Mel Kiper mock has Broncos drafting CB Deandre Baker

First, it was Byron Murphy, now Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker has been mock drafted to the Denver Broncos.

Respected ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper has the Broncos taking the 22-year-old Jim Thorpe award winner 10th overall in his Mock 1.0 released earlier today.

Kiper’s mock draft comes just two day after Pro Football Focus lead draft analyst Steve Palazzolo had the Broncos taking Washington’s Murphy.

Palazzolo had the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafting the Baker (5-11, 185 pounds) fifth overall as the first cornerback off the board.

“Baker is a fit for any defensive scheme and as he can play both man and zone coverage with excellent ball skills,” Palazzolo said.

“He allowed a passer rating of only 40.2 into his coverage last season.”

Georgia’s Deandre Baker is seen as a top 10 draft pick in 2019

Kiper’s mock draft is the latest to suggest that the Broncos will abandon the risk of drafting a quarterback from a weak 2019 pool, instead opting for an upgrade on defense.

The arrival of defensive-minded Vic Fangio as new head coach could ultimately sway the Broncos’ direction with their first-round pick at the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville in April.

Earlier mock drafts had the Broncos selecting Missouri quarterback Drew Lock or Clemson nose tackle Dexter Lawrence, but the recent trend is for the club to target another area of need on defense.

Cornerback is a priority area of concern for Denver with the club expected to move on from 2014 first-round pick Bradley Roby.

The Broncos have drafted cornerbacks in both 2017 and 2018, but neither 2017 third-round pick Brendan Langley nor 2018 third-round pick Isaac Yiadom has shown enough to suggest they are ready to be a starting corner.

Langley was cut by the Broncos after the 2018 training camp, but was signed to the practice squad and promoted to the active roster when injuries hit during the season.

Yiadom played in 13 games during the 2018 season and was a starter in the week 14 defeat to San Francisco.

He recorded his first interception in the final game of the season against the Los Angeles Chargers.

While Roby has started for the Broncos, his performances have been wildly inconsistent, and he struggled as a starter for much of 2018.

It is an easy argument to make that the Broncos will use their first-round pick on a cornerback that can come in and start from day one.

Baker, Murphy and LSU’s Greedy Williams are the top three cornerbacks on many draft boards, but there is no consensus among analysts on where teams will draft them.

Chances of getting their first-choice guy could be slim for Denver, with Tampa Bay and Detroit also mocked to take cornerbacks.

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