He deserved it. The Broncos went into the draft with seven picks; they came out with nine.
Statistically, Xanders improved the Broncos' ability to land more starters.
You'll notice that I mentioned none of players' names to come to this conclusion. That's because I agree 100% with Kerry J. Byrne wrote last week:
You know how most analysts do it: They pretend they watched every college football game of the past three seasons, toss out clichés about various schemes, or which players "set the edge" and have "good motors" and then try to guess which will succeed or fail at the next level.
Good luck with that.
The truth is that nobody knows who's going to succeed or fail -- not us, not the draft "experts" on TV and certainly not the GMs making the decisions on draft day.
This evening, I was scanning the list of college free agents the Broncos could sign. As I started ranking the defensive tackles like they were part of some board game, I suddenly remembered something: almost all of these guys have probably dreamed for years about playing in the NFL.
Then I was struck by something else.
You have to be crazy to want to play in the NFL.
Here are a few figures from the NCAA that might surprise you:
Take comfort, however, that these same high school seniors have a 1 in 10,000 chance of being struck by lightning sometime in their life. So the odds are better to get to the NFL. But not by much.
Readers of It's All Over, Fat Man! know I was highly critical of Kyle Orton's play last season: his struggles on 3rd down were consistent themes in my game reactions. You can find all sixteen of them here if you care to read them.
Woody Paige, on the other hand, won't keep his criticism of Orton where it belongs--on the field of play. When Paige started his smear campaign to drive Orton out of Denver, I first ignored it. I told myself Paige was just trying to sell controversy. After all, controversy means clicks; clicks means ads; ads mean revenue. You see, part of me has a soft spot for Paige--I've been satirizing his mail bag for almost two years.
But enough is enough. Woody Paige is a liar.
It's easy to find the proof.
Part of the sewer-strewn narrative that Paige has been spewing is the idea that Kyle Orton is a bad guy and hates Tim Tebow. In fact, on January 19th of this year, he wrote in his column:
After Tebow became the starter, Orton sulked on the sidelines and never tried to assist or encourage him.
Using probability theory and 20 years of draft data, last week we calculated the odds of the Broncos nabbing four three-year starters out of this year's draft.
Our conclusion was that they had a 20.37% chance.
This calculation was based on both the total number of picks (that's seven, Jeff Legwold) and the position of each pick itself.
Brian Xanders had other ideas, however. He not only looked the part of GM (sporting a tailored navy suit in the Broncos' war room), but he parlayed seven picks into nine.
Forget the silly and meanlingless points charts that NFL teams supposedly use to evaluate trades. Let's get to the heart of the issue, and the goal the Broncos had going into this draft, shall we?
Did the X-Man improve the probability that the Broncos would get four starters out of it?
Intuitively, you probably have a sense of the answer, but let's look at the numbers once again.
Some men are born with great blog entries; others have great blog entries thrust upon them.
The latter is the case today. One of our staunchest legionaries, Fat Man member NCM42, recently asked:
How much do Von Miller and Aaron Curry compare?
It's a great question. Expect to hear it often, especially from fans whose team didn't select Miller.
Implicit in this question is the fear that MIller won't live up to his billing as the #2 overall pick. That's because Aaron Curry, the 4th pick overall two years ago, hasn't become a dominante force in the NFL.
On the surface, the two players seem similar: both were freakishly athletic 3-4 outside linebackers; both were the can't-miss players of their drafts; both were considered low-character risks. The most important correlation, however, is that they were both drafted by 4-3 teams to play the strong-side linebacker position, something neither had done before.
In short, the fear is that a position change could spell BUST, without using the letters O-A-K-L-A-N-D.
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.
Brian Xanders and John Elway have both said they want to come away with four starters from the 2011 Draft.
It's certainly an ambitious goal, and one appreciates Xanders and Elway setting the bar so high without resorting to meaningless slogans.
But is it likely?
Earlier in the week, Dave Krieger took a shot at pointing out how difficult a task Xanders and Elway have in front of them. His conclusion?
Optimism, naivete and, let's be honest, pure fantasy are always in unlimited supply around the NFL draft.
Kreiger based his conclusion on some decent evidence--namely, that Mike Shanahan and Josh McDaniels had limited draft success.
What do the numbers actually show us? Is Krieger correct?
Yesterday's pre-draft press conference from Brian "The Mind" Xanders and John "The Collar" Elway was better than nothing.
Xanders still doesn't tailor his jackets nor his penchant for malaprops. My favorite Xanders quote (aside from his propensity to simply call John Fox by his last name) from yesterday was the following:
"...we're in unchartered waters..."
Despite this, Xanders has an odd appeal to me: he's the anti-Joe Ellis. Under the buzzcut and the confusion, there just might be a savant. We'll soon find out.
Elway, for his part, could have used some gold chains. If you are going to show that much chest hair, you've got to come strong or don't come at all.
The Duke? How about the Disco Inferno?
Outside of these two observations we learned the following:
Something happened to Jake Locker on his way to becoming the next John Elway.
His senior season.
Does John Elway care?
At this time last year, Locker was both victim and beneficiary of the hype machine (the same machine that now has its sights set on Andrew Luck). Had Locker declared for the NFL draft as a junior, it's very possible that he, not Sam Bradford, would be the QB for the St. Louis Rams.
Consider what Mel Kiper Jr. said about Locker last April:
If you had to ask me right now who is going to be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft, I would say it's etched in stone it's going to be Jake Locker. You can mark that down. Jake Locker, if he's not the No. 1 pick, it's an upset.
That's certainly high praise from the high priest of draft geeks (otherwise known as guys I could shove into a locker with one arm)
If Brian Xanders has his way, the Denver Broncos are going to draft Nick Fairley.
How do I know this? I'm speculating of course, but after watching all of his interviews five times over this week in an effort to build our wildly popular Brian Xanders Random Quote Generator, new information has come to light, man.
First, let me point out the obvious--the Broncos would like to trade out of the #2 spot. If someone tries to claim that as an original thought or breaking news, flog them. This fact has been widely known for weeks. Xanders himself has said on numerous occasions that his general strategy (which is sound) is to trade down and accumulate picks. So you won't find me claiming that mantle.
What I will claim is that Xanders is not your typical General Manager. As I suggested yesterday, the guy simply has a hard time with public speaking. Moreover, he tends to get slightly animated and nervous, which causes him to search for what he likely perceives are high-quality football buzzwords. Take this quote for example, which is included in the Random Quote Generator:
"We researched their personal character and their football character…we never want the character grade to bleed into the football grade."
Xanders' interviews are ripe with this sort of material. What Xanders wanted to say here in simple terms is that the Broncos initially treat a draft prospect's play on the football field seperately from their potential off-field character issues. In his search for fooball speak, the words fall short.