Jeff Legwold breaks down the Denver Broncos' 2017 draft class.
Round 1, No. 20 overall: Garett Bolles, T, Utah
My take: Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp might be the best offensive lineman in the draft, but most teams consider him an NFL guard in waiting. That made Bolles and Ryan Ramczyk the best tackle prospects on the board when the Broncos were on the clock. Players whom many teams graded higher (including Lamp, Miami tight end David Njoku and UCLA defensive end Takkarist McKinley) were available, but Bolles carried a similar grade at a position of greatest need for the Broncos. He will turn 25 next month, so he is believed to be the fifth-oldest player taken in the first round of the draft.
Father's Day: Bolles, who has tried to convince teams he has matured since his troubled youth and will play with more composure than he showed in his career with the Utes, had his infant son, Kingston, with him for much of the pre-draft coverage Thursday. That included carrying Kingston on stage with him when the Broncos announced the pick.
Fix the flags: Bolles was one of the most penalized linemen on the board this year, and he often let his emotions get the best of him. There’s a fine line there; teams like the edge in his game but also want him to know when to say when. In his meeting with the Broncos ahead of the draft, Bolles told the team he considered himself a "snap-to-whistle" player who wouldn’t hurt the team’s efforts on offense with unnecessary penalties.
Round 2, No. 51: DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State
My take: In Kollar they trust -- as in, defensive line coach Bill Kollar. The Broncos selected defensive end Adam Gotsis in the second round of the 2016 draft as a player Kollar had coveted. With Walker, they’ll give Kollar a player who has flashed top-tier talent without the consistency to match his vast potential. Some scouts said Walker was among their favorite defensive linemen in the draft. He had 16 sacks last season, including a 4.5-sack game.
How he fits: If all goes as expected, Walker will move quickly into the rotation in the defensive front. The Broncos signed nose tackle Zach Kerr and defensive lineman Domata Peko in free agency to go with Derek Wolfe, Gotsis and Jared Crick. It’s crowded, but the Broncos want to defend the run better (they were 28th in run defense last season) and have to find ways to free Von Miller more in the rush. With all the attention he got from opposing offenses last season, Miller did not have a sack in the season’s last four games.
Round 3, No. 82: Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech
My take: Henderson was an all-state running back as a prep player, and he still runs with flair and power after he makes a catch. He checks all of the boxes with the kind of big-play pop the Broncos were looking for in this draft. He breaks tackles and closes the deal, as evidenced by his 19 touchdown catches in 2016, tied for the FBS lead. He also had 133 rushing yards and was one of the best kickoff returners in the nation, averaging 32.2 yards per return and scoring twice last season.
How he fits: Henderson is a versatile player who should be in the mix from the start. He’s physical, so he should be able to adjust to the increase in man-to-man coverage that he'll see as a pro. He immediately fills one of the biggest needs the Broncos have had for several seasons because of his potential in the return game. Henderson could be a third option in the passing game after 1,535 yards receiving in 2016. His 4.46-second 40-yard dash at the combine demonstrated the speed the Broncos want and need.
Round 3, No. 101 overall: Brendan Langley, CB, Lamar
My take: The Broncos will not skimp on defense as long as John Elway is calling the shots, and Langley is an ascending player who possesses rare athleticism. He is a former wide receiver who started his career at Georgia. Langley was one of the bigger cornerbacks on the board at 6-foot-3/8-inches and 201 pounds. Langley ran a 4.43 40-yard dash at the combine. He has also returned punts in his career. The Broncos had him in for a pre-draft visit to their complex. That sealed the deal, as they decided he had the willingness to do the work.
How he fits: Langley is a developmental prospect, but as Vance Joseph said: “He’s 6 feet tall, 200 pounds and runs 4.4.” There will be no rush to play Langley with the depth the Broncos have at cornerback, but they believe they have a potential starter down the road. He can already return punts -- or at least compete for that job -- and should play immediately on the special-teams coverage units.
Round 5, No. 145: Jake Butt, TE, Michigan
My take: Executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway was already saying Friday night that the Broncos' roster might not have room for all of the team's Day 3 picks, but this is one with which they can be patient. Butt tore the ACL in his right knee in the Wolverines' Orange Bowl loss, but he had first-round talent before his injury. The Broncos have found plenty of value here with a player who had 51 and 46 catches, respectively, in his past two seasons.
How he fits: This is one of the best tight end prospects in the draft, a playmaker who can also line up as a blocker, if needed, in the run game. So many of the tight ends in the draft are largely receivers, and the Broncos wanted one who could play on every down. Butt has told teams that he might be ready for on-field work by the end of training camp. It will be worth watching, given that Butt tore the ACL in the same knee in 2014.
Round 5, No. 172: Isaiah McKenzie, WR, Georgia
My take: When Elway said he wanted to find some help in the return game in this draft, he wasn’t kidding. McKenzie, wide receiver Carlos Henderson (third round) and cornerback Brendan Langley (third round) each have return ability. McKenzie is undersized at 5-foot-7 1/2-inches and 173 pounds, but he had six return touchdowns in his career in the SEC: five on punt returns and one on a kickoff. He also had four rushing touchdowns in his career with the Bulldogs.
How he fits: McKenzie will immediately be in the mix in the return game, especially as a punt returner. Like Henderson, McKenzie can multitask on offense, so he could find a niche quickly if he shows some production in training camp. McKenzie was one of the fastest players at the scouting combine, with a 4.42-second 40-yard dash to go with a 36-inch vertical leap.
Round 6, No. 203: De'Angelo Henderson, RB, Coastal Carolina
My take: The Broncos were patient as they looked at what they believed was a deep class of running backs. Henderson was a touchdown factory in college -- 58 in all -- and scored a touchdown in a Division I-record 35 consecutive games. Henderson measured 5-foot-7 1/2 and 208 pounds at the NFL combine and ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash. He was plenty durable in college, with 721 rushing attempts.
How he fits: The Broncos traded Kapri Bibbs -- to the San Francisco 49ers -- on Saturday, in part because they are happy with what Bernard Pierce has shown since he was signed as a "futures" player and in part because they were determined to use a Day 3 pick on a speed back. Henderson was that guy. The Broncos like his big-play potential, and he set school records for carries, rushing yards (4,635) and rushing touchdowns (58).
Round 7, No. 253: Chad Kelly, QB, Mississippi
My take: The Broncos wanted a developmental quarterback in this draft class -- John Elway has now selected a quarterback in five of his seven draft classes -- and took a flyer on Kelly, who will arrive in Denver with both injury and off-the-field questions. Kelly suffered a torn ACL and torn meniscus in November. He was dismissed from Clemson and has had several incidents that raised eyebrows in the league. At his best, he was one of the top quarterbacks in the class. In 2015, he was behind center for wins over Alabama, Auburn and LSU. He has a power arm to go with mobility -- as well as plenty of questions about his maturity and willingness to change his behavior.
How he fits: Kelly is looking at a developmental year as he continues to recover from his injury. The Broncos will allow him to get settled in and get his off-the-field house in order as he begins his professional career. Eventually Elway wants things to be as competitive as possible at quarterback, and getting a player such as Kelly -- a 4,042-yard passer in 2015 -- into the mix will do that in 2018.