Let’s do this one final time.
Having done a little more research and talked to a few more people the last couple days, I am confident the Broncos’ first-round draft pick – whether it’s with their current No. 10 overall selection or first, first-round choice if they trade back – will come from one of these candidates (in what I think would be the order):
Tight end, Iowa
The Broncos’ new quarterback, Joe Flacco, loves to target tight ends. See the pass-catch stats for Todd Heap (2008-10), Ed Dickson (2011), Dennis Pitta (2012, ’16). The Broncos’ new offensive coordinator, Rich Scangarello, loves to target tight ends. See George Kittle in San Francisco.
Hockenson is the best blocker among the athletic receiving tight ends in the draft.
Inside linebacker, Michigan
Vic Fangio’s 3-4 defense requires at least one fast inside linebacker. Bush may only be 5-11, 234, but he runs the 40 in 4.43 and he plays with relentless tenacity.
An all-around player who had 18.5 tackles for loss, 10.0 sacks and 11 pass deflections his final two seasons for Jim Harbaugh.
And remember, Fangio and Harbaugh are close, having coached together in San Francisco and Stanford. Gotta think Fangio would take Harbaugh’s Bush instead of LSU’s Devin White, who is a similar player.
Defensive end, Houston
An inside penetrator who averaged 17.6 tackles for loss in his three seasons for Cougars. We all saw him screaming at his coach on the sidelines this year. The Broncos don’t have to worry about that. He ain’t screaming at Bill Kollar or Vic Fangio. (At least not with Kollar or Fangio screaming back).
Offensive guard, Alabama
In the Scangarello zone blocking scheme, Williams has the athleticism to get it down on the inside, and he could also eventually move back out to his natural left tackle position if Garett Bolles continues to struggle with consistency.
Quarterback, Ohio State
Any of these QBs, probably in that order, could be the Broncos’ choice if they trade back from No. 10. Do not believe John Elway will take a QB at No. 10.
Tight end, Iowa
A trade-back option. Will need to dramatically improve his blocking but he’s the top receiving mismatch among tight ends.
A trade-back option. Given the Chris Harris contract conflict, the Broncos may have to look stronger at corners. Greedy Williams is the best cover guy and Baker is a four-year player and strong tackler.