2011 NFL Draft: John Elway's War Room and the Denver Broncos' First 3 Picks

Reid BrooksAnalyst IApril 26, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: John Elway's War Room and the Denver Broncos' First 3 Picks

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    How will the legendary quarterback perform in a suit?Sean Gardner/Getty Images

    Not only is John Elway a legendary (okay, some might say the most legendary) quarterback, but he has consistently proven himself to be a very smart guy. It started even before his Stanford education and has carried over into his business-savvy, post-playing career.

    Elway has some serious business smarts, and his management style has put Broncos fans at ease following the two-year reign of terror from Josh McDaniels' evil empire. Having the most familiar face in franchise history on top of the franchise management chain makes being a Broncos fan much easier.

    But still, fans have a lot of curiosity and little information on what will really happen come Thursday and into the weekend of the 2011 NFL Draft.

    It is almost impossible to predict with any level of accuracy what will happen after the first two rounds of the NFL Draft because there are simply too many wild cards. Yet by gathering clues, fans can get some insight into how the first three picks—or rather the first two rounds—of the Broncos' draft might pan out.

    Here are the intriguing players—and the realistic odds—that they will end up wearing orange and blue.

No. 2: Marcell Dareus, DT (Alabama); 75 Percent

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    This beast is the odds-on favorite for the number two overall pickKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    If I had to put money down, I'd say Marcell Dareus will end up being the Denver Broncos' first selection. Having the opportunity to get a talent of his caliber should truly excite Broncos fans desperate for defensive help.

    Until relatively recently, it was considered a draft faux pas to select a defensive tackle with such an elite pick, but lets be realistic—the game of football has evolved. A dominant interior defensive lineman can immediately improve a team, and the linebacking corps will see improvement if Dareus comes on board because he will take the pressure off of them.

    The Broncos will be seeing the return of Elvis Dumervil next season as well, so the front seven could be ferocious rather quickly with just a couple additions.

    To heighten the probability that Dareus will be the pick, he plays at a position of incredible need for Denver, is unarguably one of the top three talents in this class and new coach John Fox released both Justin Bannan and Jamal Williams.

No. 2: Patrick Peterson, CB (LSU); 15 Percent

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    Peterson is probably the most talented player in this draftJoe Robbins/Getty Images

    Patrick Peterson is, in my opinion, the single most talented player in this draft, and John Fox has raved about him. However, a lot of evidence weighs against the possibility that he will be the Denver Broncos' first choice.

    Peterson is obviously a cornerback. That isn't a bad thing, but it would be very nontraditional to spend a No. 2 overall pick on the secondary. Additionally, the Broncos re-signed Champ Bailey this offseason and have a lot of money wrapped up in the veteran fan-favorite.

    Bringing in Peterson would put the Broncos in the position of having too much money tied up in their cornerbacks. He is the type of addition a fan would try to make in a Madden video game with Bailey on one side and Peterson on the other—it would eliminate the other team's ability to ever pass the ball.

    The problem is the NFL doesn't actually work like video games, and almost all teams have more than two receiving options; they also have running backs. Peterson might end up being the best player out of this draft, but he simply does not fit what the Broncos really need.

    Selecting him here would be a dangerous gamble. Denver would have to hope for D-line help sliding out of the first round and down to the No. 36 overall pick.

    Still, because of his skill, he will be a very tempting talent.

No. 2: Von Miller, OLB (Texas A&M); 5 Percent

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    Von Miller is this draft's most desirable linebackerHannah Foslien/Getty Images

    This pick is possible, but I believe it would be a catastrophic mistake, and the Broncos would get trashed by every sports analyst out there for it.

    There is no reason to pick up Von Miller when either Marcell Dareus or Patrick Peterson is available.

    The Broncos have more pressing needs in other areas, but Miller has been a name tossed around for this position. John Fox has also praised him, and he caught Elway's eye toward the beginning of the draft class evaluation process.

No. 2: Broncos Trade Down; 3 Percent

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    Nick Fairley was formerly projected to be the number one overall pickJoe Robbins/Getty Images

    If the opportunity presented itself, I have little doubt the Broncos would love to trade down. The team has a lot of needs, and there are a great number of defensive tackles in this draft who could end up being very good players.

    Guys such as Nick Fairley and J.J. Watt could easily end up having better NFL careers than Marcell Dareus; there is always some risk in any draft pick. If the Broncos could get enough compensation, they'd happily give up the No. 2 pick and spread out the risk on their draft selections.

    The problem is no one seems to want to trade up to this position. Unless Cam Newton is passed on by the Panthers, the Broncos will not likely get an opportunity to trade down.

No. 2: Cam Newton, QB (Auburn); 2 Percent

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    According to all signs, Newton will go No. 1 to the Carolina Panthers.

    If he slides though, it is possible the Denver Broncos will select him.

    Such a selection would, in my opinion, be a disaster. The Broncos have a similar style of quarterback already in Tim Tebow, and Blaine Gabbert is the true prize quarterback in this draft anyway. Or perhaps if you buy into the rumors, Andy Dalton is the quarterback to take; the Tennessee Titans love him and are likely to bite with the eighth overall pick.

    However, I do not truly believe the Broncos are interested in Newton. It is simply a far-fetched possibility.

No. 36: Kyle Rudolph, TE (Notre Dame); 30 Percent

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    An elite tight end can immediately elevate a young offenseJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    If Kyle Rudolph is available, he should be the pick here. He is an excellent tight end prospect with plenty of upside and will have an immediate impact in the NFL.

    From an offensive standpoint, the Broncos truly miss having a good tight end. Since Tony Scheffler was sent packing by Josh McDaniels, the offense has been missing a lot of the over-the-middle opportunities it once had. A good tight end is perfect security for any quarterback in the passing game and can also open up the running game.

    This is a critical area of offensive need for the Denver Broncos. Rudolph is a truly impressive player who has caught the eye of many scouts.

No. 36: Defensive Scraps Sliding out of Round 1; 60 Percent

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    Marvin Austin is projected to go in the late 1st round, but if he slides, the Broncos could show interestStreeter Lecka/Getty Images

    More than likely, the Broncos will select a defensive player who slides out of the first round here.

    A lot of players could be available, but No. 36 is essentially another first-round pick. Defensive linemen like Marvin Austin, Da'Quan Bowers or J.J. Watt could find themselves here. Cornerback Jimmy Smith from Colorado could also slide because of character concerns, despite being a supreme talent.

    If the Broncos choose to go for a linebacker, Akeem Ayers from UCLA could be available.

    Essentially, the Broncos should pick the best available defensive player here who could fill an area of need not addressed with the No. 2 overall pick.

No. 36: Andy Dalton (or Any Quarterback), QB (TCU); 5 Percent

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    Andy Dalton took TCU into the national title conversation for multiple seasonsStephen Dunn/Getty Images

    There have been a lot of rumblings concerning quarterbacks for Denver. If the Broncos are planning on taking someone in the second round, Andy Dalton is probably going to be the best choice.

    Such a selection might be very wise from an on-the-field standpoint, but it would likely frustrate thousands upon thousands of fans who have purchased Tim Tebow jerseys.

    I think Elway is pretty much bound to watch the Tebow project pan out for better or for worse, else he might face a fan insurrection. Still, a quarterback is possible at this position. Of those likely to be available, Dalton will probably pan out as the best.

    I think the Broncos could address any quarterback concerns through an abnormally quarterback-rich free-agency period, even if it is abbreviated.

No. 36: Broncos Trade Down; 5 Percent

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    If the offer is right, trading down is always a great optionJustin Edmonds/Getty Images

    As usual, all picks are on the bargaining table. The Broncos could certainly trade down from here—or they could trade up.

    For a team with so many needs, getting more picks is always wise.

No. 46: Expect the Same as the 36th Pick; 100 Percent

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    Hopefully the Broncos snag a defensive player who could keep falling, like Akeem AyersStephen Dunn/Getty Images

    The Broncos' third pick is only 10 places behind their second pick. Because of that, it is highly likely they will be looking to get the same things out of it.

    There is some small chance they could look to the offensive line, but issues there are nowhere near as pressing as issues on defense.

    If the Broncos play this draft right, they could come away with three first-round caliber defensive players. Navigating the early second round is going to be critical.

    The Broncos' commitment to defensive resurrection started with the hiring of John Fox—ideally for fans, it will continue with the addition of three successful early-draft players. While there will undoubtedly be a wild card in the first three picks, the Broncos are in a prime position to start rebuilding.

    In only a few more days, fans will know the future of this franchise and of course others.