NFL Draft Notebook: Denver Broncos eye 2025 RB, Gators boost roster, and an overrated QB

Who will be the new lead running back for the Broncos? NDN also takes a look at why 2025 NFL QB prospect Donovan Smith is overrated.
Denver running game
Denver running game / Candice Ward/GettyImages

In this week's NFL Draft Notebook, we explore the Denver Broncos' likely focus on drafting a running back in 2025 due to current backfield struggles, highlighting Oklahoma State’s Ollie Gordon as a potential fit. Additionally, the Florida Gators make significant moves in the transfer portal, adding Arizona State wide receiver Elijhah Badger for his versatility. Lastly, Houston quarterback Donovan Smith is scrutinized for being overrated, with concerns about his accuracy and decision-making potentially limiting his draft prospects.

Denver looking at 2025 running backs

While it's quite early to predict team needs for the 2025 NFL Draft, it's evident the Denver Broncos will likely prioritize selecting a running back in the first or second round next April.

This will likely be a priority due to the team not having a true leadback this season. Their current starter Javonte Williams averaged only 3.6 yards per carry last season, which ranked 46th in the NFL. While he will now be two years removed from a torn ACL, it is hard to see him proving himself as a lead back in the NFL. Denver also doesn’t have a back behind Williams who looks anything like a starting running back in the NFL.

Thankfully for Denver, this year’s running back class is loaded, with seven backs carrying a first or second-day grade compared to the four tailbacks taken in the first three rounds last year. Given Denver's current projection to have the third pick in the 2025 NFL Draft, which is too high to select a running back, the Broncos are likely to address this position in the second round, where several backs carry late first to early second-round grades.

One running back who would make sense is Oklahoma State’s Ollie Gordon. Gordon could be a great fit in Sean Payton’s offense as he is a patient runner who rushed for 1,732 yards last season. He is also a productive receiver which Payton likes evidenced by him using Reggie Bush and Alvin Kamara, both of which were highly productive receivers out of the backfield.

Florida adds a playmaker

One of the team’s most active in the transfer portal currently is the Florida Gators. Earlier this month they added former Colorado cornerback Cormani McClain and USC offensive lineman Jason Zandamela, both of which should play a big role for the Gators this season. This past week they added another player when former Arizona State wide receiver Elijhah Badger announced he was heading to Gainsville.

Badger is a player who currently carries a seventh-round grade on my board due to his ability to help on both offense and special teams. As a receiver, he shows impressive agility for a 6-foot-2 190 pound wide receiver and does a good job of adjusting to the poorly thrown ball. As a return man, he averaged an impressive 28.9 yards per kickoff return last season which ranked seventh in the FBS last season.

One area I would like to see him improve is his playing strength. In this area, he can be overwhelmed by physical corners that challenge him at the catch point. If he is to be anything more than a return man at the next level he will need to improve in this area.


A quarterback who enters the season overrated is Houston’s Donovan Smith. I have heard several NFL Draft writers like Ian Cummings mention him as a possible first-round pick. However, I see him more as a developmental day-three prospect.

The biggest reason I can’t see him being a top-100 player going into the season is his inconsistent accuracy. This issue is primarily due to his inconsistent footwork, including not lining up his feet to his target and frequently throwing off his back foot. Another concern is his tendency to hold onto the ball too often, contributing to Houston finishing 78th in the nation in sacks allowed last season.

While there are some concerns about his game he does have the potential to be a high day three pick. Where he gets the highest marks from me is his overall play strength. This helps him in the pocket as he can shake off tackles and makes him a dangerous runner when forced to run. His strength also shows up in his arm strength as he can consistently hit the deep ball and also shows good velocity in the short to mid-range passing game.

Going into the 2024 season I currently have a fifth-round grade on Smith, and think teams could view him similar to how they saw Joe Milton who went in the sixth round last year. One team that could make sense is the Colts who may look to develop a quarterback behind Anthony Richardson, and employ his dad DeAndre as their running back coach.