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How they fit: Broncos' third-day picks bring 'juice'

Posted Apr 29, 2017

After some wheeling and dealing, the Broncos settled in and found players to bring some speed and explosion to the offense.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Head Coach Vance Joseph got the "juice" he wanted.

The Broncos' first two picks Saturday have the potential to change the scope and possibilities for the offense. Here's how they can:

TE JAKE BUTT - ROUND 5, NO. 145 OVERALL

Butt is in the midst of recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, so he is not expected to be ready until September. But when he completes his recovery, the Broncos have a potentially special contributor -- a first-round caliber talent who only slipped to the third day because of his injury.

He is exactly the kind of tight end Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway spoke of adding when he addressed the media Monday. Butt can work from the in-line alignment, next to the tackle. But his receiving skills, particularly in his crisp routes that allow him to create separation, make him a threat working in the slot and outside when needed.

At 246 pounds, he falls in the middle tier of this year's stacked tight-end class in terms of size. He brings more strength than early-round tight ends in the 230-239-pound range like Evan Engram (Giants, Round 1) and Gerald Everett (Rams, Round 2), but isn't in the 250-270-pound range like fellow mid-round choices Michael Roberts (Lions) and Jordan Leggett (Jets).

His willingness to involve himself in blocking should ensure that he eventually settles as an every-down tight end. His presence will not provide any kind of clue whether the play is a pass or a run.

"I don't want them to sub me out, put somebody else in on third-and-1," he said.

That's exactly what Elway and Tight Ends Coach Geep Chryst want to hear. Once Butt completes his knee rehabilitation, he should play extensively, and he could be an every-down threat for years to come if his health holds up.

WR ISAIAH McKENZIE - ROUND 5, No. 172 OVERALL

As with Butt, the Broncos probably didn't expect McKenzie to be on the board. Despite his small frame (5-foot-7, 173 pounds), McKenzie's game-breaking potential -- he scored once every seven offensive touches last year -- could have pushed him into the third round.

Instead, he was on the board two rounds later. He will provide some enticing possibilities for Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy and Special Teams Coordinator Brock Olivo.

On special teams, McKenzie will likely step into the competition on both punt and kickoff returns. He averaged 11.2 yards per punt return and 22.1 yards per kickoff return at Georgia. On punt returns, he will compete with second-year veteran Kalif Raymond and third-round selection Brendan Langley. He will grapple with third-round pick Carlos Henderson for kick return duties, with veteran Cody Latimer likely to be in the mix.

McKenzie was a good kickoff returner for the Bulldogs. But as a punt returner, he has elite potential, scoring five touchdowns in his career.

"Punt returns are my favorite," he said.

On offense, McKenzie's size means he does not project as an every-down option, but his change-of-direction quickness ensures that defenses will have to account for him whenever the takes the field. In addition to his work as a receiving target, McKenzie was effective on jet and fly sweeps at Georgia. As with Henderson and Butt, McKenzie represents an intriguing chess piece for McCoy to use.

RB DE'ANGELO HENDERSON - ROUND 6, NO. 203 OVERALL

In the wake of the Broncos' decision to trade Kapri Bibbs, Henderson has a chance to earn a spot in a running back corps that includes C.J. Anderson, Devontae Booker and offseason pickup Bernard Pierce.

Henderson set the Division I record for consecutive games with at least one touchdown (35) at Coastal Carolina. He racked up 4,635 yards over four seasons, averaging 6.4 yards per carry.

But the 5-foot-8, 208-pounder could make his first impact catching passes out of the backfield. Henderson grabbed 97 passes for 921 yards over his four years playing for the Chanticleers. That includes a 10.1-yard average in 2015, when he added three touchdowns on 40 receptions.

"I definitely take pride in my receiving game," Henderson said. "I'm hoping that can get me on the field faster."

Henderson began emerging while Olivo was on Coastal Carolina's staff before moving on to the Chiefs. That could open up some opportunities for multiple special-teams roles, which are essential responsibilities for a No. 3 running back.

"Whatever it takes to get me on the field, that's what I'm going to do," he said.

QB CHAD KELLY - ROUND 7, NO. 153 OVERALL

Past off-field issues kept Kelly from being a potential second-day pick and contributed to his slide down the draft board. But with the final selection of the draft, the Broncos felt the risk-reward ratio on the strong-armed passer was right.

There are reasons to believe that in time, Kelly can flourish. The nephew of Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, Chad Kelly had flashes of brilliance during his starting career at Mississippi, completing 64.0 percent of his passes while posting a 50-to-21 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

"He was my favorite quarterback in the draft," Head Coach Vance Joseph said. "He beat Alabama twice. That's tough to do as a college quarterback. He's a tough guy. He's smart. He's make some childish mistakes in the past, but he's learned from those things, so I'm comfortable with him."

Kelly tore his ACL last year and suffered another injury this spring, which will sideline him until August or September, Elway said. His latest injury will probably ensure that his rookie season is about learning while Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch compete for the starting job. But with practice repetitions and coaching from McCoy and Quarterbacks Coach Bill Musgrave, Kelly should grow.

His progress will be fascinating to watch.