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Sunday, May 11, 2014
Kiper's grade is in for the Broncos

By Jeff Legwold

The Denver Broncos were picking late in this year’s NFL draft – 31st in each round – and after all was said and done, with a trade here and a trade there, they turned their original seven picks into six selections.

They filled some needs with some athleticism, stuck to their board, but upon further review ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. tought their efforts were slightly above averageInsider.

While their first four picks each project to earn at least some playing time as rookies in the coming season, the immediate starters, because of the construction of the Broncos' current depth chart, could come from the middle rounds.

Tackle Michael Schofield, a witty young man who answered repeated questions about his inability to keep weight on his 6-foot-6 frame with “I make 300 [pounds] look good,’’ will get every opportunity to earn the starting job on the right side of the line.

It will be an interesting training camp since the Broncos have often leaned toward veterans in the offensive front with the current coaching staff. Orlando Franklin started at right tackle as a rookie in 2011, but has now been moved for a test drive at left guard in offseason workouts. But in the three previous drafts of the John Elway/John Fox regime the Broncos selected three offensive linemen, one in each of those draft classes. Of the three only Franklin played as a rookie and one – center Philip Blake – was cut last season.

But Schofield has the size and skill set to break through.  He was a right tackle at Michigan but was athletic enough that he was told by the Wolverines’ coaching staff he would have been moved to left tackle had Taylor Lewan – a first-round pick in this year’s draft – not returned for his senior season in 2013.

And the other potential starter, at least if he can progress quickly, is fifth-round pick Lamin Barrow. Barrow, who can play the weakside spot as well as middle linebacker in the Broncos’ scheme, will at least get a look there during offseason work.

The Broncos like what Nate Irving has done already in this offseason, but the Broncos continue to want more speed and athleticism in the formation and Irving is seen as a two-down player. Lamin is seen as a potential three-down player in the Broncos' scheme, but he has a lot of ground to make up to make that happen.