There is quality to be found in the 2018 NFL Draft once you get beyond the first day. But there is a signifiant variance by position as to where the quality exists -- especially into the second and third days.
"This is a draft that is deep in certain positions," President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway said. "It’s a little thinner in a lot of positions -- more so this year than in the past."
At last month's NFL Annual Meeting, Elway identified running back, cornerback and quarterback as areas where there was depth. However, the expected early-draft run on quarterbacks likely leaves the quality a bit lacking heading into the second day.
Running back and cornerback, however, are two positions that the Broncos could look to bolster on the second day, with a bevy of options beyond them.
RUNNING BACK** The sweet spot for this position could be the second or third round. Last year, Round 3 resulted in a harvest of talent for the Saints (Alvin Kamara) and the Chiefs (Kareem Hunt, the 2017 NFL rushing champion). Similar quality exists this year, and in the wake of C.J. Anderson's release, the Broncos will likely turn to the position at some point in the first four rounds.
“It’s a deep running back class, as I’m sure you’ve heard," Elway said. "That goes back into seeing how the board goes in that point in time and where everything is. It’s hard to predict where they are going to end up. It is a deep class. We feel good about the fact that we’ll be able to get a good one.”
*Potential Day 2 picks: *Nick Chubb, Georgia; Royce Freeman, Oregon; Kerryon Johnson, Auburn; Ronald Jones II, USC; John Kelly, Tennessee; Sony Michel, Georgia; Mark Walton, Miami (Fla.).
The addition of Tremaine Brock gives the Broncos some experienced depth behind Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby, but the quality and depth in this year's class might make this a good time to refortify the crop of young cornerbacks to create competition among a rookie and returning second-year cornerbacks Brendan Langley and Marcus Rios.
*Potential Day 2 picks: * Jaire Alexander, Louisville; Anthony Averett, Alabama; Carlton Davis, Auburn; Duke Dawson, Florida; Donte Jackson, LSU; Parry Nickerson, Tulane; Isaiah Oliver, Colorado; M.J. Stewart, North Carolina; Isaac Yiadom, Boston College.
The Broncos have addressed this position with Day 3 picks, undrafted free agents, waiver claims and practice-squad promotions over the last few years. Their two current starters, Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis, were both cut by their initial teams before landing in Denver.
But if the Broncos look to rebuild the depth at the position in the wake of Corey Nelson's free-agent departure for the Eagles, Head Coach Vance Joseph thinks they could look to an earlier round.
"That’s definitely an area we have to address in the draft," Joseph said in March. "We’ve drafted lower-round guys and [signed] free agents more often at inside 'backer, but we have a chance to draft a guy maybe higher."
*Potential Day 2 picks: *Genard Avery, Memphis; Lorenzo Carter, Georgia; Rashaan Evans, Alabama; Shaquem Griffin, Central Florida; Malik Jefferson, Texas; Josey Jewell, Iowa; Fred Warner, BYU.
Even if the Broncos pick up Shane Ray's fifth-year option, this is an area they could look to bolster as Ray comes back from a wrist injury while Shaquil Barrett heads into his last season before becoming eligible for unrestricted free agency.
*Potential Day 2 picks: *Dorance Armstrong Jr., Kansas; Duke Ejiofor, Wake Forest; Jeff Holland, Auburn; San Hubbard, Ohio State; Arden Key, LSU; Uchenna Nwosu, USC; Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma; Josh Sweat, Florida State; Kemoko Turay, Rutgers.
The Broncos have chosen a second-day offensive lineman three times in Elway's seven drafts. All of them started at some point during their Broncos careers -- most notably Orlando Franklin, a 2011 pick who became a four-year starter before leaving in free agency. But Franklin was the only one to make it to a fourth season with the Broncos.
The Broncos have a potential starting line in place, and if Connor McGovern continues to develop at right guard, they don't have a pressing need that forces them to add a lineman in the first two days of the draft if the value isn't right. But the need for reinforcements up front never really stops, so the Broncos could look to add a lineman to develop this year.
*Potential Day 2 picks: * OT Orlando Brown, Oklahoma; G Austin Corbett, Nevada; OT Tyrell Crosby, Oregon; G Colby Gossett, Appalachian State; OT Desmond Harrison, West Georgia; OT Jamarco Jones, Ohio State; OT Kolton Miller, UCLA; OT Joseph Noteboom, TCU; OT Brian O'Neill, Pittsburgh C/G Billy Price, Ohio State; C/G Scott Quessenberry, UCLA; C Frank Ragnow, Arkansas; OT Martinas Rankin, Mississippi State; G Wyatt Teller, Virginia Tech.
Denver addressed this spot with Jake Butt in the fifth round last year, but with Jeff Heuerman entering the final year of his rookie contract and Virgil Green having departed for the Chargers in free agency, this is a position the Broncos could look to bolster -- especially with another solid crop of prospects at the position.
*Potential Day 2 picks: *Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin; Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State; Chris Herndon, Miami (Fla.); Hayden Hurst, South Carolina; Ian Thomas, Indiana.
The Broncos picked two wide receivers in last year's draft class, but third-round pick Carlos Henderson didn't play a snap because of a thumb injury, while fifth-rounder Isaiah McKenzie eventually lost the punt-returner job and now must fight to get it back from Jordan Taylor, who stabilized that spot late in the season.
Henderson's development will bear monitoring, but as the Broncos prepare for the 2018 season, they could still use more production from the slot, and could look to develop some young talent on the outside behind nine-year veterans Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Henderson and late-season practice-squad addition River Cracraft are among the intriguing young receivers already in the Broncos' stable, but the draft does offer some prospects who could provide more depth and push for immediate roles in the rotation.
*Potential Day 2 picks: *Marcell Ateman, Oklahoma State; Deon Cain, Clemson; D.J. Chark, LSU; Daurice Fountain, Northern Iowa; Michael Gallup, Colorado State; DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State; Anthony Miller, Memphis; Tre'Quan Smith, Central Florida; Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame; Courtland Sutton, SMU; James Washington, Oklahoma State.
Elway said last week he had four first-round grades on four quarterbacks in the draft, and the Broncos have gone deep into their study of Wyoming's Josh Allen, USC's Sam Darnold, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield and UCLA's Josh Rosen, having multiple meetings over the course of the pre-draft process with each of them. Denver's coaching staff also worked with Allen and Mayfield at the Senior Bowl.
But if the Broncos wait to add a quarterback to their room, they could take a long look at other Senior Bowl quarterbacks. Three of them comprise the third tier behind the top quartet and Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph and Louisville's Lamar Jackson, both of whom are likely to be selected in the first round.
*Potential Day 2 picks: *Luke Falk, Washington State; Kyle Lauletta, Richmond; Mike White, Western Kentucky.