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Thursday, April 17, 2014
Analyzing Kiper's Mock 4.0: Broncos

By Jeff Legwold

When it comes to where the Denver Broncos are pointing in next month's draft, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has consistently said the team will keep working to upgrade its defense.

To that end Kiper haspointed the team to that side of the ball much of the time in his mock drafts thus far, and stays with that theme in his latest as well.

With the 31st pick of the first round, Kiper has the Broncos selecting TCU cornerback Jason Verrett. And while Verrett is not as big as some of the other cornerbacks on the board -- he 5-foot-9-inches tall, 189 pounds -- his man-to-man skills are among the best in the draft.

In his career at TCU, he was routinely asked to match up with the best receivers and consistently kept the ball out of their hands. He played in far more man-to-man situations than many of the other cover players in the draft.

He held Baylor's Antwan Goodley to just one catch for 12 yards this past season and held Texas Tech's Eric Ware without a catch. Verrett also plays with an edge and is a quality tackler in the run game.

In that vein Verrett reminds some with the Broncos of Chris Harris Jr., an undersized but competitive, aggressive, smart cover player who has found a home on the team's defense.

In the second round, 62nd overall, Kiper has the Broncos selecting Stanford guard David Yankey. Yankey, a native of Austrailia, is one of the higest-ranked guards on the board, though he has played at tackle at Stanford as well.

At 6-5 5/8, 315 pounds he is a high-character player who also fits the power profile the Broncos want up front. While the Broncos believe Will Montgomery, a free-agent signee projects as their starting center, they are still looking for the right answer at left guard after Zane Beadles' departure in free agency.

The Broncos could either move right tackle Orlando Franklin into the left guard spot or put Manny Ramirez there if Montgomery wins the starting center job. But a player like Yankey could come in and compete right away.

Yankey has the strength to anchor against bull rushers and the reach to protect the gaps inside or protect the edge outside. He plays hard, can play multiple positions -- he started both at left tackle and guard for the Cardinal -- and would get a look at both right tackle and guard if the Broncos were to select him.