The 2011 NFL Draft is nine days away and unless they trade down, the Denver Broncos will be selecting second overall on Thursday, April 28th, 2011. We've thoroughly touched on the draft through mock drafts, pre-draft predictions and player profiles, all of which can be viewed here.
Today, we have the names of seventeen players that every Bronco fan should be aware of on draft day. Many of the players Denver showed interest in at the scouting combine and conducted private workouts and visits with them at the team's facility in Dove Valley. Others are players that sources say the Broncos may target.
We've provided here their names, weight and height, and a short bio. We recommend you do a little more research on each of the players yourself, as several of them will be wearing Orange and Blue next season (or whenever the next season is).
Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, 6'3, 319 pounds. Dareus is considered by most scouts as the top defensive lineman prospect in the upcoming NFL Draft, and if he is not selected first overall (by Carolina), Denver will probably take him at number two.
LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, 6'0, 219 pounds. Peterson is one of the best defensive players available in this year's draft and could even be the first overall selection. A four-down player (he is also an excellent kick and punt returner), Peterson will be an enormous commodity on defense to the team that selects him.
Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, 6'2, 24o pounds. More fit as a 3-4 pass rushing linebacker, Miller is athletic enough to thrive as a 4-3 pass rusher or 3-4 outside linebacker. Sometimes compared to Denver's Elvis Dumervil, the Broncos have been taking a long look at Miller.
Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, 6-3, 297 pounds. Fairley has been compared to former defensive super star Warren Sapp on numerous occasions because of his knack for wreaking havoc to offenses in the run game and as a pass rusher. However, he may fall on draft day because of his questionable work ethic and character concerns. Fairley is a high risk player, he could become a terror on defense for years to come or be one of the biggest busts in recent history.
North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn, 6'4, 265 pounds. After an incredible sophomore year, Quinn was suspended for the entire 2010 season. In 2009, Quinn recorded 11.0 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. Athletic enough to play as a 4-3 defensive end or a 4-3 outside linebacker, Quinn is another risk pick because he didn't play any football last year.
California defensive end Cameron Jordan, 6-4, 287 pounds. Jordan is a well-rounded player that comes from an NFL bloodline. A disruptive pass rusher, Jordan would make an excellent 4-3 defensive end.
UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers, 6-3, 254 pounds. A very interesting prospect, Ayers is a very versatile player that could play as an 4-3 inside linebacker or defensive end.
Miami defensive end Allen Bailey, 6-3, 285 pounds. The Broncos could have two Bailey's on the roster after day two of the NFL draft. Bailey is a very versatile player who played a lot of defensive end in college but could probably play either end or defensive tackle in Denver's 4-3 defensive scheme, if they choose to select him.
Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, 6'3, 280 pounds. Projected as a 4-3 defensive end, Bowers is a bit of a one-year-wonder case. As a junior, Bowers recorded 16.o sacks four times his total over the previous two seasons. With a knee coming off surgery, Bowers could easily fall out of the top 10. It will only take one time to fall in love with him however, to keep him from falling too far.
Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea, 6'1, 303 pounds. As strong as an ox, Paea is a force on the defensive line that will have an immediate impact for the team that drafts him. With a great work ethic and unparalleled toughness, Paea's one weak spot is his pass rushing skills, but he is expected to improve that part of his game with more playing time.
Alabama Running back Mark Ingram, 5-10, 215 pounds. A powerful runner, Ingram would be just the player Broncos Head Coach John Fox is looking for as a compliment to running back Knowshon Moreno. It wouldn't be surprising to see Denver pursue Ingram - especially if he falls out of the first round.
Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure, 6-0, 227 pounds. A more practical prospect to end up in Denver than Ingram, Leshoure had a breakout Junior season in which he scored 20 touchdowns. Predicted to be available in the second round -where Denver holds two selections - Leshoure is one of the most 'complete' backs in this years draft.
Baylor offensive lineman Danny Watkins, 6-3, 310. A versatile player, Watkins could be targeted by Denver, who had him in for a private workout last month. During his collegiate career, Watkins played tackle but at the Senior Bowl he was asked to play guard and center, which he did – extremely well despite having little to no experience playing at those positions. As a result, his draft stock has skyrocketed.
The downside to Watkins is that he’ll be turning 27 mid-season this year, which means the team that drafts him would not get as many productive years out of him as they would a younger player. He is projected to go in the early to mid rounds. Other options for Denver on the line in the draft include TCU’s Marcus Cannon and Florida State offensive lineman Rodney Hudson.
Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray, 6-0, 213 pounds. A talented back, Murray has missed some time due to injury and could fall into the third round of the draft. A good receiving back, Murray also has the speed to break away once he hits the hole.
Oregon linebacker Casey Matthews, 6-1, 231 pounds. The younger brother of Casey Matthews, Casey is a sure tackler and a highly-productive player that could also contribute on special teams. Matthews is projected to go in the mid-rounds of the draft.
Temple safety Jaiqawn Jarrett, 6-0, 198 pounds. A fierce hitter and fantastic form tackler, his coverage and run support skills are as good as they get. With good toughness and work ethic, Jarrett is a player that could be the future replacement for Brian Dawkins in Denver's secondary. Due to his lack of size, Jarrett is expected to fall to the mid-rounds in the draft.
Other names to remember: Oklahoma State running back Kendall Hunter, Nevada outside linebacker-defensive ends Dontay Moch and Ryan Coulton, Hampton defensive lineman Kenric Ellis, Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith, Connecticut linebacker Lawrence Wilson, Miami cornerback Demarcus Van Dyke and North Carolina running back Johnny White.
The 2011 NFL Draft is quickly approaching! For complete coverage of the annual event, be sure to check out Broncos Zone the blog and our facebook page daily for updates all the way up to the 2nd overall pick!