So, we've seen mock after mock of mocks and mocking mocks while wearing smocks, having mocktails and hearing mockingbirds sing playfully outside.
This is going to be a little different. Let's look at possible players available at pick 11 and see if they could add something to the Broncos roster, if they fit what the Broncos are looking for or if the Broncos could look at addressing that position later in the draft.
Unfortunately, not everyone can be on this Big Board. When the term 'Big Board' is thrown around, what does that mean? For the most part, a big board is a very complex looking ranking system where every single player is listed in order of their value. It is most commonly seen in fantasy football rankings or BPA lists, so that every player can be included. They are opinion boards. Everyone could create their own, compare them to everyone else's board and none of them would be exactly alike. Here's a link to CBS's big board of 100 top prospects.
Again, I'm going to switch things up on you. I'm not going to mock. I'm not going to make a post with 800 prospects in order of their value to the Broncos. That would be a ridiculous investment of my time. I'm going to look at one pick in this post. Round 1, pick 11. Assuming no trading back or forward, I'm going to attempt to emulate what the war room will be thinking about when the Broncos are on the clock, by looking at individual players and looking at positions, as a whole. Let's hop to it.
Comments on individual players:
This is my personal favorite for pick 11. Obviously, if Suh or McCoy fell this far (unlikely), then I think we take them, but since Williams is likely to still be around, I think we make this pick. Jamal Williams was a great pickup for us in free agency, but we need to "youthanize" our defensive line. We've got some older guys that can sure up the position for a season or two (which was a good strategy for the secondary, last season), but over time, we are going to need really talented guys on the defensive line. Dan Williams can do that for us.
This pick has been made on numerous mocks, to a point where it has become an automatic Broncos pick in the mind of every person interested in the draft. I can't remember how many times I've seen "Since Marshall will be traded, the Broncos will pick Dez Bryant." In my opinion, I think this is a very unlikely pick for the Broncos. Don't worry, I'll tell you why.
As well know, Josh McDaniels has had his share of controversy. He has tried to bring in a team mentality, which caused him to clash with some "me-first guys" like Cutler, Scheffler and Marshall. Cutler was gone, Scheffler may be gone and Marshall.... well, we don't know right now. That's another issue in and of itself. Getting back to the issue at hand, all of the situations were caused by egos. Not the waffles.
Dez Bryant is a "me-first guy". Just taking that into consideration, ignoring everything else, he is likely pretty low on Denver's Big Board because Josh McDaniels doesn't want anymore offseason (or in season) headaches. Yes, he is a very talented player. However, to make the Denver Broncos, you have to buy into the system and be a team player. If you don't, you'll watch from the sidelines. Right, Tony and Brandon? I say we pass on Dez Bryant.
Golden Tate or Arrelius Benn
Here's an alternative for all of you Dez Bryant people. Golden Tate is not the physical specimen that Bryant is. He lacks height, but he has great hands. Some have compared his hands to Larry Fitzgerald. That's high praise. If his size is a major concern for you, there is Arrelius Benn, who is 3 inches taller at 6 foot 2 inches and 25 pounds heavier at 220. Neither receiver is a character concern, which will keep them on the Big Board (maybe even ahead of Bryant). If Marshall does get traded (or not), then either of these guys could be wearing orange and blue next season. Pick 11 may be considered a reach for these guys, but if we need them.... we need them. These are certainly possibilities at this spot, especially since I am not taking pick trades into account.
There has been lots of discussion about McClain. Many are all over the McClain train and many are trying to put rocks on the railroad tracks to derail it. Yes, he has Crohn's disease. Yes, it will affect his draft stock. No, the prominent mock drafters have not taken it into account (McShay, Kiper, etc). Why not? I have no idea. I'll guarantee this, though. There isn't a team in the NFL who hasn't had their team doctor on speed dial, trying to figure out what to make of this disease. From our brilliant MHR medical staff (Ponderosa and Doc Bear), it's been determined that Crohn's disease is very serious to McClain's playing career.
The argument will be (and has been) made that McClain has played with this disease since he was in high school so he will be fine. Well, I'm with Ponderosa, here. That's terrible logic. If you have a mole and your doctor says that it's not cancer right now, but it will be monitored over time to see if it progresses into something more serious, do you ignore that decision? If you say, "Well, I've had this mole for months now and I don't have cancer, so why should it ever change? I'll just stay home and we won't monitor it because I'm confident it will be the same way as it is, now.", you're crazy. The fact of the matter is that Crohn's affects people differently. To say that the Crohn's won't affect his playing career in the future is blind optimism, not logic. It might not affect his career, but the odds are stacked against him.
His Crohn's has already affected his playing career. At his pro day, he wasn't performing well. In fact, he blamed his poor performance on his Crohn's. That's when the news broke. If it wasn't going to affect his play, it wouldn't have affected his pro day a few weeks ago. I think we pass on McClain at 11, after the Broncos medical staff advises McX to pass on him, even though we could use an ILB. There are other linebacker options available later in the draft. They aren't as talented as McClain, but they do have fewer question marks. Look for guys like Daryl Washington or Micah Johnson on draft day.
This is a guy that I think we could draft if he falls to us. A lot of mocks have him going in the top ten, so if we do pick him at 11, it will be pretty good value. Why make a pick at corner, though? Well, if you look at our current group, age is a huge concern. Champ, Hill and Law are aging. If we look a few years down the road, maybe even next year, we could be looking at a very desperate cornerback situation. I don't want this to happen. If Haden is available, I say we get on the stage with our draft card as soon as we can and grab this guy.
I've also seen some mocks that have the Broncos pursuing CJ Spiller. I find this a very interesting pick. Personally, I see RB as a pretty low priority in this draft. Probably not a first round type of priority. I love the talent that CJ brings to the table, but realistically, I don't see him being a Denver Bronco. If we were going to grab a back, we could certainly go after guys like Gerhart, McCluster, or Blount. All of them can be had in a later round, but I think that the first round pick won't be used on a RB, with so many other needs for the team.
Comments on prominent first round positional groups:
First round QBs
I don't see us taking a first round quarterback like Clausen or Bradford. If one of those guys happen to fall to 11, we may just trade back with a team that wants a QB and stockpile some picks. With the addition of Brady Quinn in free agency, I find it hard to believe that we'll take on an early round quarterback. Later in the draft? Maybe. I just don't see us putting in a huge investment on a first round quarterback, only to find out that we have a three way quarterback competition going into training camp, paying all of them a pretty penny.
First round OTs
At 11, we are likely to have some offensive tackles fall to us. There have been 4 OTs, in particular, that have been projected to go in the top 10. However, we all know that mocks are made to be proven wrong. Somebody is going to fall out of the top ten and it is likely to be an offensive tackle. Do we take one? My gut tells me no. I'm not sure how Ryan Harris is doing on his road to recovery, but the guys in Dove Valley do. Sayre said that he saw a report somewhere (I haven't seen the link) that Harris was aiming to be ready before training camp. That remains to be seen. If Harris is going to be fine, then I think we pass on a first round OT. If Harris isn't going to be fine, then we might go after an OT. I just find it hard to believe that we'll take a first rounder in either circumstance. We can get some quality depth in the 2nd-4th rounds. There are some pretty good tackles in this draft.
First round DE/OLB
I put these together because I feel that they are the same basic situation. Sergio Kindle, Jason Pierre-Paul and Derrick Morgan are all in the same boat, as far as I'm concerned, on the Broncos big board. There isn't a huge need for OLBs in Denver and, with the addition in free agency, DE isn't a large concern, either. Now, I know what you're thinking. Last year, Denver focused on a position and went all out in free agency and the draft (the whole secondary, RB, OLB). This year, they've shown that the defensive line is a focus and they addressed it in free agency. I still think that we'll add depth to the defensive end position, but I don't think it will be early in the draft. Same situation with OLB.
First round OC/OG
Some may say that picking a guard or center at 11 is a reach. I tend to agree, but if trading back is not an option (which it isn't on this big board), then it might make sense, here. I do like Pouncey and I do like Iupati, but I don't know if we pick either one of them this high. I'd feel very comfortable picking them in the late teens or early twenties, but since we find ourselves in slot number 11, I say we pass and pick one of the players I mentioned above, waiting until a later round to address the offensive line.
There are plenty of offensive linemen later in the draft, so it's not absolutely a necessity that we get Pouncey and Iupati. I like Jon Asamoah and Mike Johnson, quite a bit. Centers are pretty good, in this draft, as well. In addition to Pouncey, I also like guys like JD Walton and Matt Tennant. If we don't take Iupati or Pouncey at 11 and we can't trade back to get them in the 20's, I still like our chances of getting some guys later on.
So there you have it. A few thoughts on what the Broncos could be looking for in the first round. I'm excited to see what your thoughts are, as well.