How Did the Broncos Do in This Year's NFL Draft?

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How Did the Broncos Do in This Year's NFL Draft?
(Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

The NFL Draft is now over.  Whether you like the outcome or not, there is no going back.  Many Broncos fans feel like they are taking crazy pills while others are looking at the silver lining.  Opinions will be abounding, but only time will tell.

 

With the 12th pick of the NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select:

Knowshon Moreno, RB Georgia 5'11" 217

All of Broncos Nation was hoping for Denver to come out of the gate and select a player to help fix an anemic defense that was one of the worst in the league last year. Unfortunately fate would make this a difficult feat to accomplish.

T.Jackson (the best five technique defensive lineman in the draft) came of the board early to our divison rivals in Kansas City.  Then, as was expected, B.J. Raji (the best defensive tackle in the draft) was drafted by Green Bay.

This left the Broncos in a tough situation. Who do you pick now that Raji and Jackson were no Longer available?

I would have picked M.Jenkins or B. Orakpo.  They are quality players who were worthy of being selected with the 12th overall pick, and by my estimation would have filled a position of need.  Jenkins could compete for the nickle corner spot or safety of the future.  Orakpo, by all indications could be the hybrid DE/OLB that Denver could have used. 

The Broncos instead went with the best runningback in the draft, K.Moreno. 

This doesn't make sense to me because Denver just invested a lot of contract money (33.5 mill) into C. Buckhalter, J.J. Arrington, and L.Jordan.  Plus the Broncos also have R.Torain and S.Young on their roster (probably not for long though).

Though Moreno does not necessarily meet an imediate need in Denver, he was worthy of the selection at 12, and could be the next L.T. or Adrian Peterson (knocking on wood while typing)

After hearing Knowshon's press conference, It is clear that he is a very high character guy.  He's a "No sir, yes sir" kind of guy.  He is looking forward to coming in and competing and he will do whatever he is asked to do.  He can block, he can catch, he can run, he can hurdle defensive players, and he is a team first kind of guy.

When McDaniels was announced as Denver's new head coach, I was not happy because I knew he was going to turn the Broncos into the "Patriots West".  I have since warmed up to the idea a little bit, but one of the things the Pats always do well is draft high character, team first-guys and I am happy that McDaniels has brought that tradition along with him to the Broncos.

The Denver braintrust must have either not seen Orkpo or Jenkins as one of those players, or they really just valued Moreno (who is one of those guys more). 

I agree with taking talent over need, especially if "your guy" isn't there, so I am O.K. with this pick.

ESPN's analysts said that right now Moreno is probably the front runner to win the rookie of the year award in the '09 season.

 

With the 18th pick of the NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select:

Robert (not Ryan) Ayers, DL/LB Tennessee 6'3" 272

This too was a tough pick in the eyes of many Broncos fans.

B. Cushing was gone, but many people would have rather seen Denver pick up R. Maualuga or C. Matthews, but R.Ayers was projected to go in the first round between 10-20, so he was definitely a valuable player worthy of his selection at 18th overall. 

But Ayers has also been termed a possible one year wonder, given that he only started for one year in college. 

The good news is he is another character guy.  Watch his press conference and you find out he is a humble guy who had some issues and has dealt with them and has grown up from those experiences and you can see he has a Hughe upside. 

He is willing to do whatever the coaches ask him to do, and he is a player who does have a lot of versatility.  Denver will probably try him out at a few positions, as either a hybrid DE/OLB or (as he hinted in his presser) at the five technique defensive end.

Given that he was worthy of the pick, that he grew up in college into a man of high character, and his production in his senior year, I really believe now that this also was a great pick. 

Mike Mayock of the NFL Network has gone on record saying that three years from now we could look back at this draft and find out that R. Ayers is the best player taken in the entire draft.  Now, that is saying something!

Head Coach Josh McDaniels explained during his draft wrap-up press conference that he, GM Brian Xanders and the scouting team had a very narrow group of players that they were targeting during the draft.  Roughly 100 players both offense and defense.  Again only high character guys were being considered. 

McDaniels said that they were looking for players who would come in and compete and would have the ability to impact the team this year.  He didn't want to take a player at a position of need just to drop him later.  He wanted guys who could contribute.  

McDaniels had one player one their draft board who they had rated very highly, and they did not think that he would remain around until Denver picked in round two at 48th overall.  Therefore Denver "rolled the dice" as McDaniels stated it and traded Denver's first round pick in 2010 to Seattle for their second round, pick 37th overall.  

 

With the 37th overall pick of the NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select:

Alphonso Smith, CB Wake Forest 5'9" 193

I am not sure anybody thought that trading away next years number one pick was a wise decision. I know I don't, and it has nothing to do with the player we got, I just think that McDaniels was wrong. I cannot be sure because it didn't happen this way, but I think they could have gotten A.Smith at 48.

Regardless of whether this decision was a wise one or not Denver got tht 37th overall pick.  Many Broncos fans were absolutely certain that the Broncos were going to pick up R.Maualuga, R.Brace, E.Brown, C. Barwin or J. Gilbert.  But that didn't happen.

The Broncos picked up Alphonso Smith a 5'9" cornerback.  

Smith is a dynamic player he would have easily been a first round pick, maybe even the best corner in the draft if not for his height.  He is an absolute ball hawk.  He will likely come in and play the Nickle right away from day one, and contribute on a defense that ranked last, yes 32 of 32, in the NFL in takeaways last year.

Make no mistake, A.Smith is a valuable pick and steal for where the Broncos picked him. I have no doubt in my mind that A.Smith will be an excellent player in the NFL for a lot of years.  My opinion is that we got an elite player with this pick. 

The only reason this pick is suspect is because of what Denver gave up to acquire the pick.

 

With the 48th overall pick of the NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select:

Darcel McBath, S Texas Tech 6'0" 198

I don't really know a lot about this player other than what analysts have said about him.  He apparently is a converted corner who has good instincts for the football. 

McDaniels looks for him to learn from the Broncos current secondary and add value to the Broncos on special teams.  He is apparently a very good kickoff return guy (as is A.Smith).

I was hoping again here that the Broncos would draft J.Gilbert, the next best five technique in the draft after T.Jackson. 

I also thought there were a lot of other prime safety prospects that Denver could have gone with, (W.Moore, R. Johnson to name a few) but Denver's draft team apparently really liked this guy and if he can come in and contribute than perhaps it was a good pick.  Time will tell.

As the first day of the draft was winding down the Broncos board had one more guy that they had very highly rated on their board, and they felt that they did not want to chance waiting until the second day and hoping that he was still available when they would next be on the clock in the third round at pick number 79 overall.

Therefore McDaniels felt it necessary to trade the Broncos two third round picks 79 & 84 overall to the Superbowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers for the final pick in the second round 64th overall and the Steelers fourth round pick 132 overall.

And so it was that...

 

With the 64th overall pick of the NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select:

Richard Quinn, TE North Carolina 6'4" 264

Trading away our two third round selections was completely unnecessary in my opinion.  I cannot see Quinn being that hot of a commodity among the other NFL teams that Denver could not have been able to pick him up at 79 overall.  

Maybe I am wrong though.  He is in fact the second best plocking tight end in the draft.  And though he was under utilized at North Carolina in the passing game, he does have good hands.

McDaniels offensive schemes utilizes two and three tight end formations at times.  D. Graham, and J. Putzier are good blocking tight ends who have decent hands, but A. Scheffler and A. Bergen are not so good blockers. 

So I think McD felt that he needed Quinn in order to do the things he wanted to do offensivly and didn't want to chance missing out on the perfect guy to fill this need.

Again I think it was a rash and unnecessary trade, at a position I think we have adequate depth in, but like it or not we are running McDaniels offense and he felt R. Quinn would allow him to do things that he would be unable to do schematically without him.  So he made the call, made the pick, and the rest is history.

 

On Day Two, Denver continued to ignore the glaring need of picking up D-lineman.  I guess the chips just didn't fall out way.  The character guys, the type of players that McDaniels wanted just weren't on the board when Denver drafted, and he didn't feel strongly enough about any one of them to make a trade to ensure that he got them(like he did for Alphonso Smith).

So after missing out on Vaughn Martin...

 

With the 114th overall pick of the NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select:

David Bruton, S Notre Dame 6'2" 219

Again the Broncos choose a very intelligent, high character guy at a position that Denver needs quality depth.  Denver's safeties were empty jersey's last year with the exception of J. Barrett.

You have to be a smart to go to Notre Dame, D. Bruton showed he has speed at the combine (for a safety), and he was a team captain in college.  He has a great opportunity to learn from B-Dawk and contribute right away on special teams. 

I really would have liked to see Denver pick up a defensive lineman here.  I think Sammie Lee-Hill would have been a great pick, and is a player that could have contributed in Denver's nose tackle/defensive tackle rotation. Alas, he must not have been on McDaniels narrow list of Players he wanted. 

Despite not getting a D-lineman I really like this pick, D.Bruton was one of the guys I really thought Denver should target, so I was very happy with this pick. 

 

With the 132nd overall pick of the NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select:

Seth Olsen, G Iowa 6'5" 306

Now this pick I don't get at all.  We had a very good, possibly one of the Best O-Line units in the NFL last year.  And we added depth throughout the line during the off-season. 

Seth Olsen wasn't even the highest rated guard available at this point in the draft.

I think this shows a bit of a vote of no confidence in Ben Hamilton or Chris Kuper.  Hamilton is getting older (31), and depth is not a bad thing, but I thought this was more of a luxury pick than any other pick Denver made in the draft.  I could maybe understand it if Olsen played Center at some point in his football career, but he didn't.

 

With the 141st overall pick of the NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select:

Kenny McKinley, WR South Carolina 6'0" 189

It was understood that one of Denver's draft needs in the later rounds was to add another wide receiver to the roster.  McDaniels likes to spread the field with multiple receiver sets, and depth is a good thing if you are consistently putting three or four wide outs on the field at once.

McDaniels said in the press conference that McKinley was a versatile player who has lined up at all the wide receiver positions in the football career.  Steve Spurier made the statement that McKinley was the best wide receiver he ever had the pleasure of coaching.

I hope that both these things are true.  Wide receivers who have played for Steve Spurrier do not have a great track record of transitioning to the NFL with success.

Again I hope this works out, we did need a wide out, we shall see.

 

With the 174th overall pick of the NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select:

Tom (Brady... I mean)Bradstater, QB Fresno State 6'5" 220

Denver drafts a guy that McDaniels admitted is a long way off, this is a guy who needs a lot of work.  McDaniels does like his size and height though.

Bradstater also was not the best prospect available here.  Curtis Painter, and Brian Hoyer were still available.  But apparently there is something Tom Brady, I mean Bradstater has something that McDaniels really liked as a project kind of guy.  I can't quite place my finger on it, but his name reminds me of somebody.... I just can't place it.

I think the fact that they picked a hugh project guy like Bradstater is an enormous vote of confidence in the quarterbacks already on Denver's roster being able to run McDaniels intricate offense.  Kyle Orton and Chris Simms will be able to battle this one out in camp.  May the best man win.

 

With the 225th overall pick of the NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select:

Blake Schlueter, C TCU 6'2" 290    

Blake is a very agile guy, speedy for an O-lineman, and he had a great workout at his pro-day. 

McDaniels will require the offensive line to be able to do a lot of pulling for counters, traps and screens, so an agile center is a good pick.

Denver needed a center of the future, and adding depth at this position is definitely a good move.  Many have speculated that Kory Lichtensteiger is better suited to play guard, so this pick makes sense in many ways.

 

Overall I still have trouble understanding why Denver ignored their greatest need by not selecting anyone to help out the defensive line (unless Ayers plays the five technique).

Denver has added some very talented players.  But not in areas of immediate need.

I had hoped that Denver would be able to draft guys who would be able to come in and make our defense better right away.  Alas, things did not fall in our favor. 

I hope there are some undrafted free agents that will be able to compete for a roster spot on defense. Maybe we find another Wesley Woodyard or Spencer Larson.

I had wished that through the draft, Denver would have acquired some difference making players that would get me excited about the upcoming season, filling out the team and making us stronger in areas we needed strengthening.

It is more clear to me now that the Broncos are not one season or one draft away from reclaiming dominance in the division and making a playoff run.  It is gonna take some time. 

Hopefully the team gets better with the players McDaniels drafted, and hopefully next years draft has a greater quality of depth at the defensive line position with character guys that McDaniels will be willing to draft. 

I wish I was more excited and energized coming off of the draft, but who knows we may look back on this draft three years from now and find that Denver Broncos got the two best players in the draft with Moreno and Ayers. 

All will be revealed in time. It will certainly be an interesting season.   

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