Broncos made push for McCaffrey, Thomas, but loved landing Bolles. Now Day 2 requires playmakers

Posted at 3:01 PM, Apr 28, 2017

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Welcome to Day 2 of the NFL Draft. The Broncos continue search for playmakers. I will update here as Denver makes it picks at No. 51 in the second round and at  No. 82 and No. 101 in the third. 

With their second-round pick, the Broncos went with a defensive playmaker, selecting Florida State defensive end DeMarcus Walker. Walker posted 16 sacks last season. They followed it by taking wide receiver Carlos Henderson of Louisiana Tech in third round.  With the 101st pick overall, the Broncos added depth, selecting Lamar cornerback Brendan Langley. Henderson was special teams ace at La Tech: 82 catches, 14 rushes, 25 kickoff returns. He scored 23 touchdowns last year. He has drawn raves for ability to break tackles.


"Congrats to my new weapon. Best game (last year) was 13-326-5TDs!" tweeted Broncos receivers coach Tyke Tolbert. 

Walker was a target, not unlike Bolles.

"I like to be good. I also like to be lucky," said Elway on landing both players without trading up in draft and surrendering picks.

The Broncos were surprised Walker was available. So was Walker. He was not happy that it took so long for his name to come off the board.

"8 rushers got picked before me, PLEASE remember this!!" Walker tweeted.

Walker said he can learn from the Broncos' star-studded defenders. But he arrives with a chip on his shoulder.

"Even I wasn't eighth, I would have it," Walker said. "There's even more now."

He is active at the point of attack, and can get off blocks well. He must improve against the run. He has NFL quickness, and general manager John Elway admitted he would not let his defense go "backwards." Walker boasted 21.5 tackles for a loss. The Broncos have spent the offseason bulking up their offensive and defensive lines, and Walker was a top target when Friday started. Walker, 6-foot-4, 280 pounds, is reliable, having played in 90 percent of his team's snaps. 

"He was a very productive player. And he can rush inside, which is something we had with Malik (Jackson)," Elway said.

Walker has a frame that suggests he can add weight if needed. Even before the Walker selection, 2016 second rounder Adam Gotsis was challenged to improver better this offseason. The Broncos' selection of Walker drives this point home. Joseph praised Gotsis.

"He had a great week of practice last week," Joseph said. "He's in a good place now. He felt like he couldn't be himself last year (because of the recovery from knee surgery)."

Henderson profiles as a slot receiver and a kick returner, both areas of need after Jordan Norwood struggled last season. Henderson hauled back two kicks for touchdowns in 2016. He posted three games of 200-yards plus receiving. He is physical, showing the skills of a running back in open field.

"I can play wherever. Whatever they need," Henderson said.

Added Elway, "He adds toughness. We have that on defense, and you see that in their confidence. We want to add that on the offensive side of the ball."

Langley began his college career at Georgia. He was asked to switched to receiver. He wanted to play defensive back, leading to his transfer to Lamar. Langley ran a 4.43 40 at the combine. He is raw, but considered coachable with a high ceiling. At 6-foot, 200 pounds, Langley intercepted six passes last season, and was used on punt returns, which could be an avenue to early playing time. It made sense for the Broncos to add secondary depth after losing Kayvon Webster to the Los Angeles Rams in free agency.

"He is a big guy that's very raw," Elway said. "He has some return ability. He has plenty of upside."

The common thread this offseason -- adding beef and a mean streak. 

"Our Oline looks different. We have gotten bigger, stronger. We are explosive," said coach Vance Joseph, who believes Garett Bolles is ready to play as a rookie. "And our Oline is different. We are bigger."

Multiple players with local ties realized their dreams Friday night. Former CU star cornerback Chidobe Awuzie went to the Dallas Cowboys with 60th pick overall in the second round. Awuzie is a tall defensive back who is not afraid to tackle. He posted nine career sacks and is physical in coverage. Teammate Ahkello Witherspoon went to San Francisco in the third round.

This projects as the first draft with three CU defensive backs to go since 2000.

"No. 1 Chido is just a phenomenal person," CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "He graduated in three and a half years, excellent teammate on and off the field. He's everything that represents a true college student-athlete. For him to have the opportunity to now go play for the Dallas Cowboys is awesome for him. The Dallas Cowboys have a special person and a special player. I do have heartstrings to Dallas. A lot of the same people are still there in the front office and player personnel. I'm excited knowing the people he's going to be around."

Before new arrivals, let's retrace Thursday's steps. The Broncos drafted left tackle Garett Bolles with the 20th pick overall. He ranked behind only Christian McCaffrey among their targets. Talking to multiple NFL sources, the Broncos made a run at McCaffrey. They spoke with Cleveland about the No. 12 pick. It would have involved the Broncos acquiring left tackle Joe Thomas. However, the price was high. The Broncos would have surrendered a first-rounder next year. They were prepared to go bold. However, the deal fizzled when McCaffrey went eighth to Carolina. The Broncos were never moving to that spot given the acquisition price. 

A splash of McCaffrey and Thomas represented a risk worth taking. It was a longshot given the draft intel on McCaffrey. The Broncos quickly moved on to the player they wanted: Utah's Garett Bolles. Even if tight end O.J. Howard had fallen to No. 20, the Broncos were taking Bolles I was told, given their need for a lineman and their desire to land him. Howard helped the Broncos in this way. Seattle talked with Tampa Bay about moving up to No. 19 to get Bolles. Tampa Bay was interested until Howard fell into its lap.

So in the end, the Broncos made a run for McCaffrey and Thomas that never materialized, and ended up with the one lineman they wanted in the first round. 

"He plays nasty," Elway told Denver7 of Bolles. "He is the perfect fit."




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Want Broncos news? Denver7 Broncos insider Troy E. Renck is your source. He talks to the players, covers the games and reports scoops on Denver7 and the Denver7 app. He is a CU grad who has covered pro sports in Colorado since 1996, including 14 years at The Denver Post. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and’s Broncos page. Troy welcomes most of your emails at