The NFL Draft is slated for April 23-25, providing seven rounds for the Broncos and other teams to find their stars of the future. At this point, Denver is slated to have 11 total picks, five of which will fall within the first 95 selections. In other words, John Elway will have plenty of assets to work with throughout the weekend.
What will he do with those picks? That’s anyone’s guess. But in the coming weeks, 1043TheFan.com will provide an overview of the best prospects.
Today, we continue by looking at a position where many people would like to see the Broncos make a change (or two) – offensive tackle. On the left side, Garett Bolles has become a bit of a punch line in Denver. “Holding, No. 72” rings in the ears of fans, as the left tackle has struggled with penalties. But at least Bolles gets on the field. On the other side, Ja’Wuan James hardly plays. After signing a four-year, $51 million contract prior to last season, the right tackle played in only parts of three games for Denver. So if the Broncos want to change things via the draft, here are the players to consider for the job:
Top Five on the Board
1. Jedrick Wills Jr. – Almost every scouting report on the Alabama tackle refers to his mentality. He’s repeatedly referred to as “a dog,” which is meant as a high compliment. Wills is tenacious on the field, as he doesn’t back down from any opponent. The only thing hurting his stock is that he played right tackle in college; whether or not he can make the transition to the left side in the pros remains a question mark.
2. Mekhi Beckton – At 6-foot-7 and nearly 370 pounds, the thing that first jumps out about Beckton is his size. He’s just a massive human being. Combine his physical stature with his athletic ability and we’re talking about an unbelievable prospect. He can simply overwhelm opponents in the running game, while also making it very difficult for pass rushers to get around him. He dominated at Louisville, something he should also do in the NFL.
3. Andrew Thomas – For whatever reason, Thomas has seen his stock bounce all over the board. It was up, then it was down, and now it’s up again. This is a classic example of scouts overthinking things. He’s the prototypical tackle, checking in at 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds. He has good feet, great strength and a high football IQ. Thomas started at left tackle for three seasons in the SEC; if he’s good enough for Georgia, he’s good enough for the NFL.
4. Tristan Wirfs – Most teams have Wirfs as the second-best tackle on the board. That seems odd, given that many of those same reports talk about the Iowa product’s ability to move inside and play guard. In fact, a lot of scouts think he’s better suited to play interior offensive line, given the fact that his pass sets aren’t the best. That’s a bit of a red flag for someone projected as a top-10 pick.
5. Austin Jackson – At USC, Jackson certainly faced elite-level competition. And admittedly, there were times he struggled, particularly with speed rushers. But overall, he’s a very good tackle. He’ll most likely fall in the second or third round, providing a great value for whoever decides to take him. Jackson’s biggest weakness is perhaps his demeanor; he’s a bit too nice to play in the trenches, according to some teams.
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