The Denver Broncos added depth on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball on day 2, but who did they draft on day 3 and was it enough to improve the team?
The Denver Broncos started their draft weekend by drafting Garett Bolles, offensive tackle from Utah with their first-round pick. This pick was necessary because they needed to add depth and talent to the offensive line.
There was a lot of talent still on the board for day two and the Broncos took advantage of that opportunities that were presented to them by filling some of their needs with some very talented players. They started Day 2 by selecting DeMarcus Walker, defensive end from Florida State who was an ACC standout during his senior season. Walker will help the defensive line by rushing the passer and providing depth at defensive end.
Denver utilized the third round to draft Carlos Henderson, a deep threat wide receiver from Louisiana Tech. Henderson was added to the team to help stretch the field and provide cushion for Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to run routes underneath the coverage.
The Broncos used their second third-round pick to add much needed depth to the secondary by drafting Brendan Langley cornerback from Lamar. He was a top flight recruit out of high school who originally signed his letter of intent with the University of Georgia. After a short stint with the Bulldogs, Langley decided to transfer to Lamar in hopes to receive more playing time.
Even with the first three rounds of the draft already completed, the third and final day consisting of Rounds 4-7, is still stocked full of talent. There was a lot of quality defensive players left on the board at the beginning of the fourth round a long with a plethora of running backs and receivers.
The last four rounds of the draft are very important because those are the rounds where teams can find solid developmental players for the future and quality depth for their roster.
Nov 12, 2016; Iowa City, IA, USA; Michigan Wolverines tight end Jake Butt (88) catches a pass for a first down in front of Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back Manny Rugamba (5) at Kinnick Stadium. Iowa beat Michigan 14 to 13. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
The Broncos didn’t have a pick in the entire fourth-round due to a trade they made with the Cleveland Browns by sending their fourth- and seventh-round picks to Cleveland in exchange for two fifth-round picks.
Denver used their first fifth-round pick to snag Jake Butt, tight end from Michigan, who was considered one of the most talented tight ends in the draft. However, a torn ACL in which he suffered during the Orange Bowl caused him to slide in the draft.
Butt caught 138 receptions for 1,646 yards and 11 touchdowns during his four year collegiate career at Michigan. He finished his senior year with 546 yards and four touchdowns.
He is a well rounded player as he’s a very good pass protector and can run multiple different types of routes. Butt was projected to be drafted somewhere between the first and second round before the injury.
Even with the ACL injury, Butt was still considered a third- to fourth-round pick, which means Denver received a massive deal by snagging him at No. 145 overall. Tight end was one of the team’s biggest needs and Butt will improve the offense once he’s healthy and ready to go. This is a great pick for the team, because they got a very talented prospect on a discount. The only question with this pick is when will Butt be healthy enough to contribute to the team.
Nov 19, 2016; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (16) returns a punt for a touchdown against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns during the first quarter at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Round 5, Pick 172: Isaiah McKenzie, WR – Georgia
The Denver Broncos used their second fifth-round pick to draft Isaiah McKenzie, wide receiver for Georgia. McKenzie is expected to compete for punt returner duties and can contribute to the team as a slot receiver.
McKenzie caught 44 receptions for 633 yards and seven touchdowns during his junior season which was his final year in college. He wasn’t a massive producer in college, but he made his money as a punt returner by returning 59 punts for 692 yards and five touchdowns during his collegiate career.
He ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the combine, ranking in the 83rd percentile amongst wide receiver prospects. McKenzie is very shifty and his short area quickness allows him to avoid defenders with ease.
Broncos is in need of a solid punt returner, mainly because the longest return they had last season was a dismal 25 yards. Getting a punt returner who can consistently pick up a few extra yards with every return can help the offense by allowing the team to start their offensive drives with better field position.
Punt returner is a need that could have been addressed later in the draft or possibly by bringing in a few undrafted free agents. Not to mention the team drafted Carlos Henderson in the third round, who is more than capable of returning punts. McKenzie is quick, but he doesn’t have the skill-set to hang with NFL level corners as the team’s slot receiver. Denver should’ve used this pick to add depth to the offensive line considering it is the biggest need of the team.
Mar 2, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Coastal Carolina running back De’Angelo Henderson speaks to the media during the 2017 NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The Denver Broncos used the 19th pick in the sixth round to select De’Angelo Henderson, running back from Coastal Carolina. Denver averaged 3.6 yards rushing last year as a team and, by adding a talented running back in the later rounds of the draft, could help ignite some positive competition in the backfield.
He’s Coastal Carolina’s all-time record holder with 4,635 yards rushing during his entire collegiate career. He also rushed for 58 touchdowns while averaging 6.43 yards per carry. Henderson was a very productive receiver out of the backfield with 97 career receptions.
Henderson is a short stalky back standing at 5-7 while weighing 207 pounds. His 4.48-second 40-yard dash suggest that he has enough speed to fly by defenders in the open field. He may not be an elite prospect but he does have enough talent to make a positive impact for the team if given the opportunity.
It wasn’t a bad idea drafting a running back in the sixth-round to elevate the competition in Denver’s backfield, but there were a few running backs left on the board when it was Denver’s turn to pick that were more talented than Henderson. For instance, Elijah Hood who fell to the Oakland Raiders is a more talented prospect when compared to Henderson and has experience playing against tougher competition in the ACC.
Sep 17, 2016; Oxford, MS, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly (10) runs the ball during the second quarter of the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
Round 7, Pick 253: Chad Kelly, QB – Ole Miss
Denver used their seventh-round pick which was the last pick in the draft at No. 253 overall to select Chad Kelly, quarterback from Mississippi, making him Mr. Irrelevant in this year’s draft class. The Broncos drafted Kelly to develop his skills as the third string quarterback on the depth chart and to one day compete for the team’s starting quarterback position.
Kelly started his junior and senior season for Ole Miss, passing for 6,800 yards and 50 touchdowns. Around this time last year he was considered one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation but a dismal senior season curtailed his draft stock.
He’s the nephew and god son of Jim Kelly, which is more than likely one of the reasons why he got drafted by the Broncos. Usually, the players that are drafted as the last pick in the draft do not carry much notoriety with them.
But by being one of the top quarterbacks in the nation at one time, Kelly becomes one of the most well known prospects to ever be drafted as the last pick of the draft.
This is an incredible talent to land with the last pick of the draft. He may never become the team’s franchise quarterback, but there’s a chance he could develop into a solid backup quarterback. Most players who get drafted this late in the draft usually don’t carve out a career in the league, but Kelly is talented enough to stick on the Broncos roster. This addition will eventually create more competition at the quarterback position for the Broncos.