The enormous controversy surrounding first year head coach Josh McDaniels and first year general manager Brian Xanders revolved around the alienation and subsequent trade of the team's first three picks from the 2006 draft. Jay Cutler, Tony Scheffler, and Brandon Marshall. I'll take a closer look at where the team was and where it is today as a consequence of this.
Jay Cutler was the team's first pick that year, taken 11th overall, after the Broncos traded up from #15 and added their third round pick at #68. Interestingly, the club gave up 50 extra "value points" in that exchange, which is the same amount of extra value they gave to move up to draft Tim Tebow four years later. Tony Scheffler was drafted late in the second round, with the third round pick gone, Brandon Marshall in round four became the team's third pick that year. Cutler, Sheffler, and Marshall hit it off from the beginning. All were offensive players who depended on each other for success. The three worked out together in the off season as a group. Scheffler had the earliest success and gradually Cutler and Marshall overtook and passed him. The trio was in full form by the mid point of their sophomore seasons.
But there wasn't much team success to go with the individual success. Cutler, who had a horrific 11-35 won lost record as a collegian continued to lose more games than he won as a pro. After the 2008 season Mike Shanahan was finally canned and in came a couple of guys younger than his kids. McDaniel through the off season took a close look at what he had inherited and didn't like what he saw as the face of the franchise. Cutler got wind of that, and the rest is history. First to go was Jay. Off to Chicago for the surprisingly effective Kyle Orton (just as Cutler has never had a winning season, Orton has never had a losing one) along with the Bears first and second round picks in the 2009 draft (Robert Ayers, Darcel McBath) and a first rounder in 2010. Brandon Marshall was dealt shortly before the 2010 draft for a second round pick (#43 overall) and another in the 2011 draft. Scheffler was dealt for a fifth round pick in 2010 (Perrish Cox). So, with all apologies to Kyle Orton, the team entered the 2010 draft looking to replace it's franchise quarterback, it's #1 wide receiver, and it's pass catching tight end/H back.
Here is how they did it. The first round pick from the Cutler trade was (coincidentally enough) at #11 overall. But the new regime began the draft by trading back (to #13 with an extra fourth rounder), and again (to #24 with two third rounders added). At #24 they got a bit worried so they traded back down (giving back the fourth round pick) to draft DeMaryius Thomas. That filled the second spot on the to do list. Thomas is a virtual physical clone of Marshall with better speed, a better college resume, and most certainly a better attitude than Brandon had coming in. Which is why he was a first round pick and Marshall was a fourth rounder in 2006.
Next, the team took one of the picks acquired for Marshall (#43 round two) and supplemented it with one of the extra third round picks (#70) they acquired earlier and an extra fourth (#114), to move up to #25 overall and draft Tim Tebow. Second hole filled without having to use any of their own picks in the draft to that point. Tebow and Cutler? Jay made his rapid rise up the draft boards in 2006 after the college year finished. At the Senior Bowl he was 6 out of 19 with a pick. Tebow was 8 of 12, no picks, and got roasted for it. At the Combine, Cutler "wowed" the scouts with his tests. Tebow (at 10 pounds heavier) beat every single one of Cutler's combine tests. Maturity and character? No contest.
The club had one remaining extra third round pick (#87) from trading back earlier. With it they drafted a tall possession receiver with top smarts and great character in Eric Decker. Decker is strictly a wideout, so he doesn't qualify as a straight across replacement for Scheffler, but since Tony was used mainly in passing situations it amounts to the same thing. The actual pick they got for Scheffler, as mentioned, brought cornerback Perrish Cox who everyone seemed to think was a great bargain in the fifth round.
Final analysis shows the club with a new offensive triumvirate of Tim Tebow, DeMaryius Thomas, and Eric Decker in place of Cutler, Marshall, and Scheffler. Tebow, Thomas, and Decker were all acquired through extra picks from the Cutler and Marshall deals. Beyond that the team also has Kyle Orton, Robert Ayers, Darcel McBeth, Perrish Cox, and an extra second round choice next year to show for the exchange. I know I'm in the minority, but I think that Tim Tebow is a better prospect than Jay Cutler was, I know that DeMaryius Thomas is a better prospect than Brandon Marshall was, and I believe that Eric Decker can be at least as effective in the role that Tony Scheffler had. It's just a matter of the new Amigos bonding like the old one's did.
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