Late in the draft, it's all about depth and special teams.
This tells you all you need to know about the Broncos' pick of Danny Trevathan at #188.
Trevathan will immediately impact special teams--if he makes the team. He's undersized (6-0, 237) and speedy, which means he's perfect for kickoffs and punts.
The immediate image that will come to your mind is Wesley Woodyard, another undersized Kentucky WILL linebacker. Woodyard probably has more straight-line speed than Trevathan, but the production is there. Trevathan, as they say in the biz, is a tackling machine, and did play against the best competition in the country last year. That's not to be taken lightly.
Many other players were available at this pick, and I'm surprised the Broncos didn't take a player like Boise State DT Billy Winn, who fell faster than a Tim Tebow out pass. But, as we've seen in the last few days, the Broncos completely ignored the best-player-available philosophy. That's easy to do when you're picking Von Miller; it's many times more difficult to do when you're rounding out your draft.
With pick #137, the Broncos drafted an undersized, but athletic and versatile DT/DE tweener in Malik Jackson from Tennessee.
The pick should make Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller happy. Jackson is the sort of guy who can rotate in on passing downs and add to the Broncos' ability to get to the quarterback.
This is a good value pick and continues the Broncos' foray into drafting another guy (like Omar Bolden) who will specialize on third down. His body type and raw athleticism remind me a little (don't go crazy, I said it's just a little) of former Bronco Trevor Pryce. Like Pryce, he'll need to add some bulk to his frame (6-4, 265, but he's reportedly above 280 now) if he wants to play on every down. He also needs to get tougher at the point of attack. The NFL will not accommodate the light-handed.
J.D. Walton is officially on the clock.
The Broncos' pick at #108, Center Philip Blake of Baylor, tells us more about what the Broncos think about J.D. Walton than it does about what they think of Philip Blake. Walton has been slow to develop, and despite the Broncos' stellar running game last year, most Broncos fans recognize it had more to do with the unpredictability of the zone-read option than it did with Walton moving mountains up front.
It's not enough anymore that Walton played well against Ndamukong Suh in college.
It's not enough anymore to say that playing center in the NFL takes patience (Maurkice Pouncey, anyone?).
It's not enough to hope that Peyton Manning turns Walton into Jeff Saturday.
It's just not enough.
The Broncos continued to draft to their board at positions of need (if you believe the Big Dipper, John Fox). The latest is Omar Bolden, cornerback, from Arizona State.
There were many players more highly rated on the board (Alfonzo Dennard comes to mind, but doesn't pass Xanders's huge character weighting as part of his draft grade). Also, they probably could have snagged Bolden with pick #108 or pick #137 given his ACL injury, which caused him to miss 2011. Don't count me as a fan of this pick, but it was bold to draft Bolden with that injury history.
Yet, as we've been saying, the evaluation side of all of this is subjective. You can't argue with the philosophy of the pick. The Broncos needed at least one cornerback out of this draft. Now they have him. He's nearly 5-11 and 200 lbs. That's the sort of cornerback who can cover tight ends on third down. The NFL is becoming a league of specialists. Having a large nickel corner who can cover guys like Antonio Gates is becoming critical.
Finally, Bolden is probably your starting return man heading into 2012, although I don't put his return skills at the same level as the guy they just lost: Eddie Royal.
It took the Broncos a few picks to get started, but they finally drafted an impact player.
And he was coached by Snoop Dogg as a Pee Wee League player.
It ain't nuthin' but a Ronnie Hillman thang, baby. Broncos on third down goin' crazy.
That's right, the Broncos just got better on 3rd down, my gansta-rap friends. Ronnie Hillman may not be an every-down back, but he going to make things happen. Think of Darren Sproles and you'll begin to wrap your mind around the player that is Ronnie Hillman. Expect some big plays from this kid.
Before we get to the tape, let's make one thing clear: Lamar Miller might have been a better pick. Miller played against better competition and is a little quicker, but at this point, after taking Brock Osweiler, I'm guessing beggars can't be choosers. Only Brian Xanders can do that. And Hillman isn't chopped liver.
You wonder why the Broncos rid themselves of Tim Tebow? Apparently, he wasn't tall enough.
The Broncos said they were looking for impact players at the top of the draft. If that´s the case, John Elway just lied to us.
Brock Osweiler is not making an impact in 2012. He´s not making an impact in 2013. And barring an injury, he´s probably not making an impact in 2014. It turns out, the Broncos really do have a plan B. It just won't kick in for a few years.
Although I mocked Osweiler to the Broncos in Round 3, I believe this pick is brutal in a lot of ways. Allow me to count a few for you:
Perhaps I'm just being too negative, and I suppose someday, this could be the Broncos' version of Aaron Rodgers, but I hate that the Broncos didn't take a Lamar Miller or Brandon Thompson. In fact, give me a moment while I puke into a trash can...okay, I still don't feel any better.
The Broncos traded down for this?
That's probably the first reaction from most Broncos fans to the news Denver selected Derek Wolfe, defensive tackle from Cincinnati, with their #36 pick. Jeff Legwold didn't even have Wolfe in his top 100. Does it make you feel any better that Mel Kiper had the Broncos selecting Wolfe at pick #25 almost two weeks ago?
First, let's deal with the reality of this pick. The Broncos did not just draft the best player available (BPA). There were at least ten players on the board that were better BPA choices. What they did was draft the best player on their board at their highest position of need. After the Broncos signed Justin Bannan, their desire for a 4-3 nose tackle diminished, and so they were surely going to draft a penetrating 3-technique. Many pundits had Jerel Worthy, Devon Still, Kendall Reyes, and even Billy Winn as better 3-techs.
That's a subjective decision, though. In other words, Jeff Legwold's trash is Brian Xanders's treasure. Obviously, the Broncos had Wolfe rated as a better player. So, while it's legit to fault them for not taking the BPA, I find it difficult to fault them for not taking Worthy or one of the other tackles if they truly felt Wolfe was a better penetrating 3-tech.
When the Broncos' pick came at #25, they decided they could move back six spots, get their guy, and pick up a fourth-rounder in the process.
When pick #31 came, they decided they could still get their guy five picks later at pick #36 and gain 25 spots in round four by trading pick #126 for #101. Throw all of this out the window. In essence, the Broncos moved back 11 spots to gain a high fourth-round draft pick. The traditional draft chart says the Broncos should have ended up with a mid-3rd-round draft pick, but as we saw tonight, the traditional draft chart doesn't account for the recent rookie salary cap. Still, I think they could have done better for themselves.
I also believe that had OT Riley Reiff or G David DeCastro not been picked at #23 and #24, the Broncos would have taken either guy. Both players had tumbled down the board. I am also shocked they didn't jump on ILB Dont'a Hightower, who went to New England with that original #25 pick. I guess the $4 million they are giving Joe Mays really does mean something in 2012.
In his press conference tonight with the New York media, Tim Tebow once again took the road less traveled.
That's because no one takes the high road any longer.
He thanked his fans in Denver, spoke highly of his new coaches and teammates, and reaffirmed his commitment to being a team player--even if it meant sitting behind Mark Sanchez and playing in wildcat packages. He also reaffirmed his commitment to working hard and improving as a quarterback. Simply put, he was typically Tim Tebow.
As I listened to Tebow, I couldn't help but remember another former Broncos quarterback that left Denver after only a few seasons: Jay Cutler. Although blessed with twice the talent, Cutler was half the man on his way out of town. Pouting was his brush; sulking his paint; melancholy his work of art. Tebow would have none of this silliness. It's beneath him. He wouldn't waste his energy on such trivial things.
There's another key difference between Cutler and Tebow, and it's this: Tebow will forever be etched in Broncos lore. No matter what happens during his time in the league, he joins a list that we all hold dear. This list includes Craig Morton, John Elway, Brian Griese, and Jake Plummer. What do they have in common? All of them have taken the Denver Broncos to the playoffs.
We have Peyton Manning; y'all don't.
Suck it down, Bud Adams, and, for that matter, the rest of the league.
If only Al Davis would have been around to weep--and to trade for Tim Tebow.
Oh well, you can't always get what you want.
For John Elway, putting the Broncos in position to win the Super Bowl is enough for now. Curing Tebowmania is icing on the cake.
As always, the gut don't lie. Let's get to it.