Well folks, the 2014 NFL draft has come and gone, and while there were plenty of interesting, motivating and polarizing stories to speak of, the Denver Broncos' front office executed a snooze fest of a draft that could put me to sleep faster than a Kansas City Royals vs. Toronto Blue Jays day game.
While Denver fans were likely hoping for something monumental to happen, whether it had been a big trade up or a big move down for a second first-round pick next year, the analytical and formulaic approach that Denver took over the weekend is sound proof that the team is not only in very good standing, but they feel this way as well.
This is not news, but then again, few things on the Internet are. Have you heard about the Houston beat writer who lived up to his word and ate the front page of the Houston Chronicle since they did not draft a quarterback with the first pick as he had predicted?
But in all seriousness, we knew before draft day that, despite some major offseason losses in wide receiver Eric Decker, cornerback Champ Bailey and inside linebacker Wesley Woodyard, general manager John Elway and his staff felt very good about where the Broncos stood.
As reported by Kyle Montgomery of the Mile High Report, Elway, in his predraft presser, was quoted as saying, "We don't really feel like we have huge holes [to fill on the roster]."
In the same press conference, Elway said that the team would draft using the method of picking "the best player available." Clearly, Elway meant the best available that also fit the team's needs, which were, unquestionably, cornerback, inside linebacker and offensive tackle.
Elway and the Broncos certainly stayed true to form on their first pick, when they scooped up former Ohio State Buckeye cornerback Bradley Roby with the 31st pick in the draft—a pick many thought they would try to trade away if they did not trade up.
Nonetheless, Denver stuck with their predraft spot in the order and selected Roby, who was certainly the best cornerback on the board by that time.
The only slight surprise in the Broncos draft came in Round 2, when they traded up from the 63rd pick to the 56th and selected former Indiana Hoosier wideout Cody Latimer.
I found this (somewhat) aggressive and surprising move to be foolish. Latimer is a good player with the type of size (6'3") and skill set to adequately replace Decker, yet I didn't feel Denver needed to reach for a receiver. Quarterback Peyton Manning makes receivers great, and I think while Latimer won't pose a problem, other receivers behind him on the draft board would have sufficed just fine.
As I said on the eve of the draft on The Late Night Show on Denver's 104.3 The Fan, I felt that the Broncos' biggest need was inside linebacker. I think Woodyard's absence will be severely felt, and I thought that Denver, had they been unable to orchestrate a trade up for linebacker Ryan Shazier (Ohio State) or C.J. Mosley (Alabama), should have drafted former Wisconsin Badger linebacker Chris Borland.
Borland suffered from a shoulder injury during college and is a little undersized for the position, yet he plays with a great deal of aggression and passion that tends to be a huge advantage for inside linebackers (see: Ray Lewis). Borland ended up going to the San Francisco 49ers, who drafted him in the third round with the 77th overall pick.
The rest of Denver's draft was not notable and was very pragmatic given its positional needs. The pick of offensive tackle Michael Schofield, who was picked in the third round, surprised some, including my colleague Christopher Hansen, yet he does fill the need at offensive tackle and can also play the guard position.
Denver's fifth-, sixth- and seventh-round selections were outside linebacker Lamin Barrow, center Matt Paradis and outside linebacker Corey Nelson, respectively. These three all have decent upside and will be good projects for the Broncos, with Barrow contributing most immediately, likely on special teams.
So that's that. The 2014 NFL draft is in the books, and outside of, possibly, Roby or Latimer, the Denver Broncos' starting lineup doesn't look too different whatsoever.
Like a McMansion in a cul-de-sac, I can appreciate the beauty and the sturdiness of the Broncos' draft class, but I also find it to be a little cookie-cutter. Secretly, I was hoping they would do something huge and ridiculously shocking, yet the fact that they didn't need to is just proof that the 2014 NFL season is looking good for the Denver Broncos.
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