Broncos need to keep Chris Harris Jr for the short-term

Broncos need to keep Chris Harris Jr for the short-term

Chris Harris Jr has so far stayed away from the Broncos’ OTAs, but his contract situation is one of the biggest talking points.

It would have been inconceivable that the star cornerback could play for another team in the NFL, but it becomes more of a possibility as each day passes.

We know his side wants $15 million a year, which would make Harris one of the highest-paid corners in the league, but we also know that general manager John Elway is notoriously tight when it comes to paying players market value.

That talks are underway, even if they are in their infancy, is at least a positive step in the right direction.

The Broncos didn’t take a cornerback in the 2019 NFL Draft last month after landing Bryce Callahan and Kareem Jackson in free agency, although the latter has been playing more safety in Vic Fangio’s defense.

If Harris walks, the Broncos will have a massive hole in their secondary following the departures of Bradley Roby (Houston) and Tramaine Brock (Arizona).

Yes, Callahan is also an excellent slot corner, but it means the Broncos will have to hope Isaac Yiadom can step up in his second year or one of the undrafted rookies emerges as a potential starter or third corner, or the plan to move Jackson around will be stifled.

NFL Network’s James Palmer reported Friday that the Broncos could be looking at a short-term extension for Harris, which could see his salary rise close to his demands.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise, given what we know about contracts offered to corners in their 30s.

The Broncos signed Jackson, aged 31, to a $33 million deal over three years this offseason, but such deals are rare.

Josh Norman, whose $75m five-year contract with Washington gives him an average of $15m a year, got his deal in 2016.

Miami signed Xavien Howard to a five-year extension earlier this month worth $75m with a $15.05m a year average, with $27.18 million fully guaranteed at signing and $46 million in total guarantees, according to Pro Football Talk, but Howard is 25.

The issue for Harris, who turns 30 in June, is that teams don’t often offer big contracts to aging corners, and not many organizations will add a premium for performing above a previous contract’s value.

A two- or three-year extension in 2019, would keep Harris under contract through 2021 or 2022. If the incentives can top up the base salary, which seems the likeliest outcome, it could work for both parties.

Harris has talked of retiring a Bronco, but that will depend on whether he takes a short-term deal, and how he performs in that period. Even then, it’s not a given.

Yiadom might not be the future of the Broncos’ secondary, but the front office will look to get younger at the position in 2020 or 2021.

Widely regarded as one of the smartest players on and off the field, the Broncos cannot afford to lose another leader, especially one that can mentor the youngsters who one day could take his place.

That concept shouldn’t be too alien to Harris, who was mentored by Champ Bailey before the Broncos released the Hall of Famer in 2014 at the age of 35 after 10 seasons in Denver.

Keeping Harris on the roster for at least two more seasons is imperative for the Broncos to bounce back from back-to-back losing seasons.

Broncos LB Justin Hollins signs rookie contract

Broncos LB Justin Hollins signs rookie contract

Denver Broncos’ fifth-round pick Justin Hollins signed his rookie contract on the second day of OTAs.

The Oregon linebacker becomes the second member of the team’s Class of 2019 to sign after Colorado receiver Juwann Winfree signed Monday.

Hollins’ four-year deal is worth just over $2.9 million and includes $300,000 in guaranteed money.

Broncos head coach Vic Fangio is working out where to play the rangy linebacker, who can play inside and outside.

Hollins has impressed the coaches since he arrived in the Mile High City and his versatility could be a weapon in Fangio’s defense.

The 6-5, 250-pound linebacker ran a 4.5-second 40-yard time, the same pace as Broncos first-round pick Noah Fant, a tight end that is 6-5, 240 pounds.

As well as rushing the passer, Hollins could be used in coverage to take on tight ends and running backs — an area that has been a problem for the Broncos in recent seasons.

In his final season at Oregon, Hollins recorded five sacks, five forced fumbles, and an interception.

Broncos improve offense after 2019 NFL Draft tradefest

Broncos improve offense after 2019 NFL Draft tradefest

The 2019 NFL Draft is in the books and the Denver Broncos drafted six players — their smallest class since 2014 — after three days of wheeling and dealing by general manager John Elway.

So it’s time to see what new toys Broncos Country can look forward to for the upcoming season.

Welcome to Broncos Country, class of 2019!

Round 1

#20 Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

Finally, the Broncos have a tight end that can be an immediate and long-term difference maker.

Yes, Fant isn’t the inside linebacker that many in Broncos Country wanted, but the Iowa standout’s size makes him an athletic, vertical-threat weapon for Joe Flacco in Rich Scangarello’s offense, and he could also see plenty of action in the slot in a Travis Kelce or George Kittle role.

The Broncos will improve their offense massively if Fant has close to being as explosive as former Iowa teammate Kittle was in San Francisco last year.

Factoring in the extra picks from trading down from 10 places from #10, this was a solid move by Elway in the first round.

Round 2

#41 Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State

Irrespective of what the Broncos did in round one, Colorado native Risner was my guy for the second round, even over Drew Lock. He had a first-round grade from several draft analysts and should be an immediate starter and a focal point of the Broncos’ offensive line for a decade. This selection is one of the steals of the 2019 NFL Draft.

The Broncos’ new offensive line coach Mike Munchak probably pounded the table to get this high-character, nasty trench monster too, and it’s a perfect match as he transitions to the NFL and fixes a few weaknesses.

Risner’s versatility means the Broncos have options for 2019 and in the future with likely starting center Connor McGovern a free agent in 2020. If the newly-minted Ju’wuan James doesn’t work out at right tackle, Risner could also slide out there.

#42 Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

Let’s get it out of the way: Drew Lock could be the Broncos’ quarterback of the future. Mocked to the Broncos as high as #5 in a trade-up scenario, that he fell to the second round makes him a great value pick by general manager John Elway, despite giving up draft capital to trade up from #52 to see off Green Bay and New England.

In the space of 23 picks, the Broncos selected three first-round talents and those three players are as good as the three taken by Oakland in the first round.

The Mizzou QB wasn’t my guy in the 2019 NFL Draft, but it’s hard to argue with what the Broncos did in their maneuvers to get him.

The Paxton Lynch debacle may be in the rearview mirror, but Lock doesn’t have to win the job in training camp.

Time will tell if Lock can develop into the starter and franchise quarterback many expect him to be, but he has a Super Bowl MVP to learn from in Flacco and an offensive coordinator in Scangarello, who made Nick Mullens and a host of other no-name QBs look good when he was quarterbacks coach of the 49ers.

Round 3

#71 Dre’Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State

Jones is a sneaky good pick-up for the Broncos in the third round. He will bring plenty of pass rush from the inside and is solid against the run, albeit susceptible to double teams because of his lack of size against bigger guards and tackles.

The Ohio State defensive lineman increased his sack count from one in 2017 to 10 in 2018 as he played 500 pass rush snaps, and he will be a useful addition in Vic Fangio’s defense as a three tech.

Round 5

#156 Justin Hollins, LB, Oregon

The Texas native was tipped to be a sixth-round pick or later by NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, but the Broncos picked up the versatile linebacker in the fifth, which could be seen as a reach.

A former defensive end before transitioning to linebacker in his junior year, it is easy to see why head coach Fangio wanted him for his defense. Can play inside and out, can rush the passer and play in coverage, and could make up for the loss of Shane Ray and Shaq Barrett to free agency if asked to play edge.

Hollins is a developmental player but has the perfect coach in Fangio to help him make it in the NFL.

Round 6

Juwann Winfree, WR, Colorado

Winfree is a sleeper pick in a superb draft for the Broncos, who traded two picks to move up for the wide receiver.

Injuries — including a torn ACL in 2016 — derailed Winfree’s college career, which contributed to his fall, while he wasn’t targeted a lot at Colorado, but he should see some time on special teams as he tries to force his way into a receiver room led by Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton, and Tim Patrick.

At 6-3, 210 pounds, Winfree ran a 4.5 40-yard dash, and his size and speed could make him a threat as a big slot receiver and a blocker, but he also possesses solid route running and an ability to make defenders look silly, as he did against USC in the video below.

Overall Grade: A

Despite drafting six players in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Broncos has a superb weekend, emphasized by the three first-round talents acquired on days one and two.

Fant and Risner will be day one starters, while Lock will have time to learn the intricacies of the NFL from Flacco and receive the keys to the franchise when ready.

For a second year, the Broncos selected high-character guys that will have an impact on and off the field.

The players taken in the later rounds will also get a chance to make it.

There are still some holes on the roster to be addressed, but there is a notable improvement to the offense.

Broncos draft Iowa TE Noah Fant after trade with Steelers

Broncos draft Iowa TE Noah Fant after trade with Steelers

It wasn’t what many in Broncos Country wanted, but Denver Broncos general manager John Elway passed on a number of day-one starters with the 10th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft to trade down 10 places with the Pittsburgh Steelers, acquire the 52nd-overall pick, and a 2020 third-round pick.

No quarterback, no inside linebacker, no interior offensive or defensive linemen, it was another position of need that the Broncos addressed.

Debate rages on social media over the value of the pick and whether Elway made the right move.

Before Elway and new head coach Vic Fangio made statements to the media, Andrew Mason, the venerable football encyclopedia from the Denver Broncos website and Orange & Blue 760, crunched the numbers and determined that the Broncos gained value from the trade.

The net result, the Broncos passed on the chance to get a difference maker on defense in Michigan linebacker Devin Bush — as well as other highly-coveted players — but picked up a legitimate weapon for new quarterback Joe Flacco in the sizeable form of Iowa tight end Noah Fant.

It is no secret that the Broncos have struggled at tight end since the departure of Julius Thomas in 2015 after his Pro Bowl seasons in 2013 and 2014, but Fant gives Rich Scangarello’s offense a huge weapon over the middle and a fantastic red zone target.

As the San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks coach last year, Scangarello had input into making Fant’s former Iowa teammate George Kittle into an uncoverable monster in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, despite using four different quarterbacks.

It’s also worth remembering that Flacco forged a fantastic relationship on and off the field with tight end Dennis Pitta in Baltimore and Scangarello — and Fangio, appraising the pick from his razor-sharp defensive mind — will hope the 34-year-old quarterback can find that chemistry with Fant, who not only possesses mismatch size at 6-5, 241 pounds, but also elite speed that leaves defenders for dead.

Pro Football Focus profiles the Denver Broncos’ 2019 first-round pick

Fant ranked 10th among tight ends in this class by Pro Football Focus, with the noticeable knock being his blocking, but the Broncos have other bodies that can fill that role while making their new acquisition a focal point of the passing game.

With a top 100 loaded with starting-caliber talent, the additional second-round pick gives Elway and the Broncos a chance to select two players on Friday that could become starters in their rookie season.

Interior offensive line is still a need, as is a defensive tackle, but with several top cornerbacks falling into round two, Elway could be tempted to pick up an insurance option on day two if the deteriorating situation with Chris Harris Jr. results in the leader of the Broncos’ secondary leaving the Mile High City in 2019.

Peter King Mock 1.0

Peter King Mock 1.0

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Broncos Pick (10 & 31): Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan and Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

This is Peter King’s only mock draft before the draft begins Thursday night, and he made some surprising moves for the Broncos.

He has Denver staying at #10 and selecting Michigan linebacker Devin Bush but then has the Broncos trading back into the first round and picking up Missouri quarterback Drew Lock at #31.

For the trade with the Los Angeles Rams, the Broncos give the Rams the 41st pick this year and a 2020 second-round pick for the 31st pick.

Many will see this as a great situation for the Broncos, while those that are still not sold on Lock as a first-round quarterback will question the move.

Bush is likely to be taken by linebacker-needy Cincinnati at #11 if Denver doesn’t take him at #10, assuming that the Bengals don’t trade up to gazump John Elway.

Bush is in a class of two with Devin White in this year’s linebacker corps, with some flaws that would need to be improved, and Fangio would be just the guy to do it.

Lock’s stock continues to fluctuate each week where he could go in the top ten or he could drop out of the first round altogether. He has a talented arm but still lacks important skills to be a successful NFL quarterback.

Pro Football Focus looks at what Devin Bush brings to the NFL

How do Bush and Lock fit with the Broncos?

The Broncos are in need of more talent on the inside of their linebacking corp. Todd Davis and Josey Jewell sit atop the depth chart and both are good players, but not great — at least not yet for Jewell.

Devin Bush would immediately bolster that defense and provide coverage on running backs and tight ends the Broncos have sorely missed for a long time.

Pro Football Focus looks at what Drew Lock brings to the NFL

The Missouri alum is the enigma in this mock. If he wasn’t selected in the first 30 picks of the first round, are the Broncos really at risk of losing out on him in the early second round? Maybe the New York Giants would have been a threat but they selected Daniel Jones at #23.

The Patriots could be looking for Brady’s next heir apparent at #32. The next team that might be looking for a quarterback early in round two would be the Oakland Raiders, so maybe Elway sees this as his last chance to get the last top rated quarterback in this draft.

Being picked at #31 doesn’t guarantee that Lock starts ahead of Flacco, but you have to imagine the Broncos newest veteran quarterback giving a big eye roll and thinking “here we go again” after his former club Baltimore traded up to #32 last year to select Lamar Jackson, who held on to the starting job even after Flacco returned from injury.

Who else was still available?

When the Broncos are on the clock at #10 in this mock, many of the top-tier defensive players are off the board, including Devin White, Quinnen Williams, and Ed Oliver.

Even Iowa TE T.J. Hockenson is taken at #7, along with top offensive tackles Jawaan Taylor (#8) and Jonah Williams (#9).

Denver could have picked up any of the top cornerback options (Greedy Williams, Deandre Baker, Byron Murphy), one of the Clemson defensive tackles (Christian Wilkins or Dexter Lawrence), or even Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

When the Broncos traded up from #41 to #31, there wasn’t really any players available worth that kind of jump, so Lock makes the most sense with that move.

However, they could have taken offensive tackle Dalton Risner, whose draft stock is rising, but probably wouldn’t have had to trade back into the first round for him.

Four Broncos games to excite in 2019

Four Broncos games to excite in 2019

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Each year the NFL tries to make a big deal out of every little thing they do because, well, they can. At this time of year, the league hypes up its schedule release by putting it on primetime television and releasing all schedules at the same time.

However, every year by the time the official release rolls around at 20:00 EST most have been leaked in some way — the Broncos schedule was known in its entirety hours before by piecing together various leaks.

Nonetheless, seeing the schedule provides a new sense of excitement — and maybe a little dread — knowing the new season is approaching quickly, albeit some four months away.

The Broncos will have the second toughest schedule this year, CBS Sports reported in February. Their opponents went 136-117-3 in 2018 for a .573 win percentage in 2018.

The Broncos have only four games in 2019 with a win probability of higher than 50%, including both games against the Oakland Raiders.

Those are not great odds but a lot can change as the offseason progresses, especially when you factor in that the Broncos are going to be a completely different team than in recent years.

Naturally, the New England Patriots have the second-easiest schedule, but there is some good news for Broncos Country because the Raiders have the toughest schedule.

At this stage of the 2019 season, here are few of the intriguing matchups for the Broncos, in no particular order.

Embed from Getty Images

Week 1 — @ Oakland Raiders — Mon. 9.9.19

It’s always exciting to start the season against a division rival.

The Raiders have been awful of late, and the rivalry hasn’t been as competitive as in previous years, but a lot has happened since Jon Gruden returned as head coach, and there will be further changes this offseason with the Raiders owning three first-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Among their score of acquisitions this offseason, they have added drama-queen wide receiver Antonio Brown after he forced his way out of Pittsburgh, along with former Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall.

The Broncos haven’t been much better than the Raiders the past two seasons but with a new quarterback in Joe Flacco and a completely revamped coaching staff, this will be a very different looking team.

This game will be one of only two primetime games for the Broncos and is most likely the last time they will play at Oakland Coliseum with the impending move of the Raiders to Las Vegas next year.

Broncos Country will have to wait longer to see their team as this is the second game of a Monday Night Football double-header.

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Week 2 — vs Chicago Bears — Sun. 9.15.19

The main attraction to this game is obviously a reunion between new Broncos head coach Vic Fangio and his former team.

Fangio served as the Bears’ defensive coordinator since the 2015 season, which saw the Bears’ defense go from being ranked 30th in the league when he started to third in the league last season.

The Broncos have been carried by their defense in recent years and hope Fangio’s expertise will provide another boost on that side of the ball after two disappointing seasons.

Chicago has become a strong contender after winning the NFC North division last year and was one missed-field goal away from advancing in the playoffs.

Bears head coach Matt Nagy and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky are familiar with Fangio’s defensive schemes and will look to take advantage of that while still retaining a top-tier defense.

On the flipside, Fangio is well aware of Nagy and Trubisky, and they will look to exploit their weaknesses in his first home game in Denver.

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Week 11 — at Minnesota Vikings — Sun. 11.17.19

Another reunion of sorts for the Broncos as former head coach Gary Kubiak will be on the other sideline helping manage the Vikings’ offense.

The Broncos will also get an up-close look at Kirk Cousins, the quarterback a lot of Broncos Country wanted them to sign in 2018.

The Vikings also have former Broncos quarterback Kyle Sloter as a backup, and recently signed free agent former Broncos wide receiver Jordan Taylor.

With Joe Flacco now leading the Denver offense, it will be a battle of top-tier quarterbacks and strong defenses.

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Week 7 — vs Kansas City Chiefs — Thu. 10.17.19

The second primetime game for the Broncos also comes against a division rival, but this team was one of the best in the AFC last year.

Patrick Mahomes dazzled in his first year as starting quarterback for the Chiefs last season, throwing for over 5,000 yards, 50 touchdowns, and only 12 interceptions.

He made throws across the field, across his body, and with his opposite hand that you just don’t see from your typical quarterback.

Under Andy Reid’s tutelage, Mahomes became a star in the making but this year he may be without one of his main targets. Last year, speedy receiver Tyreek Hill accounted for 1,479 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Only tight end Travis Kelce had more receptions (103 to 87) and targets (150 to 137), but Hill averaged 17 yards per reception with 570 yards after the catch.

The NFL is investigating Hill for potential child assault, which could result in a significant suspension — see Adrian Peterson’s suspension in 2014.

If Hill is suspended, or placed on the NFL Commissioner’s Exempt List for any amount of time, it will remove a huge weapon for the KC offense.

Hill’s absence could allow the Broncos defense to pressure Mahomes more while still maintaining coverage in the secondary.

But even if Hill is active for this game, Fangio was able to slow down high powered offenses like the LA Rams last year and could do that against the Chiefs this year.

Honorable Mentions

Week 9 — vs Cleveland Browns — 11.3.19: a very talented team with an inexperienced head coach.

Week 15 — at KC Chiefs — 12.15.19: could be a battle for the AFC West crown.

What do you think, Broncos Country? Which games are you most excited about?

Broncos open and close 2019 season against Raiders

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It’s time to start filling out your calendars for the 2019 NFL season with the release of the schedule.

The Broncos open up with a road trip to Oakland, which will be the second of the traditional Monday night doubleheader games on September 9, so get ready for a very late kickoff to the season.

Head coach Vic Fangio faces his former team when the Chicago Bears travel to Denver in week two before the Broncos hit the road again in week three when they head to Green Bay — somewhere they have never won.

The Broncos have just two back-to-back home game windows. The first happens when Tennessee heads to the Mile High City in week six before Kansas City rolls in for Thursday Night Football in week seven.

The second comes at the end of the season when Denver hosts Detroit in week 16 before Oakland make the trip to see out the regular season on December 29.

The Broncos have received a favorable bye week, which comes in week 10.

Broncos Europe TV’s Michael McQuaid predicts the Broncos’ 2019 record

Coming off back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1972, the Broncos have just two prime time games, which is some good news for Europe-based fans with fewer late nights than recent seasons.

There are also five early games to look forward to this season, and Broncos Europe will be scheduling watch parties for some of these over the summer.

Broncos Europe TV’s Colum will also be hosting Broncos fans at the Woolshed Baa & Grill in Dublin most weeks.

WEEKDATE (UK/EU)OPPONENTTV
1SEP 10 (03:20/04:20)at OAKLANDESPN
2SEP 15 (21:25/22:25)vs CHICAGOFOX
3SEP 22 (18:00/19:00)at GREEN BAYFOX
4SEP 29 (21:25/22:25)vs JACKSONVILLECBS
5OCT 6 (21:05/22:05)at LA CHARGERSCBS
6OCT 13 (21:25/22:25)vs TENNESSEECBS
7
OCT 18 (01:20/02:20)vs KANSAS CITYFOX
8OCT 27 (20:25/21:25)at INDIANAPOLISCBS
9NOV 3 (21:25/22:25)vs CLEVELANDCBS
10BYEBYEBYE
11NOV 17 (18:00/19:00)at MINNESOTACBS
12NOV 24 (18:00/19:00)at BUFFALOCBS
13DEC 01 (21:25/22:25)vs LA CHARGERSCBS
14DEC 08 (18:00/19:00)at HOUSTONCBS
15DEC 15 (18:00/19:00)at KANSAS CITYCBS
16DEC 22 (TIME TBD)vs DETROITCBS
17DEC 29 (21:25/22:25)vs OAKLANDCBS
BSN Denver Mock 2.0

BSN Denver Mock 2.0

Broncos Pick (10): Devin White, LB, LSU

In Simone’s Mock 1.0 he had the Broncos picking up the “other” Devin at #10. With some early trades projected in his 2.0, Devin White generously lands right in the lap of Elway and Co.

White is the consensus top inside linebacker this year and, in most mocks, he is projected to be long gone before the Broncos pick.

The reason Simone sees White dropping to the Broncos is because of the New York Giants’ desperate attempt to get their quarterback of the future by trading up with the Jets to #3 and picking up Dwayne Haskins.

The Giants’ trade allows top defensive tackle Quinnen Williams to drop to Tampa Bay at #5, whom they elect to pick over White.

Two more trades happen in this mock before the Broncos pick (ATL move up to #7, and Miami jump up to #8, which further allows White to slide down to #10.

White is a beast at the position — he benched 22 reps at the combine — and is a tackling machine, with 286 total tackles during his time at LSU.

He won the Butkus Award as the top linebacker in the country as a Junior last year with 123 tackles, 12 of which went for losses, three sacks, six pass breakups, and three forced fumbles.

LSU’s Devin White was named the top linebacker in the country

How does White fit with the Broncos?

Inside linebacker may not be the most pressing need on the Broncos right now since they still have Todd Davis and new-fan-favorite Josey Jewell, but White is much more talented than either of those guys.

Simone compares White to a young Patrick Willis, who found a lot of success under new Broncos head coach Vic Fangio.

A talent like that with Fangio running the defense would be hard to pass up. White would probably start over Jewell, for now, as Davis is the more experienced veteran, but a White-Jewell combination could be an anchor to this defense for years to come.

White is a great fit for Fangio’s schemes because, for one, he can tackle but he is also a sideline-to-sideline player.

He has the speed (4.42 40-yard dash) to cover running backs and tight ends and is strong enough to take on would-be blockers on the line.

He is not a perfect linebacker but, with good coaching, he can still grow and become even better.

Who was still available?

With the trades that Simone projected, none of the “elite” QB prospects — Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, or Drew Lock — were still on the board by the time the Broncos picked.

White was the best value at #10, but players like T.J. Hockenson, Andre Dillard, Jonah Williams, and any of the top cornerbacks were still there.

With White, the Broncos get one of the more talented defensive players in the draft and give Fangio another weapon to unleash on defense.

Broncos stay west for 2019 preseason

We already know the Denver Broncos open their 2019 preseason against the Atlanta Falcons on August 1 in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, OH.

With team owner Pat Bowlen and former cornerback Champ Bailey inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Broncos will then face the four NFC West teams.

The Broncos will welcome the familiarity of the opponents, and not having to make a time-consuming trip to the east coast in the middle of their preseason programme as they did to Washington DC in 2018.

Denver’s second game — which falls in week 1 of the preseason — is on the road against former AFC West rivals Seattle between August 8 and 12.

The Broncos defeated the Seahawks 27-24 in the opening game of the 2018 regular season.

An interesting wrinkle could see former Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch start for the Seahawks after the 2016 first-round bust landed with the Seahawks on a futures contract in January.

While he was a disaster, and couldn’t beat out Trevor Siemian in Denver, Lynch is in a battle to backup Seattle’s superstar Russell Wilson.

Next up, a Monday night home game against San Francisco on August 19, which will be nationally televised by ESPN (kickoff 20:00 EST/01:00 BST/02:00 CEST).

The Broncos and 49ers are regular preseason partners, with the Broncos leading the preseason series 22-16.

Expect to hear plenty of talk about the two general managers and their glory days winning back-to-back Super Bowls, while Valor Christian alum and Ed McCaffery’s son Max, who plays wide receiver for the 49ers, is sure to come up a few times, and former Broncos receiver Wes Welker is now the 49ers’ receivers coach.

Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the Broncos’ new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello joining from the 49ers, and new head coach Vic Fangio and defensive coordinator Ed Donatell both being former coaches in the Bay Area.

In week three, between August 22-25, new quarterback Joe Flacco and friends travel west to take on the Los Angeles Rams in the “dress rehearsal game,” where the traditional Don Fangio will take on the bright, young thing that is Sean McVay.

Former Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will probably have a few tricks up his sleeve to welcome Scangarello to his new position, and you can count on Aqib Talib to show up one way or another.

The final preseason game will take place on August 29 when Denver hosts another familiar opponent in the form of the new Arizona Cardinals.

The Cardinals will hit the Mile High City with a new head coach in Kliff Kingsbury, and a first-overall pick that probably won’t play.

There will also be a quick return to the Mile High City for a number of former Broncos coaches, including much-vilified former Broncos head coach Vance Joseph, who is now the defensive coordinator in the desert after he was sacked in January.

Sean Kugler, the Broncos’ 2018 offensive line coach, and Greg Williams and Marcus Robertson, the Broncos’ defensive backs coaches last season, are also now with the Cardinals.

BSN Denver Mock 1.0

BSN Denver Mock 1.0

Broncos Pick: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan

The boys at BSN Denver finally released their first mock of the offseason as they patiently waited for the NFL Scouting Combine and the initial wave of free agency to pass on by before sorting things out.

Now that the dust has settled, BSN’s draft guru Andre Simone has the Broncos snapping up one of the best inside linebackers in the draft in Michigan’s Devin Bush.

Devin White, the consensus top ILB, could very well end up being a top-five pick, but Bush is not far behind, with the duo establishing at the NFL Scouting Combine that they are easily the top two in the 2019 class.

At 5-11, Bush is considered an undersized linebacker but makes up for it in athleticism and speed.

He can cover running backs and tight ends because he plays fast, and is good at reading the play as it develops. He’s also good at getting to the quarterback on blitzes as demonstrated by his 10 sacks in two years as a starter for the Wolverines.

How does Bush fit with the Broncos?

Everyone that has been paying attention to the Broncos this offseason knows that new head coach Vic Fangio knows how to use his linebackers and sees them as an important cog in his defensive schemes.

With that in mind, Bush becomes an ideal pick to be Fangio’s defensive QB as a three-down LB. Bush fills a big need for the Broncos as they have let former starter Brandon Marshall go to FA and have consistently struggled to cover RBs out of the backfield and TEs.

Bush is seen as a sideline-to-sideline guy meaning he has the speed and ability to go where the ball is going and get there quickly. His size can be a concern if going up against big linemen but if he can use his hands and leverage to slip around those blocks he can be disruptive against the run.

His speed also helps him keep up with running backs and tight ends and allows him to defend passes well.

Who was still available?

This mock definitely went the unconventional route but it may not be that far from reality when all is said and done.

BSN has three quarterbacks coming off the board early. Kyler Murray to Arizona, Dwayne Haskins to Oakland, and Drew Lock to the New York Giants, so the Broncos have no choice but to go in a different direction at 10.

Because of the unconventional nature of the top nine picks, top linemen like Andre Dillard, Jawaan Taylor, and Jonah Williams, and defensive prospects Montez Sweat and Ed Oliver are still there at 10, as are the three of the top cornerbacks in Deandre Baker, Greedy Williams, and Byron Murphy.

If he doesn’t go in the top 10, Bush most likely doesn’t make it out of 15 so this pick could end up being a steal for the Broncos and fill a need.

Broncos sign CB Bryce Callahan to three-year deal

Broncos sign CB Bryce Callahan to three-year deal

The Denver Broncos have bolstered their secondary with the signing of former Chicago Bears cornerback Bryce Callahan.

The 27-year-old Rice alum was an integral part of the Bears defense under coordinator Vic Fangio from 2015-2017.

With Fangio now head coach in Denver, Callahan will join him in the Mile High City with a reported three-year deal worth $21 million.

Callahan’s arrival comes after the Broncos unveiled their marquee free agent signings, including former Houston cornerback Kareem Jackson.

With Jackson and Chris Harris Jr. expected to lineup outside, Callahan will become the Broncos’ primary slot corner.

Bryce Callahan is one of the NFL’s top slot corners. Credit: Pro Football Focus

According to Pro Football Focus, Callahan played 413 coverage snaps in the slot and allowed a passer rating of 78.9, ranking eighth.

More impressively, Callahan allowed just 0.69 yards per cover snap in the slot, ranking second at the position, even ahead of Harris Jr. (0.75) and Desmond King II (1.00).

While he might spend most of his time in slot coverage, Callahan is plenty versatile, something Fangio has always valued.

Head over to Pro Football Focus for a deeper dive into what makes Callahan one of the NFL’s top slot corners.

Broncos to face Falcons in 2019 Hall of Fame game

The Denver Broncos will kick off the 2019 season by facing the Atlanta Falcons in the Hall of Fame Game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on Thursday, August 1.

It will be a week of celebration for the Broncos in Ohio with owner Pat Bowlen finally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, along with former cornerback Champ Bailey who, like the Falcons’ Tony Gonzalez, is a first-ballot inductee.

“With Mr. Bowlen and Champ Bailey part of this year’s induction class, it’s an honor for the Broncos to play in the Hall of Fame Game,” head coach Vic Fangio told the Denver Broncos website.

“We’re looking forward to seeing a lot of Broncos fans in Canton, and it’s also special for us to help kick off the NFL’s 100th season. Football-wise, it gives our team an extra week of training camp and additional practices that we’ll use to our advantage.”

The confirmation from the NFL means the Broncos will have five preseason games in Vic Fangio’s first season as head coach.

With an early start to the season, the Broncos and Falcons will begin their training camp early.

The Broncos’ last appearance in the game was in 2004 when John Elway entered the Hall.

Broncos sign CB Kareem Jackson to three-year deal

Broncos sign CB Kareem Jackson to three-year deal

The Denver Broncos filled one of their priority 2019 needs by signing Kareem Jackson to a three-year contract, according to multiple reports.

The 30-year-old defensive back, who spent the first nine years of his career in Houston, is expected to sign a three-year deal worth $33 million, including $23 million guaranteed, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

A versatile defensive back that can play safety, Jackson figures to play a significant role in new head coach Vic Fangio’s plans on defense but is expected — for the most part — to play cornerback opposite Chris Harris Jr. with Bradley Roby expected to sign elsewhere.

Pro Football Focus ranked Jackson as the fifth-best cornerback in 2018, noting in their 2019 Free Agency Profile that “[a]s he approaches his 31st birthday, Jackson still has plenty left in the tank.

“As good as he is in coverage, he’s probably better in run support, as his 91.1 run-defense grade ranked second among cornerbacks this past season.

“Jackson is a do-it-all corner who isn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and get to work.”

Jackson’s contract will not become official until the 2019 league year begins on Wednesday, March 13.

Broncos to send fo​urth-round pick in trade for Ravens QB Joe Flacco

The Denver Broncos will have a new starting quarterback in 2019 after they agreed “in principle” to trade for Baltimore’s Joe Flacco.

The Broncos are expected to send a fourth-round pick for the former Super Bowl MVP when the move is officially announced at the start of the league season next month.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the move before other details of the move leaked out through various media members, despite a prohibition on teams talking about the deal or terms.

The news likely signals the end in the Mile High City for 2018 starter Case Keenum, who has one year remaining on a two-year deal, despite president of football operations/general manager John Elway describing Keenum as “the perfect fit” last March.

After a 6-10 season and the firing of head coach Vance Joseph, Elway revised his verdict on Keenum as “a short-term fix”.

With the Broncos holding the 10th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, there was an expectation that Elway would go after a quarterback, despite the consensus of a weak quarterback class.

But the move for a veteran that turned 34 in January could see the Broncos’ plans change under new head coach Vic Fangio.

Flacco lost his starting job in Baltimore last season after a hip injury sidelined him and rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson carried the Ravens to the postseason.

Despite winning Super Bowl XLVII, there is a belief that Flacco is nothing more than a big-bodied average quarterback that has been on the decline, with his best season coming in 2014 under former Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak.

Pro Football Focus breaks down how Joe Flacco compares to Case Keenum

Five 2019 free agents the Broncos should target

With the Denver Broncos’ season officially done, it is already time for Broncos Country to look forward to the upcoming season and what it might bring.

The new coaching team, led by Vic Fangio, is already in place, so it’s time to start assessing which players the club could bring in to bolster the roster through free agency.

Some position groups are stacked, but the Broncos have a lot of holes to fill, and they can’t rely on John Elway to produce another draft class like 2018.

Here are five players, who will be free agents next month, that the Broncos should target when free agency opens up in March.

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Teddy Bridgewater, QB

As all of Broncos Country knows — and as John Elway admitted recently — Case Keenum is not the long-term solution at quarterback.

The magic that he played with in his lone season in Minnesota never manifested itself in his first season in Denver. Some will say it was the fault of former offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave for not playing to Keenum’s strengths, while others say Keenum is a journeyman backup and has hit his ceiling.

With new OC Rich Scangarello coming in, the offensive schemes are sure to change and could have a positive impact on Keenum, but with a somewhat weak QB class in the 2019 NFL Draft the Broncos would be wise to bring someone in that can challenge Keenum as the starter.

Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t played a full season of football since 2015 due to injury but, if fully healed, has the potential to be a franchise quarterback.

In his last full season with Minnesota, Bridgewater finished the season with an 88.7 passer rating and 65.3 completion percentage.

He spent this season sitting and learning behind future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, although he struggled in his only start for the Saints, but could finish the season with “Super Bowl winning QB” on his resume.

The risk of injury is there but the potential reward could outweigh that risk. He is a dual-threat quarterback but his stats show he has a pass-first mentality.

Bringing in Bridgewater would allow the Broncos to focus on getting the best player available at #10 in this year’s draft and then look at taking a quarterback in a later round.

His lack of playing time over the last few years would most likely keep his cost low but he will probably want to sign with a team that can offer him a chance to start.

For this to be possible, the Broncos would need to be willing to move on from Keenum either via trade or cutting him and taking on the $10 million of dead money.

If Bridgewater’s contract can be similar to what he got from New Orleans in 2018 — essentially $5m including bonuses — it would help the Broncos feel more comfortable about taking on the dead money from Keenum.

Notable alternative: Robert Griffin III — small price tag with potential upside, however, he is also an injury risk.

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Donovan Smith, OT

If the Broncos want to improve their offensive line, they’re probably going to need more than Mike Munchak.

Munchak is not only a Hall of Fame guard, but he also coached one of the league’s best offensive lines in Pittsburgh. That said, he is not a miracle worker and could have his work cut out to transform the Broncos’ O-line in just one offseason.

Left tackle Garett Bolles seemed to have improved during much of last season but still tied for the most offensive holding penalties in the league (7) along with three false starts.

The Broncos’ 2017 first-round pick is still a very raw player that Munchak could potentially mold into a good player, but if the Broncos have the chance to solidify their line right away, there’s no reason not to and let Bolles develop a little more or even move him to another spot on the line.

Donovan Smith, 26, played on one of the worst offensive lines with Tampa Bay last season and he gave up a career-high in sacks, but he hasn’t missed a game in the four seasons he has played.

He is considered one of the top available talents at left tackle this offseason so could cost a pretty penny, but it may be time for Elway to start shoring up the line by shelling out the cash.

Elway already hired the best OL coach in the business so why not give him some talent to transform the Broncos’ offensive line?

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Sheldon Richardson, DT

It sounds like the Broncos are working with Derek Wolfe on an extension to keep him in Denver for a few more years, which would solidify one side of the defensive line. Adam Gotsis performed admirably last year and is still growing as a player and should remain a starter.

The middle of the line may be a concern this offseason as Domata Peko, although still performing at a high level, is 34 While Shelby Harris has been a standout player when he’s on the field he hasn’t been able to take over the starting role at DT.

The Broncos were linked to trade rumors involving Sheldon Richardson in 2017 before he was shipped off to Seattle. He then signed with the Minnesota Vikings last year where he had a fairly quiet season, accumulating only 4.5 sacks, but still had 6 tackles for loss and 16 QB hits.

The Broncos could use a strong force in the middle that offensive lineman would be required to give attention to, which would make things easier for the Broncos edge rushers.

Even though Richardson’s season was a quiet one, it was still a bounce-back year for him after only 2.5 sacks over the previous two seasons combined, which could keep his price tag lower.

Adding a veteran that can come in and start rather than going down the draft and development route might interest the Broncos

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C.J. Mosley, ILB

At inside linebacker, 2018 third-round pick Josey Jewell seems to have done enough to take over for Brandon Marshall but Todd Davis, although strong defending the run, continues to struggle against the pass.

C.J. Mosley is a tackling machine with at least 100 tackles in four of his five seasons in the league. He has the speed and versatility to cover running backs and tight ends out of the backfield and is known to be a leader on the field.

It may be difficult to pry Mosley away from Baltimore as talks have already begun to see if the two sides can work out a long-term deal and Mosley is on record saying he would like to stay in Baltimore.

The Ravens also have the option of placing the franchise tag on Mosley in February, but it would cost them around $15m to retain his services, which would make him the highest paid ILB in the league.

If the Broncos can convince Mosley to trade in crab cakes for Rocky Mountain oysters, they could potentially solve the covering a tight end problem that has been haunting them for years.

It could cost them upwards of $10 million a year but fills a position of need with a talented LB still in his prime.

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Bryce Callahan, Slot CB

One of the more glaring needs the Broncos have to fill this offseason is the secondary, specifically cornerback.

Chris Harris Jr. is still a high-caliber player, but he can’t cover the entire field. Bradley Roby disappointed in 2018 by consistently getting burned throughout the season.

Injuries also plagued the team, and the young corners drafted in 2017 and 2018 aren’t ready, which is why it’s vital that the Broncos have depth at this position.

Bryce Callahan played for new Broncos head coach Vic Fangio during his four years with the Bears, so he would already have familiarity with the system if he were to find his way to Denver.

Last year, he accumulated 45 total tackles, two sacks, and two interceptions. He is seen as one of the best slot corners in the league — after CHJ, of course — and would allow Harris to move to the outside.

The current knock on Callahan is that he has yet to play a full 16-game season. If that’s a risk the club is willing to take, they could offer a short-term deal to show he can stay healthy and will have the compliment to CHJ they thought they had in Roby.

This could also allow the Broncos to bring Roby back on a cheap deal and move him back to the third corner spot where he seemed to thrive.

Notable Options: CB Jason Verrett, S Landon Collins, TE Jared Cook.

Devin White to Denver in Jeremiah mock draft

LSU linebacker Devin White to Denver in CBS mock

With 97 days to go until the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, it’s open season on mock drafts.

While Broncos Europe’s draft analysts aren’t yet ready to join the fun, we’re keeping an eye on what the experts think could happen.

This week alone we’ve seen Pro Football Focus lead analyst Steve Palazzolo’s mock draft 3.0 has the Denver Broncos selecting Washington cornerback Byron Murphy while ESPN’s Mel Kiper mock 1.0 has the Broncos taking Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker.

Now, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah has the Broncos selecting LSU linebacker Devin White with the 10th overall pick.

At 6-1, 240-pounds, the 20-year-old defensive star is a 2018 consensus All-American and Butkus Award winner, as well as being named First-Team All-SEC in 2017 and 2018, and second-team All-American in 2017.

Devin White was named the best linebacker in college football in 2018.

The Broncos’ new head coach Vic Fangio is no stranger to Butkus Award recipients after the Chicago Bears drafted Roquan Smith in 2018.

Fangio also coached Patrick Willis and NaVarro Bowman in San Francisco between 2011 and 2014, and he will now coach two-time Butkus Award winner Von Miller.

White’s speed and versatility make him a prime candidate for the Broncos to take in the first round, given Fangio’s expertise coaching linebackers and the Broncos’ need to improve at the position, and figures to be high on their draft board.

Pro Football Focus analyst Steve Palazzolo has the Steelers drafting White 20th overall.

White finished 2018 with a team-high 123 tackles, which saw him become the seventh player in LSU history to record back-to-back seasons with 100+ tackles.

But the third-year junior wasn’t just a tackling machine, he also weighed in with 33 QB pressures, and three pass breakups in coverage and could be found all over the field.

White’s dominance saw his Pro Football Focus overall grade jump from 73.2 to a 90.0 in 2018, and he is the top-ranked linebacker by Palazzolo, who has the Pittsburgh Steelers drafting the Louisiana native 20th overall in his mock draft 3.0.

CBS mock draft has Broncos taking QB Daniel Jones

CBS mocks have Broncos taking QB Daniel Jones

Some Denver Broncos fans might have an eye or two on the NFL playoffs this month, but here we’re keeping one eye on who will deny Tom Brady another ring and one eye on who the Broncos should draft in April.

The perennial draft question for the Broncos is will John Elway finally find their new franchise quarterback?

He’s tried a few times and failed.

Meanwhile AFC West rivals Kansas City traded up in the first round in 2017 and landed their guy Patrick Mahomes, Houston traded up to grab former Clemson star DeSean Watson, and the Baltimore Ravens traded back into the first round in 2018 to land their guy in Lamar Jackson.

All three were players the Broncos could have drafted, but didn’t.

Of course, the last time Elway traded up in the first round to get his quarterback was in 2016. We all know how Paxton Lynch worked out.

So will Elway pull the trigger in 2019 after admitting that current starter Case Keenum is “a short-term fix”?

CBS sports writer Ryan Wilson has the Broncos drafting Duke quarterback Daniel Jones 10th overall with Oklahoma’s Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins already off the board.

CBS writer Chris Trapasso also has the Broncos taking Jones 10th overall.

The old joke is that Elway likes big, athletic quarterbacks. It didn’t work out with Lynch, or 2012 second-round pick Brock Osweiler, but Jones could be the next athletic quarterback gamble the Broncos could take.

The big difference, however, could be that Jones has been coached by David Cutcliffe, who also coached Peyton Manning and brother Eli.

Jones isn’t a finished article but could learn a lot from Keenum and new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, who worked with quarterbacks in San Francisco.

Here’s what Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney told ESPNU radio host Mark Packer after watching the Jones for the first time ahead of Clemson’s game with Duke in Death Valley last November.

“We have not played Duke since 2012 and we have not had a lot of crossover tape with Duke, so I put the tape in and I usually start from their last game and I go from there,” Swinney said.

“But I am watching this Duke-North Carolina game, and I could not believe what I was seeing.

“This kid was unbelievable. This kid is huge. First of all, he is a 6-5, 220-pound quarterback, but he rushed for 186 yards.

“I’m talking a 72-yard run, 50-yard run, and he is pulling away from guys. He is not explosive latterly, but when he gets going, this guy can leave you. He has legit track speed straight ahead.”

Daniel Jones is a big-bodied, dual-threat quarterback that could tempt John Elway

While Jones set the Duke single-game rushing record in the 42-35 win over rivals North Carolina, his passing has also impressed throughout the season.

“He is incredibly accurate. He is very strong-armed,” Swinney added. “I just kept watching him and kept watching him, and I am like, ‘Oh my Lord!’

“He is very knowledgeable and is obviously very well coached with [head coach David Cutcliffe]. He is a pro. He is going to be a high pick in the draft for sure.

“I did not know a whole lot about him prior to our preparation for him, but I tell you what, he got my attention really quick, and he got our team’s attention.

“This is a very talented quarterback with good veteran receivers and good tight ends, and they have an excellent scheme that features him. Everything goes through the quarterback.”

Our friends at Pro Football Focus aren’t as impressed as Clemson’s head coach.

“The 2019 draft class is a decidedly weak quarterback class and when that’s the case, an off-the-wall name always seems to get first-round hype at some point in the process,” said PFF’s Michael Renner.

“It looks as if Jones will be that guy this year. The Duke quarterback’s 79.7 passing grade this season represents a monstrous jump over his 2017 campaign where he earned a 57.8 passing grade, but he simply hasn’t had enough special throws down the field to warrant the hype.

“Jones’ 13 big-time throws this season rank 71st in the country, and he has almost as many turnover-worthy plays (11) as he does big-time throws.”

Pro Football Focus labeled Jones as overrated despite his rise up their draft board in 2018.

Jones had a solid, if unspectacular, 2018 season for the Blue Devils and, after declaring for the 2019 NFL Draft, accepted an invitation to be one of eight quarterbacks at the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile on January 26.

Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden will coach Jones and fellow first-round prospect Drew Lock as part of the North team against Kyle Shanahan’s South team.

If he shines in Mobile and at the NFL Combine, Jones could certainly find several suitors when the 2019 NFL Draft rolls into Nashville in April.

Mel Kiper 2019 mock has Broncos drafting CB Deandre Baker

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.

PFF mock has Broncos drafting CB Byron Murphy

PFF mock has Broncos drafting CB Byron Murphy

With no playoff football for the third season in a row, we’re already turning our attention towards the 2019 NFL Draft.

Now that the Denver Broncos have their new coaching team in place for 2019, we can start to get a better feel for where the club will look to strengthen the roster.

The trend among draft experts is that the Broncos will take Missouri quarterback Drew Lock or the best available cornerback with the 10th overall pick.

With the Broncos expected to move on from 2014 first-round cornerback Bradley Roby, cornerback should be a top priority for John Elway and new head coach Vic Fangio.

Case Keenum is expected to return as the starter for a second year, so Fangio could emphasize drafting a stud defensive player in the first round rather than risk going high with a lackluster quarterback class.

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With Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray selected sixth overall by the New York Giants and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins chosen by the Jacksonville Jaguars one pick later, Pro Football Focus lead draft analyst Steve Palazzolo has the Broncos taking the third cornerback off the board in Washington’s 5-11, 180-pound Byron Murphy.

The 21-year-old sophomore was named First Team All-Pac 12 in 2018 and MVP in the Pac 12 Championship game after recording two interceptions, taking one 66 yards for a game-winning touchdown in a 10-3 win over Utah.

“The quarterback value just doesn’t match up yet for the Broncos at this point, but they add one of the best corners in the class in Murphy who allowed a passer rating of only 54.5 into his coverage last year on his way to the top PFF grade among cornerbacks at 91.9,” said Palazzolo.

In his Mock 2.0 back in October, Palazzolo had the Broncos taking Clemson’s 340-pound nose tackle Dexter Lawrence ninth overall with Murphy again his third CB off the board, going 19th overall to Philadelphia.

In this mock, Palazzolo has Georgia’s Deandre Baker going fifth overall to Tampa Bay with LSU’s Greedy Williams going eighth overall to Detroit.

Should the Broncos take Murphy, or another cornerback, Palazzolo’s mock has them passing up on some other talented players that could make an immediate impact, including Clemson’s defensive interior duo Lawrence and Christian Wilkins.

Other notable names to slide past the Broncos in the PFF mock include Ole Miss offensive tackle Greg Little, Kansas State offensive tackle Dalton Risner, LSU linebacker Devin White, and Michigan linebacker Devin Bush, while Palazzolo has all 29 teams passing up on Drew Lock in the first round.

Broncos hire Rich Scangarello as offensive coordinator

Broncos hire Rich Scangarello as offensive coordinator

The Denver Broncos have hired Rich Scangarello to be their new offensive coordinator, completing their key coaching acquisitions for the 2019 season.

Scangarello, who worked under Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta and San Francisco, is a first-time coordinator charged with transforming the Broncos’ lackluster offense.

The 46-year-old’s appointment after a two-day interview process means the Broncos will have a first-time head coach, as well as first-time offensive and defensive coordinators.

Only special teams coordinator Tom McMahon, who joined the Broncos in 2018 from Indianapolis and was retained by Vic Fangio, has experience leading a unit.

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But Scangarello was praised for his work as quarterbacks coach in San Francisco, where he worked with veteran Brian Hoyer, rookie CJ Beathard, trade acquisition Jimmy Garoppolo, and undrafted rookie Nick Mullens, who was the 49ers’ starter when they defeated the Broncos in December 2018.

“With the addition of Rich Scangarello as our offensive coordinator, we’re getting an experienced coach who was a trusted and valued assistant with Kyle Shanahan for three seasons,” Fangio said.

“He worked wonders with all the quarterbacks who started for San Francisco during the previous two years as quarterbacks coach.

“With his background and knowledge, it’s the perfect time for Rich to be an offensive coordinator in the NFL.

“I find this opportunity for Rich very similar to when I first became a defensive coordinator many years ago, and he is ready to take this step in his career.”

After four starting quarterbacks in two years, the Broncos still need to find their franchise quarterback, and Scangarello could be the man to both find and develop that player should the club go down the draft route.

The Broncos had the 27th ranked offense for points scored in 2017 and saw only a modest improvement to 24th in 2018 with a new quarterback and a raft of young talent from the 2018 NFL draft.

Mullens’ work developing quarterbacks could be critical for the Broncos after president of football operations/general manager was quoted by Peter King admitting that current starter Case Keenum is a bridge.

“Obviously, we’ve got to—Case [Keenum] is probably a short-term fix—find the long-term guy for us,” Elway said.

“When we do find that guy, we’ve got to have the continuity on the offensive side to where we can train him and develop him and get him there. This is our fourth offense in probably three or four years.

“Quarterbacks need to be developed. You don’t find one ready-made. We got to have a solid system in place for when we do go after whatever guy it may be, a young guy or a trade or whatnot.”

As well as developing a quarterback, Scangarello will draw up the offensive scheme and call plays with Fangio focused on defense.

The 49ers had initially denied the Broncos’ request to interview Scangarello but eventually relented.

Scangarello’s appointment comes in the same week that the Broncos hired Ed Donatell to be the new defensive coordinator and Mike Munchak to coach the offensive line.