ENGLEWOOD — Today's excitement arrives with a sobering reality.
For the second straight season -- and they hope for last time in the foreseeable future -- the Broncos will draft in the top 10.
Delivering on this pick remains critical to a rebound. Where will the Broncos go with his selection? My one and only mock draft arrives with answers (and plenty of questions because this inexact science produces humorous results). The Broncos remain connected to plenty of trade rumors, and while I expect them to stay at 10, there is a possibility they could move into the late first round and take Missouri’s Drew Lock if he slides.
The three-day draft begins Thursday at 6 p.m. MT on Denver7 with the first round. The Arizona Cardinals are almost on the clock. My stab at the first round:
1) Arizona Cardinals, QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
This pick shows how much the NFL has evolved offensively. Kliff Kingsbury is a college coach, and Arizona’s risky experiment with him becomes more understandable with a quarterback who fits his spread system. Murray will be the shortest QB drafted in the first round in roughly 90 years. Can he change thinking or reinforce old stereotypes? And will Arizona stick with Josh Rosen and go with Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams instead?
2) San Francisco 49ers, DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
The 49ers had 37 sacks and two interceptions last season. They need a pass rusher who can help the secondary. Bosa’s dad and brother were first-round picks. He’s next.
3) New York Jets, DT Ed Oliver, Houston
I thought Oliver would be the top overall pick after his freshman year of college. A lost season last year has created a variance of opinions on him. This is where draft gets weird. The Jets could trade out or take Quinnen Williams.
4) Oakland Raiders, DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama
Williams destroys game plans. At worst he will be a good NFL player, at best he’s an all-pro. This would be an auto draft pick. But, the Raiders are all over the map. Can they stay conservative and resist the temptation to take a quarterback like Dwayne Haskins?
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, ILB Devin White, LSU
White moves the needle. He runs like a tailback and plays with energy and ferocity. Denver wouldn’t mind if stays on the board at 10.
6) New York Giants, Edge Josh Allen, Kentucky
The Giants need a quarterback for the future. But they also hold the 17th pick. They can get a rusher first, then move back up if necessary. The strength of this draft remains defense in the top 15 picks.
7) Jacksonville Jaguars, TE OT Jawaan Taylor, Florida
Tom Coughlin remains old school, liking to build from the inside out. Taylor can help protect Nick Foles and increase their physicality.
8) Houston Texans, OT Andre Dillard, Washington State
It’s a known secret that the Lions want to trade out of this pick and add selections. The Texans desperately need O-Line help and Dillard was an ace in pass protection for the Cougars.
9) Buffalo Bills, TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa
Taking a tight end in the top 10 requires courage. There are not a lot of success stories. However, Hockenson has been compared favorably to Jason Witten. If the Bills don’t take him, the Broncos might.
10) Denver Broncos, ILB Devin Bush, Michigan
The Broncos need a three-down linebacker who can cover in space and range from sideline-to-sideline. That is Bush. And they need a backer more than a tight end, when one of those players can be landed later in the draft. Bush is a ferocious hitter with a high football IQ after playing for his NFL father Devin Bush Sr. since he was 7 years old. Broncos coach Vic Fangio worked for Bush’s college coach Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco. They will have all the intel available to trust this decision if they don’t trade out to No. 15 or No. 17 and take Iowa tight end Noah Fant.
11) Cincinnati Bengals, G/T Jonah Williams, Alabama
Bengals need a pass rusher, but with Allen off the board would they be reaching if they go that route? Williams represents a safe pick as a player who should start inside and could move to tackle.
12) Green Bay Packers, WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
Turmoil defined the Packers’ offseason with the coaching change and the questions about Aaron Rodgers playing for first-time coach Matt LaFleur. This pick would help LaFleur boost the offense and give Rodgers a deep threat.
13) Miami Dolphins, DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson
The Dolphins sit in rebuilding mode. They need to fortify their lines. While taking Montez Sweat or a quarterback will be tempting, Wilkins provides an anchor upfront moving forward.
14) Atlanta Falcons, Edge Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
Back-to-back picks from the reigning national champs. Ferrell fits the Dan Quinn defense. It is hard to predict this spot because so much depends on what happens in front of them. Atlanta is making noise that it will trade up and could target Bush or White in front of the Broncos.
15) Washington Redskins, QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
The second quarterback goes off the board. Haskins grew up in the area, Washington needs a longterm solution – sorry it’s not Case Keenum or Colt McCoy – and Haskins could benefit from a redshirt year. If owner Daniel Snyder calls the shot, it’s likely Haskins. If he lets the front office choose, Drew Lock or Daniel Jones is more likely.
16) Carolina Panthers, Edge Brian Burns, Florida State
Burns brings first-step quickness, length and a knack for reaching the quarterback.
17) New York Giants, QB Daniel Jones, Duke
The Giants, in this scenario, become rewarded for their gamble. They have a lot of quarterback plans. They might not be able to sit back. But in this case, Jones falls to them as the successor to Eli Manning.
18) Minnesota Vikings, C Garrett Bradbury, North Carolina State
The Broncos’ Bradley Chubb signs off on this pick. He loved competing against Bradbury in college. Bradbury can fix the center spot and allow other players to move to increase their effectiveness.
19) Tennessee Titans, Edge Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
Nashville is hosting one heck of a party. It will turn up to 11 with Sweat still on the board because of heart issues that were detected. If comfortable with the medical issues, he is a huge bonus at this spot.
20) Pittsburgh Steelers, CB Byron Murphy, Washington
The Steelers need cornerback help. They will have their pick between Murphy, Rock Ya-Sin, Deandre Baker and Greedy Williams. Murphy and Sin make a lot of sense.
21) Seattle Seahawks, Edge Rashan Gary, Michigan
The Seahawks traded Frank Clark. They need a defensive boost. Gary is all over the map. From a physical standpoint, he should be a top-10 pick. Yet, he was not consistently productive in college. Jaylon Ferguson is another option here.
22) Baltimore Ravens, WR D.K. Metcalf, Mississippi
Athletic marvel. Has size, strength and speed. His stats didn’t match his physique. With Lamar Jackson the starter, the Ravens need some playmakers.
23) Detroit Lions, CB Rock Ya-Sin, Temple
The Lions add a pick with trade with Houston and land a solid corner who has been rocketing up draft boards over the last month.
24) Oakland Raiders, RB Josh Jacobs, Alabama
Marshawn Lynch plans to retire. Coach Jon Gruden wants a physical, versatile back. Jacobs fits the bill if the Raiders stand back and don’t make crazy trades.
25) Philadelphia Eagles, CB Deandre Baker, Georgia
Crazy how solid corners will drop in this draft. Baker is a tackler, a solid player. If the Broncos decide to trade Chris Harris Jr., it’s fair to wonder if they would move up into the late first round for Baker, Sin or Murphy if one remains on the board.
26) Indianapolis Colts, DT Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State
Intrigue surfaces. If no cornerback is left, will the Colts attempt to trade for Chris Harris? The Colts could make out-of-the-box move by taking Simmons, a star who will likely miss most of this season because of knee surgery.
27) Oakland Raiders, TE Noah Fant, Iowa
This would finish off a terrific first round with Williams and Jacobs. I have said I can see the Broncos trading out of 10 to No. 15 or No. 17 to take Fant, a big-time playmaker who needs to improve his blocking.
28) Los Angeles Chargers, DT Jerry Tiller, Notre Dame
Chargers fill a void in middle of the defense. Tiller fits the profile if he falls this far.
29) Seattle Seahawks, WR N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
He has sticky hands and the flair for the dramatic. If you are going to have Russell Wilson running recess, he needs toys to entertain him.
30) Green Bay Packers, T Cody Ford, Oklahoma
Not necessarily expected to be available at this spot. If he is, he's too good to pass up.
31) Los Angeles Rams, G Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
This is a quiet pick, just following the board. But there remains a lot of buzz that the Rams want to trade out, and the Broncos are among those who could pick up the phone if Drew Lock remains in the green room. It would give the Broncos their quarterback of the future with a fifth-year option, while he redshirts under Flacco for a season. Again, there’s enough chatter to file it away.
32) New England Patriots, WR Hakeem Butler, Iowa State
Could go many directions, including corner with JoeJuan Williams. They need weapons with Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan gone and no guarantee Demaryius Thomas can return to form because of injuries and age.