Draftivus Weekend 2009 may be over, but it seems to me that the only draft-related activity as fun as predicting the outcome is in sifting through the results and grading them. Sure, it's a little early to do so; but we all do it, and I'm pretty sure we all seek out what the "experts" have to say in order to validate our own opinions (or cast them aside as idiots). Here are some of the reactions I've seen over the past 24 hours on MHR and across the web, and I paraphrase...
- How could the Broncos not draft more D-Linemen or Linebackers?
- What?! Another running back?! Denver already signed Arrington, Buckhalter and Jordan in addition to having about 12 holdovers.
- More defensive backs? What, are they going to start 9 DBs? How many corners and safeties could the Broncos possibly use?
- Josh McDaniels is a moron because he didn't draft the guys I wanted him to!!!
Personally, here is what I thought as the Draft approached...
- Obviously, we'll come away with at least a couple of D-Linemen, including a nose tackle.
- And of course, we'll end up with an excellent new linebacker.
Obviously, I was wrong. But I'm no expert.
Now, let's examine some undeniable facts...
- The 2008 Denver Broncos were 8-8
- Denver's so-called "explosive offense" scored 370 points, good for 16th-best in the NFL
- They allowed 448 points, which was 3rd-worst in the league
- The Broncos' point differential was -78, or 25th-best league-wide.
- Seven teams had a worse point differential than Denver, and those seven teams all missed the playoffs, averaging a record of 3-13.
- Only one team (Green Bay) with a positive point-differential won fewer than 8 games.
- The Broncos lost to Oakland by 21 points (at home) and at Kansas City by 14 points. The Raiders and Chiefs combined for 5 wins against teams not named the Denver Broncos.
- Denver lost to the Chiefs, Patriots, Raiders, Panthers and Chargers by an aggregate score of 187-67, which averages out to 37.4 to 13.4.
- At various points during the 2008 Season, the Broncos were down to running backs such as P.J. Pope, Cory Boyd, a seventh-rounder in Peyton Hillis, a fifth-rounder in Ryan Torain, and a guy who had been selling mobile phones at the mall (Tatum Bell).
- Denver had the 5th-fewest rushing attempts in the NFL.
- The Broncos' time-of-possession ranked 24th in the league.
- During this same season, the Broncos had folks like Vernon Fox (cut by the Skins), Josh Bell (cut by the Chargers), Josh Barrett (a seventh-rounder), Roderick Rogers (dumped by Minnesota), Calvin Lowry (cast aside by Tennessee), and Herana-Daze Jones (dumped by Cincinnati) either starting or playing crucial roles on the defense.
- The Broncos' pass defense allowed opponents to connect on 67.3% of their attempts, which was 4th worst in the league.
- The Broncos intercepted 6 passes in 2008, 2nd worst only to the Lions. One of those picks was made by DT Marcus Thomas, who promptly fumbled the ball away on the ensuing "runback."
I realize these are some depressing numbers, but this is 2009. I offer the stats above to remind everyone that 2008 wasn't such a hot year for our beloved Broncos. The '08 version of the Broncos couldn't control the clock, couldn't produce sustained drives and couldn't hold onto the ball on offense. On defense, they couldn't rush the passer, stop the run, defend the pass or take the ball away. Injuries left us with guys we practically picked up off the street playing running back, safety and cornerback.
Didn't everyone here learn from 2008 that a team can never have enough running backs and defensive backs? Keep in mind that the veterans Denver signed at those positions this offseason, in Correll Buckhalter, LaMont Jordan, Brian Dawkins, Renaldo Hill and Andre' Goodman will all be at least 30 years old this season. They will hopefully provide skill today, but they will definitely not do so in the distant future.
The 2008 Broncos had a lot of holes; while Atlanta and Miami were both wonderful examples of remarkable one-year turnarounds, their stories are exceptions. This team needs to be competitive first; if they can also win more games than they lose in 2009, I see that as a bonus. We're talking about a team which fired almost its entire coaching staff and enters 2009 with a new starting quarterback. For me, the Broncos were so bad in 2008 that I cannot expect every hole to be filled by 2009. We're talking about a process here, and it sure seems that Josh McDaniels, Brian Xanders and Company are making their way towards that end.
Yesterday, we saw a draft strategy we're to this point unfamiliar with. Yes, Mike Shanahan is an all-time great and brought home two Championships. However, when drafting for need over taking the best player, the Broncos ended up with guys like Marcus Nash, Paul Toviessi, Ashley Lelie (over Ed Reed), Jarvis Moss, Tim Crowder, Deltha O'Neal and Willie Middlebrooks. The new regime quite obviously sees the draft through a different viewpoint, and when their top choices went off the board (Raji and Jackson), they chose Knowshon Moreno. Not because they came in wanting a running back, but because they felt he was the best player on the board. That's how Minnesota got Adrian Peterson, by the way.
As I mentioned above, I'm no draft maven; but what I like about the "experts" reactions is this - everyone who criticizes the Broncos' 2009 Draft, from Jamie Dukes, to Pete Prisco, to Mel Kiper, to Todd McShay offers this basic thought - they love the players Denver drafted, they just don't think Denver filled the holes they would have chosen to fill. Personally, when I read draft analysis the day after, I want to see that Denver chose players widely accepted as being excellent football players. Used to be that our draft choices were either "undersized," "injured during senior season," "questionable character," "slow for the position," among other lovely tags. Today, they're "solid citizens" and excellent football players, but why do the Broncos need another defensive back or running back? As for where they'll play, I think we should leave that up to the Broncos' Coach and General Manager.
I'm not trying to provide a sunny outlook here; I'm just examining some facts. Some of you are happy about our '09 Draft results, others are bewildered. Both viewpoints are just fine by me - but don't forget the prism of 2008's season when looking at the makeup of the 2009 Broncos.