Draft eve Lard 4-27-11

Good Evening, Broncos fans! We're less than 24 hours before the 1st round begins, so I thought it worthwhile to pass along some of the latest happenings. Kara Henderson is still camped out at Dove Valley, and today she spoke with the X-Man, who said "the trade would have to be worth it" to move down from #2. We can only hope, right? Xanders told both Henderson and Gray Caldwell in a Q&A for the team's site that he expects calls will come in about trading the pick no earlier than 30 or 60 minutes before the draft is to begin.

Henderson also reported that she's hearing Denver is zeroing in on Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller; considering that she likely got that info straight from the Broncos, we can figure they are trying to stir up further interest in the pick from teams rumored to be after Miller - such as Buffalo (#3), Arizona (#5) or Houston (#11).

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Jason Hunter reportedly stabbed, recovering

UPDATED 7:30PM ET - According to WXYZ in Detroit, Broncos DE/LB Jason Hunter was stabbed in his left shoulder by his 23-year-old girlfriend this morning. The report states that Hunter has declined to press charges which could have included felony assault. Hunter's agent tweeted that it was a "very minor injury" requiring "just a few stitches." The Broncos released a brief statement via Patrick Smyth today. This comes only days after former Broncos WR Brandon Marshall was stabbed by his wife in Miami; OTAs apparently can't come soon enough for some players.

Hunter has spent five NFL seasons with the Packers, Lions and Broncos and contributed 3 sacks, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries in his first year with Denver, including a 75-yard TD return in a 49-29 home victory over the Chiefs. More to follow...

Mindfreak: The odds of finding four starters in the draft

Brian Xanders and John Elway have both said they want to come away with four starters from the 2011 Draft.

It's certainly an ambitious goal, and one appreciates Xanders and Elway setting the bar so high without resorting to meaningless slogans.

But is it likely?

Earlier in the week, Dave Krieger took a shot at pointing out how difficult a task Xanders and Elway have in front of them.  His conclusion?

Optimism, naivete and, let's be honest, pure fantasy are always in unlimited supply around the NFL draft.

Kreiger based his conclusion on some decent evidence--namely, that Mike Shanahan and Josh McDaniels had limited draft success.

What do the numbers actually show us?  Is Krieger correct?

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The Daily Lard 4-27-11

UPDATED 9:36AM ET - Good Morning, Broncos fans! According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, the Texans are interested in moving up to draft Von Miller or Patrick Peterson, although they likely do not have enough ammo to move all the way up to #2 in a deal with Denver. Meanwhile, NFLN's Jason La Canfora writes that Shanny and the Skins are desperate to move up for a QB and are considering a jump as high as #2 in a trade with Denver to draft Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert. La Canfora writes that the Broncos may indeed be willing to drop as low as Washington's slot at #10 and covet Auburn DT Nick Fairley. However, the Redskins have only two picks in the first four rounds and would need to send future picks to Denver in such a deal. How great would a John Elway-directed bidding war for the #2 pick between Shanny and Kubes be?

No direct mention of Denver here, but PK tweeted last night that Atlanta is looking to make a move into the top 10 to nab one of two WRs - A.J. Green or Julio Jones. You know, it's funny - while the local yokels are still busy stressing the notion that nobody had called the Broncos about the #2 pick as of a week ago, the national guys are talking of plenty of trade interest. How does this happen?

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Talegating: Nick Fairley

Coming into the home stretch for the 2011 NFL Draft, Denver fans are still facing considerable uncertainty on the fate of the #2 pick. The lack of a CBA means that trades cannot involve players already under contract (in theory) to the teams involved. It also means that we can’t know if there will be a rookie cap that would make the pick more enticing, since the money would be less than the astronomical guarantees that the top draftees obtain. Last, you usually see a team that really needs a certain position - OT and QB are the two most common, but WR and sometimes RB have come into play - trading up. This year’s QBs are a mixed lot - probably not the strongest of QB classes means that less teams are ready to mortgage their additional picks in order to get X player.

That doesn’t mean that such a trade is impossible - in the NFL, it only takes a single covetous team to make that upward move. But they have so many unusual factors that I’ve consistently avoided factoring trades into my draft pick discussions. There are four players who are of interest to the Broncos, and two of them play the position that Denver is weakest in - defensive tackles Nick Fairley of Auburn and Marcell Dareus of Alabama. The other two are phenom cornerback from LSU Patrick Peterson and all-everything linebacker Von Miller out of Texas A&M. Today, it’s Fairley who merits a long look.

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Common sense everywhere?! Lard 4-26-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! NFLN's Kara Henderson spoke with John Fox yesterday and came away thinking that Denver expects Tim Tebow will earn the starting QB job. She also noted that the Denver brass is divided between taking Alabama DT Marcell Dareus and Texas A&M LB Von Miller if they are to stay at #2. Here's her conversation with Fox. If nothing else, it's finally nice to hear some QB-related sense coming out of Dove Valley - remember all of those "Elway names Orton Starter" articles? What a waste of time...

As for the lockout injunction, the owners have already filed their appeal with the Eighth Circuit and their request for a stay with Judge Nelson. Many players across the league are expected to show up at their respective teams' headquarters today to work out, and if so they will be allowed in. Of course, be sure to read Ted's Gut Reaction to the injunction, and the first group of articles from across the web.

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Gut Reaction: Injunction granted

UPDATED 8:32PM ET - This is really big news, but it's definitely no surprise, which you know if you've been rolling with us.  All along, it's been pretty clear that the law was on the players' side.  A union can decertify if it wants to, and you can't lock out a non-organized labor force.  Individuals are free to file suit, where a union can't, and that's the vehicle through which a new CBA is going to be eventually reached.

I am a little bit surprised that Judge Susan Nelson declined to grant a stay, pending appeal.  That indicates that she considers the probability of her decision being overturned to be low, but often, if a stay is requested for a timely appeal, it is granted.

The 8th Circuit could stay the decision, and to me, as a chaos-averse fan, it would be preferable.  In a stay, the lockout would effectively continue for a while, until the Appeals court can rule.  If they agree with Judge Nelson, which is likely, it's game over for the lockout.  It's virtually certain that the Supreme Court isn't going to hear this case.

The reason that a stay is probably preferable for a fan is because if there's no stay, the owners will be ordered to impose rules and get back to business.  Say they're required to begin a new league year by May 1st.  A bunch of free agents get signed, and then the 8th Circuit overturns Nelson's ruling.  What then?  Are there take-backs on those signings?  It'd get pretty chaotic.

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Judge sides with players and lifts lockout

7:38PM ET - The NFLPA has responded with a statement of their own:

We are pleased with the ruling granting the plaintiffs preliminary injunction to lift the NFL owners’ illegal lockout issued this afternoon by Judge Susan Richard Nelson. We believe that this 89-page well-reasoned decision is totally consistent with prior precedent, governing caselaw as well as administrative rulings on all the issues raised by the NFL Defendants. We are confident that this ruling will withstand any appeals.

7:07PM ET - The NFL has released a statement in response to Judge Nelson's ruling as follows:

We will promptly seek a stay from Judge Nelson pending an expedited appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. We believe that federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes. We are confident that the Eighth Circuit will agree. But we also believe that this dispute will inevitably end with a collective bargaining agreement, which would be in the best interests of players, clubs and fans. We can reach a fair agreement only if we continue negotiations toward that goal.

6:35PM ET - Here is Judge Nelson's ruling in full. (PDF)

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Talegating: Marcell Dareus

Marcell Dareus was born into a large family of seven children with an American-born mother and a Haitian immigrant father. He was the sixth child of the seven;  six boys and a single girl (a girl who probably had a little trouble dating in high school with all those large, protective young men around). There was a lot that Marcell never really had to learn, he said - his siblings and his mother were his teachers, and the family took care of him. His father passed away when Marcell was only six, though, and his mother was left alone to raise a house full of children. Times became hard. Food could get scarce. Marcell noticed it - you don’t miss it when your belly is empty too much - but his family tried to insulate the younger ones against the worst of it.

There was a palpable joy in the family when his mother remarried - having a breadwinner helped with many things, and food not the least of them . But the celebration was cut short a few years back, when she nearly died of congestive heart failure, and was subsequently confined to a wheelchair. Marcell saw things as they were, and it broke his own big heart. He’d always been a happy-go-lucky kind of kid, with his mother having a big effect on him and all those brothers watching out for him, but this was something that he couldn’t just smile his way through. He struggled with other things - Scott Livingston, an assistant football coach at Huffington High, where Dareus spent his senior year (he’d started at Hayes HS in Avondale, and then when Hayes closed, Marcell moved to East Lake, and Huffington HS), had been looking out for the big kid, but Scott was killed in an auto accident that winter.

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The Daily Lard 4-25-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his MMQB, PK writes that he thinks he thinks that Carolina will indeed go with Auburn QB Cam Newton at #1 overall and that New England may already have a deal in place to deal off the #28 pick. Plus, he thinks Arizona will go with Mizzou QB Blaine Gabbert, LSU CB Patrick Peterson or Georgia WR A.J. Green at #5.

PK also thinks that Judge Susan Nelson's pending decision will indeed result in an injunction of the lockout, but the real question is whether she will force the league to start its new year and thus open free agency. Remember, Gary Myers reported the other day that Judge Nelson's decision is expected to come sometime today...

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