I admit, I am not the happiest camper right now in Bronco land, but after hearing much of the reaction from Bronco country regarding the loss, which basically was welll we aren't that good but at least we will have a good pick next season because of Chicago's collapse. Look, I want a good draft pick, but you can have all the top ten picks in the world, but if you blow the pick then it does you no good. Just ask the Lions, Raiders, and Browns how good it is to have a top ten pick year in and year out. I began to ponder our current players drafted and I am seriously wondering if we have had a huge bust on our hands. I know, it is really hard to judge the results of a draft until three to five years down the line, but in most regards, I think you have a good indication of how good the draft will turn out after the first season. So lets look at the 2009 draft and what we have:
1st Round (12) – Knowshon Moreno – One of the more controversial picks, Moreno was hailed as the franchise back that Denver had lacked since the days of Clinton Portis. Moreno season has been an up and down affair with some good performances with some poor performances. People would say that he leads all rookie running backs in yardage as an indication that he is good, but that may be more a function of who he is going against in his rookie and what system they are running versus how good he really is. The question comes down to was he worth a top 15 pick, is he a franchise type back who can carry the team, my feeling is that he is not that player. He has yet to crack 100 yards and does not seem to be an explosive player, he seems best as a complimentary type back and not as the feature back. I would characterize this pick as a bust due to the position we picked him at and guys like Orakpo, Cushing, and Larry English, who all have been having very good rookie seasons. For the amount of money we will be payng Moreno he has to be more productive, he has to have the ability to take over a game, I just don't see that being his future.
1st Round (18) – Robert Ayers – This was a pick I thought was very interesting, Ayers was seen by many as a one year wonder or basically a work-out wonder. His workouts at the Senior Bowl likely pushed him into the 1st round. Physically, Ayers appears be a very good potential OLB, although I feel his natural position is probably as a 4-3 DE. Ayers has struggled picking up a new position and a new system, as should have been expected. He looks lost at times when he is on the field. But he does have some times where he flashes some good ability. This may be a harder judgment call, because in a lot of ways, I had not anticipated Ayers having much impact until two to three years down the road. I would grade it as probably a good pick, but a wait and see. The tough thing with Ayers is that you would hope he would have a greater contribution and be able to beat out the likes of Mario Haggen, who is basically a nice player but not a dominate player.
2nd Round (37) – Alphonso Smith – I will admit, I hated this pick for what we gave up, which looks like a top 20 pick in 2010. I still hate this pick for the same reason. Smith was supposed to come in and solidify the nickel back position and eventually become a starter. Well, he has lost his job at nickel back to Jack Williams, who was cut, and then to Ty Law and now to Tony Carter. When he has been in, he has been routinely targeted (as in this past week’s game) and has shown why he slipped into the second round. He simply is not fast enough or big enough to match up with WR in the NFL, and college production does not equate to NFL ability. In addition, A. Smith has been a sore point on special teams, making far too many mistakes. For someone who was supposed to be at least ready to contribute, he has failed miserably. I would say this pick appears to be a bust and a huge gamble that looks like it will never pay off.
2nd Round (48) – Darcel MacBath – This pick puzzled a lot of people at the time since we had not really addressed the glaring needs on the front seven with the exception of Ayers. MacBath has been able to come in an contribute and looks like he will have a good future with the team. Obviously getting to play with some future HOF players helps in development, but MacBath has been pretty reliable for the most part. I think he will have some issues though mainly related to his size, he really is a CB playing safety, and I question his durability. I got to meet MacBath briefly at training camp, and he was a very nice man, but I was struck by his relatively small frame. He will need to make sure to be put in a center fielder role and not playing in the box that much. But I would say this looks like a solid pick.
2nd Round (64) Richard Quinn – Again, I was not a huge fan of this pick because I think a blocking TE doesn’t warrant a second round pick, especially when you already have the best blocking TE in the game in Daniel Graham. Quinn has not made much of any impact this year, he was touted as being able to help in short yardage, and yet that has been one of the facets we have struggled throughout the year. It is unsure whether he will ever be a pass catching threat, he wasn’t in college, but that doesn’t mean he can’t develop in the pros, but he has a long way to develop. If he turns into just a run blocker, then this pick was a waste, if he can develop into having some pass catching ability and provide some threat, then this will be a good pick. This one may be too early to tell at this point, Quinn will likely take three years to develop at a minimum, the question is can you wait that long for a 2nd rounder to devlop.
4th Round (114) David Bruton – This was a head shaker at the time, considering we had signed two safeties and drafted MacBath, but Burton has become a special teams ace and appears to have some potential at SS. I would say this is a good pick and it looks like he will be at least a good ST and role player for awhile.
4th Round (132) Seth Olson – This pick had me confused, not because we picked an OL, but because I thought there were some much better prospects at the guard position available at the time. Olson hasn’t seen the field, which is of no real surprise considering it generally takes Denver o-lineman a year on the bench to understand the system. Olson will likely get a shot at LG next year since it does not look like Hochstein is the answer as a starter, but I don’t know if Olson fits the scheme that McDaniels would like to run. Again, this will be a wait and see approach.
5th Round (141) Kenny McKinley – After impressing some in the preseason, McKinley has been a non-factor for much of the season. He arguably has a lot of other players to jump ahead of in order to get any significant playing time. I was hoping that McKinley would have a greater impact on ST as a returner, but I get scared every time he handles the ball with the fear he will get knocked out. McKinley really has a slight frame and I question whether he can be durable to last long in the NFL. Due to the fact he really does not look like a real return man, I would say this pick is a waste at this point. He may see some more time if Stokely is let go after next season, but I don’t see it as any type of upgrade.
6th Round (164) Tom Brandstater – After an interesting pre-season, you can see the potential in Brandstater. He has a very live arm, good touch, and appears to be the type of QB McDaniels likes. Can he be developed into a starter will be the interesting topic, it would appear that he will have the number 2 spot at no worse come next season, as I can see little reason for retaining Chris Simms. This appears to have been a good pick.
7th Round (225) Blake Shuster – I was surprised Shuster got cut, but honestly, 7th round guys have a very low probability of making a team. I would call this a waste, but in reality, you take a shot and hope you catch someone good. I give this pick a pass.
So in my estimation, our top three picks are no where near meeting expectations and don't look like any of the players will be franchise type players What is disheartening for me, is the look that the top of our draft was poor and we only hit on some good players later on. This was a similar situation to many of Mike Shanahan’s drafts. I don’t see any all-pros in this group and few being an impact player. This draft was touted as we want to win now, the problem is that few of the players are making any significant contribution to that win now philosophy and they don’t look like they will improve our possibility of winning later. In addition, for whatever gain we have gotten from the Cutler trade, we have limited our position in this year’s draft by trading away a lot of our picks, which looks like it will have much more talent available, especially on the defensive line. The staff needs to really take a hard look at their evaluation system, the difference between great teams like the Steelers and Patriots and the bad teams like the Lions and Browns, are that when the Steelers and Pats have a chance at a top ten pick, they don't miss, they get an impact guy, a difference maker. They also rarely miss on 1st and 2nd rounders, if we don't want continued mediocre teams, we have to make sure we hit on the top half of the draft.