One thing that must be said about the Denver Bronco new regime is that they are aggressive. Denver continues to build its team in the image of their head coach, eschewing individual accomplishments and talent in exchange for team players that will get behind the organization. With only a single season under his belt Josh McDaniels has already traded away the team’s two best players, both still in their prime. Denver entered the draft with a slew of early picks due to trading those players, in a deep pool of talent. After three days of creatively acquiring prospects the Bronco’s ended their draft having made nine selections. Brent Foshee grades out the Broncos draft.
Denver traded down twice in the first round before settling on receiver Demaryius Thomas. Thomas is an imposing physical specimen that has the speed and size to be a big play receiver in the NFL. If not for a mid February foot injury that kept him from working out fully for scouts, Thomas would have easily been a value choice at the Bronco’s original spot of eleven overall. Adding two third round picks in the course of trading down twice then back up once, yet still getting a player that the team clearly coveted was either a stroke of genius or a turn of good fortune. Either way Thomas has the makings of a superstar.
Denver later shocked many in the football world trading up into the first round to select Tim Tebow with the 25th selection. It’s not difficult to see how McDaniels fell in love with Tebow. A player with all the intangibles in the world, the knock on Tebow has been his primitive throwing mechanics. This was clearly not a pick for 2010 and by making it McDaniels has sent a strong message that he expects to be around for several more seasons. While criticized as being impetuous and foolhardy, this type of draft day statement is rarely made in the current NFL. It’s far too easy to say that the move will probably not work- yet is a developmental quarterback selected by an organization with a head coach known for developing signal callers really such a bad marriage? With a solid corps of players around him Tebow is in a much better position to succeed in a few years when he becomes the team’s starter.
With their quarterback and playmaking receiver of the future on board the team wisely used its next two selections to shore up the interior offensive line. Guard Zane Beadles was a collegiate tackle but projects to guard in the NFL. Intelligent and effective, Beadles does have some work to do in the fundamentals department yet he is a wide bodied blocker with a nonstop motor and better than average foot as well as hand speed. He is similar in style to the players that New England has targeted over the years to play on the interior line.
Conversely Baylor center J.D. Walton is an athletic prospect with good fundamentals yet a blocker that must improve his playing strength without sacrificing quickness. Fundamentally sound, Walton is a smaller bodied player that relies on technique and hustle to move opposing defensive linemen off the ball. He stands to add 10-to-15 pounds of muscle and must learn not to duck his head into blocks. Walton offers the potential to start for the Bronco’s after a full season in an NFL environment.
With their third round choice the Bronco’s chose another tall rangy receiver coming off a foot injury in Eric Decker. Decker is a big, physical receiver that runs effective routes and displays soft hands. He is eerily reminiscent of former Bronco Eddie McCaffery and like McCaffery projects as a possession receiver in the NFL. Like Thomas, Tebow, and Walton, Decker needs a year or two to perfect his game and recover from his injury before ultimately hitting his stride.
Perrish Cox became the first defensive player the Bronco’s selected when they took him in the fifth round. Considered by many to be the best senior cornerback in the draft, Cox was expected to be taken on the draft’s second day. His loss is Denver’s gain however. His biggest issue in college was his propensity to fall asleep at various times and the talented cover corner had some off the field issues. Should he be able to dedicate himself to working towards football 100% of the time he could eventually develop into a potential spot starter for the Broncos.
Center Eric Olsen is a prospect whose game has improved each season over the last three years. Able to play both center and guard, he will most likely be used at guard for the Bronco’s. Olsen is a physical player with a nasty streak despite his small frame. Another player that will likely need a year or two in an NFL conditioning program, Olsen figures to be a candidate for the practice squad or possibly the teams 9th offensive lineman. Josh McDaniels familiarity with Charlie Weiss, Olsen’s college coach, should be noted here.
The Bronco’s received good cornerback value again with California product Syd’Quan Thompson in round seven. A good college player that ran poorly and does not have ideal size, Thompson could make an impact early in his career on special teams before settling into a dime back role. His lack of straight line speed will likely keep him from ever being a starter but Thompson is a physical cornerback and could be used in certain zone and man off situations.
Jammie Kirlew, the teams final choice, is a college defensive end that projects to outside linebacker in the Bronco’s 3-4 defense. A limited athlete, Kirlew plays with a ton of intensity and a nonstop motor. Another prospect that looks like he could be a great special teams player, Kirlew could also find a home as backup at multiple linebacker positions.
Grade: (B-) I don’t hate the Tebow selection so I am more partial to this draft than many people will be. I will say that the team likely won’t get much production out of this class in year one, which keeps their grade down, but they could have as many as six players from this class fighting for starting positions in a couple of years. The team clearly identified receiver, interior offensive line and cornerback as positions that needed to be addressed and did so while still getting the player their head coach coveted most of all, Tim Tebow. Aggression usually pays off and I would expect this draft to do so for the Bronco’s in a few years time.