

With the picks pushed back, the Broncos spent the morning introducing Friday's selections, defensive end DeMarcus Walker and cornerback Brendan Langley. Walker strikes an imposing figure. He's a big man with a determination to make an impact earlier as inside pass rusher. If you want to see the carnage he creates, throw on his game film against Ole Miss when he spent the second half planting Chad Kelly into the turf.

"I want to dominate. That's one thing I want to do. I love to dominate," Walker said. "I think it's a great opportunity to come here and learn from greatness. I will earn my teammates' respect."

Langley is a longtime admirer of the No Fly Zone. He watches film of Chris Harris, Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby to improve his game. Langley brings strength, confidence and physicality. 

"I have only been playing the (cornerback) position for one full year. I have a lot to learn. And what better place. I have to be patient. This can be kind of like a redshirt year," Langley said. "I can get better everyday."

His quickest route on the field remains punt returns. He is anxious for that opportunity.

"I don't know if people realize how much you can change the game on special teams," Langley said. "I love punt return. It gives you a chance to dance a little bit."

The Broncos dropped the curtain on the draft by selecting former Ole Miss star quarterback Chad Kelly. Considered an elite arm talent, Kelly was not invited to the NFL combine because of off-field issues. When Kelly played, he produced big wins over Alabama and LSU. He is the godson and nephew of Hall of Famer Jim Kelly. Kelly tore his ACL in November and recently had surgery on his throwing wrist, meaning he won't be available until August. The Broncos plan to sign another quarterback. Elway spoke with Jim Kelly before selecting Chad, whom Joseph called his "favorite quarterback in college" last season.

"I had no clue it was going to be the Denver Broncos," Kelly said. "They are confident in the way I handle myself and the way I prepare for a football game. I am looking forward to learning from (Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch). I am so excited to be a part of this franchise."

BRONCOS DRAFT CHOICES: 

Rd. 1 (20): LT Garett Bolles, Utah, 6-5, 297: Physical brute with unique mobility who plays with mean streak. Will compete to start at left tackle despite limited college experience.

Rd. 2 (51): DE DeMarcus Walker, Florida State, 6-4, 280: Led college in sacks over last two seasons. Should provide rotational player capable of delivering inside pass rush. 

Rd. 3 (82): WR/KR Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech, 5-11, 199: A former high school running back who plays physical and excels in yards after catch as a slot receiver. "You have to be tough to survive in this game," Henderson said.

Rd. 3 (101): CB Brendan Langley, Lamar, 6-0, 201: Has played corner one full season after transferring from Georgia. Upside enormous. Tall, rangy, coachable and also willing punt returner. 

Rd. 5 (145): TE Jake Butt, Michigan, 6-5, 246: Nation's top tight end last year. A first-round projection until tearing his ACL in bowl game. Believes he will be ready to play in September, October at the latest. 

Rd. 5 (172): WR Isaiah McKenzie, Georgia, 5-7, 173: Diminutive dual threat who will be given opportunity to caffeinate special teams. Returned six kicks, five punts for touchdowns. 

Rd. 7 (203): RB De'Angelo Henderson, Coastal Carolina, 5-7, 208: Built like C.J. Anderson. Powerful lower body. Provides an interest replacement, potentially, for Kapri Bibbs. Set NCAA record by scoring touchdown in 35 straight games. "If people want to compare me to C.J. Anderson, that's a compliment. He's a baller," Henderson said.

Rd. 7 (253) QB Chad Kelly, Mississippi, 6-2, 224: Kelly, the nephew and godson of Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, boasts a huge arm. He can make plays. But he has run into the trouble off the field. The NFL declined to invite him to the combine because of issues. He began college career at Clemson and was kicked off the team for "detrimental conduct" after arguments with coaches. He played one season of junior college, winning at national title, and excelled at Ole Miss. His resume includes wins over Alabama and Auburn.

 

UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS (WILL UPDATED AS THEY SIGN): 

S Jamal Carter, Miami
DL Shakir Soto, Pittsburgh
DE Tyrique Jarrett, Pittsburgh
OLB Deon Hollins, UCLA
CB Marcus Rios, UCLA
QB Kyle Sloter, Northern Colorado
LB Josh Banderas, Nebraska
OT Erik Austell, Charleston Southern 
S Orion Stewart, Baylor
DE Ken Ekanem, Virginia Tech

 


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Want Broncos news? Denver7 Broncos insider Troy E. Renck is your source. He talks to the players, covers the games and reports scoops on Denver7 and the Denver7 app. He is a CU grad who has covered pro sports in Colorado since 1996, including 14 years at The Denver Post. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and TheDenverChannel.com’s Broncos page. Troy welcomes most of your emails at Troy.Renck@kmgh.com.

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