With the 2020 NFL Draft just under two weeks away, our Broncos insiders Aric DiLalla and Phil Milani took a stab at doing John Elway's job. Using a mock draft simulator, Aric and Phil each took a turn making the Broncos' first five selections of this year's draft. All picks for other teams were made by the online simulation.
The Broncos hold five picks in the first three rounds, and they're likely the Broncos' best chance to add difference-makers in this year's draft. Though both Aric and Phil have indicated they'd be willing to trade — and we've seen Elway choose to do so on plenty of occasions — this mock draft did not include trades. Additionally, Aric and Phil were only able to run the simulator once. They were not allowed to start over due to circumstances of the draft or to procure a better class.
Below, you'll see the classes they drafted for the Broncos — and you'll also find an explanation of why they made their picks. In some situations, their picks were influenced by the different circumstances they faced.
After you view their classes, scroll to the end of the page to vote on whether Aric or Phil did a better job.
Aric's Draft Class:
Rd. 1, No. 15 overall: WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Henry Ruggs and CeeDee Lamb were off the board by the time I picked … but Jeudy was still on the board. I ran to the virtual podium to announce the selection, as Jeudy may be the most talented receiver in the draft. He's received comparisons to Antonio Brown, and he's a polished route-runner. He instantly adds juice to the Broncos' offense.
Rd. 2, No. 46 overall: OL Lloyd Cushenberry III, LSU
I worried a bit when Cesar Ruiz was drafted by the Dolphins at No. 26 that a run on interior offensive linemen was going to start early. Both Cushenberry and Temple's Matt Hennessy were on the board, and I went with the second-team All-American from LSU. There were plenty of talented wide receivers on the board when I made my second pick, including Brandon Aiyuk and Laviska Shenault Jr., so I would've been fine if Jeudy wasn't on the board. And while I had to pass up a few other talented players I like, Cushenberry was the right choice. He filled a major need.
Rd. 3, No. 77 overall: CB Bryce Hall, Virginia
Grabbing Hall at No. 77 feels like a major steal. Though an ankle injury cut short his senior year, he's a physical tackler who excels in zone coverage and makes plays on the ball. In Vic Fangio's defense, I wasn't willing to draft a cornerback who was a poor tackler. Hall has been compared to James Bradberry, whom the Broncos considered in free agency. He seems like a future starter, and he could contribute this year for Denver, if healthy. For the Broncos, that fulfills another area of need.
Rd. 3, No. 83 overall: T Prince Tega Wanogho, Auburn
While I considered linebacker a bigger need at No. 83, the value just wasn't there. Malik Harrison went off the board at No. 70, and Logan Wilson was picked at No. 74. Instead, I went with Auburn's tackle. By most accounts, he's a bit of a developmental player. He has all the physical tools, but his technique is inconsistent. I'll trust Offensive Line Coach Mike Munchak to help him reach his high ceiling and groom him to be a starter in the future.
Rd. 3, No. 95 overall: LB Troy Dye, Oregon
I grab my linebacker with the 95th pick. Dye led the Ducks in tackles during all four of his seasons in Eugene, and he's a capable three-down linebacker. Dye may be available in the fourth or fifth round, but I wanted to make sure I added a 'backer for the purpose of this exercise. In today's NFL, you can never have enough linebackers that can cover in space.
Phil's Draft Class:
Rd. 1, No. 15 overall: WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Jerry Jeudy available with the 15th-overall pick? Are you kidding me? I only hesitated for a minute because my plan coming into the draft was to take a cornerback or linebacker in the first round and wait to take a wide receiver with such a deep class this year. But with Jeudy still there, I couldn't resist. Not only was he the best-available player, but he also fills a big need for the Broncos. Jeudy is the highest-ranked receiver on my big board, and his combination of speed and route running will make him a starter on Day 1. The 2018 Biletnikoff Award winner is a proven commodity with 26 touchdown receptions and should complement Courtland Sutton nicely. Now if only the rest of the draft can go this well!
Rd. 2, No. 46 overall: CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama
John Elway has never drafted a player from Alabama, but this year the Broncos make it two in a row.
This was a tough pick for me because Lloyd Cushenberry III, the outstanding center from LSU, was available and would fill an immediate need. But I felt this high in the draft, there was better value taking a chance on Diggs. He is an athletic cornerback who had three interceptions last season and was second team All-SEC. Originally recruited as an athlete, Diggs played both wide receiver and cornerback his freshman year before focusing on defense. So he is a little raw technique-wise, but the potential to be a long-term starter is there. Plus, I like the competitive nature of younger brothers of NFL players (Bills WR Stefon Diggs).
Rd. 3, No. 77 overall: LB Malik Harrison, Ohio St.
I like linebackers who have a nose for the football. Harrison racked up 156 tackles over his final two seasons in Columbus and was named first-team All-Big Ten as a senior. At 6-foot-3 and 247 pounds, he has the physical tools to help the Broncos' run defense immediately, although his coverage skills may limit him to being a two-down linebacker.
Rd. 3, No. 83 overall: T Lucas Niang, TCU
At this point in the draft, I turned my attention to the offensive line and took the best player available. Niang is coming off hip surgery that ended his senior season early but saw a good amount of game action as a three-year starter out of TCU. At 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds, his size might be an issue for some schemes, but I think he could be a solid backup for a year or two as he refines his pass sets working with Munchak before eventually becoming a starter.
Rd. 3, No. 95 overall: IOL Damien Lewis, LSU
This pick might have been a stretch here, but with so much of the attention going toward Cushenberry on that LSU offensive line, maybe Lewis flew under the radar during the Tigers' run to winning the national championship. Coming out of the SEC, Lewis has faced some of the best interior defensive linemen in the country and should be a solid backup for the Broncos as a rookie. And depending on what the plan is at center, Lewis might even see some playing time sooner rather than later.