After selecting dominant pass-rusher Bradley Chubb in the first round and sure-handed receiver Courtland Sutton in the second round, the Denver Broncos turned to the backfield in the third round.
The Broncos took Oregon’s Royce Freeman with the 71st overall pick, immediately filling the hole left after 1,000-yard rusher C.J. Anderson was released earlier this month.
Broncos general manager John Elway expressed confidence last week that his team could snag an impactful ball carrier in a deep running back class. Freeman, who boasts a thick 6-foot, 230-pound frame and good vision, is Oregon’s all-time leading rusher for a school with several prolific backs in recent seasons. He amassed 1,475 yards and 16 touchdowns last season.
Denver has another third-round pick later Friday (99th overall), along with two fourth-round selections and two fifth-round picks Saturday.
About Royce Freeman
The Broncos’ run game received a major lift Friday with the selection of tailback Royce Freeman at No. 71 overall in the third round. Freeman is the third running back the team has selected in consecutive drafts following Devontae Booker (No. 136, fourth round) out of Utah in 2016 and De’Angelo Henderson (No. 203, sixth round) from Coastal Carolina last season.
Size: 6-foot, 238 pounds
Three things to know
• Freeman eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing in three of his four seasons at Oregon — capped by a 1,475-yard effort as senior with Freeman earning second-team All-Pac 12 honors as voted on by league coaches. Freeman ran for more than 100 yards in nine of his final 12 games.
• Freeman’s greatest positive also might be considered his greatest negative as he’s logged so many running back miles through college. Freeman touts 947 career carries in a Ducks uniform and battled through several injuries. How much does he have left?
• Freeman is a former four-star recruit out of Imperial High School in California who chose the Ducks over scholarship offers from Alabama, Florida, Nebraska and others. He signed with Oregon in 2014.
Strengths: Dependable and productive throughout illustrious career. … Has impressive, muscular frame. … His build produces some natural power and contact balance when he keeps his play speed up. … Uses upper body strength to shrug off angle tackles who come in too high.
Weaknesses: Doesn’t always play to his size. … Too willing to take contact rather than dole it out. … Can be slowed by arm tackles. … Hip tightness prevents him from consistently slipping leg tackles on perimeter runs.
*Information provided by NFL.com.