Denver’s #2 pick dilemma - prime or choice?

As the draft preparations wind their way down, most people believe that Denver is going to use the second pick in the draft on a defensive tackle and a lot of pixels have been dedicated to breaking down the choice that they face. John Elway has emphasized that Denver has to ‘hit’ on their higher picks this year. It’s always important, but as new Broncos head coach John Fox has noted, you hope that you won’t be in the #2 position again - so you'd best take full advantage of it. That could, in theory, lead Denver to choose the player who’s safer in the short term, ensuring that the team doesn’t find itself stuck in a JaMarcus Tussle: paying out big money for a player who is simultaneously very expensive and less than useful on the field, and/or in trouble off of it. The choice, if they go with a DT, appears to be between the 6’3”, 319 lb Marcell Dareus of Alabama and Auburn's 6’4”, 297 lb Nick Fairley. Fans, pundits and commentators have gone back and forth over the issue until it’s nearly run into the ground, but there’s been a tendency to talk about who is more NFL ready rather than who fits Denver’s needs the most expediently. I’ve followed the conversation with avid interest, watched what film I could lay my hands on, and I’ve also come to a conclusion.

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The Daily Lard 3-28-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Lots of Broncos-related talk in PK's MMQB today: first, he claims that both Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert will be selected within the draft's top five picks. He then writes that all the hoopla surrounding Marcell Dareus is dying down, but that he thinks Dareus is the best pick for Denver - you know, because in between lattes he's been studying lots of film. PK also states that Dareus has indeed passed Nick Fairley "on most draft boards," and that Da'Quan Bowers has supposedly failed a couple of team physicals (not buying that one). PK also writes from both firsthand knowledge and from speaking with John Fox that John Elway has really been quite active and working hard - the usually tight-lipped (according to King) Fox was effusive in his praise for Elway, his work ethic, perspective and knowledge (basically, the Denver PR machine has turned its focus to promoting Elway as a legitimate football exec; more on that later). Finally, PK thinks there's no way the Broncos go QB at #2.

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The Daily Lard 3-27-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Woody Paige is as perplexed as we are by the Broncos' obsession with QBs of late. Did you know the Panthers drafted THREE of them last year? Anyone still want to argue that John Fox wasn't handcuffed by a wacky organization and his own lame duck status?At the end of his column, Woody slips in that Marcell Dareus is the frontrunner at this point to be Denver's selection at #2, unless they can trade back a few spots and still get Von Miller or Patrick Peterson. Obviously there's a long way to go before the draft, but these are the sorts of things Woody is sometimes actually right about.

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Compensatory pick?! Lard 3-26-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Sorry for the extremely late (and abbreviated) Lard, folks. Went to the Sweet 16 last night, although it was not a sweet experience for my Marquette Warriors. Anyway, some nice news on the Denver front, as the Broncos were in fact awarded a compensatory pick, albeit a very late one (a seventh-rounder, #246 overall out of 253). Here's the funny? part - Denver was not awarded the choice because they lost a bunch of (or even any) significant free agents. If we read between the lines of the story on the team website, the Broncos basically got the extra pick out of sympathy for how much they sucked in 2010. I didn't know the NFL did that - did you? At least we don't have to read any more of Legwold's "Denver ONLY has six picks" stories - perhaps Klis put the kibosh on that one.

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Talegating: Marvin Austin

He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t smoke, and he doesn’t do any drugs. Whether folks love Marvin Austin or hate him, his fall from grace last year is a man-sized lesson that should be told as a warning to college athletes everywhere:  When the NCAA tells you that not a nickel can come to a player from an agent, they’re serious. And, remember that once you tweet it, you can’t take it back.

Austin was suspended for his entire final season at the University of North Carolina where he had been a highly touted defensive tackle. There were (and still are) allegations that Austin, among other players, took money in transportation costs from an agent in order to attend one of the agent’s parties, and he may have taken money for other things, including an expensive watch. The school (loosely) suggested that there might have been some academic issues as well, but then another, perhaps even deeper problem surfaced...

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HGH testing? Lard 3-25-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Alex Marvez is reporting that the owners are demanding HGH testing be part of the next CBA. That word of this insistence is just slipping out now makes it seem more like a negotiating tactic than anything else, as there is still not yet a urine test for the growth hormone. While it's a wide (and safe) assumption that plenty of NFL players use the substance to illegally enhance their own performance, it's hard to imagine this bargaining chip providing much in the way of leverage until HGH testing graduates to something more reliable that does not require blood samples. Of course, it will be interesting to see if/how the players respond to this news, nonetheless...

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The Dude’s Mail Revue: Mocks, quarterbacks and kickoffs

Dude's Mail Revue 400x145Fat Man writer TJ “The Dude” Johnson posts The Dude’s Mail Revue on Thursdays, in which he takes your questions and gets your opinion about the state of the Denver Broncos.

You wanna tie the room together?  Or say what you'd like about the tenets of national socialism?

Drop TJ a question: tjthedudejohnson@gmail.com.

(NOTE: Marmots were harmed in the writing of this Revue)

TJ, last week I read your piece on the lockout in which you very much sided with the players.  I see your points about the players having very short careers and that most of them aren't millionaires.  I even get that most of them are going to have health problems.  I'm even willing to cede that the owners are old, rich white guys who throw temper tantrums when they don't get their way.  But aren't you missing the whole point here?  Your socialist rant didn't address the fundamental issue of the negotiation itself. 

--Ayne Rowdy Rand, Boulder, Colorado

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The Daily Lard 3-24-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! I was going to discuss here how absurd it is that Denver has worked out or planned to work out six QB prospects, while they've only lined up 12 non-quarterbacks (according to PFT's list). But it's only March 24, and the first round of the draft is still five weeks away from today. Perhaps that list will balance out by the time the draft arrives and Denver will have worked out 30 players who don't play QB; especially a lot more defensive players? I'll see about putting together a comprehensive list of Denver's scheduled/planned workouts with links...

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Talegating: Stephen Paea

Much of what has been written regarding the Broncos' draft outlook has focused heavily on the issue of which player the team takes at number two, or whether they trade down and try to pick up an extra choice or two. That’s an important decision, no question. Denver’s offensive and defensive lines need help, and free agency may not happen in anything like its usual manner, so deciding whether there’s a player at #2 that’s worth the pick or whether going for more picks is a better option ranks right up there with the call on 4th and goal with 3 seconds left on the clock - you can’t afford to get this one wrong. On that issue, I found myself recalling a poster that was common when I was in college, and it probably stayed around. It only said,

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil: for I am the meanest SOB in the valley

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Touchbacks galore! Lard 3-23-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The NFL's Competition Committee passed some changes to kickoff procedures yesterday, although not in as drastic a form as originally proposed. The ball will indeed be moved from the 30-yard line to the 35, reversing a change the league had made (to make kickoffs more exciting, naturally) prior to the 1994 season. But unlike the first proposal, touchbacks will still place the ball at the 20-yard line, and the two-man wedge remains legal. Meanwhile, the coverage team will only be allowed a 5-yard running start rather than one of 10 or 15 yards. What do these changes mean for the Broncos? Firstly, Matt Prater becomes even more valuable - unless he's facing strong winds, he should be able to get a touchback on every kick at the Big IF and reach the end zone on the road consistently. The downside is that Denver has a more dynamic crew of kick returners than they've had in decades (Eddie Royal, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Cassius Vaughn), yet their positive contributions will more often be turned into touchbacks.

Another significant change was to the play review system - all scoring plays will now be reviewable by the replay official. This is a good move for everyone, as coaches no longer have to weigh the risk of losing challenges and/or timeouts when considering whether to protest a questionable (and potentially game-changing) play. More importantly, a missed call by the on-field officials will still be correctable even if a team is out of challenges or timeouts; this was the most unfair facet of the replay system, bringing a game-show quality to the NFL. Good riddance.

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