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We break down the Broncos’ eight NFL Draft picks and how each player will help the organization move forward after a disappointing finish in the 2016-17 season.
Garett Bolles, Offensive Tackle, Utah
Round 1, Pick 20 (No. 20 overall)
It wasn’t the flashy selection most fans were hoping for, but the Broncos filled a pressing need with the 25-year-old Bolles, a 6’5, 297-pound left tackle who will immediately compete with veterans Donald Stephenson and Ty Sambrailo for the starting job. Despite just one season of Division I experience, Bolles possesses the frame and the toughness—he overcame a tumultuous adolescence to achieve his NFL dream—to anchor the Broncos’ offensive line for many years to come.
DeMarcus Walker, Defensive End, Florida State
Round 2, Pick 19 (No. 51)
The 6’4, 280-pound lineman was the Seminoles’ top rushing threat this past season and ranked second in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) with 16 sacks. He likely wasn’t selected earlier because of doubts about his ability to get to the quarterback in the NFL, as Walker accumulated most of his big plays while lined up in the interior of Florida State’s 4-3 scheme and is not a true outside rusher who can blow by tackles on the edge. Despite those concerns—and despite a foot injury that kept him from participating in the NFL combine—the 2016 ACC Player of the Year immediately strengthens the Broncos interior line against the run.
Carlos Henderson, Wide Receiver, Louisiana Tech
Round 3, Pick 18 (No. 82)
With Henderson, the Broncos addressed their need for more weapons around a young quarterback in either Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch. In three years at Louisiana Tech, Henderson established himself as game-changing playmaker at both wideout and returner. Last season he caught 82 passes for 1,535 yards and 19 scores, and twice had five touchdowns in a single game. Route running is a weakness, but it’ll be a quick learning curve for Henderson as he works alongside the Pro Bowl duo of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
Brendan Langley, Cornerback, Lamar
Round 3, Pick 37 (No. 101)
Langley garnered All-Southland Conference selections as both a corner and a returner at Lamar last season, when he recorded six interceptions and seven pass breakups as the Cardinals’ top defensive back. He has work to do in order to develop into a bonafide contributor alongside Chris Harris, Aqib Talib, Darian Stewart and T.J. Ward in what is one of the league’s best secondaries, but a big upside is his 4.43 40-yard dash time.
Jake Butt, Tight End, Michigan
Round 5, Pick 1 (No. 145)
After tearing his ACL in the Wolverines’ dramatic Orange Bowl loss to Florida State—his second ACL injury to his right knee—Butt fell down the draft board and the Broncos were able to get a steal by acquiring him as late as they did. The 6’5, 264-pound Butt won the 2016 John Mackey Award for college football’s best tight end and said he’ll be back in action just in time to challenge Virgil Green, A.J. Derby, and Jeff Heuerman for reps.
Isaiah McKenzie, Wide Receiver, Georgia
Round 5, Pick 29 (No. 172)
Another electric receiver and returner for the Broncos, McKenzie led Georgia in receptions (44), receiving yards (633), and receiving touchdowns (seven) in a breakout junior season. But the 5’7, 173-pound slot prototype is likely to make more of an impact for the Broncos on special teams, as Denver’s longest punt return last season was just 25 yards.
De’Angelo Henderson, Running Back, Coastal Carolina
Round 6, Pick 19 (No. 203)
Henderson finished his college career as Coastal Carolina’s all-time leader in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. He’s also got good hands out of the backfield and set the Division I record with at least one touchdown in 35 straight games. At 5’7, 203-pounds, he’s a smaller back who played for Broncos special teams coordinator Brock Olivo in 2013 at Coastal Carolina and will likely be the team’s third rusher behind C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker.
Chad Kelly, Quarterback, Ole Miss
Round 7, Pick 35 (No. 253)
The 6’2, 224-pound quarterback became this season’s “Mr. Irrelevant” as the last pick of the draft. The nephew of Hall of Fame gunslinger Jim Kelly, he likely would have been selected several rounds earlier if not for off-the-field concerns, as well as injuries. Kelly started his college career at Clemson before being kicked off the team for detrimental conduct, and also recently had wrist surgery following an injury at Ole Miss’ pro day.