Hello, Broncos Country. I was reading Mike Klis' piece on Eddie Royal in today's Denver Post, and it struck a cord with me. This guy was a 2nd-round pick. I thought I'd get some feedback from my fellow MHR-ites on this thought.
Let's remember back to the draft. When it came to the 2nd round, remember when it was announced that the Denver Broncos had traded their own 2010 1st-round draft choice to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for a 2nd-rounder that would become cornerback Alphonso Smith? This was, and is, a much-maligned and oft-questioned move by Josh McDaniels and Brian Xanders, and, though I'm as staunch a supporter of Josh McDaniels as there can be before the guy coaches a game in the NFL as a head coach, I couldn't quite get my head around this one. It's one that I've still struggled to see why you would spend a 1st-round pick for a 2nd-round cornerback until today when this new revelation came to light in my mind.
Cornerback, as we all know, is a highly important position. Exactly how important on the list of position chain of command is up for debate, but there's no question that, whether it's #3 or #5 or #7 on your list, it is a position that NFL coaches and general managers place a high level of importance on. Josh McDaniels has said that Smith is a guy that the Broncos had rated as a 1st-round pick, and they were thrilled to have a chance to get him in the 2nd round, even at the expense of their own 2010 1st-round pick. Now, for clarity's sake, I don't think that there is any way that they make this trade without having the luxury of two 1st-round picks in the 2010 NFL Draft. An interesting comparison dawned on me, though, and it allowed me to see this trade in a different light.
Think back to the 2008 draft, and suppose that, at the time, we were scheduled to have two 1st-round picks in the 2009 draft. Knowing what we know now about Eddie Royal and the player that he proved to be in his rookie season, would you have traded one of the 2009 1st-round draft choices for the chance to select Eddie Royal? Obviously Mike Shanahan and his staff had Royal rated very highly on their draft board, leaving more highly touted receivers/returners such as DeSean Jackson from Cal-Berkeley on the table to select Royal. Now, obviously this scenario is full of hypotheticals and unknowns, but it's an interesting comparison.
This is the point: Knowing what we know now about Royal, it is very clear that he probably should have been a 1st-round pick last season, and a high 1st-round pick at that. Where does that leave this conversation in terms of Alphonso Smith? Well, what if he turns out to be as good as Josh McDaniels and Brian Xanders think that he is? A guy that is rated that high on their board, with the chance to learn under Champ Bailey, is obviously someone that they want on their team. If he happens to be this year's Eddie Royal for the Broncos, only on the defensive side of the ball, then it was a great trade. Suddenly the trade seems to make more sense to me.
It is obviously still an unconventional and outside-the-box move, but the guy could turn out that way. Maybe he won't, but having the luxury of having seen a 2nd-round pick show that he quite obviously deserved to be selected much, much earlier in the draft sheds a new light on the trade. Maybe I'm just grasping for a straw to drink some Orange Kool-Aid, but the trade for Alphonso Smith isn't so confusing in my mind anymore.