Denver Broncos 7-round mock draft
Round 1, Pick 15: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
I shouldn’t lead with speed, because designating generational speed to prospects can cause the association of a negative connotation, that they are being overrated due to that speed. John Ross and Tavon Austin are a couple of cautionary tales that come to mind. But I can assure you: Henry Ruggs III is far more than just a speed receiver.
Sure, Ruggs’ speed is the first thing you’ll notice when you watch him take a shallow crosser to the house. The Alabama product has insane short-range acceleration and long-speed in the ninety-ninth percentile. He can clear congested areas before being touched, and he can turn seemingly minimal gains into momentum-changing plays with his ability to stretch the field in the blink of an eye.
Ruggs’ speed gets all the publicity, but there’s more to his game. His explosiveness isn’t just a straight-line trait. He has incredible lateral quickness at the line, which he uses to compile a diverse set of releases to beat press coverage. He also has the vertical athleticism and burst to high-point passes and snare contested throws. While he’s not the most physical receiver, he’s a tough pass catcher with an attacker’s mentality. And he’s a near-perfect fit for the new era in Denver.
Pro Football Network senior draft analyst Brad Kelly named Ruggs as a likely target for the Broncos in Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft. To see his in-depth film breakdown on Ruggs and other speed receivers, click here.
Other picks considered: OT Mekhi Becton, CB Kristian Fulton, S Grant Delpit, WR Laviska Shenault
Round 2, Pick 46: Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma
We’ve added a top talent for Drew Lock on offense. Now, it’s time to supplement the defense and make sure Lock isn’t always playing catch up. It’ll take more than one pick to complete that task, but adding a player with pass-rushing upside and run defense utility on the interior can help maximize the team’s stalwart edge-rushing duo, and thus help the secondary.
Neville Gallimore is a good fit for that role. He’s not the biggest defensive lineman you’ll find, standing at around 6-foot-2 and 304 pounds. But Gallimore is still a very imposing figure, with outrageous explosiveness and power at the line. He moves very well in congested areas, and he has the strength to both hold firm in run defense and splice through double teams as a pass rusher. Gallimore’s athleticism should come into focus at the NFL Combine, and solidify his status as a future impact starter with versatility on the defensive line.
Other picks considered: OL Lloyd Cushenberry, S Antoine Winfield, CB Cameron Dantzler, EDGE Zach Baun
Round 3, Pick 77: Cesar Ruiz, iOL, Michigan
The ageless football adage states that the game is won in the trenches, and that’s one universal truth that old-school football minds will be able to cling to for eternity. Dominating the trenches is still very much conducive to success, and at this Broncos 7-round mock draft selection, addressing the offensive line is paramount.
Cesar Ruiz gives the Broncos some versatility here. He’s a strong, athletic lineman who has the upside to play both guard and center at the next level. Depending on what happens with Connor McGovern in free agency, the Broncos could slot Ruiz in at one of those two spots on the interior. Ruiz can work on translating his power to hand placement consistently as a pass blocker, but he’s a smart, well-equipped athlete with enticing developmental potential, and he should be able to keep Lock clean for years on end.
Other picks considered: CB AJ Terrell, WR KJ Hamler, OG Logan Sternberg, OT Ezra Cleveland
Round 3, Pick 83: Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn
The Broncos could use just about any profile at cornerback, but since Bryce Callahan figures to be in the equation in the slot, if Harris leaves in free agency, I decided to go with a profile best suited for the boundary.
That said, Auburn’s Noah Igbinoghene has the upside to play pretty much anywhere in the secondary.
Igbinoghene, standing at 6-foot-0, 200, is fairly raw; he still has a long way to go in terms of his development. He has an aggressive play style in open space, but in press coverage, he’s too passive with his hands, and when defending passes, his lack of precise hand usage can get him into trouble.
What’s exciting about Igbinoghene, however, is that he has every physical tool needed to develop and transcend his competition. He has the explosive lateral athleticism to compensate for his passive nature, as well as the long speed to stay in stride with receivers. He also has impressive short-range burst and length, which he uses to flash impressive ball skills and disruption ability. With an opportunity and the right coaches, Igbinoghene could become a premier cornerback on the outside, with the versatility to move around the field.
Other picks considered: WR KJ Hamler, OT Lucas Niang, S Kyle Dugger, OG Shane Lemieux
Round 3, Pick 95: KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State
I was surprised to have KJ Hamler available at #83, so you can bet I rushed to the podium for this selection. On the one hand, it seems unlikely that Hamler will be available this late, but NFL teams can be weird about receiver size. Of the 75 receivers picked on Day 1 or Day 2 since 2014, only one was under 5-foot-10: Massachusetts’ Andy Isabella in 2019. Hamler measures in at 5-foot-9 and around 180 pounds, which could cause him to drop.
Were that to be the case, the Broncos would be the beneficiaries, as Hamler is a dynamic threat in a similar mold to Ruggs, with searing play speed. He’s not as tough, as physical, or as long as Ruggs, but he has a similar turbo button he can press in open field, and he’s exceptionally jittery and elusive, both as a route runner and with the ball in his hands. For Pat Shurmur’s offense, the Penn State product is just another dynamic weapon who can spread the field.
Other picks considered: OT Lucas Niang, S Kyle Dugger, LB Akeem Davis-Gaither, EDGE Kenny Willekes