Broncos (10): T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
In Kiper’s previous two mock drafts, he had the Broncos focusing on the secondary by picking cornerbacks Deandre Baker and Greedy Williams respectively.
After the Broncos bulked up the secondary through free agency, Kiper switches sides and goes with someone who many consider the next Rob Gronkowski.
T.J. Hockenson is a talented tight end that received the #2 receiving grade in the nation from Pro Football Focus. He’s also a very good blocker in both the run and pass game.
Hockenson was overshadowed at Iowa by fellow tight end Noah Fant but ended up winning the John Mackey Award — given to college football’s best tight end.
As a sophomore, he became the first underclassman to win the award in its 19-year history. Hockenson is 6-5, 250, and only 21 years old. He becomes an immediate starter on any team he joins.
How does Hockenson fit with the Broncos?
Denver has swung and missed on multiple tight end prospects over the years and hasn’t had a dynamic player at the position that could catch and block since Shannon Sharpe.
Julius Thomas was a receiving threat but seemed allergic to blocking. The Broncos currently have Jake Butt, Troy Fumagalli, and Jeff Heuerman on the roster. Butt and Fumagalli are both recovering from injuries and Heuerman has yet to live up to expectations, although he has shown flashes at times.
Hockenson would be an immediate upgrade at the position and would add to new quarterback Joe Flacco’s arsenal.
At the coaches meeting in Phoenix, AZ this week Kiper explained his choice thus: Flacco thrives when he has a talented tight end he can depend on. Dennis Pitta was one of his favorite targets and last year rookie Mark Andrews had a big year.
The Broncos may have greater needs to fill but if they see Flacco as more than a bridge quarterback, providing him with a talented target he can depend on can make their offense a potent one.
Who was still available?
In this mock, the Broncos miss out on big names like Kyler Murray, Devin White, and Dwayne Haskins.