Even as the Denver Broncos continue to live their double life of Super Bowl hopeful as well as a franchise already working toward the 2014 season with scouts dispersed into the all-star game circuit, ESPN’s Mel Kiper has the Broncos looking for defensive help in the first round of May's draft.
In Kiper’s first mock draft, he has the Broncos selecting Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton with their opening-round pick. The Broncos will always lean toward best available player rather than need with John Elway calling the shots in the personnel department, and Crichton would certainly be a high-value pick.
The Broncos believe Derek Wolfe, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday as a result of seizure-like symptoms he suffered in late November, will participate in their offseason programs as scheduled. Wolfe had practiced just twice since the incident and the Broncos still see him on schedule to be back to his usual workload by the time training camp starts.
But defensive end Robert Ayers is scheduled to head into free agency, Shaun Phillips’ one-year deal will have expired and linebacker Von Miller will be recovering from a torn ACL well into training camp and possibly early in the regular season. So defensive end will certainly be a position that will get a look, as will cornerback and wide receiver.
Crichton, who will come into the draft after his junior season, may not test as well in workouts as some others at the position in the weeks leading up to the draft, but he is a high-energy player who can fill multiple roles up front -- two things that will intrigue the Broncos. Despite a pile of double-teams and chips, Crichton still finished with 7.5 sacks this past season, battling through all of that attention.
He usually lined up at end, but a look at the video did show him at nose tackle against Oregon this past season. Malik Jackson had a similar profile before the Broncos selected him in the 2012 draft. He has found a home in the defensive line rotation, playing at both end and tackle in a variety of personnel groupings.