Gut Reactions

Immediate analysis of NFL games and news

Gut Reaction: Broncos draft Quanterus Smith with pick #146

In the fifth round, you're looking for players to fill a specific niche.  Players at this stage are often one-trick ponies.

If that trick is rushing the passer, all the better.  In the case of the Broncos, they may have stolen a real player.

Everybody knows by now that Quanterus Smith was leading the nation in sacks before his knee injury last year.  He was as explosive as they come.  His speed rush off the edge and ability to dip under the tackles will remind you a bit of Von Miller.  And, despite the scouting reports to the contrary, he can use his hands to create some space to manuever.  His three-sack game against Alabama in 2012 was no fluke.

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Gut Reaction: Broncos draft Kayvon Webster with pick #90

Sometimes you just have to be honest with your readers.

I've never seen Kayvon Webster play--not once.  Not one time.  And when that happens, you'd better not pretend like you know what the hell you're talking about.   We're not that kind of site.

But that's why Al Gore invented video.  So let's get to it--all of us on the fly.

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Gut Reaction: Broncos draft Montee Ball with pick #58

Willis McGahee said it was coming--the Broncos drafting another running back to come in and take his job.

It happened a little earlier than most expected, but McGahee is going to have to fend off the NCAA's all-time leader in rushing TDs, Wisconsin's Montee Ball.

Ball doesn't blow me away--he's not as electric as most NFL running backs.  However, he's a solid runner.  He's quicker than he is fast; further, he's got a nice little jump cut and instincts for daylight.  Clearly, the guy has a feel for the end zone.  Of course, a lot of guys could find the end zone running behind Wisconsin's huge line.  

Ball comes with a lot of wear on the tires.  He plugged away so often in college, one wonders if he's got much left in the tank, even at the age of 22.  During his last two seasons at Wisconsin, Ball has averaged 332 carries.

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Gut Reaction: Broncos draft Sylvester Williams

After all these years, after all the whining I’ve done for the Broncos to pick a defensive tackle in the first round, they finally went and did it.

So you’d think I’d be excited as hell.

I'm only halfway there, and perhaps it's not because I'm so down on Sylveser Williams, as much as I was hoping the Broncos would move up and grab Star Lotulelei or Sharrif Floyd as they fell down the board.

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Gut Reaction: Broncos sign Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Happy Thursday, friends.  I was already in bed when news broke of the Broncos’ signing of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, so I wasn’t quite as on-the-spot as we’ve been the last couple days.  Hopefully, the novelty having worn off overnight doesn’t make this stale.

Rodgers-Cromartie is a tall (6-2), long, and fast (4.33 at the 2008 Combine) CB who is at his best (by far) in press man-to-man coverage.  He’s very good at using the sideline as an extra defender, and he’s difficult to beat over the top.  There really aren’t very many CBs in the NFL who have a better package of physical attributes and inherent talents.

The issues for DRC start when you ask him to play very much zone.  He tends to get a little bit lost, and his awareness of route combinations isn’t the greatest.  He’s also not the greatest (or most enthusiastic) tackler in the world. 

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Gut Reaction: Broncos sign Terrance Knighton

The Broncos keep on working free agency, and they haven’t even had to cut Elvis Dumervil yet, as far as we know.  The signing of Terrance Knighton is another good one, assuming the money is reasonable.  As with Kevin Vickerson, Knighton portends to play a key role in keeping the running game clogged up with only seven men.

Knighton is another guy who Tom Nalen would call a fatty, tipping the scales at 330 pounds.  I call him a dude who can mash an offensive guard, and who can defend two gaps up front.  He’s also an excellent athlete for his size, and he played TE in high school in Windsor, CT.  (Shout out to my fellow nutmegger!)

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Gut Reaction: Broncos sign Wes Welker

Well, I’m shocked, and I’ve come around to joining Doug in being pretty happy that Wes Welker will be joining the Denver Broncos.  The main reason for my shift in opinion is that they got him quite a bit cheaper, and on a shorter-term deal than I thought was possible.  Remember, the Broncos are a team that has to pay Von Miller and Demaryius Thomas over the next couple of years, so keeping a deal short is key.

On the field, this move is going to make the Broncos nigh on unstoppable offensively.  I expect them to play four guys from the quintet of Thomas, Eric Decker, Welker, Jacob Tamme, and Joel Dreessen, and just grind teams up with the passing game at all levels of the field.

It doesn’t matter who the running back is, because the acquisition of Welker guarantees that the Broncos won’t be seeing base defense much at all.  Whoever the RB is will be running against really light box counts, and Welker is an excellent blocker for his size.  In the running game, Welker is a sneaky positive, because he mashes the nickelback in front of him way more often than not.

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Gut Reaction: Chargers respond to loss of Vasquez by signing Dunlap

San Diego has countered Denver's signing of Louis Vasquez with an offensive line signing of their own - former Eagles tackle King Dunlap. Since I watched very little of the Eagles this past season, I did a quick and dirty check of PFF's ratings on each player. Here's what I found:

Vasquez was on the field for 1,057 snaps in 2012. His combined rating was +12.8. That includes a +8.6 rating on his pass blocking, and a -2.0 on his run blocking. He was charged with two sacks and 22 total pressures, but did not commit a single penalty.

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Gut Reaction: The Broncos re-sign Kevin Vickerson

I'll just start by saying that I'm very happy that the Broncos re-signed Kevin Vickerson.  He did a terrific job for them in 2012 and played a big part in them doing such a good job against the run for most of the season.  Along with Justin Bannan and Derek Wolfe, the Broncos' front-three did a nice job occupying the opposing five offensive linemen in the run game, and allowing the other front-seven players to flow to the ball.

Fundamentally, all things being equal, I always think it's better to re-sign a player than it is to sign a free agent from another team.  With an outsider, you face scheme risk, in the sense that you don't know if a guy translates to what you're going to ask him to do.  The Broncos know that Big Vick can play in multiple alignments, two-gap on base downs, and one-gap some in passing downs.  What they're doing schematically isn't really common, so knowing a guy can do the job is key.

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Gut Reaction: Broncos sign Louis Vasquez

I’m never a really big proponent of signing free agents in the first hour of the proceedings, because you end up having to pay top of the market prices for them.  I’m a much bigger fan of waiting a day or two, and letting the suckers get their money out there, and see who’s left.

That said, if you really want to upgrade at offensive guard, you could do worse than signing Louis Vasquez.  I think he came into his own as a player in 2012, and was definitely the best offensive lineman on the Chargers.  Of course, their line was pitiful, and their number-one priority has to be fixing it.  By signing Vasquez, the Broncos just helped themselves, and hurt the second-place team in the division in about the worst way they could be hurt.

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