NFL Draft Journal: Day 3 right tackle makes sense for Broncos – The Denver Post

It’s three weeks until the NFL draft and the consensus is the Broncos will use their first three picks (in order) on cornerback-outside linebacker-safety or quarterback-cornerback-outside linebacker.

But once Day 3 of the draft begins May 1 (rounds 4-7), right tackle makes sense.

Ja’Wuan James’ initial year consisted of three knee injuries and 63 snaps. His second year consisted of him opting out. The Broncos are likely curious about what kind of shape James will be in when he returns to the team’s facility.

A contingency plan for the present and future should be formulated, and this is the right year to be searching for an eventual James replacement.

ESPN analyst Todd McShay calls this year’s offensive tackle class “pretty deep” and presented two Day 3 right tackle options: Northern Iowa’s Spencer Brown and BYU’s Brady Christensen.

Brown (6-foot-8, 311 pounds) was a three-year starter at Northern Iowa, including 27 games at right tackle in 2018-19. Northern Iowa had its fall season moved to the spring and Brown opted out to focus on the draft. He participated in the Senior Bowl.

“I’ve got a fourth-round grade on Brown,” McShay said. “He had a really good week at the Senior Bowl and you saw the physicality, the length he has and he’s relatively mobile as well. Everyone I’ve talked to in the league has him in that mid-round range. He had to show up and have a great week at the Senior Bowl and that’s exactly what he did and he impressed a lot of evaluators.”

At his Pro Day last month, Brown lifted the 225-pound bar 29 times.

Christensen (6-5, 302) had 30 bench-press reps at BYU’s Pro Day, which was attended by Broncos general manager George Paton.

Christensen, now 23, served a two-year Mormon mission in New Zealand before enrolling at BYU and redshirting in 2017. In the past three years he started all 38 games at left tackle.

“I like Brady,” McShay said. “As a Day 3 pick, he has a chance to be a backup early in his career and be a starter at some point down the line. I think he plays with good balance, is sturdy and isn’t the best athlete, but moves well enough in pass protection and brings an edge to his game in terms of his run-blocking and finishing ability.”

Draft Brown, Christensen or another tackle, have them become offensive line coach Mike Munchak’s 2021 developmental project and get them ready to start in ’22.

Instant starters. The current state of the Broncos’ depth chart — through additions and re-signings — produces the following question: Will any 2021 draft pick be a Week 1 starter?

In the past four drafts, the Broncos found immediate starters in left tackle Garett Bolles (2017), outside linebacker Bradley Chubb and receiver Courtland Sutton (’18), tight end Noah Fant and left guard Dalton Risner (’19) and receiver Jerry Jeudy and center Lloyd Cushenberry (’20). Running back Royce Freeman started the ’18 opener, but Phillip Lindsay was the impact back.

Look for general manager George Paton to trade down if he doesn’t see a quarterback fit available high in the draft.

QB turnover. It won’t — and shouldn’t — stop teams from jockeying for position in the top five to get all of the top quarterbacks, but the track record of success isn’t great.

A look top-five quarterbacks from 2014-18 …

2014: Blake Bortles (No. 3 to Jacksonville) helped the Jaguars reach the AFC title game in ’17, but was cut after the ’18 season.

2015: Jameis Winston (No. 1 to Tampa Bay) and Marcus Mariota (No. 2 to Tennessee) were allowed to leave as free agents after five years. Mariota was 1-1 in the playoffs.

2016: Jared Goff (No. 1 to the Los Angeles Rams) and Carson Wentz (No. 2 to Philadelphia). The Eagles won the ’17 Super Bowl, but Wentz was injured and Goff played in the ’18 Super Bowl. Both signed mega second contracts but were traded this offseason to Detroit and Indianapolis, respectively.

2017: Mitchell Trubisky (No. 3 to Chicago) played four years, went 0-2 in the playoffs and was allowed to sign with Buffalo in free agency.

2018: Baker Mayfield (No. 1 to Cleveland) and Sam Darnold (No. 3 to the New York Jets). Mayfield is the Browns’ franchise quarterback (1-1 in the playoffs) and Darnold was traded to Carolina on Tuesday.

Footnotes. Former NFL general manager Mike Tannenbaum unveiled his mock draft for ESPN on Tuesday and had the Broncos taking Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons ninth overall (the top five quarterbacks weren’t available). “What I like about (Parsons) is his versatility,” Tannenbaum said. “He can blitz, he can cover and he’s a perfect fit for (the Broncos).” … A riser is Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel, who could make sense for the Chargers to join Chris Harris and Michael Davis if they don’t go offensive tackle. Samuel had three interceptions in eight games last year. Samuel posted a 4.38-second 40-yard dash at FSU’s Pro Day.

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