The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

Memories of Milburn Lard 3-31-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Today, Legwold ponders the effect of the recent kickoff rule changes, slipping in one of his "I know everyone lines" - apparently he talks to enough ST coaches "regularly" to gather a consensus. At least he doesn't use any ridiculous stats, although of course I'd rather see the average kick return for the entire league, rather than just that of the Broncos (who had a terrible year returning kicks in '93, 1.8 yards/per worse than the '92 squad). In fact, Glyn Milburn, the Broncos' diminutive 2nd-round pick in 1993, who was touted by some as "the next Eric Metcalf" - had a paltry 15.7-yard average on 12 returns that year. As we've talked Broncos draft disappointments of late, Milburn fits the discussion (although he was far from a bust) - he was fast, had some nice open-field moves and was supposed to be a jack of all trades for Denver.

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The Daily Lard 3-30-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! So, most people figure Denver to be picking a DT with their first pick next month, and as you know the discussion has focused in on comparing Nick Fairley and Marcell Dareus. Lots of talk about upsides, ceilings, floor heights, football character. Well, Peter Schrager says not so fast, folks! According to Schrager's ridiculous logic, taking a DT in the top five is a huge risk (actually Pete, all picks are) - and a bigger one than taking an offensive skill player. Firstly, he calls it "safe to label" Dan Wilkinson (who played 13 years), Gerard Warren (10 years) and KC's Glenn Dorsey (who has started 46 out of 48 games in his career) as "colossal draft busts." Disappointments relative to their expectations perhaps, but by no means colossal busts. Secondly, he compares them to QBs, WRs and RBs as a group rather than by each position - this is what we refer to as fuzzy math. Yes, let's take a sample of eight guys, use a wide and suspect brush to paint them all as failures, and then compare them to a group of 46 players. Makes perfect sense. (Thanks, JVill)

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The Daily Lard 3-29-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As Denver prepares to host its allotment of up to 30 draft prospects, Legwold explains what teams can typically glean from these visits and lists a few of the players the Broncos are expected to meet with. Aside from the hackneyed top names, Legwold shares some details on D-linemen Aldon Smith of Missouri and Allen Bailey of Miami, and linebacker Lawrence Wilson from UConn. Plus, he mentions that each organization will traditionally give the visiting players some sort of team swag as souvenirs of their trips. What do you suppose the Broncos will give out? Brain Xanders bobblehead dolls? Signed photos of Joe Ellis with G.H.W.B. and G.W.B.?

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The Daily Lard 3-28-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Lots of Broncos-related talk in PK's MMQB today: first, he claims that both Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert will be selected within the draft's top five picks. He then writes that all the hoopla surrounding Marcell Dareus is dying down, but that he thinks Dareus is the best pick for Denver - you know, because in between lattes he's been studying lots of film. PK also states that Dareus has indeed passed Nick Fairley "on most draft boards," and that Da'Quan Bowers has supposedly failed a couple of team physicals (not buying that one). PK also writes from both firsthand knowledge and from speaking with John Fox that John Elway has really been quite active and working hard - the usually tight-lipped (according to King) Fox was effusive in his praise for Elway, his work ethic, perspective and knowledge (basically, the Denver PR machine has turned its focus to promoting Elway as a legitimate football exec; more on that later). Finally, PK thinks there's no way the Broncos go QB at #2.

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The Daily Lard 3-27-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Woody Paige is as perplexed as we are by the Broncos' obsession with QBs of late. Did you know the Panthers drafted THREE of them last year? Anyone still want to argue that John Fox wasn't handcuffed by a wacky organization and his own lame duck status?At the end of his column, Woody slips in that Marcell Dareus is the frontrunner at this point to be Denver's selection at #2, unless they can trade back a few spots and still get Von Miller or Patrick Peterson. Obviously there's a long way to go before the draft, but these are the sorts of things Woody is sometimes actually right about.

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Compensatory pick?! Lard 3-26-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Sorry for the extremely late (and abbreviated) Lard, folks. Went to the Sweet 16 last night, although it was not a sweet experience for my Marquette Warriors. Anyway, some nice news on the Denver front, as the Broncos were in fact awarded a compensatory pick, albeit a very late one (a seventh-rounder, #246 overall out of 253). Here's the funny? part - Denver was not awarded the choice because they lost a bunch of (or even any) significant free agents. If we read between the lines of the story on the team website, the Broncos basically got the extra pick out of sympathy for how much they sucked in 2010. I didn't know the NFL did that - did you? At least we don't have to read any more of Legwold's "Denver ONLY has six picks" stories - perhaps Klis put the kibosh on that one.

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HGH testing? Lard 3-25-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Alex Marvez is reporting that the owners are demanding HGH testing be part of the next CBA. That word of this insistence is just slipping out now makes it seem more like a negotiating tactic than anything else, as there is still not yet a urine test for the growth hormone. While it's a wide (and safe) assumption that plenty of NFL players use the substance to illegally enhance their own performance, it's hard to imagine this bargaining chip providing much in the way of leverage until HGH testing graduates to something more reliable that does not require blood samples. Of course, it will be interesting to see if/how the players respond to this news, nonetheless...

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The Daily Lard 3-24-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! I was going to discuss here how absurd it is that Denver has worked out or planned to work out six QB prospects, while they've only lined up 12 non-quarterbacks (according to PFT's list). But it's only March 24, and the first round of the draft is still five weeks away from today. Perhaps that list will balance out by the time the draft arrives and Denver will have worked out 30 players who don't play QB; especially a lot more defensive players? I'll see about putting together a comprehensive list of Denver's scheduled/planned workouts with links...

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Touchbacks galore! Lard 3-23-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The NFL's Competition Committee passed some changes to kickoff procedures yesterday, although not in as drastic a form as originally proposed. The ball will indeed be moved from the 30-yard line to the 35, reversing a change the league had made (to make kickoffs more exciting, naturally) prior to the 1994 season. But unlike the first proposal, touchbacks will still place the ball at the 20-yard line, and the two-man wedge remains legal. Meanwhile, the coverage team will only be allowed a 5-yard running start rather than one of 10 or 15 yards. What do these changes mean for the Broncos? Firstly, Matt Prater becomes even more valuable - unless he's facing strong winds, he should be able to get a touchback on every kick at the Big IF and reach the end zone on the road consistently. The downside is that Denver has a more dynamic crew of kick returners than they've had in decades (Eddie Royal, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Cassius Vaughn), yet their positive contributions will more often be turned into touchbacks.

Another significant change was to the play review system - all scoring plays will now be reviewable by the replay official. This is a good move for everyone, as coaches no longer have to weigh the risk of losing challenges and/or timeouts when considering whether to protest a questionable (and potentially game-changing) play. More importantly, a missed call by the on-field officials will still be correctable even if a team is out of challenges or timeouts; this was the most unfair facet of the replay system, bringing a game-show quality to the NFL. Good riddance.

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QB Wonderlic Lard 3-22-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Luis DeLoureiro took an interesting look back at some of the more notable Wonderlic scores both high and low among quarterbacks. While there have certainly been some QBs who did poorly on the Wonderlic but excelled in the pros, it seems that guys with better scores have generally turned out to be better NFL signalcallers. For the record, Tim Tebow scored a below-average 22, Kyle Orton notched an above-average 26, while Brady Quinn posted an impressive 29. Depending upon who you ask, John Elway scored either a 30 or a 29.

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