Thoughts, observations, and a mock draft.

A few thoughts:

1. I'm actually not too pissed after losing to the 49ers.  After the Raider game I made a conscious decision to emotionally distance myself from this team.  In fact, you can kick me in the balls right now and I would laugh.  I thought I would feel like Clark Griswold after getting the Jelly of the Month Club membership for a Christmas bonus, but I don't.  

2. The sky is not falling.  Obviously we are likely not even sniffing playoff discussion but we are two penalty flags away from being 4-4.  I thought we were going to be 9-7 this year and if we had Doom and Ayers both healthy, you never know.  Which leads me to my next point.  No, I'm not one of those guys who is looking for "moral victories."  Don't get me wrong, we still suck, but we don't suck as bad as people think.  

3. Other than timely penalties, the one thing that has hurt us more than a non-existent running game has been absolutely zero pass rush.  I don't care how many sacks we have.  We have NEVER pressured the opposing QB this year to the point where they feel uncomfortable in the pocket.  It is next to impossible to win in the NFL if the opposing QB has all day to throw.  Jason Campbell and Troy Smith, though hard to believe, will even pick you apart if you give them all day.  Pressure forces poor decisions, which ultimately forces turnovers, which ultimately forces points.  Which leads me to my next point.


4. Is it just me or is our starting field position on offense AND defense always disgustingly horrible???  Why does our offense always start inside the 20 and why does our defense always start inside the 40???  These "little things" will come back and bite you in the arse, and they have.

5. Yesterday, we abandoned the running game and we didn't need to.  That is on the coaching staff.  I understand not running the ball if you are losing by a lot early in the game (see Raiders and Ravens game).  As a coaching staff, you must first show confidence in the running game for the running game to succeed.  The offensive play calling was generally good yesterday but two things about it bugged me.  First, we abandoned the run. Second, it seemed like our play book shrunk on third down, similar to the 09 Broncos.  Come on, let's get creative!

6.  We need to make a concerted effort to run at least five plays through Demaryius Thomas every game, regardless of the score or the situation.  There are two reasons for that.  First, he needs to be developed.  Second, he is a playmaker that makes good things happen with the ball (when he doesn't fumble).  

7.  Andre Goodman is still obviously very injured.  That is the only explanation I have for him having the closing speed of a snail on that 49ers touchdown.  It is interesting to me how the average NFL fan, and fan in general thinks.  They assume since you are playing you must always be 100%.  Sometimes, injuries matter.  I honestly didn't see how Goodman did the rest of the game but I wonder if we would have been better off playing Squid at 100% than Goodman at 80%.  

8. When the season is complete can the first order of business be releasing Jarvis Moss?  Pretty please???




- For me, the Broncos winning or losing does not effect the degree to which I think of the draft or college football.  There are going to be TONS of mock draft posts between now and the actual draft.  Here is an idea for MHR: What about having a mock draft post once a week or so that people can rec?  This would limit all the mock draft posts to one big sweet area.  Other sites do it.  I'm open to hearing the pros and cons.  

- This draft is very deep at defensive line and cornerback.  It is weak at TE, S, and OL.  

- I will assume Champ Bailey stays, but if he doesn't, I think we will be in the running for a first-round CB.  

- The season is still young, but up till now the Lawrence Maroney experiment has failed.  The few times he has been used he was ineffective at best.  Couple that with Knowshon who injures his hammy every other week and we are really hurting at running back.  Buckhalter does not blow my skirt up either.  For better or worse, depending on how the rest of the season goes, we may be looking at an early round running back.  

- To my knowledge, (from Chris Steuber on Twitter) the only team I know that that Broncos have scouted was Notre Dame.  Undoubtedly, they were scouting TE Kyle Rudolph.  Picking Kyle Rudolph in the early first would make me barf.  Picking Kyle Rudolph in the late first or early second would be fine.  


1st Round: Akeem Ayers ILB 6'4" 255lbs - UCLA

Yes, I have read that he projects as a 3-4 OLB but I am not buying it.  He has three sacks this year, which is not great.  I have watched him play many times and he is probably the most athletic player I have seen this year.  He will torch the combine, period.  His greatest strength for us will be his versatility.  He will be the sideline to sideline run defender, will be great in coverage, can rush the QB, can blitz, and can play next to DJ.  He is very fast, very strong, but more importantly, very instinctive and versatile.  Here is what ESPN Insider says:

Quicker than most SLBs with his size. Can be a sideline-to-sideline run defender when allowed to play off the line of scrimmage and roam freely Underrated aspect of his game is the ability to seal off the edge, force the ball carrier back inside and then close quickly while pursuing inside. Plays through the whistle and makes more than his share of plays when pursuing from behind.

shows good natural instincts in underneath zone, is more fluid than most 250-pound LBs, closes quickly on a straight line for his size and he has surprisingly good ball skills for the position.

My belief (possibly naive) is that we will be picking between #10 and #15 again this year.  With that said, it is unlikely players like Nick Fairley or Marcell Dareus will be on the board still.  I have ruled out Allen Bailey as someone I would like.  Allen Bailey is super slow off the snap, he only plays about 50% of the plays on defense, and I think he might be undersized for our scheme.  If we pick top 10, I would obviously target Dareus or Fairley.  If we pick top 5 or 6, I would target Patrick Peterson or Prince Amukamara.  At this point, I am not sold on Clayborn, Heyward, or Jordan being a good fit for our system.  

2nd Round: Christian Ballard DT 6'5" 300 - Iowa

I have watched this guy play only about four games now but he has been dominant in every single one.  I actually like him more than his team mate, Adrian Clayborn.  It seems like Ballard has much more size and strength than Clayborn.  Here is a question only an Iowa fan can answer (Sayre): Is Ballard good because of Clayborn (similar to Jared Crick playing next to Ndamukong Suh)?  Or is he able to hold his own?  Ballard has often been compared to Tyson Alualu.  Here is a story about Ballard worth checking

Here is a brief scouting report from fftoolbox:

Ballard is a very special player in his own right. Ballard can play anywhere along the line and is excellent against the run. Uses his strength to blow up running lanes, penetrate into the backfield and get his hands on the ball-carrier. As the draft approaches, some may argue he is the more NFL-ready prospect between he and Clayborn. Ballard's strength is simply understanding the game. He sticks to his assignment, very quickly reads plays and sniffs out misdirection very easily. He lacks brute strength and instead lies on quickness and good pass-rushing fundamentals. Deploys a well-balanced arsenal of pass-rushing techniques and uses his hands well in space. Struggles making tackles in traffic but does have great tackling technique in wrapping his man.This draft is very deep at defensive tackle and I think we could get some really good value in the second round as a result.  

2nd Round: Deandre McDaniel SS 6'2" 210 - Clemson

This guy is a former linebacker and plays the run really well.  The 2011 draft is weak for safeties but this guy would probably be a late first or early second rounder in any draft.  Look at what ESPN Insider has to say about him:

Aggressive run defender. Has good size and plays like he's 220 pounds. Typically takes good angles to the ball carrier and does a nice job of using hands to keep blockers off his body. Closes in a hurry and makes a lot of plays in pursuit. Tough guy who loves to mix it up. Explodes up the field when turned loose on the blitz and can be very disruptive. Generates a lot of power from his hips and can be a big-time hitter for his size. Wraps up too high at times but still a solid open-field tackler.

3rd Round: Sam Acho 3-4 OLB 6'3" 260 - Texas

This pick might not be sexy at all but can you think of a position where we need more depth than OLB?  Other than Ayers and Doom, we have absolutely zero pass rush.  I know I have picked four players on defense in this draft.  Sam Acho has a decent amount of upside and can give us very needed depth.  Here is what CBS Sports had to say about him:


Acho excelled in three sports in high school and tested out of 26 class hours before attending UT. The Academic All-American's production and physical traits cause scouts to compare him to former Longhorn and 2009 first-round pick Brian Orakpo.

The Dallas native earned Most Outstanding Defensive Newcomer as a true freshman in 2006 after playing 11 games, making 10 tackles on defense and special teams, three for loss and 1.5 sacks. Acho took part in 13 games in 2008, accumulating 16 tackles, three sacks and nine quarterback pressures in reserve duty. After stepping into Orakpo's starting spot as a junior, he earned honorable mention All-Big 12 with 63 tackles, 14 for loss, 10 sacks (leading the team), two pass breakups, four recovered fumbles and 15 quarterback pressures.

Acho's pass-rush skills are still in their infancy, but in addition to coming off the edge with his hand down or standing up, he regularly plays as a five-technique to take up blockers so his brother, Emmanuel, can make plays from his outside linebacker spot. Unless he has an amazing senior season like Orakpo did in 2008, Acho will be considered good value in the top half of the draft as a swing end able to play the run or pass.


 *Trade 6th and 7th rounder for a 5th rounder.

5th Round: Owen Marecic FB 6'1" 245 - Stanford

After watching this guy play a lot I am sold on his ability to execute blocks and go the extra mile to create space for his running backs.  Though he doesn't get used a ton as a receiver, from what I have seen he has good hands.  You will likely not have a smarter football player on your roster if you go with him.  I go back and forth as to whether a fullback is worth a fifth rounder in our system.  If not this pick I would probably go with the best overall TE or RB.  Here is what ESPN had to say about Marecic:

Marecic starts at fullback and inside linebacker for the Cardinal. He lacks ideal experience carrying the ball and will have a hard time rooting bigger NFL linebackers out of the hole, but he is an effective wall-off blocker who has shown some promise as a short-yardage runner and he catches the ball well. And while the jury is still out on whether he fits better at inside linebacker for a base 3-4 scheme or at fullback, it doesn't really matter.

If Marecic's primary position is fullback he remains a tough run-stopper who can play linebacker in short-yardage situations and provide adequate depth there in the right 3-4 scheme. If his primary position is linebacker, he has the potential to develop into an effective short-yardage and red zone fullback. Because of that versatility Marecic projects as a middle-round pick at this point in the process.

Draft thoughts:  My draft is weak in that it doesn't address offensive line, tight end, running back, or cornerback.  However, it does address our defensive front seven and adds players that are lightning fast and highly skilled.  

I would address TE and OL through trade and/or free agency.  Obviously I used the first four picks to address our defense.  That might be pushing it but I think we should use at least three of the four picks for the defensive side of the ball.  




This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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