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DENVER -- Twitter trumpets the certain election for your team. Instagram attaches clues about the right pick through player posts. And the ticker scroll across the bottom of the TV screen reveals the answer over breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The appetite for the NFL draft remains insatiable. It blends the passion of college and pro football fans, swirling their emotions and loyalty in a blender of intrigue and hope. Make the right pick, especially in the first round, and the road to redemption seems like an E-470 cruise back to the promised land. Choose the wrong player, and boos litter the airwaves and the player's failure creates ripples of problems for months, if not years.
The draft exists as one of the most hyped events in sports. The conversation grows in volume before culminating Thursday through Saturday in Arlington, Texas. The mystery surrounding this year is real because of a confluence of factors. Two teams holding three of the first four picks crave secrecy from their new GMs. What the Browns and Giants do will directly impact those waiting in line behind them. And then there's the Flawed Quarterback Class.
Five figure to go in the first round -- Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Lamar Jackson -- but good luck finding a consensus on who is the sure-fire lock. All possess enormous talent, but issues that create pause. For Darnold, it's turnovers. Mayfield is size (he stands a shade above 6-foot). Allen boasts accuracy problems. Rosen brings durability concerns because of concussions and a shoulder injury. And Jackson is viewed by many as a better athlete than quarterback.
As I said earlier this week, the Broncos have conducted their mocks. They are prepared to react to varying scenarios. According to my latest information from sources, quarterback remains in play. However, if Darnold and Mayfield are gone by the fifth pick, I do not expect Denver to take a quarterback. If disruptive defensive end Bradley Chubb goes before the Broncos' turn, it increases the likelihood Denver trades back with Buffalo to land the 12th and 22nd picks. Teams continue calling the Broncos about moving up.
Trading down for Denver offers a chance to restock a roster that requires upgrades. It also increases the chance of missing out on a superstar. The Broncos own eight overall picks: (First round, 5th; Second round, 40; Third round, 71, 99; Fourth round, 106, 113; Fifth round, 149, 160). It is impossible to overstate the importance of this draft. Denver is one of three teams without a Pro Bowl selection over the last five seasons. Reversing that trend holds the key to accelerating a rebound after back-to-back playoff misses.
With a bit of tongue in cheek because of uncertainty of the process, I offer my Denver7 NFL Mock Draft 1.0. It provides educated guesses gleaned from sources -- and one trade scenario because of the local bent -- and endless mocks, while recognizing one or two trades will turn this list into digital confetti.
Troy E. Renck's Mock Draft, 1.0:
1. Browns: QB Sam Darnold, USC. The Browns can't overthink this. Take the QB you like best. Darnold is the choice, if only barely.
2. Giants: RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State. He provides a dynamic playmaker to take burden off rapidly aging Eli Manning.
3. Jets: QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma. Backpages will rejoice. Mayfield brings confidence, swag and accuracy.
4. Browns: DE Bradley Chubb, N.C. State. In most years, he would have been top pick overall. He is a force.
5. Bills (trade 12 and 22, and second-rounder to Broncos): QB Josh Allen, Wyoming. Broncos like Allen but not enough to pass up multiple first-round selections.
6. Colts: LB Roquan Smith, Georgia. Sideline-to-sideline terror.
7. Bucs: S Derwin James, Florida State. Ballhawk who can play in the box against run.
8. Bears: G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame. This is safest pick in top 10. Reunites with college line coach. Could make Broncos regret not staying at five and taking him.
9. 49ers: S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama. Hybrid player who can play centerfield and corner.
10. Raiders: DT Vita Vea, Washington. Enormous run stuffer with unique athleticism.
11. Dolphins: QB Josh Rosen, UCLA. If Rosen falls, I can't see Adam Gase passing on him.
12. Broncos: CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State. Best corner in draft drops to a much-more reasonable spot. Would play instantly as rookie. Vita Vea would work, too, if available.
13. Redskins: LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech. Three-down player with huge upside.
14. Packers: WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama. Elite route runner. Eases loss of Jordy Nelson.
15. Cardinals: QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville. Arizona could trade with Denver as well to move up for QB. Could Jackson be next Dak Prescott?
16. Ravens: LT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame. Sure they would prefer to trade out of this pick to get better value at bottom of first.
17. Chargers: LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama. Instant playmaker. But college teammate Da'Ron Payne makes sense here as well.
18. Seahawks: CB Josh Jackson, Iowa. The Legion of Boom needs next wave of talent. Broncos need Seattle to pass on Hernandez at this spot.
19. Cowboys: LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State. Cowboys will be tempted to take a receiver like D.J. Moore, but need help defensively.
20. Lions: DT Da'Ron Payne, Alabama. Lions desperate for defensive impact. Could go with Taven Bryan, too.
21. Bengals: T Connor Williams, Texas. Offensive line was a mess last year. Williams brings promise and versatility.
22. Broncos: G Will Hernandez, UTEP. Absolute mauler. Becomes Day 1 starter at right guard, and suddenly Broncos' line looks sturdy and dangerous.
23. Patriots: OLB/DE Harold Landry, Boston College. Pats have picks to move up for a QB. Seems too big a risk. Landry is local product who immediately upgrades pass rush.
24. Panthers: TE Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State. I see shades of Travis Kelce in his game. Will come down to Goedert or Hayden Hurst.
25. Titans: OLB/DE Marcus Davenport, Texas-San Antonio. If Baltimore and Green Bay pass on him, Davenport becomes a sneaky good pick. If Davenport is gone, Sam Hubbard remains a possibility.
26. Falcons: DT Maurice Hurst, Michigan. Big, mobile plugger. Fills void left by Dontari Poe.
27. Saints: WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M. Hurst will be appealing. But nobody uses receivers like coach Sean Payton.
28. Steelers: S Justin Reid, Stanford. In ideal world, they land a linebacker. However, Evans likely gone at this pick.
29. Jaguars: T Tyrell Crosby, Oregon. Find the right tackle at this point and it saves millions down the road, while keeping quarterback upright for years to come.
30. Vikings: C/G James Ragnow, Arkansas. Ragnow or James Daniels fill a need.
31. Patriots: T Kolton Miller, UCLA. Lost Nate Solder in free agency. Miller fits the blueprint of past Patriots' linemen.
32. Eagles: RB Derrius Guice, LSU. Gives dynamic offense another weapon and protects against Jay Ajayi's potential exit after this season.