DENVER -- There's no baseball right now, but the Broncos threw a bit of a curveball Friday night.
They doubled up on receivers, taking Penn State wideout K.J. Hamler with the 46th pick overall in the second round. They followed with Iowa cornerback Michael Ojemudia with the 77th pick overall and center Lloyd Cushenberry with the 83rd selection. Cushenberry will be a candidate to start as a rookie. Denver finished the seond day by taking Arkansas defensive lineman McTelvin Agim from Arkansas with the 95th pick.
Hamler brings blurry speed.
"He’s an electric player with excellent speed and high character," Broncos general manager John Elway said.
Hamler joins Alabama receiver Jerry Jeudy as the team's top picks. Denver aims to add speed to compete in the AFC West with the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs, but this pick was a surprise. Hamler provides versatility in the kick return game, and possibly on punts where Diontae Spencer was a Pro Bowl alternate. He holds Penn State's record for all-purpose yards, at a slippery 5-foot-9, 173 pounds. He is known for his speed with a 4.3 40-yard dash, and he said a hamstring problem, which kept him from running at the combine, has healed.
Hamler likes the fit with the Broncos.
"I bring speed to the table. I am versatile. I can play outside. I can play the slot. I can return kicks and punts. I am a playmaker," Hamler said. "I gotta a chip on my shoulder at all times. I have been the underdog my whole life. So being in this situation, and being part of the Broncos organization is amazing. I am going to give them 150%, 24/7, 365."
Hamler has breakaway capability, but struggled with drops at times in his college career. The Broncos have undergone an offensive makeover this offseason, adding running back Melvin Gordon, right guard Graham Glasgow, and receivers Jeudy and Hamler. Hamler is friends with Jeudy, and was a teammate with the Broncos DaeSean Hamilton at Penn State. Hamler might make Hamilton expendable. He said that DeSean Jackson was his favorite player.
"Him and Jerry Jeudy together," ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, "look out AFC West."
Hamler was overcome with emotion when drafted, a testament to his journey from Pontiac, Mich. to the pros. He has his hometown name tattooed on his left forearm. Hamler credited his father for pushing him to reach his potential, which wasn't easy as he suffered an ACL injury and his two best friends died in high school.
"I have been the underdog my whole life," Hamler said. "I don't back down from anybody."
Broncos coach Vic Fangio indicated that it would take a lot for Hamler to unseat Spencer for the punt return job. If Hamler becomes the starting slot receiver, it would minimize his special teams role.
Ojemudia, who has a degree in engineering, played with current Broncos Josey Jewell and Noah Fant in college.
"It really is a dream come true," Ojemudia said. "When I saw the area code on my phone, my heart dropped. I feel like this is the perfect place for me. All the stars aligned with this pick."
Added Fant, "I think it’s a really good pick up. He’s going to be a good corner for us. He did some nice things in college. ... Very smart."
Elway referred to Ojemudia's intelligence and talent when discussing the pick.
"He's an exceptional tackler with good instincts and movement," Elway said.
Cushenberry brings athleticism and leadership. He helped anchor the best line in college football. With Patrick Morris tops on the depth chart, Cushenberry has a chance to start early at what was clearly a position of need. Elway said he expects Cushenberry to compete for the top spot from Day One. The Broncos chose to let Connor McGovern leave as a free agent. He signed with the New York Jets.
"Being in this position to be drafted by Denver, a great organization, I can't wait to get up there and meet my new teammates," Cushenberry said. "The future is bright for the Denver Broncos. I can't wait to do my part."
Agim goes 6-foot-3, 309 pounds. He was a disruptive player for Arkansas with a high upside. Considered a work in progress, and must get stronger.
"Getting off the ball, working my hands, being able to make moves in pass rush and hold blocks, I felt I did that pretty well," Agim said. "The thing I have to improve on is being more consistent."
In local news, former Colorado star receiver LaViska Shenault was drafted by Jacksonville with the 42nd pick overall. Shenault was projected as a first-rounder, but struggled with an injury last season, and didn't run well at the combine before having core muscle surgery. Few college receivers are better at breaking tackles. If healthy, he should be an impact player.
With the 103rd pick of the third round, the Eagles selected CU linebacker Davion Taylor. He only played six quarters of high school football because of his family's religion. At CU he blossomed, and moved into the third round after running at 4.4 40 at his the Buffs' Pro Day.
Elway repeated what said at combine. A decision has not been made on picking up Garett Bolles' fifth-year option. Will be after draft. Deadline is May 2. Elway said that Elijah Wilkinson will compete with Bolles for left takle spot. That was plan last year, but Ja'Wuan James had leg issues in camp that moved Wilkinson to right side so there was never a competition.