The 2018 NFL Draft is in the books, and what a draft it was, specifically for the AFC West team that finished last in their division in 2017. The Denver Broncos were fortunate enough to have arguably the best player in the entire draft fall to them at five, and Elway pounced and added an elite pass rusher to his already impressive arsenal.
But Bradley Chubb wasn’t the only great pick for Broncos Country. They added WR Courtland Sutton in the 2nd round and WR DaeSean Hamilton in the 4th round. Sutton had a first-round grade and is a big, strong receiver that will add size alongside Demaryius Thomas. Hamilton is a tremendous route runner that some call a poor man’s Calvin Ridley; tremendous value in the 4th round that will learn a ton from Emmanuel Sanders.
They also added a workhorse running back, an All-American Inside Linebacker, and some great pieces in the late rounds after trading back a few times. Let’s get through it and grade the class.
Denver Broncos 2018 NFL Draft
|1/5||Bradley Chubb||DE||NC State|
|3/99||Isaac Yiadom||CB||Boston College|
|4/113||DaeSean Hamilton||WR||Penn State|
|6/183||Sam Jones||G||Arizona State|
Denver Broncos 2018 NFL Draft Grade
Best Pick: DE/OLB Bradley Chubb | WR Courtland Sutton
I couldn’t just narrow it down to one, and to be honest, probably could have included 5-6 of the 9 players selected as the quote unquote “best pick.”
Bradley Chubb has to be the obvious one here. The highest graded pass rusher in the draft, and one that I liked the tape better than last year’s number one overall pick, Myles Garrett. He fell into the lap of the Broncos and Elway took advantage to add him to the pass rushing arsenal of Von Miller, Shaq Barrett, Shane Ray, and DeMarcus Walker. As great as Shane Ray and Shaq Barrett have been and can be (Ray certainly has not reached his ceiling yet), Chubb has the same size and skill set of DeMarcus Ware, which Broncos Country should be extremely excited about.
I had Courtland Sutton as my number two receiver in this years draft, while some scouts had him as high as number one, and the Broncos landed him in the second round. Not only is he big with good hands and the ability to go up and get the ball, but he is a natural leader, has a love and passion for the game, and is willing to put in the work to be the best at his craft. These are all intangibles that you have to love in a receiver, think Dez Bryant without all of the antics and episodes. Sutton will be tremendous for this football team alongside Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, as it looks like Denver finally found their number three receiver.
Best Value/Sleeper: LB Josey Jewell | WR DaeSean Hamilton
Josey Jewell had an extremely productive career at Iowa amassing 136 tackles lasting year, and earning Big 10 Linebacker of the Year and Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year. And the Broncos got him in the 4th round! He has a nose for the football and has the ability to fight off blocks. Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis may be the starters in Denver, but Jewell will be great for that LB room and will be battling Zaire Anderson for the number 3 spot. He can be a contributor on special teams immediately.
I was tempted to put DaeSean Hamilton as my best overall pick strictly for the value that they are getting in the 4th round. He is an extremely gifted route runner, and no one works harder at perfecting his craft. With 857 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior, Hamilton will be another weapon for Case Keenum.
Biggest Reach/Head-Scratcher: OG/C Sam Jones | RB David Williams
Sam Jones is a local kid who was taken in the sixth round, so its hard to really call it a reach, but there may have been some more polished guards still on the board. At 6’5 290 he is a good fit for a zone scheme but has the potential to put on some bulk. He will add depth if he is able to make the roster.
David Williams was probably a flyer pick that either Curtis Modkins (RB Coach) or Tom McMahon (Special Teams Coordinator) pushed for based on raw talent. Most had him ranked as an UDFA grade and ESPN ranked him 64th among running backs. He will have an uphill battle to make the team, especially with the addition of local kidPhillip Lindsay.
Biggest Need Filled: RB Royce Freeman
With the release of C.J. Anderson, going into the draft Denver only had two running backs on the roster. Well, they added a good one in the 3rd round. High volume and great production are understatements for Freeman during his time at Oregon. He finished with 5,621 yards, 60 touchdowns, and 5.9 yards per carry as a Duck. Strictly from a production standpoint, those are better averages than this year’s 2nd overall pick Saquon Barkley. It will be exciting to see Freeman and Booker compete for the starting job, but both will have a very prominent role in the offense.
Projected Day One Starters: DE/OLB Bradley Chubb | WR Courtland Sutton | RB Royce Freeman
Shane Ray will probably be slated as the starter heading into camp but don’t be surprised if Chubb beats him out. Either way, both will have a big role.
Whether he plays slot or on the outside, Sutton will be on the field plenty his rookie season.
Booker and Freeman have different running styles, which means they will both compliment each other and can both expect ample touches. The Broncos will have a very solid rushing attack, but may not have a singular 1,000-yard rusher.
The Rest: CB Isaac Yiadom | TE Troy Fumagalli | ILB Keishawn Bierria
I may not have mentioned Isaac Yiadom yet, but he should not be overlooked. The Broncos grew fond of Yiadom as a player after coaching him in the senior bowl and with good reason. He is a tremendous ball-player, and what he lacks in talent, he makes up for in work ethic and character (a theme in this years draft for Elway if you have been paying attention). He will compete for a nickel spot but will have a role on this team in some capacity from day one.
Troy Fumagalli is a decent intermediate route runner and has solid hands. He was not overly gifted at blocking during his time at Wisconsin so that will have to be improved upon as the Broncos lost their premium pass blocking tight end to free agency. The hope is still for Jake Butt to take over the starting tight end duties, but Fumagalli will add depth to the position.
Keishawn Bierra is a hustle player with strong character and leadership qualities, a great 6th round pick to add to the locker room. He can work through blocks but doesn’t quite have the athletism to fend off NFL blockers around the edge. He will compete, which is his strongest asset, and can be a tremendous player on special teams. His drive and passion will keep him on the roster and could give him the opportunity to strive for a starting role.
Overall Grade: A
On paper, this may be Elway’s strongest draft since he took over as GM. Aside from their final pick in the 7th round, there wasn’t a single selection that you found yourself asking questions about. Maybe it was the role that Gary Kubiak added to the process. Maybe Elway loosened the reigns a bit for his personnel staff to have more say. Or maybe, Elway is beginning to hit his stride as a General Manager, and this offseason certainly looks to be one that will get the Denver Broncos back on track. Now let’s see it happen on the field.