The Denver Broncos continue to get face-to-face with prospects who have piqued their interest for next month’s draft.
They have been in front of their allotment at the college all-star games, the scouting combine and continue to do their homework as they bring many into their Dove Valley complex to meet with coaches and executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway.
Here is the second of an occasional look at the prospects who have attracted Denver's attention as it moves toward the May 8-10 draft.
In a class of wide receivers with as much depth and talent as is on this draft board, the Broncos will likely have several picks in which the best available player will be a receiver. They added Emmanuel Sanders in free agency, but lost Eric Decker. Also, there is Wes Welker's concussion history, which includes two this past season.
But when a run on the top receivers comes, and it could come and as early as the top half of the first round, the Broncos aren’t expected to have a chance at any of the names on that short list when their pick rolls around at No. 31.
But at least one receiver they’ve met with who will be worth a long look with that initial pick is Mississippi’s Donte Moncrief. Moncrief is 6-foot-2 3/8-inches tall, 221 pounds and blistered the turf inside Lucas Oil Stadium at the scouting combine with a 4.40 40-yard dash on the electronic clock -- a 4.35 hand-time for some scouts.
That’s one of the bigger pass-catchers in a class full of them with elite speed. Moncrief’s catch radius is enormous as well with a 77 7/8-inch wingspan, and he has the ability to stress a defense deep. Thirteen of his past 16 touchdowns catches for the Rebels went for 20 yards or more with seven of those having gone for at least 50 yards.
Some of his routes in the short and intermediate areas need polish and occasionally you see a "double-catch" bobble or two on the game video, but his athleticism gives him a chance to contribute quickly.
Scouts have said he’s a hard worker and a willing blocker in the run game. In short, there’s plenty to like.
Down the board another receiver to keep an eye on is Wyoming’s Robert Herron. At 5-9 1/8, Herron would seem undersized at first blush, but he’s a solid 193 pounds and played some at running back in his first season with the Cowboys, including a nine-carry, 122-yard day again New Mexico. He runs through contact, makes catches in traffic and would be willing to battle physical corners.
He also ran 4.48 in the 40 at the combine and battled some of the best defensive backs in this draft at the Senior Bowl. In 2012 he had five catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns against a Texas secondary that included current New Orleans Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro.
The Broncos have dipped into the Kentucky defense with great success at linebacker in recent years -- Wesley Woodyard in 2008 to go with Danny Trevathan in 2012 -- and have another former Wildcats linebacker on the front burner.
Avery Williamson is a 6-1, 246-pound inside linebacker with plenty of athleticism -- a 4.66 40 at the combine. Williamson didn’t quite lead the SEC in tackles like Woodyard and Trevathan did in their careers in Lexington, but he was fourth in the league in ’13 with 102 tackles.
The Broncos have taken a long look at plenty of inside linebackers because it is still very much a need position on their depth chart. And while it’s a lot to ask for a rookie to play in the middle of their 4-3 look, Williamson is one of the prospects who would have a shot to do it.