ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** In each of the past two years, the Broncos brass has bucked expectations on Day 1 of the NFL Draft by making modest trades to snag highly graded players within their reach. If that opportunity arises again in 2017, will the Broncos do the same?
"I don't see that," ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said on a conference call with media Monday.
What Kiper, like many others in the business of forecasting the draft, does see for the Broncos is a pressing need at offensive line that they must address. However, Kiper notes what's uncommon about this draft is that many, if not all, of the top offensive tackles may still be available once the Broncos are on the clock with the 20th overall pick.
In this fourth edition of the mock draft roundup, Garett Bolles has overtaken Ryan Ramczyk as the most popular first-round pick for the Broncos. (AP Images)
"I think the offensive line is still the area and you're not going to trade up for any of those guys, I don't think, because they don't have a high-enough grade right now to trade up for where they're picking, whether it's Garett Bolles of Utah, Cam Robinson of Alabama or Ryan Ramczyk [of] Wisconsin," Kiper said. "All three of those guys — I think two of those three would be there — maybe all three are there.
That's how it went in his most-recent mock draft, at least. On April 5, Kiper predicted that each of the three top tackle prospects would be available when the Broncos picked. Ultimately, Kiper selected Ramczyk to the Broncos, saying, "[T]he 6-foot-6, 310-pound Ramczyk could compete at both tackle spots."
In that same mock draft, Kiper's counterpart, Todd McShay, had the Broncos taking Bolles, which is a move that Kiper could also see on Thursday.
"Bolles is interesting," Kiper said. "I think he's a little bit kind of risk-reward there."
But the one move Kiper can't see is the one they've made in the previous two years — trading up, as they did in 2015 and 2016 for Shane Ray and Paxton Lynch, respectively.
"I wouldn't say they have to," Kiper began, "but I think the offensive line is the issue they need to solve."