Juwann Winfree Jersey

The Denver Broncos surprised many, including me, when they traded their seventh-round pick away to move up and take Colorado wide receiver Juwann Winfree in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The reason it was a surprise?

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Most knowledgeable projections had Winfree going undrafted. And he probably would have, had he not chosen to attend the local Pro Day the Broncos hosted prior to the draft.

While Winfree is more of the opinion that his entire pre-draft body of work is the biggest factor to him getting drafted, it was no coincidence that the Broncos got an up-close look-see at the Pro Day, and drafted him a matter of days later.
“I definitely didn’t think they were really high on me, to be honest with you, but after the local pro day that I attended, and sitting down with the receiver coach [Zach Azzanni], he really expressed high interest in me,” Winfree said. “From there I could see I really changed their point of view on me. Them seeing me close-up, seeing what type of player I am and what type of man I am off the field was big for me. That definitely helped a lot.”

The Colorado connection for Winfree is strong. He’s of the opinion that the Broncos’ Pro Bowl running back Phillip Lindsay is one of the big reasons he landed in Denver as a 2019 draft pick.

“Especially with Phillip Lindsay, I know he put in a huge word for me,” Winfree said. “That’s my big brother right there. He paved the way for me, doing what he did, coming from [University of] Colorado. I’m just glad he was able to help me out there doing that. We have the same agent too, so I’m just completely blessed.”
Lindsay went undrafted last year after producing at a prolific level for the Colorado Buffaloes. Lindsay left the college ranks as CU’s third all-time leading rusher.

As for Winfree, he dealt with a lot of injuries in college, which is one of the reasons there’s so little of his tape available. But finally healthy and able to show the Broncos what he can do at 100%, it was enough to impress WRs Coach Zach Azzanni, who maybe pounded the table for Winfree a little more than GM John Elway let on following the draft.

“Juwann, he was kind of a target for us so we wanted to get up [trade up],” Elway said in his end-of-draft presser. “We had heard some things that some other teams were interested, so he was kind of a target for us… He got injured last year. We saw him work at his pro day and feel like he’s got some real upside. We feel good about getting him in the sixth round.”

Winfree is very much an unknown quantity and a diamond in the rough. The Broncos’ wide receiver depth chart is a log-jam of young talent right now, so Winfree will face some stiff odds even making the 53-man roster as a rookie.
But if he can show out in training camp and preseason action, anything’s possible, especially if his position coach is looking out for him. Worst case scenario, Winfree might be a draft pick who needs a year to incubate on the practice squad before being unleashed on the NFL. Only time will tell.

Justin Hollins Jersey

John Elway explains why Broncos didn’t draft an inside linebacker.
The Denver Broncos stayed true to their big board during the NFL draft, selecting the best players available instead of reaching for needs. As a result, the team did not land a true inside linebacker, one of the team’s needs going into the draft.

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In his post-draft press conference, general manager John Elway explained the situation.
“It just didn’t fall that way,” Elway said. “We had opportunities but the direction that we went, we felt that we were better off that way. By the time we got into — it was just different choices that you make.”

Denver did select Oregon linebacker Justin Hollins, an outside linebacker who has some experience playing on the inside. The Broncos will give him a shot at both outside linebacker and inside linebacker this offseason.

“We thought Justin could play inside or outside and that’s when we talk about inside backer,” Elway said. “With Justin, with the flexibility and the versatility that he has with him going inside as well as outside, we kind of felt like we hit all the spots the best we could.”

Right now, Todd Davis and Josey Jowell are penciled in as the team’s top two inside linebackers. There’s not much depth behind them.

Dre’Mont Jones Jersey

Day 2 of the NFL draft was huge for the Denver Broncos, but maybe even more big than most fans realize.

Sure, the Broncos selected Dalton Risner — the local stud tackle — at No. 41 and then followed him up with quarterback Drew Lock at 42; those were picks Broncos fans should like a great deal. But, if you turned your TV off after Lock’s selection, you may have missed the steal of the draft for Denver in Dre’Mont Jones from Ohio State.

Jones, who possesses great size at 6’3″ and 281 pounds, worked his way up from redshirting his freshman year in college to being named First-Team All-Big Ten as a junior. Last year, his best statistically, Jones racked up 43 tackles, 13 for a loss, 8.5 sacks and recovered three fumbles; he’s an all-around beast.

But, as per usual, those raw stats don’t tell the entire tale. Pro Football Focus explains that not only did Jones see more pass-rushing snaps last season — a whopping 500 — he was also the highest-graded interior lineman in the pass rushing department as well. And, it wasn’t even close.
Remember, the Broncos lost Domata Peko this offseason, and while Jones won’t be playing tackle in the NFL, his beef and abilities are much-needed as a defensive end in that Broncos front-seven.

Derek Wolfe’s option was picked up for this season, but he becomes a free agent in 2020, meaning there could very well be a vacancy at defensive end in the near future. And for 2019, Wolfe, Shelby Harris, Jones and Zach Kerr are shaping up to form a formidable defensive line, not only allowing edge rushers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb to get off the line clean, but the interior guys can get after the quarterback, too.

After somewhat surprisingly going with offensive players with their first three picks — tight end Noah Fant was the first-round pick at No. 20 — Denver was smart to get a position of need in Jones, who was also considered the 62nd-best player in this year’s draft overall. The Broncos took him at No. 71, meaning they got great value for the workhorse of a defensive end.

While Denver still has a few questions to answer at inside linebacker, they’ve shored up the defensive line and defensive backfield through the draft and free agency, giving new head coach Vic Fangio a ton of toys to play with this season.

If the Broncos are to get back to the playoffs this year — which could happen — it will be on defense first and foremost, as they hope the offense can make a lot more happen in terms of explosive plays and scoring than the unit has the last three years.

Drew Lock Jersey

The Denver Broncos 2019 NFL Draft class has been overwhelmingly seen as successful with most NFL Draft grades coming in with the higher of marks. The way John Elway was able to navigate the franchise to pick up starters with the first two picks was impressive, but it was his trade up in the second round to select quarterback Drew Lock that made the most headlines.

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According to Todd McShay of ESPN, the Broncos trade up in the second round to get Lock was the best value pick of the draft for Denver.

I really like the Broncos’ strategy over the first two days of the draft. First, they moved back Thursday and selected a talented tight end in Noah Fant (Iowa) while also adding two extra picks. That trade set them up to take Lock on Friday night as a serious value. He has the best arm in the class and comes with great mobility. Frankly, I’m really shocked he fell out of the first round.

His tape was up and down at Mizzou, but let’s be honest, Lock didn’t have much to work with there. And in the three-plus seasons that he started for the Tigers, he went through three coordinators and was frequently at a disadvantage in terms of offensive assets and opposing defensive prowess. There’s no need to throw him to the fire in Denver just yet with Joe Flacco in town, so he can learn how to be an NFL quarterback before bringing his athleticism to Mile High. And because Lock was actually the team’s third pick of the draft, rather than a first-rounder anointed the QB of the future, the pressure is off Flacco a bit. Denver did a nice job maneuvering this entire situation. Lock could be really special if developed properly.

I agree every step of the way with McShay here. If Denver had selected Lock with the 10th overall pick then the rug would have been pulled out from under Joe Flacco and the team wouldn’t have had much to work with in terms of additional talent out of this draft.

Instead, they picked up an extra second round pick and ended up getting two likely starters in Noah Fant and Dalton Risner before they made the move to get Drew Lock.

If Lock pans out and becomes the Broncos starter quarterback for a decade, then we’ll see this value pick come to its full fruition. Even so, if Lock ends up going the Paxton Lynch route then the Broncos really didn’t sacrifice much taking the chance where they did in this draft.

All in all it was a good weekend for Broncos fans.

Dalton Risner Jersey

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Wiggins grad Dalton Risner selected by the Broncos in the second round of the NFL Draft.
Dalton Risner, a 2014 graduate of Wiggins, was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft by the hometown Denver Broncos on Friday night.

Risner, an offensive lineman who became an All-American at Kansas State, was selected with the ninth pick in the second round, with the No. 41 overall pick.

He is the first former Colorado high school football player to be selected in this year’s NFL Draft, and also the first-ever product of Wiggins to ever be drafted.

This marks the second consecutive year that the Broncos have drafted a local player, having selected ThunderRidge grad Sam Jones last season.

Find a complete list of former Colorado players to be drafted throughout history in our database. This is the third year in a row a Colorado product has been selected. The longest streak is 18 straight years from 1982-2000.

At Kansas State, Risner redshirted his freshman season, then started 50 games over the next four years and was a three-year team captain.

Risner’s profile exploded during his senior season at Kansas State, where he was named a first-team All-American by CBS Sports, Sporting News, Pro Football Focus and ESPN.

He was also named the Big 12 offensive lineman of the year as a senior, and was a first-team All-Big 12 pick as a sophomore, junior and a senior — becoming the third offensive lineman in conference history to become a three-time selection.

At Wiggins, Risner was on varsity for three seasons, and played under his father, Mitcheal, who continues to be the school’s coach. As a sophomore, he helped lead the Tigers to the Class 1A championship game.

By the time he was a senior, Risner was named the 1A player of the year as part of the all-state teams.

Noah Fant Jersey

The Broncos arrived at the NFL draft needing a linebacker. They hired a defensive coach in Vic Fangio. A prospect, in Devin Bush, checked all the boxes. Plays fast, big hitter, and worked under Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, Fangio’s boss at Stanford and San Francisco.

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Then something weird happened.

The Broncos traded out of 10 with Bush on the board. They had other plans. In the process, the Broncos acquired the 20th and 52nd overall picks and landed a player some are calling the sleeper of the first round. Iowa’s Noah Fant is, well, a fantastic fit for an offense that wants to feature a tight end.

“I thought about teams that I wanted, like Minnesota, but Denver was tops,” said Fant, aware of the history with tight ends like Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe and former Pro Bowler Julius Thomas. “It was emotional. For me, it was like the stars aligned because before the draft, Denver was one of my favorites. That doesn’t happen very often because you can’t control where you go in the draft. For that to happen for me, to be at an organization like this, to be with coaches like this and in a situation like this, it’s something that is very special.”

Fant represents an intriguing prospect. He caught 39 passes for seven touchdowns last season, modest numbers until you understand he was sharing the ball with T.J. Hockenson. It leaves the possibility Fant will be better in pro ball.

“You haven’t seen my best yet,” Fant said. “I am looking forward to getting in here and competing.”

Fant arrived at his press conference decked out in a dark suit, blue bow tie and orange pocket square. He packed orange during the draft trying to help create good vibes for the Broncos. While he looks sharp off the field, he is a walking mismatch on it. Part of that comes from his background. Encouraged by his father Willie, Fant played multiple sports, competing in football, basketball and track. Growing up, Fant figured he would play college basketball as a power forward for the likes of Boise State or South Dakota State.

“Then big-time football offers starting coming in,” Fant said, who, as an Omaha star, received push back for choosing Iowa, or “Tight End U” as he called it, over Nebraska.

He distinguished on the gridiron with his size — 6-foot-5, 241– and speed. John Elway and Fangio became impressed with his ability to get open on vertical routes. And Joe Flacco excels when has good tight ends. He will target Fant. And if this works, Fant would like to provide Broncos’ fans with a glimpse of what George Kittle, his mentor, has done in San Francisco.

“My goal is contribute and help us win games,” Fant said. “Having a Super Bowl quarterback like Joe Flacco is going to be fun.”