The initial wave of the free agency and trading period completed, the Broncos addressed needs with the acquisitions of cornerback A.J. Bouye, defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, right guard Graham Glasgow and running back Melvin Gordon.
But with the draft beginning four weeks from Thursday (April 23), the Broncos still have many holes — starters and backups — to fill.
The Broncos have 10 picks, including five in the first three rounds, to improve the roster. Here is a Broncos Big Board of possible selections:
Gerry Broome, The Associated Press
Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) runs against Virginia during the first half of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship NCAA college football game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019.
What’s the story: The Broncos opted against acquiring a veteran receiver such as Stefon Diggs (traded from Minnesota to Buffalo) or DeAndre Hopkins (traded from Houston to Arizona), leaving Courtland Sutton as the only player at the position with 100 career catches. Another play-maker is needed.
1. Henry Ruggs III, Alabama: Although he’s not a proficient route runner like former Alabama teammate Jerry Jeudy, Ruggs is technically skilled enough to take advantage of his blazing speed (4.27-second 40-yard dash at scouting combine).
2. Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State: All eight of Aiyuk’s receiving touchdowns last year came when he was lined up on the left side of the formation, but he showed impressive footwork to win on slants, digs, screens and double moves.
3. Tee Higgins, Clemson: Able to utilize his 6-foot-4 frame, Higgins is an immediate red zone threat. It’s no surprise that 20% of his catches (27 of 135) went for touchdowns during his three seasons. He did not run at the combine.
4. K.J. Hamler, Penn State: Dynamic in the open field, Hamler had at least one 25-yard catch in nine of 13 games last year. At 5-foot-9, his ability to work out of the slot would open the outside for Sutton and allow the Broncos to address another need in the first round.
5. Van Jefferson, Florida: Along with Jeudy, one of the draft’s most-polished route runners. Jefferson just knows how to get open, though his early value could come on special teams.
Sam Greenwood, Getty Images
C.J. Henderson (1) of the Florida Gators runs for yardage during the game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Nov. 9, 2019 in Gainesville, Fla.
What’s the story: Even after acquiring Bouye from Jacksonville, the Broncos could use another top-end cornerback, particularly to play outside opposite him. That would allow Bryce Callahan (out all of 2019 with a foot injury) to concentrate on nickel duties.
1. C.J. Henderson, Florida: An ankle injury sidelined him for three games last year, but he is likely to be the second cornerback to come off the board after Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah. Henderson’s athleticism (4.39 40) and length (shade under 6-foot-1) are the traits of a future shutdown boundary corner.
2. Kristian Fulton, LSU: Injuries and a two-year suspension for falsifying a drug test kept Fulton from reaching his potential with the Tigers (only 28 career games). He could be a Day 2 selection with the ceiling of an early first-round pick.
3. Jeff Gladney, TCU: At 5-foot-10 and 191 pounds, Gladney’s future may be as a nickel corner. He had 38 passes defended in four seasons and shows a good willingness to mix it up in the slot or outside.
4. Bryce Hall, Virginia: How are his medicals? If the ankle injury that cost him all but six games last season has progressed well, Hall could be a tremendous Day 2 value pick. He led FBS with 22 pass break-ups (two interceptions) in 2018.
5. Dane Jackson, Pittsburgh: A Senior Bowl standout, Jackson started 41 games at Pittsburgh (148 tackles, four interceptions and 43 total passes defended) and offers intrigue among possible Day 3 selections.
Michael Conroy, The Associated Press
LSU offensive lineman Lloyd Cushenberry speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020.
What’s the story: The Broncos filled one hole at right guard by signing Glasgow to a four-year deal but created another at center by moving on from Connor McGovern, who signed with the New York Jets.
1. Lloyd Cushenberry III, LSU: With a wingspan that stretches from Denver to Breckenridge, Cushenberry (28 consecutive starts to finish career) is a solid option to slot between Glasgow and left guard Dalton Risner. For now, he’s better in pass protection than run blocking.
2. Cesar Ruiz, Michigan: The ability to fire off the ball at the snap gives Ruiz a good chance to win his match-up on every play. He started five games at right guard before starting two years at center.
3. Matt Hennessy, Temple: A three-year starter who is good pulling and in the screen game but is going to have to battle to hold up against the NFL’s top defensive tackles.
4. Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin: The 2019 Rimington Trophy winner, given to the nation’s top center, started all 41 games at the position in his career. His play strength is only OK, likely making him a Day 2 or Day 3 pick.
5. Jake Hanson, Oregon: Hanson started 49 games at center over four seasons and had one penalty in 746 snaps as a senior in 2019.
Ronald Martinez, Getty Images
Justin Madubuike (52) of the Texas A&M Aggies during the Southwest Classic at AT&T Stadium on Sept. 28, 2019 in Arlington, Texas.
What’s the story: The acquisition of Casey from Tennessee for a seventh-round pick Wednesday made defensive tackle less of a pressing need, but additional talent could be used across the defensive front.
1. Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M: At 6-foot-3 and 293 pounds, Madubuike wins (45 tackles as a junior) because of his ability to create leverage and a high-functioning motor.
2. Jason Strowbridge, North Carolina: With the build to play defensive end in a 3-4 scheme, Strowbridge’s college production (11 1/2 sacks in four seasons) was more the result of his won’t-quit attitude than sheer dominance.
3. Jabari Zuniga, Florida: The Gators never quite got a consistently healthy and productive Zuniga, but he always seemed on the cusp. If he’s able to stay healthy, another good value pick. He played only six games last year (ankle injury).
4. Chauncey Rivers, Mississippi State: Strong hands and a decent array of moves helped Rivers produce 7 1/2 sacks in two seasons at Mississippi State. That was a nice reset after marijuana issues ended his Georgia career prematurely.
5. Leki Fotu, Utah: Fotu doesn’t offer much as a pass-rusher, but his massive frame (6-5/330) makes him a potential two-down nose tackle in a 3-4 front. A third-team All-America pick last year (29 tackles).