Despite not playing in a major college football conference, the Broncos typically have 3-5 NFL prospects every year, and it's no different now with around four guys being drafted during the 2016 NFL Draft.
Several of them may be a good fit for the Bengals, including star safety Darian Thompson. One of the top safety prospects in this year's draft, Thompson has gotten some talk as a second-round prospect, though he's more likely to go in Round 3-4.
The 6'2", 208-pound Thompson is similar to current Bengals safety and former Bronco George Iloka in that he's a long, athletic hard-hitter who can also thrive in pass coverage, as evidenced by his 17 career interceptions.
This past season, Thompson registered a team-high five interceptions (third-most in the Mountain West), 63 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss. He can take a lot of gambles that paid off in the Mountain West, but will get him burned a lot in the NFL.
That's why CBS Sports' Dane Brugler compared him to Bills safety Bacarri Rambo:
COMPARES TO: Bacarri Rambo, Buffalo Bills - Although false steps and aggressive reads will lead to big plays for the offense, safeties like Rambo and Thompson have the playmaking skills to post their fair share of big plays as well.
IN OUR VIEW: Thompson has the anticipation and ball-skills to read quarterbacks and make plays on the ball, but he also guesses too much and lacks the same cover skills once asked to turn and run. His inconsistencies make it tough to trust him as the last line of defense, but his playmaking instincts and toughness will interest NFL coaches as a downhill safety.
NFL COMPARISON Morgan Burnett
BOTTOM LINE Looks the part and has enough production to warrant a close look, but that close look shows a player with below average man cover skills and a lack of awareness in zone coverage. An even greater concern is that too many big plays were allowed because he busted coverage or failed or to execute. Thompson does his best work near the line of scrimmage and has the frame and demeanor to become a box safety in the league, but it might take time.
With the Bengals having George Iloka locked up long term, but Shawn Williams hitting free agency next year and no other proven safety on the roster, spending a third-round pick on Thompson may be a wise move for Cincinnati. Then again, Iloka was rated about as highly as Thompson in the 2012 draft before the Bengals stole him in Round 6, and the rest is history.
But Thompson is not the only pro prospect Boise State has and he may not even be the best one. Outside linebacker Kamalei Correa likely holds that honor, at least in CBS Sports' draft rankings where the 6'3", 243-pound Correa is ranked as their 69th-overall prospect.
He's more of a pass-rusher though than a true backer as he's been a force in the Mountain West coming off the edge the past two years. He led the Broncos with 11 tackles for loss and seven sacks this past season. Those numbers were actually down from Correa's sophomore year in 2014, when he was named first team all-conference after leading the Mountain West with 12 sacks and finishing third with 19 tackles for loss.
All of this was enough for Correa to declare for the draft as a junior this year, and he's now expected to be a second or third-round pick. The Bengals haven't had much luck with these tweener pass-rushers who were projected as defensive ends/outside backers in the NFL, so I'm not sure Cincinnati will strongly consider him.
While Thompson and Correa will be drafted, there's not as much certainty regarding cornerback Donte Deayon. He's projected by CBS as the 185th-overall prospect in this draft, putting him in the late Day 3 range. He's a good corner with returner skills that may make him an intriguing Day 3 prospect.
This past season, Deayon earned second-team league honors for the third year in a row while recording 35 tackles (24 solo) and four interceptions in 2015 despite missing three games due to injury. The Bengals may have interest in him as a backup corner and punt returner, an area he showed where he can make a big impact:
Elsewhere, the Bengals made it down to Bloomington, Indiana to watch the Hoosiers' NFL talent work out on Friday. Their top prospect this year is offensive tackle Jason Spriggs, who's gotten some talk as someone who could sneak into the end of Round 1. But more than likely, Spriggs will hear his named called in Round 2, which is probably too early for the Bengals to draft any offensive lineman outside of center.
A former tight end, Spriggs was a four-year starter at left tackle for the Hoosiers and became one of the better blindside protectors in college football. He more than held his own against the Big Ten's top rushers in Joey Bosa and Shilique Calhoun.
Spriggs was only charged with two sacks in 431 called pass attempts and had 72 knockdowns in 972 snaps this past season, per CBS Sports. For his efforts, Spriggs was named second team All-Big Ten in 2015 by the coaches and media and one of six semifinalists for the Outland Trophy.
Another Hoosier to watch for in the draft is running back Jordan Howard. The do-it-all back is expected to go sometime in Round 3, so he too may go off the board before Cincinnati considers drafting him. A former UAB player who joined IU last year, Howard finished second in the Big Ten in 2015 while averaging 134.8 rushing yards per game.
In the six games in which he tallied at least 20 rushes in 2015, Howard averaged 181.2 yards per game, including a personal-best 238 rushing yards against Michigan. He finished the season with 1,213 rushing yards on 196 runs and nine scores, adding 11 catches for 106 yards and another score.