One of the more disappointing teams this year has been the Denver Broncos who currently have the third pick, and have the worst defense in the NFL. The team also still has questions on if Russell Wilson is the answer at quarterback. In Inside the War Room’s new mock draft, the Broncos add their franchise quarterback and several defensive prospects to help them improve their 32nd-rated defense.
In addition to looking at what the Broncos might do in the 2024 NFL Draft, this week’s article also looks at ten prospects who shined last week led by Western Kentucky wide receiver Malachi Corley. It also previews this week’s games by looking at three prospects NFL Draft fans should watch and also highlights a small school running back to keep an eye on.
Denver Broncos Mock Draft
First Round Pick No.3- Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina
While the team will likely be stuck with Russell Wilson for at least another year, Denver takes their quarterback of the future with this pick. North Carolina’s Drake Maye is the second-best quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft and has the accuracy, mobility, and overall football intelligence to be a high-quality starter in the NFL.
Third Round Pick No. 83- Laiatu Latu, OLB, UCLA
One of the biggest weaknesses for the Denver Broncos is edge pass rusher as the team is averaging just 2.4 sacks a game. With the addition of Latu, the team adds one of the primer pass rushers in college football. The main reason he will likely fall down the draft board is a neck injury that caused him to briefly retire.
Fourth Round Pick No. 129- Nazir Stackhouse, DT, Georgia
The Denver Broncos are dead last in run defense giving up an average of 187 yards per game. One way to address this is by bringing in Georgia defensive tackle Nazir Stackhouse whose 6-foot-3 320-pound size, and impressive strength consistently allow him to clog up running lanes.
Fifth Round Pick No.142- T.J. Tampa, CB, Iowa State
While the Broncos struggle to stop the run they are also below average in the passing game. They are allowing a 77 percent completion percentage which also ranks dead last in the NFL. Tampa is a big physical corner who matches up well against outside receivers and also can help support the run.
Fifth Round Pick No. 149 - Evan Williams, S, Oregon
Denver addresses their secondary again with their second fifth-round pick. With this addition, they add Oregon safety Evan Williams. Williams who like Tampa was named to my All-Underrated team is a physical safety who flies down to stop the run and shows good awareness.
Seventh Round Pick No. 224- Andre Carter, DE, Indiana
The Broncos add yet another defender with their selection of Andre Carter. Carter's size will allow him to play defensive end in the team’s 3-4 defense., and he is also capable of getting to the quarterback picking up seven sacks last year.
Seventh Round Pick No. 235- Mason Richman, OT, Iowa
With their last pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, Denver takes a developmental offensive tackle. Richman has ideal size coming in at 6-foot-6 and 312. He also shows the quick feet to play left tackle in the NFL.
Top NFL Draft Performances of Week Six
The following is a list of pro prospects who shined during week four of college football
1. Malachi Corley, WR, Western Kentucky
This week’s top performer was Western Kentucky wide receiver Malachi Corley. Corley accounted for 70 percent of the team’s receiving yards catching eight passes for 207 yards with three touchdowns. His play of the game was when he caught a short pass ran over the defender and ended up scoring a 70-yard touchdown.
2. Antario Brown, RB, Northern Illinois
Northern Illinois running back Antario Brown was a Madden cheat code on Saturday, rushing for 280 yards and four touchdowns on just 13 carries. All four of his touchdown runs were over 45 yards with his longest of the day being a 66-yard scamper. While Brown only had 336 rushing yards going into this game it is worth noting he has averaged over six yards per carry all three years he has been at Northern Illinois.
3. Kimani Vidal, RB, Troy
Another running back who shined on Saturday was Troy’s Kimani Vidal. Vidal rushed for 245 yards and three touchdowns against Arkansas State. This is the second time this season Vidal has rushed for over 240 yards in a game with the first one coming in the season opener and his third career 200-yard game.
4. Jermaine Burton, WR, Alabama
Jermaine Burton’s season was off to a slow start as he only made eight catches for 189 yards in the first five games. However, now that he is completely healthy from a foot injury that he battled at the start of the season he is looking like one of the better receivers in the SEC. In his game against Texas A&M, he caught nine passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns.
5. Edgerrin Cooper, OLB, Texas A&M
Even though Texas A&M wasn’t able to pull off the upset against Alabama, they still had some outstanding performances. One of those was from outside linebacker Edgerrin Cooper who accounted for 11 tackles and three sacks. He also made the hit of the day in the third quarter coming off the edge and drilling Jalen Milroe.
6. Prince Dorbah, DE, Arizona State
A player who took full advantage of the transfer portal is Arizona State defensive end Prince Dorbah, who spent his first three seasons at Texas. During his time with the Longhorns he didn’t pick up a single sack, but so far this year he has six. He picked up 2.5 sacks on Saturday against Colorado and helped hold Colorado to only 295 yards on the day.
7. Drake Maye QB North Carolina
North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye had the best game of the season against Syracuse. In this game he had season highs for both yards with 442, and touchdowns with three. He also accounted for 55 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. In this game, Maye showed why he is the second-best quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft.
8. Mohamed Kamara, DE, Colorado State
One of the most impressive stats in college football is that Colorado State defensive end Mohamed Kamara already has 9.5 sacks this year, which makes him the FBS leader by two sacks. He had his best game of the year on Saturday recording three sacks against Utah State.
9. John Oius, OLB, William and Mary
Going into the season, one of the top-rated small school players on my board was William and Mary linebacker John Oius and so far, he has lived up to that billing. He is tied for fifth in the FCS with 1.08 sacks a game. He has also done well against top competition like Virginia who he picked up 2.5 sacks against on Saturday.
10. Austin McNamara, P, Texas Tech
Texas Tech punter Austin McNamara is the first special team player to make this list this season. He was only called on three times against Baylor, but on those three punts, he pinned two inside the 15-yard line, including one at the six. He also averaged 48 yards per punt showing off both power and pinpoint accuercey.
Three Prospects to Watch in Week Seven
1. Will Sheppard, WR, Vanderbilt
One of the more underrated wide receivers in the 2024 NFL Draft is Vanderbilt’s Will Sheppard. He has the skillset the NFL is looking for in an outside receiver including ideal size (6-3 198), the strength to catch the ball in traffic, and good agility for someone his size. He has also produced at a high level having at least 90 receiving yards in three of his last four games, including accounting for 107 yards against Florida last week. He will have his toughest test this week though when he goes up against Georgia and their 12th-rated pass defense.
2. Jay Higgins, MLB, Iowa
If Iowa is going to have a chance this weekend they will need to stop Wisconsin’s run game which is averaging 204 yards per game. One of the leaders of the Hawkeye’s defense that will play a critical role is linebacker Jay Higgins. Higgins has been one of the most productive linebackers in the Big Ten averaging 12.3 tackles per game.
3. Jordan Morgan, OT, Arizona
A battle to watch in the trenches this week is Arizona offensive tackle Jordan Morgan against one of the better defensive ends in the 2024 NFL Draft Brennan Jackson. Morgan is an athletic offensive tackle who has the feet to play left tackle, and if he keeps playing at a high level could sneak into the last first-round area of this year’s draft.
NFL Draft Scouting Notes
— A player who comes from outstanding bloodlines is USC wide receiver Brenden Rice, whose dad Jerry Rice is one of the best wide receivers in NFL history. While Brenden is not at the same level as his dad, he should be a mid-round draft pick next April. The trait that really shines through when watching his film is how he consistently catches the ball with his strong hands, which allows him to make the tough catch. He is also physical after the catch and has the chance to pick up yards after the catch anytime he touches the ball. One more positive with him is his ability to return kicks having averaged 27.6 yards on kickoff returns in 2021.
— One of the top offensive guard prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft is Oregon State’s, Joshua Gray. The reason scouts are so high on Gray is his athletic ability which allows him to hold up well in space. He is also a strong run blocker who graded out at 85.8 by Pro Football Focus which ranked third among Pac-12 linemen. An area he can improve on in order to raise his NFL Draft stock though is to quit lunge blocking, which tends to hurt him in pass blocking.
— While it is still yet to be settled on if Justin Fields is the Chicago Bear’s answer at quarterback, one thing is certain and that is DJ Moore is a true number one wide receiver in the NFL. In the team’s win, he accounted for 230 receiving yards and three touchdowns. This equates to 82% of the team’s passing yards and 75% of their passing touchdowns in this game. This also means the Bears don’t have a ton of weapons in the passing game other than Moore which is a good reason for Chicago to take Marvin Harrison Jr. with one of their first-round picks. He is easily the top wide receiver in this NFL Draft and would give the Bears a dynamic one-two punch at wide receiver.
— Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel had an impressive game against Texas. In this game, he showed outstanding poise leading the Sooners to the winning touchdown with under a minute left in the game. He also showed good pocket presence escaping pressure on several occasions and even when things broke down keeping his eyes downfield. Another trait that was impressive was his accuercey completing 60% of his passes and hitting on several deep balls. I currently grade Gabriel as a sixth-round pick but could see him making it in the NFL as a backup.
— A Division Two player NFL scouts are keeping an eye on is Minnesota State running back
Shen Butler-Lawson. Butler-Lawson has put up elite production so far this year including rushing for over 150 yards in 4 of six games and rushing for 220 yards in two games. As a runner, he is a one-cut back who does a great job of hitting the hole quickly. He also has solid speed for a 6-foot 215 215-pound back, and has broken off several long runs this year including an 80-yard rush at Bemidji State. While it might be a stretch to see a team drafting Butler-Lawson look for him to be brought in as an undrafted free agent if he declares for the NFL Draft after the season.
— Louisville defensive end Ashton Gillotte is really benefiting from the team’s switch in defensive schemes this past offseason. Last season, he was forced to play more of a 3-technique in the team's 3-4 defense which made him consistently fight through double teams. This season though he is playing more as an edge defender in the Cardinal’s 4-2-5 defense. This has freed him up as a pass rusher already picking up 6.5 sacks this season, and going into the team’s game against Notre Dame lead the FBS in pressures with 26. A couple of his traits that I really like include his non-stop motor, quickness off the ball, and strength vs. the run.
NFL Draft Quotes of the Week
“He’s an exceptional back, as good a back as I’ve seen in a long time. This guy’s smooth, explosive, he pass protects really well, he protects the ball. He’s aggressive in the way he runs, it reminds me of (D’Andre) Swift. He’s just a little bigger. But he has a lot of the same cuts. One cut runner, and they do a tremendous job blocking for him, so it’s not all him.”
Georgia Heach Coach Kirby Smart on Kentucky running back Ray Davis
"He's always been a dynamic player. He creates offense. He has a really strong arm. He hurt us with some plays last year. I think he's a great player, but he's also making good decisions."
Ohio State Defensive Coordinator Jim Knowles on Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa
"He's a pro player. He's got speed, he's got power, he's got the desire to be a good player. Ashton just keeps rushing."
Louisville Co-defensive coordinator Ron English on defensive end Ashton Gillotte via ESPN
“I’ve got a mentality that each and every time I’ve got the ball, I will not let the first man bring me down. That’s just, for the people I’ve got back home, that’s the dog mentality that I have each and every time I have the ball. So, every time I have the ball in my hands, I’m just trying to run hard and just do what I do with the ball.”
Oregon running back Bucky Irving
“He’s an excellent, excellent, excellent football player. High draft pick. Powerful, two gap. Makes plays down the line. Can torque you in the pass rush game. Their scheme, because they play with five down lineman basically 90% of the time, creates five one-on-ones. So you have to win five blocks and they have to just win one pass rush or one run block to have a successful play,”
Nebraska Head Coach Matt Rhule on Illinois defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton
“I think maturity is the first thing that comes out. He’s focused, He’s smart, he’s detailed, he wants to get better. He takes coaching. He practices really hard, and he sees the results of his work. I think he’s a great example, just for a lot of other guys on our team, that everyone wants to play and everyone uses this term very loosely — he comes out every day ready to work.”
Washington State Head Coach Jake Dickert on safety Jaden Hicks
"God blessed Dallas with a lot of talent and length and height and size So you combine that with the skills learned on the basketball court -- your lateral movement, your foot quickness, your hand-eye coordination, instantaneously going from offense to defense and having to backpedal and turn and open your hips and roll and run and all the things -- and then you transplant that into a kid that has some dog in them and is highly, highly competitive and physical and hungry, it's a nasty combination."
Hall of Fame defensive end Jason Taylor on Alabama linebacker Dallas Turner who he coached in high school via ESPN
“When I played pro football, I never set out to hurt anyone deliberately - unless it was, you know, important, like a league game or something.”
Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus who passed away last week