by Tommy Lawlor – http://www.ScoutsNotebook.com
1 – LB Von Miller – 6’3, 246 – Texas A&M
2 – FS Rahim Moore – 6’0, 202 – UCLA
2 – OL Orlando Franklin – 6’6, 316 – Miami
3 – LB Nate Irving – 6’1, 240 – NC State
4 – SS Quinton Carter – 6’1, 208 – Oklahoma
4 – TE Julius Thomas – 6’5, 246 – Portland State
6 – LB Mike Mohamed – 6’3, 239 – Cal
7 – TE Virgil Green – 6’3, 249 – Nevada
7 – DE Jeremy Beal – 6’2, 262 – Oklahoma
Denver has a new coach in John Fox and will be moving back to the 4-3 defense. Anyone who looked at the roster could see a major hole at DT and had to think Marcel Dareus was their big target. The Broncos threw us a bit of a curveball when they grabbed the best pass rusher in the draft, Von Miller from Texas A&M. Miller was a LB/DE hybrid in college and will do the same thing in the NFL. He’ll play LB in the base defense and then rush the passer in Nickel/Dime sets. Why go for a pass rusher with so little DT talent in place? That’s how Fox builds his lines. He had success with Michael Strahan in NY. He won with Julius Peppers in CAR. Fox believes in pass rushers first and foremost. You can find DTs all over the place. Pass rushers are a different story.
And Miller is a great pass rusher. He had 33 sacks in college. That total would have been higher, but he had a bum ankle for part of his Senior year. Miller has an explosive burst off the edge. He has rare “bend ability”. He can round the corner and dip his shoulder in a way that very few guys can do. That ability to get by the OT and turn into toward the QB so quickly/fluidly makes him special. Plus, he’s just a gifted athlete. High character guy who plays hard and gets the most out of his talent. Showed at the Senior Bowl that he can play in a 4-3. Comfortable in space. Good tackler. Has potential to be effective in coverage. Offenses will have their hands full when he and Elvis Dumervil are coming off the edge.
In the mid-2nd the Broncos went for Safety Rahim Moore. Mixed feelings on this pick. Moore wasn’t my cup of tea. He’s got ballhawk skills and Denver needed help at Safety, but Moore was a highly inconsistent tackler at UCLA. Some times he would be tentative when going for targets. Other times he was sloppy and would miss. There were occasions when he looked good. You can’t have a FS who misses tackles. That turns short gains into big one and big gains into TDs. Moore has excellent cover skills. Great hands. Only runs in the 4.6 range or you might think of him as a CB. Could turn out to be a real good pick if he works on tackling. You can’t pick and choose when to be physical as a Safety in the NFL.
Denver had consecutive picks in the 2nd round and next chose OL Orlando Franklin from Miami. Great fit. Franklin reminds me of a Jeff Otah type run blocker. Otah was a great player for Carolina in 2008. Injuries have slowed him since. Franklin played LG and LT for Miami. He could play OG or RT for the Broncos. They’re obviously set at LT with Ryan Clady. Franklin is a really good run blocker. He has the size and strength to drive DL off the ball. He’s good at blocking LBs. Franklin has a bully mentality and loves to pound on those guys. He isn’t a gifted pass blocker, but he is good enough to get the job done. Fox wants to build a run heavy offense and Frankin can be a big help to that cause. I did think the 2nd round was a bit early, but there were reports that more than a few teams had high grades on him.
Denver flopped back to defense in the 3rd round and took MLB Nate Irving. Back in 2008 he was a star LB for NC State. Irving was in a devastating car wreck and missed the 2009 season. He returned for 2010 and shocked the coaches with how good he was. Irving still wasn’t back to his old level as a playmaking OLB. He moved to the middle and had a very good year. He projects to MLB in the NFL. If Irving gets back more of his speed he could become a real good player. I do have concerns about whether he’s athletic enough for certain matchups. Irving is a very good tackler. Tough, physical player. Finished his career with an amazing 40 TFLs. Added 4 INTs. Good run defender. That will be his primary responsibility in the Fox defense. Could also be very good STer.
The Broncos added another Safety, this time taking SS Quinton Carter in the 4th round. Carter was a very good player for Oklahoma, but he’s not my cup of tea either. Likes to hit, but choosy about tackling. Had 4 INTs each of the past 2 seasons. Posted good tackle numbers, but the tape didn’t match up to the numbers. I saw too many occasions where he was hesitant to the ball or sloppy when he did go to tackle. Here’s what I wrote about him previously: ” I hate Carter’s tackling skills. He tackles like he’s trying to get extra credit on his report card. I want guys that tackle like it is life or death. Sell out to make the stop. He will hit receivers when they are over the middle and exposed. ” I guess Fox and the Broncos feel they can coach him into being more of a regular tough guy. Carter is a high character person. I hope he’s able to carve out a career for himself, but for the love of god…tackle.
Denver had another 4th round pick and decided to go for Portland State TE Julius Thomas. This was odd. Nothing against Thomas. He was a really intriguing prospect. The fit is odd. John Fox never saw TE as a critical position with Carolina. Kris Mangum, Jeff King, and Dante Rosario are not special players. Fox seemed to want blockers who could catch. Thomas is an athletic receiver. He has a basketball background. Good size. Natural athlete. Looks like he could be a real good pass catcher. Blocking is going to be a mystery. I do think Thomas was good value in the 4th and I think Tim Tebow needs a target like him working short routes and the middle of the field.
In the 6th round the Broncos went back to defense and took Cal LB Mike Mohamed. He should play SAM for Denver. Could also be MLB. Good frame. Okay athlete. Has some cover skills. Mohamed led Cal in tackles last year, but was also a good playmaker. Picked off 7 career passes. Had 20 TFLs and 4 FFs. Not great at anything, but solid all around LB. Wouldn’t surprise me at all for Mike to become a starter and play a long time in the league.
Denver had a pair of 7th round picks. They confused me by taking TE Virgil Green from Nevada with the first of them. Green is a great athlete and like Thomas seems like anything but a Fox TE. Green did show good potential as a blocker. Nevada ran the ball a lot so anyone who played had to contribute as a blocker. At only 6’3, 249 Green could play some H-back. That’s a position Fox used at times with the Panthers. He loves the wham block from an H-back. Green was great value in the 7th.
The final pick netted the Broncos DE Jeremy Beal. He had a good career at Oklahoma, but had a disastrous postseason. Beal looked terrible at the Senior Bowl. He was horrible at the Combine (5.14 in the 40). Good college player, but he lacks the athletic ability to make it in the NFL. Has speed rusher size, but lacks speed. Not good. To me, this is a wasted pick unless you think you can bulk him up or something like that. Fox has a good history with DL so maybe he knows something I don’t.