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Thursday, April 10, 2014
Analyzing McShay mock 4.0: Broncos

By Jeff Legwold

Over the course of his work on this year’s draft, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has kept the Denver Broncos focused on defense, including last month’s mock draft when McShay had the Broncos selecting Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy with the 31st pick.

And in his latest effort -- a two-round mock -- McShay again has the Broncos opening their draft with a defensive player

After the Broncos’ binge with the checkbook in free agency that included a cornerback (Aqib Talib), a safety (T.J. Ward) and a defensive end (DeMarcus Ware), McShay projects Minnesota defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman as the Broncos' first selection next month.

Hageman certainly fits the physical profile defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio likes in the position -- 6-foot-5 7/8 inches tall, 310 pounds -- with a big reach and quality quickness for a player his size. A former tight end when he arrived to the Gophers’ program, he has maintained plenty of athleticism as he has grown into his role in the defensive line.

And there is plenty of precedent. Since taking his current job with the team John Elway has used the team’s first pick of a draft on a defensive lineman twice -- Derek Wolfe in the second round in 2012 and Sylvester Williams in the first round last season. He also selected an edge rusher in the opening round -- linebacker Von Miller -- second overall in 2011.

The Broncos have Terrance Knighton under contract for one more season and expect Williams to push for even more playing time as Kevin Vickerson returns from a 2013 hip injury that landed him on injured reserve in November. So they could bring along a player like Hageman at whatever pace his play earned him.

Hageman did have a misdemeanor arrest in 2012 for disorderly conduct and was suspended three games in 2010 for academic issues. But he had a horrific childhood until he was adopted into a stable home. Teams are vigorously investigating him as they try to project him as a pro.

Overall, he’s a durable, athletic player at a position where those players are exceedingly difficult to find.

In the second round, McShay has the Broncos selecting Clemson wide receiver Martavis Bryant, a player ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. also positioned for the Broncos in his recent three-round mock draft.

The Broncos will certainly take a long look at deep board at wide receiver with top-shelf size and speed to be found well into the third day, according to several scouts.

Bryant is one of the bigger wide receivers on the board at 6-3¾, 211 pounds. But Bryant is also raw, having started just 13 games in his career at Clemson.

Bryant does have some ill-timed drops on his résumé -- he lets the ball get to his body too often -- but the athleticism is there and he will be a vertical threat early in his career with 4.42 speed in the 40-yard dash. The learning curve would be steep for him in a Broncos offense that does plenty at the line of scrimmage and changes on the fly, so his impact could be muted as a rookie because of that.