Good things come to those who wait.
The Denver Broncos waited until the seventh round before selecting Oklahoma defensive end, Jeremy Beal.
And if you ask John Elway, John Fox or Brian Xanders about it, they might sound sound like someone that found a vintage Martin guitar at a flea market for ten dollars.
Analysts graded Beal as a mid-round pick because of his poor performance at the Combine. Some argued that he wasn’t fast and athletic enough.
The Broncos think that his production and accomplishments at a Big-12 school speak for itself.
“We were definitely excited to see him there at the bottom of the 7th,” notes Broncos GM Brian Xanders.
“He was very productive in college - 57 tackles for loss and 29 sacks. He was really the highest remaining guy on our board in the 7th Round. He's a productive guy that makes a lot of plays, we're surprised he fell down that far - that's probably because of the Combine or Senior Bowl stuff - but we really evaluate off the football tape and we're really excited to have him. He's going to compete at the defensive end position and hopefully he comes in and contributes for us.”
Some were describing his performance at the Combine as “awful” and “regrettable.” But of course, good Combine performers don’t always translate into good NFL players and vice versa.
And Jeremy Beal has heard it all before. Too slow? Not athletic enough?
Good thing the game isn’t played on Sundays in football shorts and in front of a handful of scouts. Good thing that Broncos fans are really only concerned with how he performs against the Raiders or Chiefs or whatever opponent they face that week.
Forget about what he does in football shorts.
When it counts, Beal plays like one of the best pass rushers in the game. In fact, he was the Big 12 defensive player of the year. Quite an accomplishment for someone who isn't fast enough.
He shows great instinct, lots of explosion at the point-of-attack, great technique and a relentless motor. He’s a big time competitor and always seems to be around the ball, trying to make a play.
Sooners defensive coordinator Brent Venables seemed to like his speed: "He's explosive. He's disruptive. He's instinctive. He's all over the place. Incredible, impeccable character. He's exactly the guy we recruited out of high school. He's just a bigger, faster, smarter version."
So, I’m guessing that he’s really interested in proving his critics wrong. Once he is able to start practicing with the team, his sights will be set on competing for an end spot with Robert Ayers.
Ayers is returning to his natural position, defensive end, but as a linebacker for the Broncos he had his ups and downs. He also dealt with injuries.
There is no telling what kind of defensive end Ayers can be, but the Broncos will certainly give him every opportunity to succeed.
But with the addition of Beal, Ayers is going to have some serious competition.
And don’t be too surprised if Jeremy Beal earns a starting spot. It wouldn’t be a surprise to Jeremy Beal.