So Far So...WHY? Broncos' First Day Draft Grades

Rick BrunettiContributor IApril 26, 2009

The first day of the Denver Broncos' 2009 draft has been anything but the miracle that new head coach Josh McDaniels needed.

Here is a rundown of the Broncos' picks so far.


Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia (First Round, 12th pick)

At first this pick appears confusing, as the Broncos need to come out of this draft with front seven starters on defense. Now the Broncos have 2,333,256 running backs on our roster...

But after it settled in, I was okay with it. Moreno's a playmaker, and they really haven't had a playmaker at running back since Clinton Portis left town. Hopefully they can get some big plays out of the running game now!

Considering what transpired in the draft prior to them picking, there weren't any value picks on the defensive side of the ball that would fit their new scheme. Brian Orakpo, the defensive end from Texas, is a solid defensive end prospect, but not for a 3-4 defense (I don't think he can play at outside linebacker in the NFL). Brian Cushing, the linebacker from USC, would have been a large reach at No. 12 as well.

Pick Grade: B

I am docking their grade on this pick due to their inability to either move up for B.J. Raji (DT out of Boston College) or Aaron Curry (OLB from Wake Forest).


Robert Ayers, DE/OLB, Tennessee (First Round, 18th Pick)

He has the potential to play at outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense opposite D.J. Williams. He doesn't have "huge" sack numbers in college, which is concerning (only eight sacks in three years of college) but had a lot of tackles for losses (30.5), so that shows he does get penetration.

Ayers is the most well rounded of the defensive ends predicted to go in the first round this year and very well could end up being the best defensive player to come out of this draft. He will be on the field on all three defensive downs as he can stop the run and rush the passer.

This was a good value pick. The Broncos needed a hybrid DE/OLB to play in the 3-4 scheme, and there were talks of them taking Ayers at No. 12. Getting him at 18 is solid.

Pick Grade: B+

Solid pickup getting Ayers in towards middle/end of the first round


Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest (Second Round, 37th Pick)

Pardon my pig Latin, but what the uckFey were the Denver Broncos thinking?

They traded a first round pick from next year (I hear it's their natural pick, NOT the one they got from the Bears) for a 5'9" cornerback who is also slow (4.5+ 40-yard dash). Seriously, McDumbass and Brian Xanders better hope he turns out to be better than most think he will be.

Smith is a decent player who does have big play potential (recorded over 20 interceptions in his college career), but he is not a top 10 draft pick (which is basically what the Broncos gave up to get him).

Pick Grade: F

If I could give them a grade lower than an F here, I would. Smith is going to be a nickel corner in the NFL, and the Broncos gave up far too much to get him here. This is the type of pick that could haunt this franchise for the next 10 years. Rey Maualuga from USC (who went with the very next pick) would have made a lot more sense—still not worth a top 10 pick, but a better value.


Darcel McBath, SS, Texas Tech (Second Round, 48th Pick)

He had a good college career at Texas Tech, but he's not a very big hitter, which is something I like safeties to posses. I was hoping they would go with Fili Moala with this pick (the DT out of USC).

Pick Grade: C-

With players available such as William Moore (safety out of Missouri) and Fili Moala (DT out of USC), there were better picks to be made at this spot.


Richard Quinn, TE, North Carolina (Second Round, 64th Pick)

Quinn is the second-best blocking tight end in this year's draft behind Brandon Pettigrew (the Lions' second pick of the first round) and has decent hands for somebody his size (270, 6'4"). He reminds me of Daniel Graham. This draft has shown me that the Broncos intend on being run heavy next year and using a lot of two-TE sets with Graham blocking on one side, Quinn on the other.

This also spells DOOM for Tony Scheffler, who I see being dropped early next week. That 2006 draft is looking worse and worse as this offseason progresses.

Pick Grade: C

To me he is a mirror image of the Broncos' other tight end, Daniel Graham, which is great if you want to be a running team. He didn't have a lot of production in the passing game in college, but that's largely due to the fact that the Tar Heels had three NFL caliber wideouts who were the focus in the passing game. He displayed good hands at the combine.


Bottom line, I give the Broncos a D- for the first day of this draft. In free agency the Broncos signed three defensive backs (Brian Dawkins from the Eagles, Andre' Goodman and Renaldo Hill from the Dolphins) for $47 million and three running backs (Correll Buckhalter from the Eagles, J.J. Arrington from the Cardinals, and LaMont Jordan from the Patriots) for $44 million.

Naturally, the Broncos used three of their first five picks on these positions.

They also gave up a potential top five pick for next year's draft (which I thought was going to be used for our future QB).

The Jay Cutler trade was tolerable due to their ability to try to replace him in next year's draft. I thought they would give Kyle Orton a season to see if he was worthy of being our QB of the future, and if we struggled, we would use next year's pick on either Colt McCoy out of Texas or Sam Bradford from Oklahoma. That option is now gone

This draft has cost McDaniels his throwaway year. If they don't make the playoffs this season—which based on their schedule and their transition to a new scheme, they won't—then one of the youngest coaches in NFL history could also become the youngest fired head coach in NFL history.


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