ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — We're less than three weeks away from the draft, and Broncos Country is begging to know what Denver is going to do with the 15th-overall pick — and the selections that follow.
In this edition of "Ask Aric," I do my best to answer these draft-related questions and a whole lot more.
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If the top 3 wide receivers are gone by 15 what do you think about the idea of trading back into the 20s grabbing Cesar Ruiz from Michigan and double-dipping in the third round on wide receiver? Having Risner, Ruiz and Glasgow in the middle of that O-Line looks really appealing. – Bradly H.
I like the idea of trading down, perhaps even if one of the top three receivers in Henry Ruggs III, Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb is still on the board. If a team wants one of those guys — or another player — badly enough, the Broncos could pick up an extra second-round pick to move down a few spots. I'm not sure if Ruiz is the right guy, though. He's graded as the best center in the draft, but he's only 37th on NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah's list of top prospects. That raises two issues for me. First, it seems like the Broncos would be pulling the trigger too early to grab him in the early 20s. If they go to the late 20s, that raises another concern for me. I think by dropping 10-15 spots in the draft order, the Broncos are passing up a bunch of really quality players. I'd much rather trade down just a few spots, pick up a player like LB Kenneth Murray or Patrick Queen and then package that extra pick with one of Denver's existing third rounders to move back into the late first round or early second. In that case, then maybe Ruiz becomes an option. He certainly would fit in well with Risner and Glasgow, but there are other interior linemen that could also work for Denver.
Is the buzz attaching Henry Ruggs III to Denver real or a smokescreen? – Ian M.
We know that the Broncos held off on a receiver in free agency because of the depth of the draft class, but we have no real indication that Ruggs is their guy. There have been no reports of Ruggs meeting with the team via a video call. Are they purposefully being quiet about Ruggs to avoid attention? Or are the Broncos targeting a different receiver? It's hard to say, and that's the fun part of the pre-draft process. One thing stands out to me, though: Whenever nearly every mock draft is aligned the way we've seen over the last few weeks, things rarely pan out that way. I certainly think it's more likely that the Broncos draft the field over Ruggs at 15, just because of all the possible combinations that could play out. As I mentioned above, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
If the Broncos don't take a wide receiver in Round 1, who are some WRs you'd like the Broncos to draft in Round 2? – Hunter W.
I wrote about some Day 2 options a few days ago, but there are plenty of other receivers who merit consideration. Justin Jefferson, Tee Higgins, Laviska Shenault Jr., Denzel Mims and Jalen Reagor are all guys that could be available in the second round for the Broncos, depending on how the board falls. Jefferson and Higgins may require the Broncos to trade up, but I think it's a decently safe bet that some collection of Mims, Reagor, Brandon Aiyuk and K.J. Hamler are there at No. 46 when Denver picks. I worry a bit about picking Shenault given his injury situation and the lack of pre-draft visits. In a deep class, Denver's decision must be related to value. If the Broncos think the difference between Ruggs and Mims/Reagor isn't that high, then wait until the second round to pick a receiver. Their grades on these players will be pivotal to determine when to strike. One more note: It certainly wouldn't surprise me to see Denver pick two receivers over the team's first five picks.
Are the Broncos going to pick up a cornerback, like maybe Prince Amukamara or even Dre Kirkpatrick? – Roy W.
Although the Broncos have A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan slotted in as their top two corners, it wouldn't shock me if Denver brings in another veteran at some point before the season. From a cap space perspective, it remains possible. According to OverTheCap.com, the Broncos still have north of $17.5M of cap space this year. After factoring in an estimated $9.9M to sign their draft picks — a figure also from OverTheCap.com — the Broncos should still have around $7M to work with. That means they could bring in a veteran corner like Amukamara or Kirkpatrick on a short-term deal. Amukamara has familiarity with Vic Fangio's system from their time together in Chicago, but if he hasn't signed with the Broncos yet, I'm guessing that wouldn't happen until after the draft. Whether it's through the draft or the latter stages of free agency, I agree that the Broncos would be wise to add another piece to the cornerback room. If either of these two players did join the Broncos, it would likely push Callahan into the slot corner role.
Is Bradley Chubb expected to return Week 1 next year? – William H.
We've gotten no information that would suggest otherwise. Since partially tearing his ACL in Week 4 of 2019, Chubb has attacked his rehab and is doing well. At the Combine in late February, Fangio said he would be "shocked" if Chubb wasn't "as good as new." Fangio said he didn't expect to see Chubb on the field during OTAs, and we likely would see him rejoin his teammates for the first time in training camp. It's unlikely that Chubb will miss much on-field work during the offseason program, as it remains delayed indefinitely. During this time, however, Chubb is still able to go to UCHealth Training Center to rehab. He said during a recent Instagram Live that he had been rehabbing every day.
Who do you think will be the next Broncos HOF inductee? – Oscar E
Broncos fans have been on a Pro Football Hall of Fame roll recently, and it doesn't seem poised to stop in the next couple of years. Terrell Davis was inducted in 2017, Champ Bailey and Pat Bowlen were enshrined in 2019 and Steve Atwater was elected in 2020. Peyton Manning will become eligible in 2021, and he's a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer. A year later, DeMarcus Ware will be eligible — and he also seems like a good bet to be elected in his first year. John Lynch, a seven-time finalist, should also be in the conversation in 2021 and 2022, and it would be a shock if he doesn't get in sooner or later. Randy Gradishar, the 1978 Defensive Player of the Year, should absolutely merit strong consideration from the Seniors Committee over the next several years, as well.
What are the chances of us playing in London still next season after the rumours of playing the Falcons? – David P.
Since Fangio said at the Combine that he assumed the Broncos would be headed to London to play the Falcons, Broncos fans have been waiting for the official announcement. That hasn't arrived yet, and it's fair to wonder if the novel coronavirus will prevent that announcement from ever happening. During a recent conference call with national reporters, though, NFL executives said they planned to start the season on time and to host the full five-game slate of international contests. When the schedule is released — which will happen by May 9 — we'll get a better sense of the league's plans. If the international games happen and how they look may take longer to become clear.
Did Shelby Harris take a "hometown discount"? I thought he was lost to free agency. How does retaining him and adding Casey make the D line look for 2020? – Donny M.
I think it was less of a hometown discount and more that Harris realized Denver best fit his list of wants and needs. After his market didn't quite materialize the way some expected, Harris had to choose whether to sign a short-term deal in Denver or in another city. From a practical standpoint, it made sense to choose the Broncos, where he knew the system and didn't have to uproot his family. Harris also had the best season of his career in 2019 in Fangio's defense. Plus, Harris said he believes the Broncos are on the cusp of "something special." A year from now, Harris could hit the free-agent market again. Denver seemed like the best place to set him up for that. As far as how his re-signing impacts this year's defensive line, it appears that group could be one of the strongest on the team. A few weeks ago, the Broncos had no starters set to return. They then tendered Mike Purcell, re-signed Harris and traded for five-time Pro Bowler Jurrell Casey. With DeMarcus Walker and Dre'Mont Jones in the wings, the unit should be stout against the run and a tough deal for opposing quarterbacks.