Pick No. 106 (fourth round): Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell
There’s nothing wrong with mastering the basics.
And man, has Josey Jewell sure mastered them at linebacker.
The Iowa product was among the surest tacklers in the nation while at Iowa, and he racked up the fourth-most tackles in Hawkeye history.
Twenty-two times in his career, Jewell recorded more than 10 tackles in a game. He finished with the most tackles of any Big Ten player in 2017 and has the fifth-most career tackles of any Big Ten player since 2005.
That alone makes him a positive addition to the Broncos’ linebacking corps, which already includes Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis. Pro Football Focus has long identified Davis among the NFL’s linebackers with the fewest missed tackles.
Following the departure of Corey Nelson to the Eagles, though, the Broncos needed to fill a void.
Jewell does just that, and what he lacks in speed — he ran a 4.82-second 40-yard dash at the Combine — he makes up for in football intelligence.
“A lot of that is instincts,” said Jewell when explaining how he is able to overcome that challenge. “A lot of film watching for me. Being able to get in there with my teammates and watch extra film. I watch extra film with assistant coaches being there with us. We are in there trying to understand offenses as much as we can, understand what formations that they run certain plays to pass out of and certain three-step drops and stuff like that. There is a lot of film stuff going in to it.
“It really helped me because I did not run the fastest time ever – not even close. I had to be able to make up from somewhere else. “
Jewell could also make an instant contribution on special teams.
- Aric DiLalla
"Denver is killing it, by the way, in this draft." - @wingoz
Pick No. 113 (fourth round): Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton
DaeSean Hamilton, the second wide receiver taken by Denver in the 2018 NFL Draft, was nothing short of dynamic at Penn State, where he started all four years.
In an explosive offense that featured fellow 2018 draft picks running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Mike Gesicki, Hamilton was not always the top option for the Nittany Lions, but when they needed him, he often came up big.
Though he stands at 6-foot-1, Hamilton was a dangerous red-zone option and had nine touchdowns in 2018. He showed exceptional ability to make catches on jump balls in tight windows and averaged 16.2 yards per catch during his senior season. He also was able to make catches through contact as a slot receiver.
As he prepares for the transition to the NFL, Hamilton's focus has been to add quickness, so that he can rely on more than his hands and his size when he faces the combination of talent and athleticism that cornerbacks bring to the field at the next level.
"I’ve been working on being fast, being faster in everything I do," Hamilton said. "Making all my routes look the same, no wasted movements — because the speed of the game is a lot faster than what you see in college. When it comes to the Big Ten, I think that’s still an advantage because you see a lot of NFL caliber guys, a lot of those guys have gone in the first, second and third round already. I’m just trying to make everything a lot quicker and a lot more sudden, getting in and out of cuts and creating separation at all times."
- Ben Swanson
Pick No. 156 (fifth round): Wisconsin tight end Troy Fumagalli
A former walk-on who became a second-team All-American selection by the Associated Press, Troy Fumagalli was a big part of the Badgers' offense, particularly in his final two seasons. He totaled 1,127 yards on 93 receptions with six touchdowns, and he helped as an extra blocker in Wisconsin's run-heavy offense.
As a receiver, Fumagalli excels at finding soft coverage over the middle, providing a safety-valve option that quarterback Alex Hornibrook clearly cherished. With soft hands and an ability to snag passes in tight coverage in crowded spaces of the field, Fumagalli averaged 12.1 yards per catch.
His large frame didn't just allow him the ability to make big catches. He was also a very capable blocker for running backs Corey Clement in 2016 and Jonathan Taylor in 2017.
"I just think I’m a well-rounded player and I think the pro-style offense — [Tight Ends] Coach [Geep] Chryst coached in the league for so long and he has a plan, a system and a scheme," Fumagalli said. "All the things we do at the tight end position, both blocking and catching, I think things like that will translate to the next level."
Fumagalli should prove to be a good run blocker for the Broncos following his time at Wisconsin, but he should also give the Broncos the ability to play in sets featuring two tight ends, if the team desires. After years of searching for a middle-of-the-field weapon, the Broncos may now have several, including 2017 fifth-round pick Jake Butt.
"It sounds like a great room with a great group of guys that I’ve been fortunate enough to watch play in the Big Ten and played against some of them," Fumagalli said. "I know their game and what a lot of them do and I’m excited about it."
Pick No. 183 (sixth round): Arizona State guard Sam Jones
In Sam Jones, the Broncos find a player who can help bulk up the interior of their offensive line.
Jones, who earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors following his redshirt junior season, is a “lean, athletic guard who has the quickness to make reach blocks and backside cut-offs on the second level,” according to NFL analyst Lance Zierlein.
Zierlein projects Jones may eventually move to center, but his ability to protect the passer and help clear rushing lanes likely appealed to the Broncos.
With the addition of the Royce Freeman, the Broncos appear committed to finding a physical running back. Players like Jones are then inherently necessary to help pave the way.
Pick No. 217 (sixth round): Washington ILB Keishawn Bierria
As the second linebacker to be picked by the Broncos on the third day of the draft, Bierria will be expected to compete in a deep room led by veterans Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis.
But whereas fourth-round pick Josey Jewell's top attribute is being a tackling machine, Bierria's is having a nose for recovering or forcing turnovers. Bierria secured six interceptions, seven fumbles and four forced fumbles in his career. He also recorded 240 career total tackles and 7.5 sacks.
The Broncos struggled to come up with turnovers in 2017, snagging just 10 interceptions and recovered seven of eight fumbles they forced. Those combined 17 takeaways ranked 26th in the NFL.
If Bierria's turnover touch continues at the next level, he could be a very valuable contributor for the Broncos.
Pick No. 226 (seventh round): Arkansas RB David Williams
The Broncos refilled their running backs room in the draft after bringing third-round pick Royce Freeman and seventh-round pick David Williams into the fold. Williams finished his collegiate career at Arkansas as a graduate transfer after playing three seasons at South Carolina.
He was a strong runner for the Razorbacks, averaging 5.8 yards per carry, and he was an efficient receiver out of the backfield, recording 17.1 yards per catch. Speed appeared to be a concern, as his longest run in 2017 was 26 yards, but he ran a solid 4.52-second 40-yard dash at Arkansas' pro day.
""I think [my run style] is versatile," Williams said. "I think I can do everything out of the backfield. I am a great pass protector. I catch well out of the backfield. I can also run in between the tackles with elite speed to get away if I am getting chased."
Williams will be expected to compete with the rest of the Broncos' young running backs as the group looks to find a new starter after the team released veteran C.J. Anderson.