In this year's draft, the worst-kept secret in the world was the Broncos' need to acquire a defensive tackle.
Yesterday, they finally did, signing Texas Tech lineman Colby Whitlock.
Surprisingly, he might stick around.
Whitlock played a lot of 3-4 nose tackle for Texas Tech. As you'll see from this tape, that helped him to develop a certain toughness that one doesn't see from 4-3 defensive tackles. In the 3-4, you need to be stout at the point of attack, you need to be willing to sacrifice yourself at even the slightest hint of a double team, and you'd better have a motor that never stops.
Note: Bellore is apparently headed to the Jets instead of Denver
(Note: Browning was originally reported as agreeing with Denver, but ultimately he chose to join the St. Louis Rams)
To find a future star in the NFL among undrafted rookie free agents, you could do a lot worse than looking for three things:
3) A brother with speed, who was also Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2008.
Deron Mayo may be undersized for the NFL. He's listed at 5-11 and 220 pounds. That's why teams shied away from him in the draft. However, like his famous brother, he brings quickness and speed. Deron is actually faster than his older brother, and runs (by some accounts) a sub-4.4 forty-yard dash. He's a tweener DE/OLB, who many thought would have been a good fit as a 3-4 OLB after adding a few pounds. In fact, he had this to say recently:
People like (Denver’s) Elvis Dumervil and (Pittsburgh’s) James Harrison definitely give me hope. I’m 5-11. I look at people like that and it gives me a lot of motivation. It’s all about learning the game. I feel like I can rush the passer from the edge. It’s just a matter of a coach or a team taking a chance on me, which I know will pay off.
John Fox likes versatility in his running back combinations.
Enter Mario Fannin.
Fannin was Auburn's third-string running back last year. Despite this, he was projected by some to be drafted as high as the 5th round in this year's draft.
Why? Fannin set the building on fire at the combine with a 4.37 40-yard dash and a 37.5-inch vertical jump. Those are numbers that Knowshon Moreno would have killed for at his combine.
Fannin left little doubt that he's a world-class athlete by those measures. He's also a master of catching the ball out of the backfield and has a knack for the YAC (yards after catch).
If Fannin makes the Broncos' roster, it won't be because of his running ability. His field vision after getting the handoff has always been his weakest attribute. It will be because Denver needs a weapon on 3rd-down-and-medium.
If the NFL was a game of Monopoly, yesterday Perrish Cox pulled the Go To Jail card.
Do not pass Dove Valley. Do not collect $405,000.
In this game, you can't roll doubles, nor can you purchase (for any amount of money) a Get Out Of Jail Free card from Demaryius Thomas or Cassius Vaughn. They are too busy looking for cover.
Cox is easy pickins, Broncos fans. You'll see dozens of columns over the next month criticizing his character and his integrity. Further, you'll hear a lot of pundits play the I told you so card. And that's just fine. Fans aren't required to withhold judgement until all the facts are in. While Cox is innocent until proven guilty in the court of law, as a member of the Denver Broncos, the story told in the arrest warrent is easily enough for the fans and the Broncos to run him out of town.
Roger Goodell won't be distracted by the law. If Cox is guilty, he's in jail; if he's not, Goodell is likely to suspend him for at least six games (Roethlisberger style).
I'm guessing that right now, John Elway could care less how well Perrish Cox plays man coverage.
He can't cover it as a member of the Denver Broncos.
The Eighth Circuit today granted the NFL's request for a stay, by a 2-1 majority. In the accompanying opinion, the two concurring judges disagreed with Judge Susan Nelson's ruling that this situation was a labor dispute, and not a matter of litigation.
They went so far as to say that the NFL was likely to prevail in their appeal, which will likely occur in June.
The Court, as the NFL had openly hoped, voted along partisan lines and delivered a pro-business ruling. Frankly, the merits of the Court's comments don't make a lot of sense to me.
The majority completely ignored the fact that the NFL agreed not to pursue a claim of a sham decertification in 1992. The NFL wanted the NFLPA to recertify at that time, so that they'd be afforded the antitrust protection of a non-statutory labor exemption, which we've been all through here at IAOFM.
Another round of YouTube videos for your viewing pleasure--without a defensive tackle.
I'll reserve total judgment until the free agency period ends, but the biggest beneficiaries of this year's draft were Ryan McBean abd Kevin Vickerson.
These videos feature Quinton Carter, Julius Thomas, Mike Mohamed, Virgil Green, and Jeremy Beal.
If you haven't yet checked out our videos from the first three rounds, you can catch them here.
Again, I've kept my commentary to a minimum because pretending to be Mel Kiper is both exhausting and ridiculous.
I also refuse to grade a draft of 23-year-old players in a few hours.
What do you think of the new Broncos?
You've probably seen highlight reels of the Broncos' draft picks on ESPN or NFL Network. While highlight reels are fun to watch, they rarely tell the story of a draft pick.
So I decided to hit YouTube for some actual tape of all of the picks and put them into one place.
I hope you enjoy.
I've tried to keep my own commentary to a minimum. As you can see from our Chewing the Fat series in the last day, I really have been disappointed in the Broncos for not addressing the defensive line. But the truth is, trying to pass judgment on a draft immediately is somewhat foolish (albeit great fun). We are talking about 23-year-old kids here. It's impossible to know how these picks are going to pan out. Further, as fans, we simply aren't privy to what went on during workouts with the Broncos. Marvin Austin's workout and interview may have told the Broncos more than any tape possibly could.
Do I wish the Broncos were sitting wtih Marvin Austin and Stephen Paea on their roster tonight? Absolutely.
Could the Broncos have done the right thing by passing on them? You bet.
Half the fun will be finding out.
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.