Offensive linemen, drafted rookies and others to watch at Dove Valley
After their first nonplayoff season since 2010, the Broncos will count on their 2017 rookie class more than ever. Each of the Broncos’ top three draft picks could carve out a major role this season, and the team’s third-day selections have plenty of potential. Here is a breakdown of Denver’s drafted rookies:
OT Garett Bolles First round, 20th overall pick
Weight: 297 pounds
The pick of Bolles represents everything Broncos general manager John Elway wanted to accomplish this offseason — physicality, toughness and strength up front. Offensive line was arguably the Broncos’ biggest flaw last season, and Bolles is the left tackle of the future. His sweet footwork, size and intensity will make him a great fit in Denver.
DE Demarcus Walker Second round, 51st overall pick
College: Florida State
The ultra-productive college pass rusher (16 sacks last season) adds more juice to a defense loaded with Von Miller, Shane Ray and Derek Wolfe. Walker is a “tweener,” who has shined as a 4-3 interior pass rusher, and will be trying to make a smooth transition to the Broncos’ 3-4 alignment.
WR-KR Carlos Henderson Third round, 82nd overall pick
College: Louisiana Tech
First-year Broncos coach Vance Joseph wanted more offensive “juice” and got it with this draft pick. According to Pro Football Focus, Henderson led the NCAA with 48 forced missed tackles. Henderson is a triple threat as a receiver, returner and rusher. He could make a rookie impact as a kick returner and slot receiver.
CB Brendan Langley Third round, 101st overall pick
Langley is the Broncos’ annual Day 2 upside pick. They aren’t expecting much from Langley this season, outside of being a fourth or fifth cornerback. They believe Langley has the ideal size, speed and athleticism to become a No. 1 cornerback, given time and good coaching.
TE Jake Butt Fifth round, 145th overall pick
The selection of Butt could end up being the steal of the draft, but it will depend largely on his health. Butt has first- or second-round talent, but dropped to the fifth round as he recovers from his second torn right ACL. If Denver plays it conservatively, Butt may not have a huge rookie impact. He could become a starting tight end by 2018.
WR-PR Isaiah Mckenzie Fifth round, 172nd overall pick
Mckenzie, Part 2 of Joseph’s “juice” request, could have the biggest splash on special teams of this draft class as a punt returner. Mckenzie is a smaller and shiftier version of Henderson, who could be used in combination with his draft teammate to take pressure off Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
RB De’angelo Henderson Sixth round, 203rd overall pick
College: Coastal Carolina
A now-loaded running back room will make it more difficult for this Henderson to make a rookie impact, but he has been impressive this summer. Henderson has a lot of C.J. Anderson in his game as a powerful, balanced, one-cut running back with good pass-catching ability.
QB Chad Kelly Seventh round, 253rd overall pick
Kelly, Mr. Irrelevant, has more intrigue around him than maybe any other seventh-round pick in NFL history. Kelly’s off-the-field troubles and Hall of Fame uncle, Jim Kelly, are overshadowing anything he does on the field. Injuries may lead the Broncos to “redshirt” Kelly as the No. 3 QB on the roster, placing him on the practice squad or physically unable to perform list.