Denver fans are clamoring for a new quarterback after the team missed the postseason for a sixth consecutive season.
But there’s a chance the top three QBs – in what’s considered an average to weak year at the position – won’t be available by the time Denver is on the clock.
The Broncos, though, have other needs. They’re about to lose three starters from the defensive backfield. They need a new right tackle. And they could use a pass rusher and a defensive tackle.
Cornerback, tackle and pass rusher are considered premium positions, meaning, those players typically go higher in the draft. That’s because it’s harder to find above-average players at those positions. For example, Iowa center Tyler Linderbaun is far-and-away the best player at his position and a likely first-rounder, but history says most centers taken at any round of the draft not only make their team, but many also get early playing time.
So Denver can probably pass on finding a new safety, inside linebacker and a new defensive tackle on Day 1.
And it’s hard to see Denver taking another cornerback in the first round after drafting Patrick Surtain II this past draft. Surtain had an impressive rookie season, with 58 tackles, 14 PDs and 4 INTs and 1 touchdown. He started 15 out of 16 games, and his 902 snaps were second on the team among defensive players.
Instead, look for the team to address both pass rusher and offensive tackle with their two picks before scanning the remaining quarterback landscape before deciding whether to take one with their second second-round pick.
Here are three names to watch:
From a physical standpoint, Ojabo compares favorably to recently traded Von Miller. Ojabo is listed at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds. Miller checked in at the 2011 Combine at 6-foot-3, 246 pounds. The two also show incredible speed for the position. Ojabo won the 2018 high school state title in the 100-meter dash with a 10.93, a personal best. Miller, meanwhile, ran a 4.53 at the Combine.
But Von Miller had a more productive final season at Texas A&M with 68 tackles, 17.5 TFLs, 10.5 sacks and 1 INT. By comparison, Ojabo had 35 tackles, 12 TFLs and 11 sacks this past season.
And Miller had more experience after playing in 47 games in four seasons. Ojabo is still learning the position. Born in Nigeria and raised in Scotland where he played soccer and basketball, Ojabo didn’t start playing football until his junior year at Blair Academy (N.J.) in 2017. He then barely played his first two seasons at Michigan as he failed to record a statistic as a freshman then had 1 tackle in six games as a sophomore. So, aside from this season’s stellar year, that’s all the tape scouts have on Ojabo. Translation: He’s the definition of a “boom or bust” player.
Another aspect of David Ojabo’s game I’ve really appreciated is he is always aware of where the QB is and tries to get his hands on the ball wherever he can.
Here he fires off the snap, drives into the tackle, rips through, and knocks the ball out! pic.twitter.com/GQtgr8pdT3
— Ben Glassmire (@BenGlassmireNFL) January 10, 2022
It was a bit of a surprise when the 6-foot-6, 332-pound redshirt sophomore announced he was entering the draft, but Smith will likely climb up draft boards in the weeks and months to follow. Considered one of the most aggressive linemen in this draft, Smith can play guard or tackle. Pro Football Network analyst Tony Pauline said Smith was a likely Day 2 pick. The Draft Network analyst Joe Marino also had high praise for Smith. From Marino: “If I’m an NFL OL coach, I am begging the GM to get me Tulsa OT Tyler Smith who would immediately become a guard for me. Among the most tenacious football players I’ve ever seen. He is as nasty as they come. Crazy power. Technique work is needed for sure but he is a monster!”
Tulsa LT Tyler Smith jumped on my radar in 2020 while I watching some Cincy defense last fall…
This dude was finishing defenders and blocking pass rushers (like Myjai Sanders) off the damn screen! pic.twitter.com/1V3OTYSmwb
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) December 30, 2021
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound redshirt junior could see his stock sore with a good showing at the Senior Bowl combined with positive medical news. But therein lies the problem: Can Strong withstand the rigors of a 17-game NFL season? As detailed by Yahoo Sports’ Eric Edholm, Strong suffered a knee injury in 2017 in high school, causing him to miss his senior year. It was at that point that he was reportedly diagnosed with a condition in which bone underneath the joint cartilage can die due to a lack of blood flow. He was also reportedly found to have a crack at the tip of his femur, Edholm says.
He then played through the 2020 season with what’s believe to be knee pain related to that high school injury. Prior to the start of this past season, Strong cleared for camp after getting a cleanup of his knee last January. Edholm also reports that Strong has allegedly had his knee drained more than once due to chronic swelling and bleeding.
Here’s what The Athletic draft analyst Dane Brugler said about Strong: “Strong-armed, confident passer. Not the most mobile. Combine medicals might be the most important part of his draft grade.”
Sounds kind of scary if you’re an NFL general manager.
But that’s why we’re not talking about Strong as a first-round prospect. Otherwise, he might have been considered right up there with Pittsburgh’s Kenny Picket, Ole Miss’ Matt Corral and North Carolina’s Sam Howell.
Another name to consider here in the second round is Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, if still available.
Either way, Denver is essentially playing with “house money” with two second-round picks; hence, the gamble in the second round on a QB.
I’m out of captions for these bonkers Carson Strong throws…how is that even possible???? pic.twitter.com/QeIO1eyEFq
— Ben Glassmire (@BenGlassmireNFL) January 17, 2022