Each Broncos pick analyzed: Maturity a focal point

--- NFLDraftScout.com ---

The positions the Denver Broncos targeted in the 2018 NFL Draft were similar to what they focused on in 2017. They selected two wide receivers last year; they added two this year. They picked running backs on Day 3 each time. They selected a Big Ten tight end in the fifth round.

The similarities stop there.

After a 5-11 season that saw chatter of a gulf in the locker room between the veterans and young players -- some of whom struggled with maturity issues at times -- the Broncos went for tried-and-true players with significant high-level college experience -- and no early-entry candidates.

Each of the Broncos' 10 picks spent at least four seasons in college. The only two picks that did not exhaust their eligibility -- second-round wide receiver Courtland Sutton and sixth-round offensive lineman Sam Jones -- took redshirt seasons in 2014 and had earned their bachelor's degrees.

Most of their picks were team captains and team leaders. All but one came from Power Five conferences -- and Sutton, the exception, is from the American Athletic Conference, the clear No. 6 conference that produced the only undefeated team in FBS.

"It is a mature group," general manager John Elway said.

That starts with outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, who grew from a 220-pound 4-3 outside linebacker when he arrived at North Carolina State into a 269-pound behemoth who kept his speed and quickness even as he moved into an edge-rushing role that saw him become one of college football's most dominant pass rushers.

"One thing we wanted to do going into this draft was get quality football players but also quality people, and that was an emphasis -- to have that maturity level," Elway said.

Elway noted before the draft that the Broncos do some self-scouting on their own personnel evaluations, looking back at their reports to see what, where and why they missed on some prospects, and that the team's evaluation process evolves as a result.

Some recent draft misfires -- and a 5-11 season that resulted in part because of young reinforcements' inability to adapt -- led the Broncos to emphasize maturity and character in this year's draft.

"One thing that we learned last year when we're 5-11, when you're in a losing streak, you need that maturity and that leadership to get things turned around," Elway said. "These players have that ability and they have that maturity level.

"I'm not trying to say that we weren't mature, but I'm just saying that you need guys that when you're going through a tough time, they'll be able to be mentally tough and get things turned around. That's why we decided to go more in that direction, to say that if things got tough for a couple weeks, we've got to get things turned around."

The Broncos needed maturity. But they also needed talent, too. They haven't drafted a Pro Bowler since selecting Von Miller and Julius Thomas in 2011.

Chubb and Sutton, both of whom were arguably the best at their positions in this year's class, have the best chance to change that -- and build the Broncos back up from their 5-11 collapse.

A closer look at the Broncos' picks:

Round 1/5 -- Bradley Chubb, OLB, 6-4, 269, North Carolina State

Denver had the chance to trade down from No. 5, but opted to stand pat and pick the player who they thought was the best defender available in this year's draft. Chubb will work at strong-side linebacker, where he will compete with veterans Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray, but it's only a matter of time before he starts.

Round 2/40 -- Courtland Sutton, WR, 6-3, 218, Southern Methodist

Sutton is "raw," as general manager John Elway said, but productive. His athleticism, ability to adjust to the ball in mid-flight and willingness to make catches in traffic give him a chance to be a No. 1 receiver.

Round 3/71 -- Royce Freeman, RB, 6-0, 229, Oregon

Freeman had a heavy workload at Oregon, racking up over 1,000 total touches during his four years with the Ducks. But he rarely buckled, playing through minor injuries while establishing himself as a back as durable as he was productive. He will have a chance to compete with Devontae Booker for the starting job.

Round 3/99 -- Isaac Yiadom, CB, 6-1, 190, Boston College

Like last year's third-round pick, cornerback Brendan Langley, Yiadom is long and athletic. Unlike Langley, Yiadom stood out in Senior Bowl practices, where Langley struggled last year.

Round 4/106 -- Josey Jewell, ILB, 6-1, 234, Iowa

A tackling machine at Iowa, the All-America pick should serve as a backup behind Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis this year, with the chance to develop into a starting role within two years.

Round 4/113 -- DaeSean Hamilton, WR, 6-1, 203, Penn State

Hamilton's precise route-running and willingness to make catches in traffic make him a fit as a potential slot receiver, something the Broncos have struggled to find since Wes Welker's two-season (2013-14) run in the slot. He could also factor on punt returns, a skill at which he worked during Senior Bowl week.

Round 5/156 -- Troy Fumagalli, TE, 6-5, 247, Wisconsin

One of three players coached by the Broncos during Senior Bowl week -- along with CB Isaac Yiadom and WR DaeSean Hamilton -- Fumagalli has a chance to earn an extensive role right away. He played under Paul Chryst -- the brother of Broncos TE coach Geep Chryst -- for the Badgers.

Round 6/183 -- Sam Jones, G, 6-5, 305, Arizona State

A product of nearby Highlands Ranch, Colo., Jones did his pre-draft training at a Denver-area gym where he could work alongside Broncos offensive linemen such as starters Ron Leary, Matt Paradis and Connor McGovern. He has a chance to stick on the 53-man roster as a swing interior backup if he can beat out Max Garcia.

Round 6/217 -- Keishawn Bierria, LB, 6-0, 230, Washington

Widely thought to be the heart of the Huskies' defense, Bierria's best chance to make the roster will be on special teams, where he will battle linebackers Joe Jones, Jerrol Garcia-Williams and Zaire Anderson for a backup spot.

Round 7/226 -- David Williams, RB, 6-1, 229, Arkansas

Williams ran sparingly during his years at South Carolina, and only emerged as a starting back for five games during his graduate-transfer season at Arkansas. He will fight for playing time with 2017 sixth-round pick De'Angelo Henderson and rookie Phillip Lindsay, a standout at Colorado who agreed to terms with the Broncos after the draft.

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