DENVER — The mocks become mesmerizing. Quarterback Kyler Murray will go first overall to Arizona. Wait? What? He won’t go in the top 10? He slips to No. 11 to Cincinnati? And what does that mean for the Broncos who hold the 10th pick overall? The scenarios remain dizzying.
Coming off arguably his best draft as the Broncos general manager, John Elway holds a valuable chip and could veer in multiple directions.
The first round begins Thursday night at 6 p.m. on Denver7. The second and third rounds follow on Friday from 5-9 p.m. with the final four rounds unfolding Sunday from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. The party concludes with the free agent frenzy of signings which produced star running back Phillip Lindsay a year ago.
Four months after finishing with back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1972, armed with their third coach in four years, the Broncos are almost on the clock. What are the scenarios with the 10th pick? Here are the Clif Notes. My Denver7 possibilities:
1) Draft Michigan LB Devin Bush
This draft remains top heavy with defenders. Bush represents a talented player at a position of need. He displays lightning quick speed, plays sideline-to-sideline, grew up playing for his father and former NFLer Devin Bush Sr., and appears pro-ready. He learned under Jim Harbaugh at Michigan in an NFL-style defense. Vic Fangio served as Harbaugh’s defensive coordinator in San Francisco. His intel on this linebacker should be strong. The Broncos need a three-down backer, something lacking since Danny Trevathan departed after Super Bowl 50. He would arrive as a Day 1 starter.
2) Let LSU LB Devin White fall into their lap
White brings an All-Pro upside with breathtaking speed and leadership qualities. He needs more seasoning than Bush, but is ferocious. The issue? It remains likely he will be available with the 10th pick unless something weird happens with Tampa Bay at five.
3) Trade back
Elway never rules out this possibility. On the surface, it makes the most sense. Trade back to No. 15 with Washington or No. 17 with the Giants, and pick up a second-round pick. In this scenario, the Broncos could take Iowa tight end Noah Fant. He is more of a pass catcher than a blocker, but by any measure the Broncos need a healthy, reliable contributor at this position.
4) Take the best tight end
I know defense players dominate the top tier. But Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson remains in the argument as a top 10 pick. He has been compared favorably to Jason Witten for his well-rounded game. And new coordinator Rich Scangarello’s offense only functions at optimal level with a tight end. The 49ers, his last team, featured George Kittle. In 2017, Joe Flacco's last full season as a starter, he completed 99 passes to tight ends, second in the NFL. His accuracy on those targets? An eye-opening 77 percent. The Broncos’ tight ends caught 68 passes last season. In 2014 in Gary Kubiak's offense, which will has some similarities to Scangarello's, Flacco was 76-for-117 when throwing to tight ends. Taking Hockenson feels too rich at 10, but not when you factor in what it could do for Flacco’s transition to a new team.
5) Roll the dice on DT Ed Oliver
Ed Oliver projected as a No. 1 overall pick after his freshman season at Houston. He dominated as a sophomore then dealt with injuries, run-ins with coaches and questionable commitment as a junior. His talent is real. He could be a gamechanger in the middle of Fangio’s defense as an inside rusher and run stuffer. The Jets could take him at No. 3. Even if Oliver is not available, look for Denver to draft a defensive end in the first four rounds.
6) Go with the Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins
Haskins’ one season as a starter at Ohio State featured a series of wows. He threw for 50 touchdowns, and went 13-1. He’s a pure pocket passer, but could use a redshirt year. Elway’s posture this offseason reflects a team trying to return to the playoffs this year. Drafting a quarterback at 10 would not help this, and Flacco doesn’t want it. He wants a contributor. The argument for taking a quarterback goes like this: It’s the second straight season with a top-10 pick, where it remains possible to find a franchise quarterback. If the Broncos go 7-9 or 8-8 this season, it becomes harder to move up and grab a quarterback in the top five in the 2020 draft without mortgaging huge chunks of the 2020 and 2021 drafts.
7) Sit back and scoop up QB Drew Lock
The Broncos have been connected to Lock since Elway attended a Missouri game last fall. He saw him again at the Senior Bowl. That said, the Broncos’ interest in Lock at No. 10 overall has been overplayed nationally. There is, however, a possible twist. If the Broncos acquire an additional second-round pick, they would have the leverage to move back into the first round. Many mocks have Lock available from the mid 20s to the last pick of the first round. It makes for an interesting three hours of poker as the Broncos position themselves to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2015.