Garland may be eligible for Broncos in ‘12

According to the Gazette's former Broncos reporter and current Air Force beat guy Frank Schwab, defensive lineman Ben Garland has passed on the opportunity to enroll in the Air Force's pilot training school in order to eventually pursue an NFL career. According to Schwab, in a year's time Garland can submit request that his military commitment be converted to a longer reserve assignment, and which if granted would allow him to join the Broncos in 2012 ala former LB Steve Russ (also an Air Force alum and special-teams stalwart on both of Denver's SB-winning teams and now the LB coach for Wake Forest). Garland is a native of Grand Junction, CO and was signed by the Broncos as an undrafted free agent on April 26 of last year.

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Memories of Milburn Lard 3-31-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Today, Legwold ponders the effect of the recent kickoff rule changes, slipping in one of his "I know everyone lines" - apparently he talks to enough ST coaches "regularly" to gather a consensus. At least he doesn't use any ridiculous stats, although of course I'd rather see the average kick return for the entire league, rather than just that of the Broncos (who had a terrible year returning kicks in '93, 1.8 yards/per worse than the '92 squad). In fact, Glyn Milburn, the Broncos' diminutive 2nd-round pick in 1993, who was touted by some as "the next Eric Metcalf" - had a paltry 15.7-yard average on 12 returns that year. As we've talked Broncos draft disappointments of late, Milburn fits the discussion (although he was far from a bust) - he was fast, had some nice open-field moves and was supposed to be a jack of all trades for Denver.

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The Daily Lard 3-30-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! So, most people figure Denver to be picking a DT with their first pick next month, and as you know the discussion has focused in on comparing Nick Fairley and Marcell Dareus. Lots of talk about upsides, ceilings, floor heights, football character. Well, Peter Schrager says not so fast, folks! According to Schrager's ridiculous logic, taking a DT in the top five is a huge risk (actually Pete, all picks are) - and a bigger one than taking an offensive skill player. Firstly, he calls it "safe to label" Dan Wilkinson (who played 13 years), Gerard Warren (10 years) and KC's Glenn Dorsey (who has started 46 out of 48 games in his career) as "colossal draft busts." Disappointments relative to their expectations perhaps, but by no means colossal busts. Secondly, he compares them to QBs, WRs and RBs as a group rather than by each position - this is what we refer to as fuzzy math. Yes, let's take a sample of eight guys, use a wide and suspect brush to paint them all as failures, and then compare them to a group of 46 players. Makes perfect sense. (Thanks, JVill)

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Scouting the Broncos: Wide receivers

One area of the field that Denver has very well covered is the wide receiver slot. Whatever their other weaknesses, barring another onslaught of injuries, this is one place that the Broncos are flush. That’s odd, in a way - former head coach Josh McDaniels was trained by Bill Belichick, a man who once famously said that you don’t fill out the WR position until your other spots have been solidified. Denver is in nearly the opposite situation due to McDaniels’ approach, but it does take the A.J. Green/Julio Jones argument out of the draft conversations for the Broncos this year. The TE position is somewhat less clear, but has some quality young talent - we’ll get into that more next time. To give you an idea on the wideouts, though, here’s what the Broncos tweeted:

Fox on the wide receivers: "This may be as good a corps as I'm familiar with." 11:26 AM Jan 14th via web.

He’s absolutely right. It’s a remarkable group, with veteran skills and young talent - this bunch has it all. Let’s look at who they have:

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The Daily Lard 3-29-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As Denver prepares to host its allotment of up to 30 draft prospects, Legwold explains what teams can typically glean from these visits and lists a few of the players the Broncos are expected to meet with. Aside from the hackneyed top names, Legwold shares some details on D-linemen Aldon Smith of Missouri and Allen Bailey of Miami, and linebacker Lawrence Wilson from UConn. Plus, he mentions that each organization will traditionally give the visiting players some sort of team swag as souvenirs of their trips. What do you suppose the Broncos will give out? Brain Xanders bobblehead dolls? Signed photos of Joe Ellis with G.H.W.B. and G.W.B.?

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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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