The Denver Broncos said they would take an inside linebacker in the draft and proved it wasn’t a smokescreen after drafting Josey Jewell with the 106th overall pick.
The 23-year-old Iowa Hawkeyes alum amassed 134 tackles, 4.5 sacks, two interceptions, 11 pass break-ups and one forced fumble in his redshirt senior season as well as taking away a load of awards for his play in 2017.
The Hawkeyes are sure going to miss the guy they parked at middle linebacker for the past three seasons and watched him make play after play over the course of a few thousand snaps.
As well as being named first-team All-Big Ten, Big Ten linebacker and defensive player of the year, Jewell was also a unanimous first-team All-American, won the Jack Lambert award for best collegiate linebacker — an award also won by Von Miller in 2010 — and collected the Lott IMPACT Trophy.
At 6-1, 234 pounds, Jewell’s big knock is being undersized and lacking athleticism, and saw his draft stock fall with a disappointing 4.82-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, but his leadership, instincts as a player and superb tackling technique help make up for his deficiencies — something not measured at the Combine.
For what it’s worth, Jewell bounced back from the disappointing 40 time at the Combine to record a 4.68-second time at his pro day at Iowa, but often overlooked is his 6.8-second three-cone drill time at the Combine — a drill that is more relevant to linebackers — places him among the elite.
Factor in his traits as a film room junkie with great instinctive awareness and a small-town kid who just wants to focus on football and make tackles, and the Broncos have themselves a sneaky-good gem of a player.
After signing a new three-year deal in the offseason, linebacker Todd Davis returned to Denver and is expected to continue his partnership with fellow veteran Brandon Marshall in the middle of the field.
With linebacker and special teams regular Corey Nelson now with the Philadelphia Eagles, Jewell will compete with Zaire Anderson for the backup role, and would be an asset on special teams.