Arguably the best two teams in the division, the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs are looking to accumulate another winning record in 2015. The Broncos likely have just one more shot with Peyton Manning at the helm and their defense intact. The Chiefs are looking to improve on both sides of the ball in an attempt to unseat the Broncos. Denver used the draft to add to their pass rush and replace several offensive linemen who left the team via free agency. Meanwhile, the Chiefs were addressing all levels, focusing on best player available over need.
Denver – Shane Ray, DE Missouri
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Now, I am not an IDP owner, but I have to think Ray landing in Denver was a swift kick to the fantasy crotch. He will likely become an outside linebacker in the Broncos’ 3-4 scheme, negating a lot of his value in defensive leagues. Ray may be the best pass rusher out of this draft with a lightning quick first step and powerful, violent moves that make him difficult to keep out of the backfield. With Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware still around, Ray will be a situational contributor in his rookie year and get a chance to improve his variety of pass rush moves and improve on disengaging from larger offensive tackles. Unless he becomes a defensive end again, Shane Ray will have limited value outside of leagues that reward heavily for big plays.
Kansas City – Marcus Peters, CB Washington
Peters was once considered the top defensive back prospect in the 2015 class before behavioral issues derailed his hype and caused him to be dismissed from the team. Prototypical size and length are paired with great ball skills and awareness for the position, making Peters the most complete cover corner. Outside of the maturity questions, Peters struggles with his foot work and relies too much on athleticism to make up for lapses in technique. While he could play some free safety, Peters is going to be a cornerback who is rarely thrown to, limiting his tackle numbers and making other players around him better, but not much of an IDP option.
Denver – Ty Sambrailo, OT Colorado State
With several offensive linemen leaving, there was a need to add depth. With Ryan Clady having torn his ACL a month ago, this pick becomes even more important. Sambrailo is more of a finesse blocker who is an above average pass protector, but needs work in the run game. At the very least, he serves as a primary backup on the blind side but Sambrailo is already getting some first team reps and could start the season at left tackle protecting Peyton Manning.
Kansas City – Mitch Morse, OG Missouri
A tackle at Missouri, Morse is likely moving inside as he makes the short trip to Kansas City. He relied more on technique and intelligence than natural athleticism to succeed at the college level. Morse is strong but is not a fluid athlete, which should be masked by a position switch to guard or center. He will be a backup in his rookie year as he learns the position, but has the potential to be a long-term starter for the Chiefs.
Denver – Jeff Heuerman, TE Ohio State
Heuerman was a player who had the draft community divided. An injury-plagued 2014 made his evaluation difficult. However, Heuerman has shown himself to be a vertical field stretcher who can make adjustments to poorly thrown passes. There is potential with his blocking but with Virgil Green and Owen Daniels ahead of him, he won’t be relied on to be a primary blocker. His versatility to play multiple positions should get Heuerman onto the field early, but he is a long shot to do much his rookie year.
Kansas City – Chris Conley, WR Georgia
One of the most intriguing receivers landed in one of the least intriguing quarterback situations. Conley destroyed the combine including a 45 inch vertical leap and a 4.35 forty yard dash. A run-heavy Georgia offense kept him hidden but the ball skills and downfield prowess are evident. Can Alex Smith actually take advantage of any of those skills? That will be the big question but with only Albert Wilson competing for time opposite Jeremy Maclin, we could find out very quickly.
Denver – Max Garcia, C Florida
This was a clear need for the Broncos with the loss of Will Montgomery during the offseason. Garcia played center, guard, and tackle during his Florida career so he understands the game well. He is a solid run blocker who has strong hands with the ability to win the battle early. He is not very mobile, which necessitates him staying on the interior of the offensive line. Garcia will likely be a valuable backup early with a chance to start later as he learns to deal with athletic defenders.
Kansas City – Ramik Wilson, ILB Georgia
Wilson is a rangy linebacker who will add an element of run support to a Kansas City defense that struggled to stop big gains. He is a sound tackler and understands how to avoid blocks to get to the ball carrier. A liability in coverage, Wilson has below average play strength and will get pushed around when engaged by blockers. There is some good tackle potential for IDP players but his ceiling is limited as he will be off the field during pass situations.
Denver – Lorenzo Doss, CB Tulane
I like Doss’ demeanor as a corner but he will struggle to have any IDP value. He is a physical guy despite his size (5’10”, 180 lbs) and is always looking to make the big play. Doss was a former receiver, which helps him understand what opposing wide receivers are trying to do. The side effect of looking for the big play is a gambling nature that puts him out of position too often. He is nothing special as a tackler and has been burned repeatedly for long gains as a result of poor technique. Doss is a project and not worth consideration early.
Kansas City – D.J. Alexander, OLB Oregon State & James O’Shaughnessy, TE Illinois State
Of what little I know about Alexander, he has the look of a developmental player who will be on the bench in his rookie season. An athletic player with good speed, he is likely earmarked as a potential replacement for Tamba Hali or Derrick Johnson. It is a long shot though and I would not do more than monitor him from the waiver wire.
O’Shaughnessy was a player I warmed up to during the draft process. He is athletic but also has great technique when catching a pass or committing to a block. While he can stretch the seam, Alex Smith is not the quarterback who rewards the skill. O’Shaughnessy will be sitting behind Travis Kelce but they could create a great combination as the incoming rookie is capable of moving all over the formation.
Denver – Darius Kilgo, DT Maryland
Kilgo is a run stuffer by nature with little in the way of a pass rush arsenal. His functional strength and initial quickness are not overwhelming and he struggles with double teams. Kilgo is at best a rotational option on run plays at the Broncos’ nose tackle position.
Kansas City – Rakeem Nunez-Roches, DT Southern Miss
The Chiefs added to their defense with a penetrating nose tackle who should be able to contribute on pass rushing downs. Nunez-Roches has the burst you want to see but lacks the length and power to dominate his blocker. He will be a good rotational piece but will never see the snap count needed to be an IDP contributor.
Denver – Trevor Siemian, QB Northwestern, Taurean Nixon, CB Tulane & Josh Furman, CB Oklahoma State
Siemian was a bit of a surprise pick but the team was looking for some competition at the quarterback position. He has good footwork and a quick delivery, but has struggled with injuries and has shaky accuracy (topping 60% just once in college). The position is volatile behind Manning but I don’t think Siemian is the talent who will push for the starting job after Manning retires.
Nixon and Furman are a pair of players who have experience at multiple positions in the secondary. They are also the type of size/speed players John Elway has fallen for in the late rounds of drafts. At the very least, they can provide depth at the position but neither will likely see substantial playing time.
Kansas City – Da’Ron Brown, WR Northern Illinois
Brown has reliable hands and should make for a solid underneath option (or as Smith refers to it, “the deep part of the field”). Limited athleticism makes it hard for Brown to separate from coverage. He could become a reliable secondary option but I would wait and see how the receiver depth chart sorts out first.
UDFAs to watch
Denver – Jordan Taylor, WR Rice University
Taylor has an interesting build (6’5”, 210 lbs) that plays out in terms of his vertical prowess and play strength. He is adept at getting down the field (4.50 forty time) and creating separation with his short area quickness. As such a thin receiver, Taylor can get pushed around in press coverage and get redirected in his routes. If he makes the team, he could help replace another JT (Julius Thomas) for Manning as a jump ball option in the red zone.
Kansas City – Donatella Luckett, WR Harding
Luckett is a solidly built receiver (6’0”, 211 lbs) who has a track background and played in an option-based offense. He has great run after the catch ability and is a physical receiver who will muscle for the jump ball. Given the small school competition and limited receiving opportunities, Luckett’s route tree is undeveloped and his ability against top competition is unknown. He will likely compete for return duties early on but could be a solid option down the line for Alex Smith to turn short passes into big gains.