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.
Brian Xanders doesn't exactly fit the mold of what we expect from a general manager: He's got a double chin. His clothes don't fit. He has a tendency to rush his sentences, omit words, state facts as if they were original thoughts, and mix verb tenses. Hell, the guy used to clean pools.
In short, he's everything Joe Ellis isn't. It's for this reason, and the way he handled the recent re-signing of Champ Bailey, that the X-Man is starting to grow on me.
So I went back and spent an exceedingly long time reading and listening to interviews Xanders has given since he was named General Manger of the Denver Broncos for real. At first, I mistook his responses for gobbledygook. My mind went numb; my senses failed. Soon, I was unable to determine the questions from the answers. I fell into a Xanders-induced stupor.
When I came to, however, I realized that inside all of this undeciphered madness, Xanders had a plan. After so many interviews, he's let a few things slip.
Later this week, I'll tell you what I think that plan is. Today, however, I wanted to have a little more fun at the expense of Xanders before I begin singing his praises.
So I gathered together a few dozen of the best quotes Xanders has given. I plugged them into a random quote generator. I think you'll enjoy....
Fat Man writer TJ “The Dude” Johnson posts The Dude’s Mail Revue on Thursdays, in which he takes your questions and gets your opinion about the state of the Denver Broncos.
You wanna tie the room together? Or say what you'd like about the tenets of national socialism?
Drop TJ a question: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(NOTE: Marmots were harmed in the writing of this Revue)
TJ, last week I read your piece on the lockout in which you very much sided with the players. I see your points about the players having very short careers and that most of them aren't millionaires. I even get that most of them are going to have health problems. I'm even willing to cede that the owners are old, rich white guys who throw temper tantrums when they don't get their way. But aren't you missing the whole point here? Your socialist rant didn't address the fundamental issue of the negotiation itself.
--Ayne Rowdy Rand, Boulder, Colorado
This week we'll continue to examine some of the concepts that new defensive coordinator Dennis Allen will bring to the Broncos. Last week we looked at the overload blitz.
While Dennis Allen was in New Orleans, the Saints blitzed more than any team in the league on passing downs (52%). However, blitzing that often can become problematic; one can't always line up eight defenders at the line of scrimmage and yell, "CHARGE!". Eventually, the offense will adjust with screens and quick passes.
That's why the football gods created deception. Deception not only separates us from animals (and Raiders fans), but it separates advanced defenses from more primitive ones.
Make no mistake about it--Denver's defense in 2010 wasn't just primitive, it was downright amphibian. Disguise wasn't something they did well; when the Broncos got pressure, it was often due to coverage, not disguise or creative schemes.
That should change next year - it's safe to say that the Broncos' defense under Dennis Allen won't be the most talented, but you can bet the house that they will be deceptive and creative.