The Denver Broncos are officially looking for leadership.
With the acquisition of former New England Patriot Le Kevin (pronounced leh KEE vin) Smith, the Broncos have once more gone for a player who was a leader during his collegiate career. Playing for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Smith teamed with Titus Adams over his last two seasons there to a top-level pair of defensive tackles on a 4-3 line. Smith himself contributed a stellar swim move and 6 sacks to a defensive line that accounted for a total of 50 sacks, the best in the USA, over Smith's senior year in college (2005). NFLDraftScout.com referred to him as the 'high energy leader' of that line. This importation continues a pattern that has carried over since the first of the Josh McDaniels/Brian Xanders free-agent signings was confirmed. Character matters. So does intellect. And, after the bend-and-break defenses of the past few seasons, physical and mental toughness are now flat-out requirements.
When we glance through the summer's roster for the Denver Broncos, there is a palpable sensation that pulls at our thoughts; a pattern of character, respect and leadership that has influenced the way the team changed itself in the draft and in free agency. The powerful vehemence that Brian Dawkins exudes, the mature humility of Andra Davis, the intellect of Tom Brandstater, the maturity personified by Knowshon Moreno; these men are perhaps the best-known among our newer acquisitions.
But since the first interview I saw with him, there has been something about David Bruton that has piqued my interest. Perhaps it's the implied contradiction between the manners of his his soft-spoken Midwestern drawl and the inherent violence, controlled as it may be, of his chosen profession. Perhaps it's the open way he talks of his love for his son Jaden, who will turn 4 on November 9, 2005. this year. The Broncos will be playing a Monday Night Football game against the Steelers . Whatever it might be, there is something about David Bruton that draws me to him - and to his story.
There are a few things that you can count on with Tom Brandstater. He's a big quarterback with nearly perfect size for the position. Drafted with the 1st pick of the 6th round (pick #174), Tom Brandstater is a 6'5", 222 lb. solid physical specimen. He's very intelligent and finished his degree in communications at Fresno State in only three years, also earning academic honors each year, a three-time Academic All-WAC choice. He's already finishing his Masters degree in psychology. His last name is pronounced Brand-STATE-ur. And after that, no one really agrees.
Born in Mableton, Georgia on January 31, 1987, Kenny McKinley was a sought-after quarterback at South Cobb High School. Kenny earned All-County honors as a junior and senior. As a junior in 2003, he racked up 1,575 yards and 12 scores passing and rushed for 400 yards and eight touchdowns more. McKinley threw for 1,470 yards and 16 touchdowns while rushing for 750 yards and 12 more TDs during his senior year, and was ranked as the 57th-best athlete in the country by Rivals.com. You can catch four recruiting videos of Kenny from high school at Mableton here:
Prior to the draft, NFLDraftDog.com commented,
South Carolina's Kenny McKinley (6' 0" 189 lbs) doesn't get much respect and I don't know why. He has gotten it done on the football field for years. He has been a four year starter with 2,781 career yards and 19 touchdowns. Now he goes to the combine and has a very solid performance. He ran a nice 4.44 forty and had the 2nd best 20 yard shuttle time of 4.10 seconds.
When the Denver Broncos bargained with Chris Simms this offseason, they believed they were taking on a talented backup quarterback to cover for Jay Cutler if he went down to injury. Coach Josh McDaniels felt that Simms had the pedigree and the potential to be a solid backup, and the higher-than-normal contract cost backed that up. It didn't take long for Simms to receive a chance to show that he is more than a backup - he's currently competing against Kyle Orton for the starting position. In order for us to start understanding the value of this, we have to go back to where it all started.
You certainly could argue that Chris Simms has the best NFL pedigree, being the son of famous NFL QB Phil Simms. He was born in Ridgewood, New Jersey on August 29, 1980 and attended high school in nearby Franklin Lakes, NJ. A standout athlete, he played basketball as well as football. He was a two-time All-State football player and the 1998 USA Today Offensive Player of the Year. He initially committed to the University of Tennessee and then de-committed, choosing instead to attend the University of Texas, where he would major in history.
Arriving at Texas, Simms found that he was in a long conflict for the starting job with Major Applewhite. Each of them did well at various times and weakened at others. Their battle went back and forth for two full years. Over the course of Simms' tenure at the University of Texas, he set several records; their current status follows...
There's not much debate about one thing - Alphonso Smith is the second 2nd-round pick in two years to ignite an instant firestorm of controversy in Denver. Eddie Royal managed it first - think back, now, to that weekend and to the things that were said.
When that 42nd pick came in, Broncos fans were shocked, stunned and horrified. Begrudgingly, they accepted that perhaps he could be worth the pick by his prowess in the return game.
Giving up a 2nd-round pick on a scrawny kick returner with some receiving skills was a big stretch, the media agreed, but perhaps Mike Shanahan really felt that the team needed a return guy. DeSean Jackson, the consensus went, would have been a better pick. Getting a defensive tackle would have been a much better way to go all around. And so it went. This year may prove to be somewhat redundant in that respect - everything that I've been able to accumulate about Smith indicates that he, very much like Eddie Royal, may become a favorite of the Broncos' fan base in the near future.
Here's what you probably know about Rulon Davis. If you've been reading at all about him, you probably know that he was a Marine in the Iraqi conflict. He was in a fire zone, fought for his country, and came home.
Tyson Jackson stunned a lot of people by being the third player taken in the NFL draft. Many said that this was, in part, because of the laws of scarcity – there were few true 5-technique defensive ends in this year’s draft, making the ones that were there more valuable. The 5-technique DE lines up on the outside shoulder of the offensive tackles, giving them a chance to stack the line, stuff the outside run or rush the passer with equal verve. It’s a staple of the modern 3-4 defense, which the Denver Broncos will be switching to from their traditional 4-3 as quickly as circumstances permit.
A lie can run around the world twice while the truth is still getting its shoes on. - Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
Like all college players whose names weren't called on Draft Day, Chris Baker knows that he has something to prove. He's heard all the opinions - "Boom or Bust," "Must be in the right system," "Left school too early," "Character concerns abound," "Troublemaker," "Takes plays off."
Excellence in athletics is a goal that many long for, yet few achieve. Most of us have desired, however briefly, to attain the level of neuromuscular skill and hand/eye coordination that would permit us to reach the pinnacle of pro sports that the NFL represents. Some of us guide young people on that path as coaches. Others teach their children and grandchildren a respect and appreciation for the game of football, that wonderful combination of human chess and unceasing effort and competition.
Charles and Erin Dimry run Velocity Sports Performance in Carlsbad, CA. This facility stands on the cutting edge of the development of the younger as well as the professional athlete. Walk inside with me and take a tour through the new ways we can maximize the performance of the players, whether they are preparing for the Combine, or preparing for an NFL career...