Thursday, February 6, 2014
Kiper/McShay mock draft reax: Broncos
By Jeff Legwold
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- At the intersection of need and projected availability for the Denver Broncos at the bottom of the first round in May's draft, both Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have the Broncos looking at the same position in their latest mock drafts.
There's certainly a rather substantial pile of logic for those selections. The Broncos have six defensive backs who will be either unrestricted or restricted free agents, including Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Chris Harris Jr. who is also just beginning his road back from a torn ACL suffered in the divisional-round win over the San Diego Chargers.
There is also the matter of Champ Bailey's $10 million salary-cap figure for the 2014 season, something the Broncos likely will want to address in the coming weeks. And Bailey's willingness to do the same could affect whether the Broncos keep him for the final year of his contract.
Kiper has the Broncos selecting Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby (here's Mel's first-round projection), while McShay has the Broncos selecting TCU cornerback Jason Verrett (here's Todd's first round).
Roby is one of the better pure athletes on the board, but the video shows his concentration wavers at times. Overall, he closes to the ball with upper-tier quickness, has quality change-of-direction skills, is a willing tackler -- his 69 tackles were third on the team last season -- and will be one of the fastest players on the board.
He's also a little bigger than many of the other cornerback prospects -- 5-foot-11, 192 pounds -- and the big corners traditionally move up the board on draft day. Roby suffered a bone bruise to his knee in the Big Ten championship game and did not play in the Buckeyes' Orange Bowl loss to Clemson.
Roby also will have questions to answer at the scouting combine. He was suspended for the team's season opener this past season after an arrest last summer -- a misdemeanor battery charge was lowered to a Class B disorderly conduct after a bar incident in Bloomington, Ind. -- and he entered a pre-trial diversion program that will erase the charge from his record if he has no other incidents for a year.
Verrett is undersized, so some teams may shy away from him, but his man-to-man cover skills are clear. He was routinely asked to match up with the best receivers across from him and shut people down. In the end, when teams finish their evaluations of him, he will have played in man-to-man situations more than most of the cornerback prospects on the board.
He held Baylor's Antwan Goodley to just one catch for 12 yards this past season and held Texas Tech's Eric Ward without a catch. Verrett also plays with an edge and is a quality tackler in the run game.
Broncos head coach John Fox, who broke into the NFL as Chuck Noll's defensive backs coach in Pittsburgh, routinely prefers corners with reach and size. That said, he also respects the kind of man-to-man skills Verrett has shown. Harris is an undersized but competitive, aggressive, smart cover player who has found a home on the team's defense.