The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

The Daily Lard 4-15-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Jeff Legwold revisits the team's frequent draft-day trades while Josh McDaniels was around, and he says the team too often reached for prospects they liked.

But it should again be noted that the problem with McDaniels's drafts is who the team selected, not that they traded up to get them. The reality is that both years, the team came out of the draft with a greater number of players and at higher spots than when the selection processes started. They moved up and down the board masterfully.

Players like Richard Quinn and Alphonso Smith did not work out, but why does it matter that they were second-rounders? They simply didn't work out, and it wouldn't have made a difference had Denver taken them later. They're still the same flawed players. If Quinn and Smith were third-rounders, we'd still be having the same conversation today about how much they suck, right?

Just remember what TJ wrote last year - it's all about improving the team's odds at finding starters. Brian Xanders (with and without Josh McDaniels) has been doing a great job of adding picks to Denver's arsenal. This year he's starting with seven, so perhaps he doesn't need to do so, but my guess is he will again be making some moves.

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The Daily Lard 4-14-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Jeff Legwold says the Broncos have struggled to find defensive line talent in the draft, and his proof is that they've only gotten two future Pro Bowlers in the past 30 years. Pretty compelling stuff, huh?

Well, Legwold holds up the Ravens as a model for success that Denver should strive for.

Anyone care to guess how many Pro Bowl defensive linemen they've drafted in their 16 years of existence? One.

Maybe we should check in on the Steelers. How many Pro Bowl defensive linemen do you think they've drafted in 30 years? Three.

How about the Giants? After all, they are routinely loaded on the line. They must have drafted a ton of Pro Bowl linemen, right? How about four in 30 years?

Today's lesson? Finding talent in the draft is really hard. This does not only apply to the Broncos. The lesson that Pro Bowl selections are a horrible measure for this sort of stuff? That's for another day...

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Stop defining corners by picks, please Lard 4-13-12

Happy Friday the 13th, Broncos fans! According to Jeff Legwold, Bama corner Dre Kirkpatrick is on Denver's short list for what to do with the 25th-overall pick. But for some reason, Legwold thinks it's a big deal that Kirkpatrick didn't have any interceptions last year, as if that should ever be the measure of a cornerback.

As a refresher course, Champ Bailey has had 11 interceptions over the past five seasons after having nabbed 10 in 2006; Darrelle Revis had zero in 2010, and Nnamdi Asomugha had but three picks between 2007 and 2010. Is that what defines these cover corner stalwarts?

We cite this here fairly frequently, but it bears repeating: craptastic ex-Denver corners Tory James (eight in 2004) and Deltha O'Neal (nine in 2001, 10 in 2005) made three Pro Bowls combined, on the basis of interceptions rather than quality overall play. Remember how New England's Devin McCourty made the Pro Bowl (over Champ, originally) after the 2010 season because he picked seven balls? Anyone want to suggest this group compares favorably to the former trio?

Starting NFL cornerbacks are on the field for about 1,000 snaps per year, and we're going to evaluate them based upon five or six plays they do or don't make, or less? Legwold, please.

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Broncos said no to Hard Knocks Lard 4-12-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Justin Bannan is very happy to be back with the team, and he never moved out of town despite playing in St. Louis last season. Says Bannan,

I feel like I belong in Denver. I feel like I have a lot of unfinished business here. I never felt right about leaving. There's a business side of it, and unfortunately that side happened. But it's just nice not having to move again.

Really, he sounds relieved to be back:

I have a lot of pride here. I feel like I belong here. It's hard to explain — I kind of felt like that when I played at CU (University of Colorado). I feel like I belong in Colorado. It's nice to be able to have an opportunity to come back and have a chance to be part of something great.

Andrew Mason figures the ex-Buff will be more effective teaming with Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil (who was injured during Bannan's one season in Denver) in the pass rush, although for what it's worth, PFF has assigned the 11th-year player a slightly subpar pass rush grade in all four years of their existence.

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The Daily Lard 4-11-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Jeff Legwold thinks Denver has to consider BSU's Doug Martin at #25 and says it's unlikely the running back would last until their second pick at #57. Of course, Andy Benoit suggested the other day that the Broncos could even go WR with that first pick.

All this has Mark Kiszla in a tiszy, because as he sees it, Denver would be crazy not to draft a defensive tackle there. Kiz says the Broncos must go "defense, defense, defense" in two weeks. Defensive tackle is absolutely a need, yet again. It would be an utter shock, yet again, if the team doesn't draft one or two of them, and relatively highly, at that. But that doesn't mean the team has to take one at 25. If Denver goes offense there and ends up with five defenders among their next six picks, are we really going to be apoplectic?

What if they sign Justin Bannan? What if Marcus Thomas comes back?

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The Daily Lard 4-10-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag, Mike Klis says Denver would like to draft a back who will at some point this year become the primary runner, to be spelled by Willis McGahee, with Knowshon Moreno as the third-down guy.

Klis also points out that Caleb Hanie received no guarantees as part of his two-year deal, and he expects the Broncos to draft a QB somewhere between the second and fifth rounds, and to perhaps sign another veteran too.

Adding to what Jeff Legwold had written yesterday, Klis says Denver's offer to Jeff Saturday was around $2.5M per year, a pittance compared to the $4M that Green Bay will pay the veteran center this year.

Meanwhile, Klis is making a push to sell his Tebow books to the New Jersey fans - he says that although Mark Sanchez is a swell guy whom he's more fond of than are most people, Timmy is just a better quarterback. Really. And as Klis sees it, Tebow is completely innocent as far as the circus that follows him around.

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The Daily Lard 4-9-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The struggles continue for 2011 fourth-rounder Julius Thomas, whose high-ankle sprain last year allowed him just four games played and one catch. According to his father, Thomas underwent surgery last week to repair ligament damage in that ankle, and his availability for training camp is in doubt.

Thomas's lingering injury calls to Andrew Mason's mind the Denver failure of basketball convert Wesley Duke, who dressed for three games and caught just a pair of passes after being hailed as the next Antonio Gates by Shanny & Company. Meanwhile, Mason is glad Tim Tebow was never as creative in retelling history during his time with the Broncos as he was yesterday, when he happened to squeeze an Easter Sunday sermon into his busy football schedule.

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The Daily Lard 4-8-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Dan Pompei says the Broncos' acquisition of Peyton Manning, their trade of Tim Tebow to New Jersey, the signings of Alex Smith in San Francisco and Matt Flynn with Seattle, and Shanny's trade up to the #2 pick have created a sense of desperation for the teams that failed to land a big QB fish this offseason.

And the potential outcome of this urgency is A&M passer Ryan Tannehill flying up draft boards, perhaps even into the top five or ten picks to the Browns at four, Dolphins at eight, or the Chiefs at #11. Why? Because it's all about quarterbacks in this league, as the last nine Super Bowls have been won by the Manning brothers (three combined), Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger (two each), Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees (one each).

Adam Teicher says that after having passed up on Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez, and Josh Freeman in recent years, Tannehill could be the guy that makes KC pounce. As Teicher sees it, the Chiefs roster has few holes, with QB being perhaps the most glaring one.

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The Daily Lard 4-7-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The fallout from the Gregg Williams pre-game speech continues; documentarian Sean Pamphilon says he did not violate his agreement with ex-Saint Steve Gleason by releasing the damning audio clip.

Several current and ex-players chimed in after hearing the speech: Giants legend Carl Banks interpreted it as 90-95% metaphorical coach-speak; Vikings punter Chris Kluwe says that other 10% is a big problem; Cris Carter thinks Williams should be banned for life; Antonio Pierce says he heard the same speech from every defensive coordinator he played for in the NFL.

Mike Lombardi echoes Mike Silver's column from yesterday in stating that Williams's status as a virtual independent contractor with full control over his defenses is what permitted him to operate as he did.

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The heat is on Gregg Lard 4-6-12

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Roger Goodell heard appeals from the Saints, Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis, and Joe Vitt yesterday, and his decision is expected sometime next week. But the big story was the release of the audio recording of Gregg Williams's speech prior to the Saints' playoff game versus the Niners.

Naturally, reaction was strong and swift: Michael Irvin said he almost threw up while listening to it; Warren "QB Killa" Sapp called Dr. Heat's speech the most heinous, egregious thing in NFL history and says he wouldn't have stood for such a thing during his career.

White Sox GM Kenny Williams, father of 49ers WR Kyle Williams (who was a specific target in the speech due to a prior concussion) suggested that the banned coordinator's behavior bordered on criminality; Niners safety Donte Whitner recalls that the Saints were unusually vicious in the teams' preseason matchup last year.

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