April 25, 2013.
A Thursday. The last one in April. Three great NBA playoff games are on.
But April 25 is more than just a Thursday in April; it's the first round of the 2013 NFL draft, an event which many have been looking forward to and preparing for for months. Players have been training hard. Scouts have been taking diligent notes and watching endless hours of game tapes. Agents have been making calls. Family members have been getting excited.
Fans have been praying that their team won't pull a "Ryan Leaf."
Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay, the men who cover the draft for ESPN and thereby hold the most prestigious draft analyst positions in the country...well, they've been making mock drafts.
After lots of cross outs, redos and excessive overthinking, Kiper and McShay have at least, sort of, made up their minds about how they think the first round will break down. For the Denver Broncos, who have the 28th pick of the draft, the men have differing yet somewhat similar opinions.
Kiper has the Broncos selecting Florida State defensive end Tank Carradine. Carradine, who is 6'4" and 276, is a full-sized defensive end who was a much higher pick on most draft boards until going down with an ACL injury this season.
Kiper admits that Carradine could be a "steal" if he falls to the Broncos, yet the opinion is mixed on whether Carradine will even be taken in the first round. Teams are always weary of selecting players who have suffered serious injuries, yet as we have seen from various examples, the toughness and determination of some players can never be understated.
McShay, oddly enough, also has the Broncos selecting a defensive end from Florida State—only he has Denver taking Bjoern Werner. The 6'3", 266-pound Werner is a little smaller than Carradine, but he is an interesting player. He grew up playing soccer in Germany and only made the switch to football in high school. Nonetheless, he's a natural athlete who seems to have a high I.Q. both on and off the field.
Werner has had a much better college career than Carradine and is being viewed by many analysts as the more obvious pick right now. The consensus is that he will be a first-rounder, while some think Carradine may fall to the second round.
In reality, the Broncos should be happy with either selection. Werner would be a smart addition to a defense that already features a combination of savvy and talent. He would also be a better pass-rusher than Carradine out of the gate. Carradine, while a bit of a riskier selection, could blossom into a star player, however. He's got great size and athleticism, and while he isn't better than Werner today, I would bet that that could change in two to four years.
Werner: Smarter player, better pass-rusher, more football ready today.
Carradine: Bigger, stronger, better athlete, more upside, could work better in the 4-3 defense alongside Miller and Wolfe.
Werner goes earlier in the first round, possibly to the New York Giants at No. 19, and the Broncos select Carradine, who in reality is a better selection for a 4-3 defense that is already flush with quick pass-rushers.
My CRAZY Prediction:
The Broncos trade up to select Werner. This would involve trading up to at least No. 18 or higher—at least one pick ahead of the Giants who have expressed great interest in Werner.