What we learned from the Denver Broncos’ draft

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Three days, seven rounds, two trades, eight new Denver Broncos.

That’s how the 2016 NFL Draft added up for the Orange & Blue.

And what should Broncos Country have learned from all this?

Glad you asked. Here are four takeaways from the Broncos’ 2016 extended draft weekend:

Mark Sanchez is your probable Week 1 starting quarterback

In is first-round pick Paxton Lynch; out is the Broncos’ interest in veterans Colin Kaepernick, Brian Hoyer and Sam Bradford.

That left the Orange & Blue with a QB depth chart consisting of March-trade-acquisition Sanchez, second-year draftee Trevor Siemian and the rookie Lynch. That also left fewer quality QB reps and snaps to go around in OTAs and training camp, so the Broncos appear set to go forward with this triumvirate.

But while Lynch is getting all the attention and Siemian has a year’s head start in the Gary Kubiak system, the weekend quietly played out quite nicely for Sanchez, who is seven years of true NFL playing experience ahead of his competition in the derby for the Broncos’ No. 1 gig.

Now, sure, Lynch was the third quarterback to come off the board, is brimming with upside and possesses a skill-set ideally suited for Kubiak’s offense. But just about everything else on the rookie’s resume – having worked almost exclusively out of the shotgun in a no-huddle offense and his lack of week-in and week-out experience facing top-level college competition (let alone the speed and complex defensive schemes of the pro game) – points toward the Memphis QB being more of a longer-term project.

And that in turn points directly toward Sanchez taking the Broncos’ opening offensive snap Sept. 8 against the Carolina Panthers. And it’s an arrangement that’s likely to continue as long as Sanchez manages to manage the offense and avoids costly turnovers.

Denver opponents are in for a run-heavy attack

And whether it’s Sanchez, Siemian or Lynch starting at quarterback, they’ll have a best friend in the Broncos’ ground game.

Denver continued its offseason trend in that direction by drafting RB Devontae Booker in the fourth round, following up with versatile offensive lineman Connor McGovern a round later and then adding true fullback Andy Janovich in the sixth.

Combine those moves with the earlier, near-total makeover of the offensive line in free agency and the re-signing of RB duo C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman, and it doesn’t take a seasoned NFL insider to figure out what Kubiak and Co.’s 2016 offensive M.O. is likely to be.

The Broncos like their current crop of linebackers

The free-agency departure of inside linebacker Danny Trevathan, the Broncos’ leading tackler in two of the past three seasons, figured to result in some corresponding compensatory moves by the squad.

But nothing notable transpired during free agency, and the draft followed suit with Elway and the Broncos’ braintrust using their eight picks to address other needs.

And without anyone really saying anything, that speaks volumes about the faith the team has in Brandon Marshall, Todd Davis, Corey Nelson and (likely) a pair of young ’backers – Zaire Anderson and Kenny Anunike – returning from injury.

The longest-tenured Bronco faces a fight for his roster spot

That would be 2009 undrafted free-agent punter Britton Colquitt, who should’ve received a loud wake-up call when the Broncos used their seventh-round – and final pick – on punter Riley Dixon.

The Syracuse standout was one of only three kicking specialists selected among the 253 draftees, and despite Colquitt’s strong postseason showing, it’s a clear indication that the Broncos are far from satisfied with the seven-year veteran.

Throw in the fact that Colquitt owns the highest-average salary ($3.89 million) and third-highest 2016 salary-cap hit ($4 million) among NFL punters, and not hard to see the rookie taking over as the Orange & Blue’s punter if the preseason competition is anywhere close to even.

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