The Simmons pick likely has bigger implications in 2017, when Denver will likely need to replace starting free safety Darian Stewart. In the meantime, somebody needs to fill the departed David Bruton's shoes in big nickel and big dime packages, allowing Stewart and T.J. Ward to move around. Simmons has the length and range to either play centerfield or matchup with tight ends and big slot receivers. He has the ball skills, tallying five picks last year at Boston College.
Since he was selected 16th overall in the 2013 NFL Draft, Manuel's start count has dwindled from 10 to four to two over the course of the past three seasons. His quarterback rating hasn't deviated much over the course of his brief career -- from 77.7 as a rookie to a career-high 80.3 in 2014 -- but his lack of improvement allowed Tyrod Taylor to wrench the No. 1 gig in training camp last summer. With Taylor bursting forth with 3,035 yards, 20 touchdowns versus six interceptions, and a healthy 568 yards and four more scores on the ground, he provides the offense with a dual threat that Manuel lacks. As a result, it was clear from the outset of the offseason that the Bills wouldn't commit the $11.4 million owed under the guidelines of his fifth-year option.
Gotsis tallied 26 tackles for a loss in 32 games at Georgia Tech, his final season cut short by a torn ACL. The second-round pick told reporters that he has only played American football for about six or seven years, starting off with Australian-rules football. The Broncos believe that he has room to grow under Kollar's tutelage and he will be counted on help replace the departed Malik Jackson alongside Jared Crick, Vance Walker and Kenny Anunike.
The Broncos took Booker early on Day 3 despite resigning last year's tandem, C.J. Anderson and Hillman. Of the two, Hillman's short-term future is the most at risk. Anderson's front-loaded contract and strong playoff performance makes him the early favorite to start. Hillman was slated to be the lightning to Anderson's thunder, but Hillman's poor end to the season, he rushed for just 54 yards on 32 playoff carries, makes him vulnerable to a young challenger like Booker.
Booker was reportedly Denver's second-favorite back in the draft and was able to snag him in the fourth round. He has the decisiveness, power and wiggle to thrive in head coach Gary Kubiak's one-cut scheme. Booker rushed for 2,773 yards and 21 touchdowns in just 23 games at Utah. He's not a perfect prospect, he'll be 24 and is recovering from a torn meniscus, but expect him to push for playing time this year and challenge starter C.J. Anderson not too far down the line.
Pace also talked about Bullard's "get off," and sees advantages that the rookie can add to the defense by adding pressure off the edge. Currently, Eddie Goldman is set to start at nose tackle with Akiem Hicks starting at defensive end, so the rookie is expected to be a rotational player in sub packages, which the team operated out of about 60 percent of their defensive snaps last year. As a senior, Bullard showed his big-play ability, as he posted 6.5 sacks along with 17.5 tackles for loss as a 3-technique, and was a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award.
The move isn't a total surprise given the cap gymnastics general manager John Elway will have to go through in the coming years to keep more prominent players in Denver. Williams contributed three sacks to the Broncos' 2015 pass rush as he put together his best season under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and line coach Bill Kollar. If he takes another step, Williams could still see a payday in 2017. If not, 2015 sixth-rounder Darius Kilgo and reclamation project Phil Taylor could emerge.
The 2016 surprise second-round selection seemed naturally destined for the starting job considering the fact that the Bucs traded up in the second round to nab him, and Barth consequently requested his release earlier Monday. Barth will leave Tampa as the most accurate kicker in franchise history (83.8 percent field-goal conversion rate), a standard that Aguayo will be expected to exceed in order to live up to the investment made in him. His pedigree as the most accurate kicker in NCAA history would seem to point to the fact that he would be up to the task, something that general manager Jason Licht is counting on. "The importance of special teams is paramount,'' Licht said. "And when you get a chance to get the best kicker in the history of college football, I didn't want to risk it. I like the confidence in him; I like the way he's wired. I like the body of work he's put out there obviously. A great kicker can be the difference in several games.''
With Jackson and Garcon both entering the final year of their respective contracts, Doctson's selection at No. 22 overall led to speculation that one of the veterans might be released. Cutting Garcon would save more money than cutting Jackson, and it also seems the former is less valuable from a pure football standpoint. However, the Redskins have strongly hinted that they plan to keep both players, which would alleviate some of the pressure on Doctson. It's still possible the rookie will push for playing time early on, but he's more of a threat to Garcon and Jamison Crowder than to Jackson.
McFadden and Alfred Morris both saw their 2016 stock plummet when the Cowboys drafted Ezekiel Elliott at No. 4 overall. The rookie profiles as a three-down workhorse in the NFL, possibly even taking on such a role by Week 1. McFadden won't necessarily disappear from the offense, but it's quite possible that he merely ends up battling Morris for whatever scraps Elliott leaves behind. Granted, there might still be handcuff appeal in such a scenario, as the Cowboys have a phenomenal offensive line.