Well the most important period of the off-season is over, and I have some thoughts i would like to share with the MHR community.
KNOWSHON AT #12
This selection has been the center of much criticism (mostly from the MSM), but i would like to point out a couple things to think about in this situation.
1- RB was a need for the denver broncos. it was not nearly as much of a need as the front 7, but it was a need none the less. With this selection the broncos were able to solidify the running back position for the next 8 years.
2- This team is not built to win right now. Many of us had boughten into the idea that last year was year 3 of a 5 year rebuilding plan....well that has definitely changed. This is now year 1 of a 3 year rebuilding plan. So the idea that we didnt select a front 7 player to get us to the super bowl is ubsurd.....we took the best player left on the board, and the front 7 is, will be, and has been a major work in progress.
3- What else would you have wanted the broncos to do at #12....honestly. well here is a quick look at the thinking of the denver coaching staff, as a fan you must always consider every single angle. never look at something and say "oh my goodness, why did they do that!!!!". Instead, always look at a situation and say: "what lead them to do that, and what could have been done differently.
a) select Orakpo, the reason that this shouldnt be a concern for anyone is because Orakpo is not a 3-4 DE. so he would have had to play OLB....if mike nolan didnt want him as his rush-backer, then it means the guy is to stiff ala Gholston.
b) select Malcolm Jenkins....the best alternative to the action taken by the broncos. However the need for a corner/safety was only on par with the need for a RB. So the real question is: "who will have more of an impact 2-3 years from now?". I'll put my money on the runner that can get to 1,500 annually instead of a player that might be a corner and might be a safety, no matter how good of a player he truely is.
c) trade down, and the problem with this is that there was not a single player on the board that a team would trade up for.
Alphonso smith trade
When deciding whether this was a good move or a bad move, it is important to analyze the alternatives. The first thing to recognize however is that corner is one of the 5 most important positions on a football team, and the broncos do not have a viable #1 corner under the age of 30, so yes this was a need for Denver. Furthermore, taking alphonso smith relates directly to the #1 pick given up in 2010, thus alphonso was taken as a future need.....and at the end of next season corner would have been an even greater need than it already is.
1) Top 5 pick: this is the alternative that most people look at when ripping the broncos for this decision. How can you trade a top 5 pick, or a top 10 pick or whatever you want to call it.... for a second rounder. Well let's take a closer look at the top 5 of the past 4 years (2008, 2007, 2006, 2005)
1- Alex smith
2- Ronnie Brown
3- Braylon Edwards
4- Cedric Benson
5- Carnell Williams
In a draft loaded with runningbacks, not a single top 5 player has lived up to the billing. A major bust at the top with Alex Smith and an inconsistent WR.
1- Mario Williams
2- Reggie Bush
3- Vince Young
4- D' Brickshaw Ferguson
5- AJ Hawk
Mario Williams is an absolute beast and he would go down as the first player in the past 4 years that the broncos would want to have for top 5 money. D'Brickshaw is a solid starter, but he is not a top 5 player, and he is not worth the money that goes to that spot. AJ Hawk is also a solid starter, and not a Pro Bowl talent. However for arguments sake, he will go down as the second player worthy of the money that a top 5 pick would have. The other people mentioned here are busts, and yes a RB taken second overall with Bush's ability is a complete bust. I would rather have Steve Slaton on my team any day.
1- Jamarcus Russell
2- Calvin Johnson
3- Joe Thomas
4- Gaines Adams
5- Levi Brown
This is where things get tricky, both Calvin Johnson and Joe Thomas are studs and worthy of being added to the list of players....however they do not fill an immediate or future need, for this excercise though they are on the list. Gaines Adams is an excellent player and a future pro bowler, making him the fifth player that would have been worth a top 5 selection. Levi Brown is a solid starter but too inconsistent to be considered for the list of worthy top 5 selections, he did however play his best football in last seasons playoffs, and the future may be bright for him. Russell is a bust so far.
1- Jake Long
2- Chris Long
3- Matt Ryan
4- Darren Mcfadden
5- Glenn Dorsey
A couple studs in this top 5, Matt ryan and Jake long are players six and seven. Chris Long had a somewhat slow rookie season, but DE's usually take a year or two to develop and it is too early to pass judgement on him. So far McFaedden and Dorsey have not shown what would make them a top 5 selection.
Thus, in the last 4 years, 7 of the 20 selections for the top 5 would be worthy of such a pick, with one incomplete (Chris Long).
Now let's take a look at the top of the second round in the same years.
33- David Bass
34- Brodney Pool
35- Reggie Brown
36- Barrett Ruud
37- Shaun Cody
Bass has been an average player for the 49ers starting in 22 of his 60 games. Brodney Pool has battled injury problems for his career, but has been a solid starter over the last 2 years, only missing one start and averaging over 60 tackles and 2.5 interceptions during that stretch. Reggie Brown is another inconsistent player, taking a huge step back last season from his solid first 3 seasons. Ruud took a giant step forward last season and is a future pro bowler, making him the first player added to the list for this excercise. Shaun Cody couldnt crack the starting line-up for what most people consider the worst team ever assembled (0-16 lions).
33- Demeco Ryans
34- D'Qwell Jackson
35- Rocky Mcintosh
36- Chad Jackson
37- Jimmy Williams
Ryans is a pro bowl stud and the second player going on the list. D'Qwell is going to be player number 3 for the list. He may be a bit of an unknown to many of the MHR community, and it doesnt help that he plays for the cleveland browns. These are his stats from last year though: 154 tackles, 2 sacks, 6 pass defensed, and 3 interceptions.....I would love to have him on my team any day. Mcintosh is a very solid starter for the Redskins who just signed him to an extension, but he doesn't make the list for the purpose of this post, however he would be an upgrade to many rosters in the NFL. Jackson and Williams haven't proven anything so far, and in Williams case almost certainly never will.
33- Alan Branch
34- Paul Posluzny
35- Arron Sears
36- Kevin Kolb
37- Eric Weddle
Branch hasn't done anything for the Cardinals, and has yet to start a game. Posluzny was injured for most of his rookie season, but played very well last season. I am going to make Posluzny number four on the list, and some people will accuse me of stacking the second round list to prove a point, but Posluzny had 110 tackles, 6 pass defensed, and an INT in his first full season. Sears has been an excellent starter at tackle for the Buccaneers, starting in all 31 of the games he has played in the past 2 years, and while he is a relatively unknown player (never a bad thing for an offensive lineman) he becomes player number 5 on this list. Kolb is an incomplete since he is still viewed as the future of the eagles, but just hasnt really played at all. Weddle had a great year last year with 127 tackles, 1 sack, 5 pass defensed, and 1 INT....he could easily be added to this list, but we will leave him off this list.
33- Philip Merling
34- Donnie Avery
35- Devin Thomas
36- Brandon Flowers
37- Jordy Nelson
Merling could easily be player number 6, after an extremely solid first season in the 3-4 of miami and would easily be a top 20 pick in a re-draft, however he will need to show a tiny bit more to make the list and for now is an incomplete. Donnie Avery is player number 6 after a very strong first season within a horrible offense, nabbing 53 receptions for 674 yards. Devin Thomas has not shown much so far and will need to bring his game up to a higher level to prove that he wasnt a one year wonder in college. Brandon Flowers is player number 7 on this list, he had a very good rookie season and should become a excellent number 1 corner in this league for a long time. Jordy Nelson had a typical rookie season for a WR, he has the chance to be a very good player for Green Bay and will be the second incomplete player on this list.
Thus out of the 20 players taken at the top of the second round, i have 7 of them being excellent draft selections and 2 as being incomplete.
Let's take a moment to compare the two lists
1- Mario Williams
2- AJ Hawk
3- Calvin Johnson
4- Joe thomas
5- Gaines Adams
6- Jake Long
7- Matt Ryan
1- Barrett Ruud
2- Demeco Ryans
3- D'Qwell Jackson
4- Paul Posluzny
5- Arron Sears
6- Donnie Avery
7- Brandon Flowers
Now obviously of these 14 names the top guys are mario williams, Calvin Johnson, Joe Thomas and Gaines Adams. However look closer, is Joe Thomas really that much better than Sears. Yes, he has the pro bowls and the fact that many people just pick a big name for pro bowls, but the guys play last season dipped significantly and in all seriousness he probaly wasnt a pro bowl talent by the end of the season. Demeco Ryans, Barrett Ruud are significantly better playes than AJ Hawk.
The point i am trying to make here is that the talent at the top of the draft when looked at over the last 4 years is not that much better than the talent at the top of the second round. As much as i love the insight of the fella from walterfootball.com, he has ripped the broncos endlessly over trading a potential top 5 pick.....what is that worth anyways? how can it be worth that much if noone wants to have it? are the players taken at the top all that much better?
of course the homerun selections at the top of the draft are better than the home runs hit at the top of the second round.....but all in all your probaly looking at a marginal starter in the top 5, which is percisely what your looking at in the top 5 of the second round.
this has been touched on by others to great length, but throw the guarenteed money into the equation from above. What would you rather have on your team.
Mario williams or Demeco Ryans and 2-3 other starters that can be signed with the extra money in free agency......is this even a debateable question???
this team is being built for the long-term, and the idea that a player doesnt contribute immediately this year to the front-7 is ubsurd. everyone on this website should realize that this isnt a super bowl team, and in all seriousness 8-8 might be the best this team can muster. However it has the premier young talent in the NFL, and 2-3 years from now we should be a top 5 power house team. However the rebuilding must be done right, and the right way of doing things isnt to select a front-7 player because he can help us win tommorrow, select them because 2-3 years from now they will be top end starters in this league. The coaching staff obviously felt that there weren't that many front-7 players that would pan out to be long term significant upgrades, and i think we all realize that there were only 2-3 players in the entire draft that would have done anything to help the front-7 this coming year.
a look at our young talent in key areas
Tailback committee - The combination of Hillis the bruiser and Moreno the slasher will be a top end 1-2 punch for the next 8 years. Both players are extremely versatile, and can stay on the field in most situations.
tight ends- If Quinn develops into the blocking threat combine him with Sheffler who is already a top notch receiving threat (when healthy) and the broncos will have a young and extremely talented duo at TE. I don't believe that this duo will ever be better then the combination of sheffler and Graham was last year, but this combination will compliment each other very well.
O-Line- Ryan Clady, Ryan Harris, and Chris Kuper are 22, 24 and 26 years old and form 3/5ths of a rock solid o-line. With these three in place for the next 6-8 years the broncos are assured of having an offensive line that ranks in the top of the league.
WR's- Marshall and Royal are in my opinion the top young wr tandem in the league and at the end of this season could be considered the top tandem in the entire league (especially if Boldin moves on). Chad Jackson is still only 24 years old, and if he can learn from jabar Gaffney and eventually transition into that type of player, then the sky is the limit for this group down the road.
D-line- this is easily the worst unit on the entire team. However there is some young talent in this group. Dumervile is a young speed rusher that i hope Mike Nolan uses more to rush the passer and rarely has him anchoring at the point of attack to stop the run, that`s just simply not his game and the fact that the last regime didn`t do anything to tailor the defense around our best rusher was beyond comprehension. Marcus Thomas has been bulking up to attempt to play the NT...i dont know if i truely understand this. In my opinion the strengths of Thomas is his athleticness and his ability to dice through the line....i never really saw him as a guy capable of holding his own against 2 or 3 blockers, but i can only hope to be proven wrong. Either way you look at it, he is a guy going into his third season with a ton of potential to explode this year (typically the year that defensive linemen "get it").
Robert Ayers- I am giving Ayers his own little section, because there has been great debate in these parts and around the web as to whether he is an OLB or a DE. This is my opinion of the matter, think of Ayers as a cross between james harrison of the steelers and trevor pryce (in the 3-4). In the base packages you can play Ayers and dumerville interchangeably....dont expect to see dumerville out there all game long. These guys will seal the edge as the OLB, provide pressure on blitzes and so on. However the beauty of having a guy like Ayers comes in the 4-man and 3-man fronts in the nickel and dime packages. Let's start with when the broncos run a 4 man front on passing downs....they can put Ayers and dumerville on the edge to apply pressure, or they can move Ayers inside to DT to apply pressure. I am well aware that Ayers will have a difficult time playing inside against the run, but he will have no problem rushing the passer from the inside. The other beautiful thing about Ayers is that he affords the broncos an enormous upgrade against the run while playing DE in passing situations. Then of course if the broncos play a 3-man front look in the nickel or dime, you can put Ayers on the end to rush the passer, while still providing enough run support. I can understand the debate going on about his position....because the guy isnt athletic like terrell suggs who is a pure Rush-LB, and he doesnt have the physicalness of say a Richard Seymour who is a pure 5-technique DE in the 3-4.
when thinking about Ayers, just look at it like this....the broncos aquired a defensive weapon. Just like on offense, the defense can have weapons as well. this weapon can stand-up and rush the passer or hold the edge as an OLB in the 3-4, He can rush the passer or play the run as a DE in a 3 man front or a 4 man front, and finally he can rush the passer from the inside of a 4-man front.
LB's- Williams, woodyard, and dumerville are all young and super talented players. There is not much to say about that group that everyone doesnt already realize....they are definitely NFL starter/upper echelon talents or have the makings of that and with a creative defensive coordinator they can be huge assets to the team. However there is a group that also has the potential to move into that category: Larsen, Moss, Crowder and Ayers. I realize that not everyone in this group will even make the team this year and crowder and Moss have been enormous busts to this point...however the talent is there with the two of them. I saw a ton that i liked from Larsen last year, he seemed to have the ability to just always be around the play, especially if you watch the Atlanta game. If he could develop into a solid back-up ILB this season, then i truely believe he can either take over for Davis as the season moves on, and if not he can replace him next season as a starter.
DB's- Alphonso was brought in to be an eventual starter...which could happen at some point this season, but either way he will be an asset as a nickel corner this year. Jack williams in my opionion could become the nickel back next season when Alphonso moves to a starting role, and i think everyone knows how important a nickel corner is in this league. Thos two guys give the broncos alot of hope for the future, young and extremely talented or physically gifted in the sense of Williams (4.33 and a 41 inch vertical at his pro day). However the two youngsters that make me the most excited about the direction of this team is Josh Barrett and Darcel McBath. They will have an entire year to learn from one of the best ever in Dawkins.....the impact of what Dawkins will teach them is priceless and is something that no coach could ever relay to the players, making Dawkins worth the salary no matter how well or poorly he plays this season. The broncos really havent had a tandem of safeties that i can remember worth bragging about. Barrett is a 220 plus pounder who can run like the wind and hit with the best of them. Mcbath is a 200 pounder more suited for coverage then playing in the box....both of these guys compliment each other, add speed to the defense (and speed that denver is not used to in it's safeties), and they bring a bright future to the secondary if they can pan out and learn from Dawkins.
2009 and beyond - The last point i want to touch on, is what to expect from the team this year. There are people around the web that are hoping for 13-3 and although it is entirely possible, i don't believe that it will happen. The MSM is predicting in some circles that the broncos will be picking in the top 10 next season, and i truely do not see that happening as well. My honest opinion, when i truely try and be realistic is that this team will probaly generate a similar result to last seasons team. 8-8 would be my guess. I truely believe that we are a better team in almost every area except QB....hate him or love him, i dont think anyone can keep a straight face and say that on game day Orton is better than Cutler. Cutler lost us some games last year, and he won us some games as well (cleveland).....i don't see kyle orton as a guy who will win or lose us any games, leaving us slightly better than where Cutler would have had us. Of course a tougher schedule brings us back down to where we were last year.
however i do want to adress the unlikely. the NFL is based on the unlikely, noone can really predict what will happen from year to year. To me the unlikely (but yet just as plausible) is that denver does in fact go 11-5 or 12-4 and win the AFC west. They play in a horrible division, which has a leader in san Diego that is showing it's age and has major players coming off injury....maybe McDaniels system is as good as advertised and he can turn Orton into a pro bowl QB.....Orton certainly has the tools and the playmakers to do everything and more than Matt Cassell did last season. QB is the most important position by far, and if McDaniels can turn Orton into a pro bowler, leaving no drop-off from Cutler and with the much imporved team overall, 11-5, 12-4, or even 13-3 are definitely in play.
The real source of excitement for me is 2010 and 2011....the year when the following players will be entering their prime or approaching it: Moreno, Hillis, Marshall, Royal, Sheffler, Clady, Kuper, Harris, Dumerville, Ayers, Thomas, DJ williams, Woodyard, Smith, Jack Williams, Barrett, McBath. That's 18 players that will form the core of a top 3 offense and a defense that compliments it. then the list of players who can make a leap is just as enormous, and if 2-3 players from this next list can develop into solid starters, and 1 can develop into an excellent starter, the broncos will have a group of 26 year olds and younger that is ready to compete for a title for the next 4 years: Orton, Brandstater, Jackson, Mckinley, Quinn, Olsen, Lichtensteiger, Schleuter, Powell, Larsen, Moss, Crowder, Bell,
When you watch the 2009 broncos during OTA's, Training camp, pre-season, and the regular season.....whatever you see, remember that it is all relative and that this truely is a rebuilding year. For me i will be looking for the offense to dominate, Knowshon to become a full fledged star and for Orton to get let loose a little more every week. It will take the team a long time to learn a new system on offense and on defense. I will also be looking and hoping for 3 players from that second list above to step forward and announce that they are ready to be a player in this league for a long time.
2009 has the making of an underdog season where, to steal a line from addidas "nothing is impossible"........but when looking at the talent and the age of this team, this is truely shaping into a serious serious super bowl contender for 2010 and beyond.
thank you so much for taking your time to read some of my thoughts, and i would also like to give one last thought..... the work of the MHR community can not ever be appreciated enough, as a long time broncos fan who was getting ridiculously sick of the Post and it's community, this site has brought new life back into my internet surfing days.
whether you hate or love the debates that go on around this site, for the most part you must agree that the level of intelligence towers over the other denver bronco sites, and for this everyone should be greatly appreciative of this community
have a good day