ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos closed out the second day of the draft by selecting one of the most athletic players on the board in Boston College safety Justin Simmons. The Broncos selected Simmons 98th overall on Friday night, and with his similar body type and athleticism, he projects to immediately be able to take over the roles on defense and special teams that David Bruton Jr. held.
With Bruton’s departure in free agency, Simmons will have an immediate opportunity to play.
My take: At 6-foot-2 3/8 inches tall and 202 pounds, Simmons has the measurables the Broncos were looking for in a free safety. They like his reach, his speed (4.53 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his pro day), and his potential in coverage. Simmons had an eye-popping 40-inch vertical leap at the scouting combine and his times in the agility drills were on par with some of the draft’s best skill-position players. He played in 50 games in his career at Boston College, starting the last 25 games. While he started every game at safety in 2015, he started seven games at safety to go with five at cornerback in 2014. He started games at both cornerback and safety as a freshman in 2012 as well. It’s that kind of versatility, along with his production on special teams, that will put him in line to play early on in his career.
Make a play: In a year when one of the top-rated cornerbacks on the draft board -- Clemson’s Mackensie Alexander -- did not have an interception in his collegiate career, Simmons is a player who has forced some turnovers. He had five interceptions last season -- eight in his career -- and forced four fumbles in his career.
Combine star: Few players invited to this year’s scouting combine did more with their time in Indianapolis than Simmons. He finished with the best times among the defensive backs in important drills -- 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle -- and his 40-inch vertical leap was among the combine's best. It helped a player who was on a 3-9 team in his senior season get more attention in the pre-draft season.
What’s next: The Broncos selected a defensive lineman and a safety in the second day of the draft to go with QB Paxton Lynch in the first round, so the third day of the draft could include an inside linebacker, a running back and an offensive linemen – or two – if the board falls right. The Broncos have six picks on Saturday, including three in a 21-pick span as the fourth round moves into the fifth.