Marcus Jones, CB, Houston
Marcus Jones is not a dominating physical presence, but don’t let the small frame fool you, he is an impact player. Jones thrives as a slot defender, but I believe he can even hold up on the outside for some spells. He has experience and production at the cornerback position that few in this class can rival, appearing in 44 games during his four-year career at Troy and Houston. In his final collegiate campaign, Jones picked off five passes and broke up 13 total.
Bryce Callahan is not expected to be brought back, and Kyle Fuller is also assumed to be moving on. Patrick Surtain and Ronald Darby are more than adequate on the outside for the Denver Broncos, and K’Waun Williams was brought over from San Francisco to play the nickel position. Williams is a fine addition to the secondary, but he’s not enough to stop the team from adding a guy with the potential to be the best nickelback in the NFL. He is a bit smaller than Elijah Molden, but think of the impact that Molden made for the Tennessee Titans. Bring in Jones and let him compete for reps.
Brandon Smith, LB, Penn State
The most slept on linebacker in the entire class is Brandon Smith. The Penn State product didn’t catch the same headlines that former Nittany Lions’ Odafe Oweh and Micah Parsons were given coming into the draft. Smith is one of the best athletes in the class, and there are few linebackers currently rostered in the NFL that can match his athletic profile. He proved as much when he ran a 4.52 40-yard dash, good enough for fourth-best at the linebacker position. At 250 pounds, that is an incredible time. Smith uses that athleticism in many different facets on the field.
He was used a lot in pass coverage, similar to the role that Parsons filled on the defense. Smith is an aggressive player and is very willing to engage in head on collisions with oncoming running backs. He needs to clean up the mental lapses in his game, and become more proficient in diagnosing plays. Smith looks lost at times, but the best way to cover up those blemishes would be to assign him one job: rush the passer. Again, he is not Micah Parsons, but like Parsons, Smith has the makeup to excel as a pass rusher. The Denver Broncos need help at linebacker and on the edge, Smith can provide a little bit of both from the moment he arrives.
Kingsley Enagbare, DE, South Carolina
Kingsley Enagbare passes the eye test as an edge rusher in the NFL. He is 6’4, 258 pounds with >34” arm length and massive hands that possess above-average strength. Enagbare did not perform well at the Combine, relative to others at the position. You can’t just throw out everything good on tape because the guy had a bad day, though. The South Carolina defensive end never had an elite year of production, but he jumps off the screen multiple times every game.
Enagbare profiles as a potential three-down player in the future, providing support as a run stuffer and pressure as a pass rusher. He uses his athleticism and length to eat up offensive tackles, utilizing elite hand usage while in pursuit of the quarterback. Enagbare is the type of hard worker that will make the most of any opportunity he is given, which gives the team competition with Malik Reed as the third pass rusher behind Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory. You can never have too many pass rushers, especially for a team that finished middle of the pack in the sack department in 2021.