As the silly season of mock drafts and GM-speak ratchets up to full gear, it's easy to lose sight of the second and third columns of the depth charts. There's been plenty of chatter about the Broncos potentially drafting Von Miller out of Texas A&M to upgrade their linebacker corps. But for today, let's hop off the rumor/speculation carousel and focus on what Denver actually has in terms of young linebacking talent: Braxton Kelley.
Kelley was introduced to the Broncos as an undersized 6’0”, 226 lb. college free agent in 2009, a player many of us had hoped would turn out to be another Wesley Woodyard. He spent his rookie season on the practice squad and under strength and conditioning coach Rich Tuten’s constant tutelage (along with Tuten’s assistants, Greg Saporta and Justin Lovett). Kelley suffered an injury in June of 2010 and was placed on IR, but he's stayed with his training while recovering from his injury and has emerged from the experience as a 242-lb middle linebacker on a team that is in dire need of faster linebackers and talented depth. Kelley’s 40 time leading up to the 2009 Draft was 4.74, with a peak time of 4.65 - he was hardly a burner, but his speed was more than functional since he has an explosive first step and takes great angles to the ball. He was in a classic situation: a player who played much faster on the field than he timed in a straight line 40.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Legendary QB and now FOX analyst Terry Bradshaw played 14 seasons for the Steelers, winning four Super Bowls, one league MVP award and two SB MVPs; he was inducted into the Pro Football HOF in 1989. But leading the greatest NFL dynasty of modern times has come with a heavy price, as Bradshaw watched the deterioration of his own late teammate Mike Webster, who passed away in 2002 at the age of 50 and in whose brain CTE was first discovered.
More recently, Bradshaw has been experiencing his own concussion-related troubles, including short-term memory loss, anxiety and depression. Thankfully, Bradshaw has decided to come forward and share the details of his problems while encouraging more of his fellow NFL retirees to do the same. There may be no former player more nationally visible than the affable Bradshaw, so let's all hope he is not only able to defeat his own condition, but to remain vocal about concussion and player safety issues, because he can make a real difference. Way to go, Terry.
The Broncos announced their preseason opponents today:
Wk. 1 at Dallas (Aug. 11-15)
Wk. 2 vs. Buffalo (Aug. 18-22)
Wk. 3 vs. Seattle (Aug. 25-29)
Wk. 4 at Arizona (Sept. 1-2)
As previously announced, the Broncos' regular season slate will feature home games versus Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, New England and the NJ Jets, with road games at Buffalo, Green Bay, Miami, Minnesota and Tennessee, along with the customary home and away games versus division rivals Kansas City, Oakland and San Diego. Times and dates for both the exhibition and regular seasons will be announced later in the month.
Something happened to Jake Locker on his way to becoming the next John Elway.
His senior season.
Does John Elway care?
At this time last year, Locker was both victim and beneficiary of the hype machine (the same machine that now has its sights set on Andrew Luck). Had Locker declared for the NFL draft as a junior, it's very possible that he, not Sam Bradford, would be the QB for the St. Louis Rams.
Consider what Mel Kiper Jr. said about Locker last April:
If you had to ask me right now who is going to be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft, I would say it's etched in stone it's going to be Jake Locker. You can mark that down. Jake Locker, if he's not the No. 1 pick, it's an upset.
That's certainly high praise from the high priest of draft geeks (otherwise known as guys I could shove into a locker with one arm)
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Just when everyone was getting all riled up by our favorite egghead, a few John Clayton smackdowns have been delivered, the most effective one shockingly coming from Bill Williamson, of all people. The ESPN writers took the two sides of the draft-a-QB / start-Tim-Tebow debate, and Williamson comes off as a well-informed logician next to Clayton in stating that Tebow deserves the chance to run with the starting gig.
Then, there was Clayton's column from last week which posited that teams are suddenly adopting a general strategy of not drafting running backs in the first round because they just don't need to do so. Thankfully, Pat Kirwan and then Bucky Brooks are both here to explain that perhaps there's just nobody in this year's draft worthy of a first-rounder, save perhaps Mark Ingram of Bama. What do you suppose it's like going through life thinking there's a massive sea change involved in everything that happens and that you are the one person who knows it?
Although no team in recent memory has complained of having too many talented cornerbacks, Denver is in a good situation at this time. There are factors that could change that - such as the possibility that Perrish Cox is convicted in his sexual assault case and does jail time - but as things stand today, Denver has a fairly nice group at the CB position. Here’s the breakdown:
|#||Name||Ht||Wt||Age||Exp||School||2011 Salary||Signed Through|
|32||Perrish Cox||6-0||198||24||R||Oklahoma State||$405,000||2013|
|21||Andre' Goodman||5-10||184||32||9||South Carolina||$2,880,000||2013|
Good Morning, Broncos fans! In today's MMQB, PK writes that the Panthers appear to be leaning towards drafting Cam Newton first overall, because Carolina wants to see game tape from Newton's juco days. The only (minor flaw) with that logic, of course, is that Newton only played one year at Auburn and thus his juco days were only two years ago. Shouldn't every team be looking at those tapes? After all, one would hope/think that before making such impactful decisions that teams examine more than one season's worth of notes and game tape, no? But okay, sure. They're going with Newton. Let's hope so, and we can move on and Denver will have either their pick of the defensive litter or a chance to move back in a trade as part of the Blaine Gabbert sweepstakes?
Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his Sunday column, Dan Pompei considers the possible growing importance of interior linemen in today's game, as more pressure and sacks have apparently been coming from up the middle in recent years. Pompei writes that shorter pass drops may be to blame, and of course this only magnifies the Broncos' already desperate need at defensive tackle. Plus, Pompei is hearing that Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert was actually quite impressive in his combine interviews and team visits (in contrast to the reports that he's the next Jay Cutler) and that Von Miller should be a playmaker immediately.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Bill Williamson spoke with several scouts and draft experts to compare Tim Tebow with the 2011 crop of QB prospects. While Gary Horton thinks Tebow is the answer in Denver, Mel Kiper and Steve Muench both think Tebow would be a fourth-rounder if he were a part of the 2011 Draft. Matt Williamson thinks Denver never should have drafted Tebow in the first place, and that they'd be better off with a QB they could potentially draft in the second round later this month. Finally, Tony Softli thinks the Broncos should stick with Tebow, whose football intelligence and intangibles impressed him last year. Here's what it comes down to, though - obviously, all of these evaluators have every right to think some of this year's QB prospects are better than Tebow; but even if they're right, it doesn't make any sense in the world for Denver to draft one. As Bucky Brooks points out, every guy has question marks, just like Tebow does - and unless there were a standout guy (Andrew Luck?) then why bother?
If Brian Xanders has his way, the Denver Broncos are going to draft Nick Fairley.
How do I know this? I'm speculating of course, but after watching all of his interviews five times over this week in an effort to build our wildly popular Brian Xanders Random Quote Generator, new information has come to light, man.
First, let me point out the obvious--the Broncos would like to trade out of the #2 spot. If someone tries to claim that as an original thought or breaking news, flog them. This fact has been widely known for weeks. Xanders himself has said on numerous occasions that his general strategy (which is sound) is to trade down and accumulate picks. So you won't find me claiming that mantle.
What I will claim is that Xanders is not your typical General Manager. As I suggested yesterday, the guy simply has a hard time with public speaking. Moreover, he tends to get slightly animated and nervous, which causes him to search for what he likely perceives are high-quality football buzzwords. Take this quote for example, which is included in the Random Quote Generator:
"We researched their personal character and their football character…we never want the character grade to bleed into the football grade."
Xanders' interviews are ripe with this sort of material. What Xanders wanted to say here in simple terms is that the Broncos initially treat a draft prospect's play on the football field seperately from their potential off-field character issues. In his search for fooball speak, the words fall short.