Denver Broncos: Grading the Team's First Round of 2012 NFL Draft

Adam OdekirkContributor IIApril 27, 2012

ENGLEWOOD, CO - MARCH 20:  Executive vice president of football operations John Elway speaks during a news conference announcing quarterback Peyton Manning's contract with the Denver Broncos in the team meeting room at the Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Broncos Centre on March 20, 2012 in Englewood, Colorado. Manning, entering his 15th NFL season, was released by the Indianapolis Colts on March 7, 2012, where he had played his whole career. It has been reported that Manning will sign a five-year, $96 million offer.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Denver fans may feel a little betrayed that their team, which is selling such high hopes for the upcoming season, cheated them out of the excitement of a first-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

However, if the names Willie Middlebrooks, Ashley Lelie or Tommy Maddox mean anything to Broncos fans, they know the excitement could be fleeting.

What John Elway has done is try to maximize the team's ability to keep the cupboard stocked at a lot of different positions by acquiring the new buzz word of the NFL: "Draft Capital."

In Denver's two trades that took them out of the first round, they acquired another second rounder (36th overall), and another four rounder (101st) overall. Fans might be wondering what they gave up in order to do that?

The answer may be nothing at all.

Those in the camp of wanting the team to draft a defensive tackle will be happy to know that names like Jerel Worthy, Kendall Reyes and Devon Still are on the board waiting to be taken.

Those who felt that a running back was a better choice (guilty as charged on that one) are a little nervous that David Wilson and Doug Martin are gone but still see Lamar Miller out there.

All of these players share the distinction of being players that were discussed as potential picks at 25th for the Broncos.

Just because they are still there does not mean that Denver is any less infatuated with them; nor does it mean that fans who like those names wouldn't have been excited to hear their names called by the commissioner.

Look for Denver to make everyone happy in the second round and select both a running back and a defensive tackle at those draft positions.

Other options include taking a quarterback in the second round like Brock Osweiler or Kirk Cousins. In fact, if Denver is interested in taking a quarterback, it would likely need to happen in the second round or not at all.

The Broncos still have time to draft and groom the incumbent, and the other names in the draft don't stack up to Osweiler and Cousins enough.

The fourth round could bring a bevy of players at positions like cornerback, center, linebacker or even wide receiver.

Trying to grade a night where the Broncos added no players to their roster is a tough proposition. True, the team missed out on a player like Dont'a Hightower or even a potential boon in pass rusher Whitney Mercilus, but they were likely never considerations for Denver.

Denver entered the draft with a blank slate and the potential to score an A+ draft; what has changed to make that no longer the case?

If anything, they now have more chances to score, and many names are left on the board that could step in and contribute immediately.

Denver managed not to step on any land mines and also not get fleeced by giving away incredibly valuable picks along the way.

For now, Denver still has an "A" for their manipulation of the first round. Tomorrow's test could challenge that grade, but for now they are still on the Honor Roll.