"I am excited for this process that we've been going through here for a full year and the coaching staff and myself getting caught up over the last four months getting prepared for next week. We had a big head start relative to where we were at last year. (General Manager) Brian Xanders, (Director of College Scouting) Matt Russell, (Assistant Director of College Scouting) Lenny McGill and all of our college scouts. We're way ahead and they've done a great job of putting us in position of having our board exactly where we want it now at this point. There may be some minor tweaking to it, but there really won't be a whole lot of changes to it between now and the draft. Our system leading up to this is really something that takes time and our guys have really done a lot of work to get on the same page in terms of the evaluation. Our grading system, our scale isn't the same as it was before. Again, I give a lot of credit to our scouts, Brian Xanders and the entire personnel department for putting this thing together and putting us in a position here we feel very comfortable with the board. We think it's a very deep draft and we are excited about where we're at in terms of having multiple selections in the second round and we feel like we're in a good spot in the first round. There has already been some activity and some calls back and forth in terms of moving up or down. No telling exactly what will happen at this point but there's definitely going to be some interest. We're going to be interested in those types of things as well. I think we showed last year that we're going to do whatever is best for the Broncos and we're going to do whatever we need to do to try to make our football team better. I know there might be some questions you want to ask about the trade we just consummated with Miami for Brandon Marshall. I'll say this-We're pleased with what we were able to ascertain in the deal. We're also excited for Brandon and wish him the best of luck. We're moving forward and excited to start this process with the draft."
On whether the Marshall trade has affected the team's draft strategy
"Not necessarily, no. I think we're going to go in and try to improve our team in any area that we can. I think our goal going into this offseason was to add competition at any position regardless of whether it seemed like we had players there to compete already or not. We tried to improve the competition at each position that we could. We tried to do some of that in free agency and the draft is just another opportunity for us to add some major players to our rosters at positions where there might be something of a strong need; but again, at the places we select - first and second rounds in particular - we feel like we can get quality players that can come in and compete immediately and make a big impact."
On whether it's more likely that Denver will move down from its current selection at No. 11 than move up
"I'd say there's probably a better chance (moving down) will be the case, but I wouldn't rule out if there were a certain player that we felt that strongly about - it's not out of the question. We haven't had any calls for those sorts of things at this point; Everything that we've received has been behind us. The opportunity has to be there. The player has to be there that you're looking for and we have to feel that it's a fair deal. I think we'll be flexible and we'll listen but there are a lot of other teams that are still trying to put together their plans and priorities so once we see how that is all going to unfold we'll make that decision but I think the odds would be in favor of us moving backwards probably because the most opportunity lies there."
On the team's biggest positional needs
"We have players at every position. We're out there and there's players lined up at every spot. I think that sometimes it's overrated to sit here and discuss a greatest need versus another player. I think that's how you make a mistake in a draft when you try to do that. Obviously I think there's a need and a desire for us to add competition at the center position. That's an obvious one. We just lost a receiver that made a lot of plays for us last year. We have a lot of quality players back at that position this year but that doesn't necessarily mean that we're going to go out and draft (a receiver). We'd like to add some depth in terms of the front seven, linebackers in particular. We did a lot with the front three in free agency but again, I think it's just a matter of the player you feel comfortable and matching your selection with where you can get guys. Like I said, I think it's a deep draft. I think everyone really feels that way and I think you'll see a lot of teams hold their water and take a good player. Wherever you're at, you're going to get a good player in this draft in the first couple of rounds. You may be getting third-round, fourth-round players that come in and compete pretty quickly."
On concerns about drafting Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant due to character issues
"We had Dez Bryant here the other day, we spent time with him at the combine, we spent a lot of time with him actually. I'm not going to comment on Brandon, but with Dez Bryant, I think you need to be careful confusing character issues with some people who have made some mistakes. This guy has never been arrested, never had a drinking issue and never done anything to put himself in that position. I think he's made a few mistakes that he wishes he hadn't made but I think there's a difference. You can say well, ‘This guy has made a couple mistakes that have been really glorified,' and made a big deal of it and all of the sudden turn him into a really bad kid. That's the farthest thing from the truth relative to (Bryant). We enjoyed our visit with him and he did everything we asked him to do. He had a smile on his face and he did everything well. I'll tell you this, he's on our board - there's no question. I know there are other teams that may have taken him off their board but he is not one of the players who is off our board."
On whether he's talked about Alabama LB Rolando McClain with Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban
"Yes, we have a fairly good connection and (Alabama) has a lot of players in this draft that may be selected in the first couple of rounds. Rolando was here the same day that Dez was here, and I'm not sure I've met a young man as intelligent relative to the game of football than Rolando McClain. He's obviously been well coached but even if you're coached well, it takes another side to get to where he's at. He's obviously done a lot of listening, studying and understands the game at a level where most kids that come in as rookies will never be at. That's a credit to the work he's done at Alabama, the way he's been coached and he has a very bright future ahead of him. He's a good player; there are a lot of them. Like I said, there are a lot of players that we had in our building. We had a lot of great visits over the last couple of weeks here. We took our full allotment of 30 and really took an interest in a lot of players. The thing about this draft is that it's deep enough where a lot of people are saying, ‘These players are all going to go in the first round.' Well, they all can't - I think that's how deep this draft is. You're going to be sitting there in the second round saying, ‘Wow, I never thought this guy would be here.' Like you said, Rolando McClain, Dez Bryant and we've had a number of other players in here who are going to be picked right around where we pick. We're going to finalize that process in the next couple of days because we have to have a plan for if we are picking at 11, what's going to happen."
On the value of draft visits with prospects
"We don't bring anyone in who we don't sincerely have an interest in. Now that doesn't mean that the players that we bring in are all being questioned the same way. There might be certain things we need to know about some players that we already know about others. It might be a thing where we want to put them on our board again. When they're here we have an opportunity to watch their tape with them and let them talk about their system and what they're doing on those plays. You get a feel for how well they knew what they were doing, what they were responsible for and coached for at their universities and then we try to teach them our stuff. We put them in a classroom just like they would be in rookie minicamp and say, ‘All right, these are the first five things that are going to go in.' Then we'll come back around to it and say, ‘OK, now what are you doing on this? What are you doing on that?' You get a feel and a sense for how they learn. We always tell them that it's a two-way street. There's nothing saying that they can't ask us 50 questions while they're in the building. Like I said, we had 30 visits and every one of them was very productive for us. We learned everything we needed to know about the players that were here and they did very well and just solidified our understanding of the board."
On whether he cares if other teams find out who the Broncos brought in for visits
"That doesn't matter. I don't know who knows what, whether we had so-and-so in here... I don't think it matters. I think it's our process and we won't be finished with that process until Wednesday night. There might still be some work to be done and we're taking all the time that we have. I don't think it is some big secret thing. You have 30 good football players in your building and you can't take them all and (other teams) know that so I don't think you're going to fool anyone into doing something foolish."
On whether he'd prefer to stay at No. 11 or move down
"I think there's going to be a plan for both. There's no question about that. You can never go into a draft and not be ready to make a selection at the spot you have. If you do assume that you're automatically going to have a nice convenient trade partner, you can get burned real quickly. We're going to be ready to pick at 11 and like last year, we were one spot different, but we had a couple of guys in mind that we were going to take at that spot and whichever one of them was highest on the board at that time was the one we were going to select. It happened to be (running back) Knowshon (Moreno) and this year will be the same. There are a few players that we would take at that spot and that process is going to culminate in the next couple of days. To me, it's all about who went ahead of you. If you have a list of three or four players that you really would like to get your hands on one of them and three of them are gone and you're trading significantly down the board, you need to make a decision about that. You can pick up picks and maybe players and all the rest of that stuff but if you're going to lose the players that you really covet in the first round you've got to be careful about making that decision."
On how the Broncos rate players
"We don't necessarily guess on rounds in which a player will be selected. We grade every player that's eligible for the draft in terms of their fit for our football team regardless of what everybody else thinks of them. To me, that's the beauty of what we have. It doesn't matter what Oakland thinks of him, or San Diego, or Jacksonville or somebody else. For us, he is a blank... A second-year starter at outside linebacker (for example). It's very detailed and very descriptive. It takes a lot of things into consideration and we always look at it on a two-year scale because we understand that rookies, when they come in that first year, have a lot to learn and to be able to get up to speed and play at this level, sometimes it takes them a full year. We always look at it on a two-year projection and where he's going to be at after two years. At that point, we project him as a starter, as a key backup, as a core special teams player and versatility is obviously taken into consideration because that can enhance a player's grade. The more that he can do, the better off he is for us. That was what I was familiar with. The system that they had before, I didn't necessarily have a lot of familiarity with what they did because we did transfer it last year. The scouts had to learn (the new system) within two months of the draft last year. This year, they had an entire calendar year to be prepared and to really let that sink in. We have basically what amounts to training tapes to try to describe exactly what that grade means so the personnel department, Brian (Xanders), has done a great job getting the scouts really ready to go in understanding (the grading system). The board last year, we had to shuffle a lot because they were kind of in the middle of learning our system and still kind of using the old one. We got it to where we needed to get it the week of the draft. This year we had our board ready to go in terms of the initial look of it by January. I think that gives you three, four months to really nail down exactly where you want it. A lot of credit goes to those people that did that because we started at a much better place this year than we did last year."
On the size of the Broncos' draft board
"We haven't counted the whole number as of now, but I think there's a little bit more depth on this years' board than there was last year. A lot of the juniors that came out really kind of pumped up certain positions and made this a deeper draft at some places that maybe it wouldn't necessarily have been. I don't have a number in my head right now, but from a numbers standpoint I think the board will look a little bit different, a little bit fuller than it was last year."
On the progress of second-year Broncos LB/DE Robert Ayers
"We are in year two. I know this-He is doing a great job in our offseason program. He has a great attitude and he understands the role we hope he play this year on our football team and I think he really wants to meet us right where he is at. Like I said, we drafted what we felt were good quality players that fit out system and what we want to do with them. We are going to continue to coach them and get them to where we think they can be."
On the status of Broncos TE Tony Scheffler
"I don't necessarily know what is going to happen with that. I know there has been some teams that have called about him. Obviously there is nothing imminent regarding that. He is one of the RFAs that have signed their tenders. (Quarterback) Kyle (Orton) signed his; (Guard) Chris (Kuper) signed his, so we will see what happens. We have no timeline or necessarily a concrete plan on what is going to happen with that. We are going to let that play out."
On if he is aware that the Bengals may have interest in acquiring Scheffler
"We have not talked to the Bengals, I can say that."
On the CBA affecting Broncos LB/DE Elvis Dumervil's status
"I know that is a frustrating situation for all of us. We are looking at a place right now in the league where there is some uncertainty for us going forward. I think that is holding up some things on a lot of teams and in a lot of organizations. I think that is part of the whole entire thing. We are thrilled with Elvis Dumervil's season last year and excited to have him back and looking forward to his production continuing on for years. As of right now, I know he is working hard in Miami, he stays in touch with (Defensive Coordinator) (Don) Wink (Martindale) and I think we will all be excited when he is back. It is what it is and other than that there isn't much to talk about."
On Dumervil waiting through the contract process
"I am not frustrated with Elvis. Like I said, I totally understand Elvis' position and I am not upset about it at all. I respect whatever he chooses to do, I respect that. I think he has a great deal of respect and admiration within this building. Everybody feels the same way about Elvis Dumervil, and it is something that time will play out and we will see how it goes. This isn't something that is a negative towards Elvis Dumervil."
On if the Broncos' offense has enough toughness
"That is a great question. I hope so. I think that kind of plays out in training camp. We talk about the OTAs that we are getting ready to have starting in May as the time where you can really begin the competitive part of your evaluations of the players and you are also throwing a lot of scheme at them to get that part of the system going. The toughness part, I think you built that in training camp. You don't have pads on in the spring and I don't think it is fair for me to say in April that our team is going to be this tough or that tough come September. I know this-The way that they are working in the offseason program is incredible. We have had a great turnout and the enthusiasm and energy is awesome. We have changed our offseason program quite a bit, and I think the players are excited about the new things that we are doing and there is a goal in mind of getting bigger, faster, stronger. They have embraced that entire thing and all of us have work to do in that regard. It is not just physical toughness, it is mental toughness, it is handling adversity, it's bouncing back from a loss. There are a lot of things that we can do better as a group and that starts with us. We will find out more about that as training camp comes along."
On if he wasn't satisfied with the toughness last year
"I think there are certain things you can talk about. The toughness of your football team comes from your coverage units and your ability to run the football and stop the run. There were times last year that we were very good in those areas and there were times that we weren't. Statistics don't lie to you in that regard, but there is other types of toughness and we have to respond to some of the situations we put ourselves in last year and do a little better in terms of bouncing back."
On if the Broncos need more depth at guard
"I think that is something that could be addressed. It is an interesting area of the draft. There are some players that have played tackle that are being projected at guard. There are some players that played center that are projected as a guard. You have to make a choice based on what you see on film and arm length and getting out of their stance and all the rest of it, on how deep you think the actual guard spot is or are some of those players actually in another column. There is never an over-abundance of those type of players in a draft and this year is no different. You certainly would love to address an inside spot in there to add some competition to would definitely be something that we would be interested in."
On if he will address the tackle position in the draft
"I think we feel very comfortable with our tackles. Obviously. it was unfortunate that (tackle) Ryan (Harris) had the injury last year, but his rehab is coming along wonderfully and he has a great attitude about it. He is one of the first people I see here every morning. He is dedicated and determined to come back at full strength and be ready to go this season. (Tackle) Tyler (Polumbus) obviously played a lot of football for us last year. We have a lot of players who have played a lot of snaps here. The interesting thing about the tackles is that sometimes the run starts and doesn't stop until they are out and it happens early. So usually if you are going to end up with one of those guys at the top of the boards you are going to have to do it quick and that is a decision you are going to have to make. I would say with our situation as it currently stands, we feel comfortable with the players we have as far as the starting role and we will see how the draft unfolds. You don't pass up a really, really talented player if there is nobody that you feel better about, but I don't think that is necessarily a direction we are trying to go early in the draft."
On the Broncos evaluating quarterback draft prospects
"We talked to a number of quarterbacks at the combine. We had Tim (Tebow) in the other day, and obviously it is a situation where there is a player that you feel very good about going about going forward. Whether it is a quarterback or another position, we are not going to turn our head away just because we have three players at the position on the roster. We have three capable players. That is what we feel like. The competition right now is intense and those guys are really working at it. They are improving each other, which is great. But again, we are not going to overlook any position. We feel like we are deep in a lot of positions on our team, but that doesn't mean we aren't going to draft a player to add him to the mix."
On the Broncos evaluating running back draft prospects
"Same thing. We have evaluated a bunch. (Running back) J.J. (Arrington) is really working hard to get himself ready to go and be back to where he was because we were excited about that possibility last year, but it didn't work out because of the leg injury. We are excited about what he is doing and he is excited to be here. (Running backs) Bruce Hall and Lance Ball, they are both two young kids that we feel good about and if you look at the board and you aren't going to get one high, which I don't think is high on our radar, then you have to look at it and weight it and say, "OK, is this guy that we are going to bring in able to beat out one of those two young kids?" We have some young guys that we like, we like some of the things they can do, they are both smart. I think that is always a question in your mind, you don't want to make a selection in the third or fourth round and say we are going to be deciding to cut this player because you certainly want him to be on your roster."
On Stanford running back Toby Gerhart
"He is a player that you have to look at. We had (Montario) Hardesty in from Tennessee, we had (Clemson running back C.J.) Spiller in. We have had a lot of backs in and again if it is the right situation for your team and you feel comfortable with it. The reason you do all that is because you don't know who is going to be there in the second or third round. If it is a position where you say you were wiped out at that position or wiped out here, but that guy is going to make our team better than you better have done your work. His visit was pretty good. He is a pretty neat kid and impressed everyone here."
On if the Broncos upgrading their defensive line in free agency affects their draft strategy at that position
"I don't think so. That is a position (defensive line) that there is some depth to this year's draft. We have three experienced guys-everyone else will call them old-that we added to the front seven, but we have a bunch of young players right behind them that played a ton of football last year. What we wanted to do is blend some experience with the youth that played six or seven hundred snaps last year and started 14 to 16 games. (Defensive linemen) Ronald Fields, Ryan McBean, Le Kevin Smith played. We have a lot of people. (Defensive lineman) Marcus Thomas has played a bunch of games in his career, so we have a lot of depth there in terms of youth and our decision is going to be is that player going to make a significant impact in our front seven immediately, which means is he going to be able to play early or is he going to be better than the youth behind those guys. If we like there is a guy there and there is some depth this year at end and at nose, depending on who you talk to and how you evaluate them. There are some players that we would be interested in in the front seven on the first two days."
On if the team would move back in the draft to select "front seven" players
"I think we would. We would be interested in taking a player at that position if he is going to be that kind of player, there is no question. I think the thing would be what is the trade off. What is the trade? How far are you going? Can you still get that player where you are going or is that out of the question or are there other players in that tier that you feel good about if you have to go a little further? And obviously the compensation would have to be right, but you don't ever turn away a player in the front seven."
On fans being upset at star players getting traded
"And I understand that. But I would say this, that we're trying to build a football team that can be competitive for championships. That doesn't mean that those two players couldn't have helped us, but I think that we're trying to build an entire team that is going to win in different ways -- unselfish, smart, versatile, tough, those kind of things. For different reasons those players are not here, let's be honest. We're trying to do that. We haven't made the playoffs recently. We obviously haven't finished the season well. We didn't finish it well this year. We're trying to get better, we're trying to improve this team, we're trying to create a roster full of guys that feel the same way and their ultimate goal is to win a championship. That's what we're committed to doing."
On Alabama LB Rolando McClain's health
"I've had experience with a player on a team in New England that also had that (Crohn's disease). I've had two friends of mine that have had that and battled that before. We think it's a low-risk type of a situation. It's a situation where if you're taking your medication, if you're doing the right things, if you're not eating the wrong kinds of foods, those kind of things, you can keep the flare-ups to a very minimal basis. I think that everybody kind of feels the same way about that. We talked to him about it the other day. He's got his under control and he feels comfortable with where he's at, which is the most important thing. Our doctors and medical people are familiar with that whole situation, and we feel like that is not a reason not to draft Rolando McClain."
On Tennessee DL Dan Williams
"He's a big, athletic player. Obviously he has played inside at nose, really, for the most part at Tennessee. But the thing we think about Dan is that he's got what we would say a play radius that's a little different than some noses, meaning he can make tackles over there on the sideline. We've kind of gone back and forth on it. (He) could even play end because he's that athletic. He's an athletic player who has really had one solid year of production, which always is something you take a look at. But he's a good kid. We had a good visit with him here, we also worked him out at Tennessee. We've done our work and our research on him, and he's a player that I think is going to go probably somewhere right around where we pick, there's no question about it. But we do have an interest in Dan Williams. He is a good player, he is a good kid and we think that that would be a possibility."
On whether any other prospects wowed him when he met with them
"Sean Weatherspoon, the linebacker from Missouri, was very impressive. He's a bright kid. Every way -- name it and he was impressive. His knowledge of his system, his ability to retain our system, his interaction with our coaches. That was great. (Rolando) McClain, obviously I talked about him, Dan Williams-We've had quite a few. (Florida QB Tim) Tebow, you mentioned Tebow, he's everything that you guys have ever read or written about a player like that. He was extremely impressive."
On if the team had Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen at the facility
"No, we did not. We talked to him at the combine. He's a good kid. I'm very familiar with him, obviously, based on some connections that I had at Notre Dame."
On whether Florida QB Tim Tebow will be successful in the NFL
"No question. You look at the tape, and the only thing that you can say about the tape that isn't flattering or very impressive is that he dips the ball a hair. He has already fixed that. I think that's something that you can fix through repetition. He's already done it. He proved that at his pro day. Everything else that you're watching on film is accurate, tough, smart, good leader, versatile, can move out of the pocket, can move in the pocket, can run with the ball. This guy scored... What is he, the third-leading passer all-time and the leading scorer in rushing touchdowns over Herschel (Walker)? There are so many things that you can say about the kid. Then, to top that all off, he's every bit the person that you read about before you got the chance to meet him. He's very enthusiastic, wants to work hard, smart, bright, one of the smarter players I've ever been around in terms of coming out of college."
On whether the team would draft Tebow
"Does it sound like it? I'll tell you, I don't think you rule anything out. You certainly don't rule out adding a player with all of those traits and qualities to your football team if you feel like at the spot that you're picking that it fits you. Again, he's one of those kids where there's nothing really you can say that's bad about him."
On how quickly Tebow can be a starting quarterback in the NFL
"If you talk to him, it'll be the day he's drafted. But I don't know that. That's a good question. I think it depends on where he goes, the system he's going into, what you're trying to do with him and also who's there. He's got to compete. If he was here, he's got to compete with players that have already played in the National Football League and started a lot of games and won games. There are situations where he could go into where maybe that's not necessarily the case, I don't know, but I think that would all depend on where he goes and where he ends up."
On how his approach differs entering his second year as a head coach
"I feel like I have one year of experience. That's what it is at this position. I've been able to now evaluate our performance instead of just putting into place what I had experienced in the past. I think that that's why we're going to be different than a place that I've been before because we're not doing it somebody else's way. We have our own experience, our own successes and failures to look back on and say we've got to do some of those things differently to get a different result or to get a different reaction. We've tweaked the offseason program considerably, and that was a group decision. How we're running the entire offseason in terms of our staff is different than we did last year. Our staff is doing a great job of managing the offensive system and the defensive system, and then I kind of get caught up as we go. Last year, I was in basically most if not all of those meetings myself. That has allowed all of our staff to kind of come together and contribute a little bit more. That has been great. (General Manager) Brian (Xanders) has done a great job of understanding the scouting system, the personnel and the free agent market, and again, last year we were trying to implement a little bit of a different system then they had ever experienced before. That was a lot smoother."
On how his approach differs on draft day with the new format
"I don't think draft day is going to be a lot different for us. I'll say the difference is going to be between day one and day two. Instead of rolling into the second round as we did last year, we'll have a lot of time on our hands, as will everyone else, to sit there and look and say, like I said earlier, 'I can't believe that so-and-so is still on the board right now.' There's probably going to be a couple of those players for each team. Our board is obviously different than everybody else's, and their's are different than ours. I think we're all going to be sitting there looking at that late that first night, saying, 'Is this something that we want to consider doing because we can't believe that guy is still on the board.' I think our initial first day, it will be pretty much the same. We're going to have our plan ready to go for if we pick 11, we pick 11. If we pick later, we pick later, and we'll have our guys ready to go in that order. I would assume by draft day we would already have some phone calls... 'If our guy is there, we'll be interested,' that kind of thing. You throw out some hypothetical scenarios so that you can just put them into action quickly if the scenario kind of plays out the way the other team wants it. But I think the biggest change for us is going to be from day one to day two and all the interaction that takes place there and how aggressive you choose to be, because you do have a lot more time. The draft is the same, it's just broken up differently. I think time is always something that makes people think a little bit more about what's left. There are quite a few teams, I'd say, we're one of them, obviously, that have multiple second-round selections. So it will be interesting to see what happens and how flexible other people want to be, moving down or moving up. We're one of the teams that obviously has some flexibility to try to move up if we choose."
On whether the team has been given monetary restrictions this draft
"Are we operating on some kind of a budget, like we do every year? Yes. But there has been absolutely no change in that philosophy this year from last year or, in my understanding, any year prior. There has been no change in that."
On whether the pay scale will look the same at the top of the first round as it did in previous years"Yes. I think the interesting thing is going to be a little bit of the uncertainty going forward in terms of the next so-many years. Right now we're just going to kind of go through it with a little bit of caution. There's no restrictions on us. There's no different restrictions on us than there would be on any other team, period."