I’ve been thinking more ‘big picture’ lately about the Broncos. Frankly, it’s refreshing to not have to dive through Robert Ayers’ stats and film and wonder if he’s a D-End, an OLB, or even a rotational player next year. I stopped doing that to myself because it doesn’t matter today. It might matter in 90 days, when we have our Defensive Coordinator hired and our 2011 draftees in Denver, but it doesn’t matter today.
What does matter a great deal is what happens in the next 90 days or so.
I have no idea and will not speculate too much on the impending Collective Bargaining "war" that the NFL Owners and the NFLPA are entering into. I have been led to believe that the CBA will be unresolved through the spring, meaning that Denver (or any other team) will NOT be able to trade personnel for 2011 draft picks and the free agency period may not happen until right before the season (or whatever’s left of it) starts. I have way too many questions about policy concerning the CBA to do a post on what could or may happen.
In the meantime, one of the huge ‘what if’s’ for me right now has to do with what Elway, Xanders, and the scouting staff (the Royal WE) will prioritize come April. The chances are good that the CBA issue will not be resolved by then. If that’s the case, Denver won’t be able to work through the free agent market and add any talent prior to the draft. Because of this, the draft is more important than ever and, in a way, it will be our first peek at what the new regime’s goals are and what identity they are seeking. What Denver does won’t just give us personnel insight though, it will help us to understand what level of risk the organization is comfortable with.
I don’t think there are the usual number of ‘no-brainer’ draft picks this year. There’s no Suh or Bradford. No Petyon Manning. No Joe Thomas. No Eric Dickerson or Lawrence Taylor or Tony Dorsett. Sure, there’s some talent. And the combine is coming soon, and that should help the cream separate from the crop. But I don’t see an awfully deep draft, especially in the top 15.
And therein lies the rub. With an unconventionally shallow first round and without any ‘shoe in’ types of players available (my opinion), maybe even at the #2 spot, what is Denver to do? It’s especially stressful for Broncos fans because we have a wildly inexperienced staff setting the tack for the franchise through the draft. Elway hasn’t done this before. Xanders’ successes and failures are shrouded in mystery and double-talk. And Denver’s scouting group has been largely unchanged. Yes, the scouting organization that Josh McDaniels put into place. And aren’t the Broncos trying to distance themselves from all things McDaniels. Why not institute change within that department? I guess we’ll never really know.
Does Denver simply want to avoid making a mistake with their #2 pick? Especially considering who their brain trust is. Are they risk adverse with their number one pick, both in terms of PR and/or in terms of money? I guess every team is somewhat risk adverse with a top 10 pick, but Denver may be extra sensitive because who is ultimately in charge.
So back to the question, with a draft class that may not be extraordinarily top-heavy, at least in my view, what is the LEAST risky thing the Broncos can do on Draft Day 2011? You have to think that the new Elway-led regime wants to steer clear of guaranteeing anyone $40 Million dollars unless they truly, unequivocally trust that that player is the right fit and a very likely success.
Is it less risky to trade down and come at this situation with quantity? Can Denver even trade down? If they do desire a mid or late first round player, can they trade down precisely enough to attain their player? And finally, does Denver value Bowers, Fairley, Peterson, or someone else as a sure enough thing to draft him and eventually guarantee him in excess of $30 Million dollars.
What Denver does with the #2 draft pick is CRITICAL. But I have no idea what they’ll do and no idea whether or not the risk conversation has entered the equation.
What do you all think the least risky proposition is?
What do you think the most probable outcome is? (Not asking who they’ll draft, just wondering if you think they’ll stay put, regardless of risk)