The first thing I did when I got ready to do this write-up on Larsen, was to go backand read everything I had on Wake Forest C, Steve Justice.
I did that because I like the Larsen pick. He is a great ST addition who will be an immediate upgrade over many of our veteran journeymen who currently under-occupy the positions, and unlike them, he will have something to prove. Plus, I like the idea that we can challenge K2 without making a huge vote of "no confidence" in him, as a Lofton pick may have done. We are paying him after all.
My reasoning for looking at Justice, is that of all the players still on the board who stood to be gone by the time denver selected again, he was the one who I had always assumed would be a solid choice for Denver. The question wasn't whether he should have been selected instead of Larsen, but whether we should have passed on K-Lic (if you guys want me to stop using this nick for him, you better suggest something fast, cause its growing on me).
After looking again, I can see that my major endorsement for Justice came from his athleticism. I suppose part of me was operating on the assumption that all the linemen in Denver's system need to be athletic. But a post put up recently by TedBartlett and some insight provided by the ever-insightful Hoosierteacher I feel compelled to rethink my attitude towards Justice. And certainly in light of Denver prioritizing K-Lic over Justice, I am led to believe that Denver really wants that lower body strength to come into the line. Justice is all finesse. K-Lic moves well and is ugly powerful. So if I can't advocate Justice over K-Lic (as many teams apparently couldn't) then I can't advocate Justice over Spencer as well. By the time this pick had rolled around, the die had been cast and the numbers read. I think the Colts got a steal, but their gain is in no way our loss. With that out of the way, let's talk about Spencer, shall we?
AGAIN with the character/high motor pick! Shanny is really spoiling us in this draft. If he's not careful we are going to come to expect this from him, ALL the time. :) Spencer's attitude goes beyond just personal competitiveness: he was the one who would stand up in the lockerroom and challenge his temmates; he was the one who would call out underacheiver's, demand effort, and then go out on the field and fly around like a cannonball set loose on the stormswept deck of a ship. Sometimes this was a bad thing. He could and would get a little too amped up sometimes, and recklessness was the result. But more often than not, it was a good thing, and the notion of a guy who speaks loudly, and then backs it up with intense play on the field, is a notion that Bronco's fans might just get a little misty eyed thinking about. Larsen could be the Kieth Burns voice on ST that we have been missing, and a galvanizing presence wherever he ends up on the roster.
He is strong, but doesn't stay terribly clean, so while he can play WILL he will probably be expected to learn the MIKE. More fast than explosive, he has a knack for slipping between defenders and sniffs out the play with some of the best instincts you will find outside of Jordan Dizon. Greatly improved over his Soph and Junior campaigns, which explains his availability as late in the draft as he was. I wish I could find it, but a member at one point put up a great post describing how important it was for Denver to effectively scout the talent in their own backyard. Hopefully this draft shows that they take that issue seriously.
One last point I would like to make on this pick, is that I was pleased that up to this point Denver had yet to double up on any positions in the draft. This is a huge vote of confidence in themselves and their scouting, and a great sign about their feelings regarding risk in this draft. I don't think they targeted Larsen, I just think they let him come to them and didn't second guess themselves.
There are a lot of ways to bite it in the draft, and so few to stay alive. I don't fault Denver one bit for finally sticking to their guns in a draft, and staying loyal to their values. In the end, when the hard work is done and the probowlers have stepped up, and the busts have moved on, your values will be the only thing that is left.
The draft is not the time to compromise them.