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The Offseason is On + (W's Mock 3.0)

The Sun sinks over Mt. Evans, blotting with God's paintbrush an orange band across the cobalt Rockies. Faces blister, in the frigid night's air, and whips of breath appear above the crowd as it marches into Mile High. But the fans came prepared for the cold, wrapped in layers of orange sweaters, coats, and jackets, dug out from the back of the closet and the bottom of the drawers. The outerwear conceals the orange jerseys: the #27s, #84s, #92s, #93s and #7s. But the weather can't conceal the fans' spirit, as the steel stadium sways when Tim Tebow emerges onto the field underneath the Colorado twilight.

It's January 2013, and the Denver Broncos are hosting their first playoff game since 2005. The entire city pulses with a renewed optimism. The headlines read like a Hollywood script, about the Quarterback who was told he would never play in the NFL, but the avid fans know better. The avid fans know that it took more than a Quarterback to lead the team back to the playoffs--it took two. It took a Quarterback from Stanford, who was too old to put back on the pads, but nonetheless had lead the Broncos to another signature comeback. He hired quality coaches, brought in meaningful free agents, and built a defense in Denver that we could be proud of again.

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The offseason must be my favorite time to be a member of MHR. No, there's no victories, no touchdowns, no first downs, but there's also no blowouts, no turnovers, no letdowns. The offseason is a season of optimism for every fan. A time to debate, discuss, and maybe dream just a little bit. After possibly the worst season for the modern Broncos franchise, this offseason promises not to disappoint. 

This week the greatest Denver Bronco ever will return to head the organization. There have been a few times when a former star player has moved from the field to the front office, but this is a rare event, where a star player returns to the front office of the team that made him a star. Considering that he has tried for years to become an owner of the Broncos, I feel like this move has significant importance for the future of the organization.

And I can't think of anyone else more suited for the position. Not because he can lead the Broncos to another comeback. Not because he has done his due diligence by gaining front office experience, unlike other players turned GMs. Not because come April, the phone calls on draft day will go something like, "Hi Lance, This is two-time Super Bowl Champion and Hall of Fame Quarterback John Elway. Welcome to the Denver Broncos. We're glad you're here."

But because John Elway suffered through the three Super Bowls, with a combined score of 136-40. Because Elway knows it took more than a great Quarterback to make a great team. It took a great offense, players like Terrell Davis, Rod Smith, and a great defense, Neil Smith and Steve Atwater. Because John Elway knows, in the end, more important than a players throwing motion or footwork is that never say never attitude, the drive to be a winner, to lay it all on the line, to want it enough to pay the price and put that 5 inch vertical jump on them. Elway knows what it takes to be a winner.

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And for the Broncos to be a winner again, we can't waste picks drafting Andrew Luck. We have to rebuild the Orange crush.


Trade:

Broncos Trade Kyle Orton to Arizona for a 3rd round pick. This trade makes too much sense to me. Whisenhunt will be a coach on the hotseat to win in 2011. Arizona has a young rookie QB in Skelton so it doesn't make much sense for them to take a shot at Cam Newton or Jake Locker. Bringing in Orton, ala Kurt Warner, can buy Whisenhunt time and help keep Fitzgerald in Glendale. 

Kyle Orton wants to be the starter wherever he goes, but I think it would take a superhuman effort for him to recapture the starting QB position here in Denver. If McDaniels was still the coach I think there would be value in keeping him for his knowledge of the system but there's really no point in sitting him behind Tebow when he can add value to the team.

Picks:

1. Marcell Dareus, DE, Alabama, 6-3 310

Fairely, Dareus, Peterson, Bowers. The season is over and the Great Draft Debate of 2011 has begun. The problem with the Bronco's defense this past year has been two fold, we can't stop the run and we can't put pressure on the opposing quarterback. I think adding Dareus provides the best chance at fixing both of these problems in our current 3-4 system. Dareus was purely dominate in the Capitol One Bowl. He was facing double teams but still had the elite strength to collapse the pocket. He has such great athleticism for such a big man. On one play, he simply ran the corner right around the right tackle, causing the QB to panic and throw an interception.

He doesn't have the production like Nick Fairley, but Dareus wasn't playing in a penetrating one-gap system like Fairley, where he would generate big numbers. Instead, he was holding the edge in one of the best run stuffing defenses in the NCAA.

Marcell Dareus burst onto the national scene with his MVP performance in the BCS National Championship Game against Texas .... a powerful defensive end who can also slide inside in passing situations ... a tremendous pass rusher who can play the run as well ... named to the preliminary 2010 Lombardi Award Watch List ... played in 22 career games, making three starts ... has 37 career tackles, making nine tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks ... goes into preseason practice as the Tide's top returning defensive end ... recorded six tackles with a sack (-6) in the 2009 A-Day Game ... a two-time winner (2009, 2010) of the Dwight Stephenson Lineman of the A-Day Game Award ... in three 2010 spring scrimmages - including A-Day - Dareus had 21 tackles, 10 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss ... won the Lee Roy Jordan Headhunter Award for his play in spring practice. -rolltide.com

2. Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado, 6'2 210

Champ and Cox may be gone by next year. I think Syd'Quan can be a serviceable nickleback but that still leaves us with only Andre Goodman. With the #34 pick, we get to grab a CB with first round talent. Smith's stats don't jump out to you at first but he's been a solid shutdown DB in a conference chock full of WR talent. A big defensive back with great speed, he looks to be a solid man coverage guy in the NFL.

At closer look — or what the NFL will take — he's a big cornerback (6-feet-2 and 205 pounds) who runs the 40-yard dash consistently in the mid-4.4s. He was so respected, few opposing quarterbacks threw his way. Even with no picks, he made the all-Big 12 Conference first team. -DenverPost.com 

2. Quinton Carter, FS, Oklahoma, 6'1'' 200

While we would like to address the front seven, we still need to address the players we're losing. I think Dawkins retires this season, his contract allows him to walk away with a bonus if he leaves this year. I'd like to be confident in McBath or Bruton but I'm not. We need a tone setter in the centerfield and I think Carter is the closest thing we'll find to replacing Dawkins. Carter is a leader on defense and is a versatile player who could play at Strong or Free Safety.

Carter is exactly the type of versatile defensive back NFL teams are looking for to slow down the pass-happy offenses in today's game. He has played strong and free safety in Bob Stoops' defense at Oklahoma because of his physicality and speed; his ability to make the big hit, support the run, play centerfielder, or even line up in man coverage is rare among college safeties. 

Intangibles: Exceptional leader on the field and in the locker room. Receiving degree in sociology with a non-profit organization studies, but already has started has own non-profit called SOUL (Serving Others with Unity and Leadership) to help kids in the Las Vegas area. -CBSSports.com

3. Lance Kendricks, TE, Wisconsin, 6'4'' 245

A tight-end is a young Quarterback's best friend. This is true if the tight-end can open up lanes in the running game and provide an outlet for key passes. Denver doesn't have a player that can fit this description. Daniel Graham has dropped almost every pass thrown to him this season and its time to add more talent. Kendricks is not going to stretch the field like Kyle Rudolph, but he is going to catch balls over the middle in traffic, and provide great run blocks along the edge. He's also been Scott Tolzien's favorite target this year. The Broncos need to add talent to the defense with the early picks. We don't need a dominate tight-end for Tebow, we simply need a reliable one. 

TE Lance Kendricks, Sr., Wisconsin, leads Wisconsin with 39 catches for 627 yards and five touchdowns. In addition, Kendricks has proven invaluable as a blocker for the Badgers’ high-powered rushing attack, which currently boasts three players with over 800 rushing yards and at least 13 rushing touchdowns. Kendricks ranks third among all FBS tight ends in receiving yards, is tied for sixth in touchdowns and is tied for seventh in receptions. Earlier this season, Kendricks became the first Badger since Travis Beckum in 2007 to record back-to-back 100-yard receiving games when he tallied 103 receiving yards and one TD on six catches vs. Austin Peay one week after a career-high seven receptions for 131 yards and one score in win over Arizona State. Kendricks won consecutive John Mackey Tight End of the Week honors for those two games. - Wisconsin football

UW tight ends coach Joe Rudolph, a former offensive guard for the program, likes the way Kendricks handles himself physically as a lead blocker for the tailback at the point of attack. "He's about as tough as they come and he plays big," Rudolph said. "Boy, he's blossomed into a really good player. And you have to love his unselfishness, his greatest attribute. Ask him to execute 15 lead blocks in a row, he'd be happy to do it. Ask him to run 15 routes in a row, he'd be happy to do that. Whatever you ask him to do, he works his tail off." – Madison.com

3. Kenrick Ellis, NT, Hampton, 6'5'' 340

This is one of the better prospects I enjoy mocking to the Broncos. This Jamaican born, mammoth of a man, has a strong upper body and quick feet. He can anchor against double teams or play laterally down the line. In pass rushing situations, he can play as a more agile tackle, chasing down the QB with a good swim or spin move. Highly recruited out of high school, he was kicked off the Gamecock's squad for smoking pot. But its 2011 and smoking pot is now legal in Colorado. Since arriving at Hampton, he hasn't had any off-field problems and has always been a high motor guy on the field. Ellis will have to prove that his production was the not the result of inferior competition. If he can compete with SEC guys come workouts/Senior Bowl, I think his draft status will rise. We're really not trying to get a starting caliber NT out of this draft class, but if Ellis can come in and replace Ron Fields as a rotational guy, it will be a great value pick with eventual upside. Don't worry, be happy. 

Kenrick Ellis

Run defense: Looks like a run-stuffer and can play that part but surprises with his agility and foot quickness. Agile enough to move with blockers on zone plays; can disengage to prevent cutback lanes. Holds up double teams to eat space but can also penetrate into the backfield. Can push back two defenders when keeping his hips low and churning his feet. Good hustle for his size, especially when rested as part of a regular rotation. Chases down plays to the sideline, as well as from behind even if they go 15-20 yards downfield when rested (even in the fourth quarter); he is not credited with many stops in those situations, but is in position if his teammates can't stop the ball.  -CBSSports.com

Draft fact that may only interest me:

Draft order will be

1. Carolina - 2-14 (.574)
2. Denver - 4-12 (.516)
3. Buffalo - 4-12 (.578)
4. Cincinnati - 4-12 (.582)
5. Arizona - 5-11 (.465)
6. Cleveland - 5-11 (.570)
7. San Francisco - 6-10 (.488)
8. Tennessee - 6-10 (.508)
9. Dallas - 6-10 (.512)
10. Washington - 6-10 (.516)

If the Broncos want to trade down, I think they ended up with the perfect setup of teams behind them. The five teams from 3-7 all could be looking for a new QB in the 2011 draft. If Luck falls to Denver or if Newton is drawing huge praise, a team will probably have to pay a high price to jump into Denver's spot to get in front of the rest of these teams.

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

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