The Denver Broncos team that will tackle the 2016-2017 season already looks a whole lot different than the troupe that won Super Bowl 50. Holes at the safety position and defensive and offensive lines—along with Peyton Manning’s retirement and Brock Osweiler’s free agency departure—opened up the team for some pretty significant changes. Here’s how executive vice president John Elway and head coach Gary Kubiak filled those needs this past draft weekend.
Paxton Lynch, Round 1, Pick 26
6’ 7”, 245 lbs.
Quarterback, University of Memphis
San Antonio, TX
Mark Sanchez is still the presumptive 2016 starter—the team might still add one more veteran QB—but Lynch’s large physique is almost identical to the departed Osweiler’s. Even so, he’s raw and will need extensive schooling in the pro game before he’s ready to lead. Regardless of whether he plays next year, Lynch’s four-year, $9.4 million contract gives the Broncos a little breathing room to negotiate more long-term relationships with fan favorites such as linebacker Von Miller, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and linebacker Brandon Marshall.
- 66.8 percent completion record in 2015, threw for 3,776 yards (8.5 yards per throw)
- Rushed for 239 yards on 87 attempts as a senior
- Threw for 59 career TDs at Memphis (28 last season)
Adam Gotsis, Round 2, Pick 63
6’ 4”, 287 lbs.
Defensive Tackle, Georgia Tech
Gotsis is coming off of a torn ACL suffered last October but is projected to develop quickly thanks to his athleticism and strength. It will be primarily up to Broncos’ defensive line coach Bill Kollar to “coach him up” to NFL-level productivity.
- 27.5 career tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks
- Eight years of Australian football, 4 years at Georgia Tech (3 years starting)
- 31 tackles, 3 sacks in 2015
- 4.9 40-yard dash
Justin Simmons, Round 3, Pick 98
6’ 2”, 202 lbs.
Safety, Boston College
A torn meniscus in ended his season last November, but Simmons should be healthy for the coming year. A combine analysis lists a lanky frame as a weakness, but Simmons is a playmaker with excellent route vision and cornerback experience to handle man coverage against tight ends and bigger slot receivers. Some draft analysts think he could be a steal.
- Five interceptions last season, four forced fumbles
- Finished the 2016 combine among the top defensive backs (20 yard shuttle, 60 yard shuttle)
- Best 40-inch vertical leap at the 2016 combine
Devontae Booker, Round 4, Pick 136
5’ 11”, 219 lbs
Running Back, University of Utah
Booker should get plenty of chances to contribute to what’s expected to be a run-heavy Broncos offense. Decisive and fast, he can also catch passes and return kickoffs. He’ll have to fight for touches against Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson, but it wouldn’t surprise us if he became the team’s number-one back at some point.
- Almost 2,800 rushing yards and over 600 receiving yards in two seasons
- 1,261 yards in 10 games last season, rushed for 1,512 yards in 2014
- 37 catches in 2015
Connor McGovern, Round 5, Pick 144
6’ 4”, 306 lbs
Guard, University of Missouri
McGovern started at left tackle last season with Missouri but has the type of versatility NFL line coaches covet. He’s one of the strongest lineman in this year’s draft and will help the Broncos stabilize an O-line that’s been anything but recently.
- Mizzou records: five squat reps of 690 lbs, 810-lb max squat
- Benched 225 lbs 33 times at the 2016 NFL combine (second-most)
- Three-year starter at Mizzou with both guard and tackle spot experience
Andy Janovich, Round 6, Pick 176
6′ 1″, 238 lbs
See above re the Broncos’ linchpin running game. Janovich is a good athlete with untapped potential and should be a valuable blocker in the team’s two-back sets. He’s also projected to be an impact player on special teams.
- Led Nebraska with 13 special-teams tackles in 2015
- Averages 4.3 yards per carry after contact
- 4.9 40-yard dash
Will Parks, Round 6, Pick 219
6’, 204 lbs
Safety, University of Arizona
While at Arizona, Parks mostly played down low, closer to the box. His strengths lie in zone coverage and his quick reactions to various offensive strategies. His 4.51 40-yard dash and 21 reps of 225 at the NFL combine set him apart as not only fast but strong enough to hang with almost any receiver, especially if he improves his lateral movement.
- 20.5 tackles for loss in college, led Arizona in tackles in 2015 with 76
- Four interceptions, 20 pass breakups
- 4.63 40-yard dash at 2016 campus pro timing day
Riley Dixon, Round 7, Pick 228
6’ 4”, 221 lbs.
Part of having a ball-control offense (and a dominant D) is finding a punter who can create field position advantages with both booming and well-placed kicks. With three punters now on the roster—along with veterans Will Johnson and Britton Colquitt—the Broncos clearly want some competition at the position.
- 3rd in school history with a 46.62 yards-per-punt career average
- 28-of-65 punts inside opponents’ 20 yard lines in 2015
- 18 punts traveled 50+ yards in 2015