Denver Broncos News: Horse Tracks - 4/17/11

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Paige: Broncos' new triumvirate has no room for erratum - The Denver Post
The trio — all equal, except as we learned from "Animal Farm," one is more equal than the other two — can go safe with the second pick and select defensive tackle Marcell Dareus or cornerback Patrick Peterson, both of whom spent Wednesday at Dove Valley. Or they can take a risk and trade down in the first round and get perhaps a third second-round choice. Or, they can act weird and grab yet another quarterback.

Klis: Look for tougher Broncos up front - The Denver Post
Mike Shanahan and Josh McDaniels were very smart, offensive-minded coaches. Shanahan designed some of the prettiest misdirection, play-action, rollout passes. McDaniels devised shifts, motions, play-action and weavelike pass patterns that left a receiver open on every play. Between the 20s. But then the game ended and the Broncos too often realized that smarts got them only so far. Eventually, every football game is decided not by who's smarter, but who's tougher.

What drew Elway back to punching the Broncos clock? - The Denver Post
Well, here's something that may stun doubting NFL insiders: Elway has watched film of all 300-plus players who are candidates for the upcoming NFL draft. Much has been made about how Elway has closely observed quarterbacks such as Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett and Colin Kaepernick. But that was labor-love stuff. Elway also has watched film of pulling guards, a tackle's drop- step, a linebacker's ability to attack downhill as well as drop into space. In short, Elway has been working.

Q&A: Key to draft success — look at every prospect, and do periodic reviews - The Denver Post
Christian, you are correct. Any team interested in doing all it can do to prepare for a draft should evaluate all positions — all players — with the same interest and vigor. Because a team's top officials can't visit every draft-eligible player, sometimes there is a bias toward the players those top officials either go see in person or the players who are brought into the team's complex for on-site visits. That's been the intriguing thing about the Broncos' work with this year's quarterbacks. Not that the team is scouting them, but that they've been so public about the top officials — John Elway, general manager Brian Xanders and head coach John Fox — viewing the top quarterbacks.

Players revise workout routines during NFL labor fight - The Denver Post
Let's say the players on the 12-4 teams are sitting around eating potato chips, watching soaps, waiting for the NFL lockout to end. And the lockout doesn't end until late July, giving the players two weeks to strap on the pads and get ready for their first preseason game. "That's a scary scenario," said Zane Beadles, a rookie starter along the Broncos' offensive line last season.

Q&A: Dumervil's return changes the Broncos' draft strategy - The Denver Post
David, before the concern over Da'Quan Bowers' knee threatened to push him out of the draft's top 10, I never believed he would be the best player on the board when they picked at No. 2. And the reason for that is exactly what you have pointed out — Dumervil's return. Dumervil said even as last season drew to a close that he was approaching 100 percent. His return is the top reason Broncos coach John Fox has given when asked about the state of the defense. So his return does impact the Broncos' draft strategy.

NFL mock drafts common - by the teams themselves - The Denver Post
It's easy to mock the mocks. If the calendar page says April across the top, mock drafts have become the cyberspace battleground for those who do — and don't — like the NFL draft. For those who are interested in the league's annual selection gathering, it's a great exercise in conversation — a crowded place for debate, arguments and discussion.

Kickin' it: Tebow a favorite, but Bowlen runs the show - The Denver Post
Some very vocal Broncos fans are Tebow crazy and let everybody know it every chance they get. Whether or not those fans really represent a majority of all Denver fans hasn't reliably been established. Newspaper and radio polls are not accurate barometers, because they can be easily skewed by over-participation by enthusiastic minorities. Here's hoping Elway listens to his experienced brain trust instead of Tebow hype.

NFL Draft analysis: Offense - The Denver Post
Coach John Fox wants a bigger back in the offense, so the Broncos will look hard at taking one before the weekend is out. In his tenure at Carolina, Fox and the Panthers used two first-round picks to fill the backfield. He will be looking at the bruisers in this draft who have some speed.

NFL Draft analysis: Defensive line - The Denver Post
If it's a position on defense, the Broncos have needs. They have scouted all of the defensive linemen in this draft they believe could help them, and most in the league expect their first pick to be a player who plays up front. They are moving back to a 4-3 look, so need interior players to fit that conversion and an edge rusher to complement Elvis Dumervil.

Broncos Draft History: Tight Ends
As we wrap up our week's preview of the tight ends available in the 2011 NFL Draft, let's take a look back at who the Broncos have drafted at that position.

Big money for top NFL rookies hot labor issue - The Denver Post
One of the hot-button issues in the current talks between the league and the players association has been rookie compensation — the guaranteed money going to rookie draft picks, especially rookie draft picks selected in the first round. Sam Bradford's guaranteed $50 million in the deal he signed after being the No. 1 pick last April — before he had even stepped on the field — has been one of the items tossed around in the discussion.

Team needs: Denver Broncos | ProFootballTalk
Here’s how Denver’s defensive tackle depth chart reads: Free agent (possibly restricted) Ryan McBean, Kevin Vickerson, Louis Leonard, Mitch Unrein. How many of those guys have you heard of? They’ve combined for 4.5 career sacks, 3.5 of them from six-year veteran Vickerson. It’s easily the worst interior line in football, making Alabama’s Marcell Dareus the Broncos’ obvious choice at No. 2 overall. Value meets need there, to perfection.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Thomas injury has Broncos looking at WR options in draft
The Broncos drafted Demaryius Thomas in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft with the hopes of adding enough depth and potential at the WR position to transform it into an area of strength. However, because of injuries to both Thomas (torn Achillies in February) and WR Eddie Royal (hip surgery in February), we hear the Broncos aren't where they want to be with their receiving corps

NFL NEWS

Schedule is coming soon, but no one seems to care | ProFootballTalk
There’s a growing perception that interest in the 2011 draft will be much lower than usual, barring a miraculous resolution of the labor dispute. We suspect that the owners and the players thought the opposite would be the case, given that the draft may be the only thing that happens for the rest of the offseason — and possibly for the rest of the year.

Approval for L.A. stadium could take longer than expected | ProFootballTalk
Rich Connell of the Los Angeles Times reports that final approvals from City Hall could take up to a year. Per Connell, that’s "considerably longer" than the developer, AEG, had hoped.

Players as consultants | National Football Post
Earlier this week, Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald was quoted talking about what his team might do with the fifth overall pick in the draft. "I would doubt that we would draft a quarterback that high. I would doubt it," Fitzgerald told foxsportsarizona.com. "But, who am I? I'm just a player. Management hasn't told me if they are going to go in any direction." Fitzgerald went on to express opinions about Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton, players who have been linked to the Cardinals.

Spending the windfall | National Football Post
It’s OK to shake your head. It’s OK to chide these players for not saving their money. It’s OK to say you wouldn’t be in this situation. But before you get mad — before you get really angry — and say the underpaid teachers and social workers and police officers wouldn’t ever be in a similar predicament, you need to understand the system. Most professional football players are the product of a broken system. It’s a system that hands them a football scholarship to an academic institution, and expects them to understand how to properly take advantage of higher education. It’s a system in which players go from being college students to instant millionaires, and then expects them to save their money. It’s a system that dictates everyday on the field is a job interview and expects kids to stay four years to get a degree.

2010 Jets: What the Film Revealed - NYTimes.com
Jets fans may not want to hear this, but they should enjoy Brian Schottenheimer while he’s around; the man won’t be an offensive coordinator for long. The Jets were one of the most schematically balanced, well-prepared offenses in football last season. Their slump around the holidays was largely a product of Mark Sanchez falling out of his comfort zone. The subtle decline of the rushing attack was also a factor.

Homer Smith, Innovative College Football Coach, Dies at 79 - NYTimes.com
Homer Smith, a football coach whose strategizing enlivened the offenses at U.C.L.A., Alabama and Arizona, and who was the coach at Army in the difficult years at the end of the Vietnam War, died Sunday at his home in Tuscaloosa, Ala. He was 79.

2010 Bills: What the Film Revealed - NYTimes.com
The good news is this offense overachieved and got better as the season progressed. Especially the front five, which was decent inside and survived despite left tackle Demetrius Bell’s poor pass-blocking technique and right tackle Mansfield Wrotto’s mediocrity.

No N.F.L. Is No Problem for Oakland - NYTimes.com
As the National Football League lockout enters its second month, cities across the country are scrambling to make contingency plans to deal with lost revenues if the season is canceled. But not Oakland, home of the league’s most enigmatic franchise, the Raiders, where an exceptionally one-sided stadium deal means that the beleaguered city may actually save money if the team doesn’t play.

NFL Network tabs Mike Mayock for Thursday games; Gus Johnson next? - NFL - SI.com
SI.com has learned that Mike Mayock will join the NFL Network's broadcast team for its eight-game Thursday Night Football package. He will replace Matt Millen and Joe Theismann on the broadcast. When contacted Thursday afternoon by SI.com, an NFL Network spokesperson declined to comment. The network's next move for those games revolves around the play-by-play position. Bob Papa is a respected game-caller and has had held the job for the past two seasons, but sources tell SI.com that NFL Network is considering other broadcasters, including CBS and Big Ten announcer Gus Johnson

NFL.com Blogs " Blog Archive Data Points: Three-game road trips "
The NFL soon will be releasing the 2011 regular-season schedule, and one thing is certain: It cannot please everyone. Each year, a few teams are saddled with the gauntlet that is a three-game road trip. It’s happened 110 times since 1990 — and only nine times (8.2 percent) has a team gone 3-0 in that stretch. Nearly half the time — 48.2 percent to be exact — the team with a three-game road trip goes 1-2 in those games. Twice as many teams have gone 0-3 than 3-0, and only a quarter of them (27.3 percent) went 2-1.

NFL.com news: Wilf confident about stadium bill, says 'no talks' to sell Vikings
"We're confident that we have the parts in place to get this done this session," Wilf told reporters at the Capitol after several hours of meetings with about a dozen state lawmakers. Wilf met with sponsors of the bill and at least a few lawmakers who are skeptical of supporting public funding for a stadium in a year when they're facing widespread cuts in state spending to fix a state budget deficit. Wilf declined to comment on specific aspects of the bill, which was filed earlier this week. It proposes the state raise roughly a third of the cost, up to $300 million, through statewide sales taxes on sports memorabilia, luxury seats and digital video recorders as well as naming rights, a Vikings-themed lotto game and an income-tax surcharge on NFL players.

NFL.com news: Even with QB uncertainty, Bengals excited about offense
It's too bad the Cincinnati Bengals have a reluctant starting quarterback, because there otherwise seems to be plenty of reason to like where they're going offensively. Marvin Lewis certainly does. Although a single game has yet to be played -- and no one knows for sure when the season actually will begin -- the Bengals' head coach has no problem taking a bow for hiring Jay Gruden as his offensive coordinator in February.

NFL.com news: Agents reportedly want big contract for Kolb as part of trade
"There's no way I pay him like a proven guy," one AFC team executive told the radio station. "If you give up a (first-round pick), that's your guy. You're going to ride with him, so you're going to pay him. But you've still got to make sure that the finances are such that it's based on what he's proven. Whether you're dealing with the agent or not, he has to understand I'm paying part of the price in draft picks."

X's & O's: Pass Protection | Cheesehead TV
"It all starts in the trenches" is a common cliché used in football. While it may be often used it is so very true. A team that can pass protect can throw the ball. End of story. Coaches that draw up elaborate routes using 4 and 5 receivers are a dime a dozen. The great ones begin by addressing protection. You might be saying to yourself "thank you Captain Obvious. Tell us something we didn’t’ know." Well, hopefully this X and O segment will do just that. From a "sizzle" perspective, "X-ing" and "O-ing" isn’t all that fun to the casual observer of the game but it sure is the "steak" in this meal. Now that I’ve wet your appetite let’s dig in.

Cold, Hard Football Facts.com: Naughty Nurse: Houston seeks Arian's supremacy
George Carlin famously described the fundamental differences between football and baseball. But for the Houston Texans in 2010, there was a definite baseball theme, one that had the shell-shocked home fans spooked by visions of Brad Lidge giving up bombs to Albert Pujols in the bottom of the ninth. No team in 2010 was victimized by the walk-off victory more than the Texans, who saw three games slip through their hands – including one quite literally – on the final play of the game, two of which wiped out furious fourth-quarter comebacks by the always-prolific offense.

Cripes! Get back to fundamentals...: Frontline on Football
An episode of Frontline ("Football High") aired last week and it has been making its rounds through the football interwebs and rightfully so. It touches many of the various issues that have established themselves as the fingerprint of our current era of high school football. The piece did it’s best in the short time allotted to address a litany of themes in today’s game that cannot be ignored (despite our best efforts in some cases). Because of time constraints, the editors had to settle for a shotgun-method of presenting these affairs to the public, sacrificing quantity over depth. I wanted to take a bit of space to highlight and briefly comment (I don’t have any answers) on a few of the concerns presented.

NFL DRAFT

Latest draft rumor: Redskins "trying like crazy" to move up | ProFootballTalk
We’re not sure if there are more draft rumors this year or we’re just paying attention to them more because we have nothing else to focus on. All we know is that things are only starting to pick up. The latest rumor we can pass along for you comes from the dean of Houston football writing, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

Mr. safe pick | National Football Post
DT Drake Nevis: LSU Nevis’ lack of ideal size is the one reason why he would fall on draft day because he simply isn’t a fit for every scheme. However, if you put this guy into the right situation as a one-gap three technique, there is no doubt in my mind he’ll find a way to be successful in the NFL. He’s got the best first step of any interior defensive lineman in the draft, exhibits a great motor and plays the game nasty and with bad intentions. There’s a real fire to his game, which is obvious on tape, and I can’t see how this guy won’t be a successful penetrating type tackle at the next level if given a chance.

Are the Panthers bluffing? | National Football Post
Go to Google, search "NFL Mock Draft 2011" and take a look at how many results appear with Cam Newton going first overall to the Carolina Panthers. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Now, go check out NFL.com and take notice that Bucky Brooks, Steve Wyche, Pat Kirwan and Charles Davis have all predicted Newton to the Panthers as well. Out of the five analysts who have posted mocks at NFL.com, only Brian Baldinger has someone other than Newton in the top spot (he likes LSU’s Patrick Peterson).

ProFootballWeekly.com - UFL to target undrafted free agents
The UFL would have the first chance to sign undrafted free agents if the NFL lockout is still ongoing after the draft. In an interview with NFL.com's Vic Carucci, Hartford Colonials head coach Jerry Glanville said the UFL would focus on bringing in undrafted players as quickly as possible.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Draft Dose: Who needs a safety?
The Broncos have a pair of veteran safeties in FS Brian Dawkins and SS Renaldo Hill, but will look to get younger in the secondary by adding another player to the mix. Both in their 30s, Dawkins and Hill have a combined 25 years of service in the league. As important as experience is, both are past their prime and seem to have lost both speed and playmaking ability. S Darcel McBath was taken in the second round of the 2009 draft to provide depth at the position, but a series of injuries have kept him from reaching his full potential. With one of the league's oldest secondaries, expect the Broncos to take a safety in the middle rounds of the draft.

Pioli Prepares for Third Draft as Chiefs GM - NYTimes.com
While future Super Bowl MVP Brady had to wait until the sixth round for Pioli to call his name, Dave Stachelski waited only until round five. A tight end out of Boise State, Stachelski stayed two years with the Patriots and caught exactly one pass for 5 yards. Brady, who could so easily have been picked off by another team, is hailed as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

Expect flurry of first-round draft trades
Stability at quarterback among teams picking in the back half of the draft is likely to directly affect the wheeling and dealing. Of the teams picking from 17-32 in the first round, the only team that really needs a quarterback is Seattle, which is picking 25th. The rest are all set, unless one of those teams plans to look for a quarterback of the future. The quarterback stability of the teams in those spots is why they are there

Darrin Walls, Matthias Berning among unheralded NFL draft prospects - Don Banks - SI.com
The cause of the undrafted player in the NFL got another couple poster-child candidates last season when rookie running backs LeGarrette Blount and Chris Ivory wound up leading their teams in rushing despite never hearing their names called from the podium in New York City. But it happens every year that way in the NFL in some form or fashion, which is why we're back at it again this spring, rolling out our third annual Wes Welker Watch List -- a compilation of 10 off-the-radar NFL prospects who have a shot to make the league even if they are taken in the late rounds or the draft passes them by altogether.

NFL.com news: Fairley defends himself: 'My work ethic's not a problem'
Fairley has conducted private interviews with the Titans, Denver Broncos (No. 2 pick), Buffalo Bills (3), Cincinnati Bengals (4), Cleveland Browns (6) and Washington Redskins (10). Fairley's agent, Brian Overstreet, said another team picking in the top 10 also has started talks with them. According to NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora, some NFL general managers wonder about Fairley's decision-making on and off the field. One GM recently told La Canfora: "I'm scared as hell of Fairley. We see a lot of risk there." But the same GM also figured that Fairley will be drafted in the top 15, if not the top 10.

NFL.com news: Needy teams shouldn't wait for second round to draft a QB
Put another way, if a team has interest in selecting a quarterback, it might not be able to wait until the second round to do so. The troubling part of that assessment for many teams in the market for a signal-caller is that this shapes up as a quarterback class with enough question marks from top to bottom to create more comfort for clubs to take one in the second round or lower.

Cam Newton's rise up NFL draft charts tough to explain - NFL News | FOX Sports on MSN
The Carolina Panthers are looking for a franchise quarterback — or at least they aren’t denying that they are. The Panthers might have thought they had one in Jimmy Clausen last year, but their public affection for former Auburn University quarterback Cam Newton could suggest otherwise. Despite some harsh comments from various NFL draft analysts in recent weeks, Newton’s draft value seems to have stabilized — or has it?

Cold, Hard Football Facts.com: Draft Primer: those shiny wide receivers
The Cold, Hard Football Facts have gone to great lengths to prove that wide receivers are merely shiny hood ornaments on NFL offenses. The NFL is littered with evidence supporting our theory, especially in very recent history. Take the case of Randy Moss. Back in January of 2010, our Chief Troll pleaded for the Patriots to dump Moss. It took the New England brass nearly 10 months to come to their senses, but eventually they got on board the Cold, Hard Football Facts train and sent him packing. The entire 2010 season provided evidence of the futility of dwelling on the wide receiver position.

OT, RB depth underrated strengths of 2011 class - CBSSports.com
For most fans of the NFL draft, it is simply human nature to focus on the best players. These, of course, are the headliners that typically are drafted highest and thus, are expected to make the most immediate and lasting impact in the NFL. Scouts, however, are very well aware of the fact that the big names will only constitute the first 32 or 64 picks of the 254 players selected this year. As such, they're dedicating much of their attention to the lower rated prospects... and what they've been discovering is the unusual depth at offensive tackle and running back in this year's class.

Teams are red-flagging DT Phil Taylor's feet - CBSSports.com
Taylor, according to MRIs taken at the Combine, has bones growing together in his feet. The condition, which according to the source is not correctable through surgery, is a pain tolerance issue. Considering that Taylor played much of his senior season at 330-340 pounds -- and has allowed his weight to get into the 380s in the past -- teams are concerned that his weight will only make the injury tougher to handle.

NFL LOCKOUT

NFL preparing to push Super Bowl back a week? - Scoop Du Jour - NFL Blog - Yahoo! Sports
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is having conference calls with season ticket holders throughout the league and he's told some that there could be changes to the Super Bowl schedule depending on what happens with the lockout. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Goodell has told some fans that the Super Bowl could be moved back a week and the extra week between the conference championships and the Super Bowl could be eliminated, depending on how long the lockout occurs.

NFL.com news: NFL, players 'serious' about mediation, will continue Tuesday
U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan adjourned talks until Tuesday at 10 a.m. CT, following nearly 10 hours of negotiations Thursday and another four Friday at the federal courthouse. A source with knowledge of the situation said Friday that the break is happening this early partly because of the sensitivity of the negotiations and the need for the judge to be methodical and deliberate. Another source said all parties appear to be "serious" about these talks ordered by U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson and the potential consequences if they break down.

League needs to quit obsessing over federal oversight of CBA | ProFootballTalk
As the parties begin to converge on a federal courthouse in Minnesota for mediation that, if the right people are present, could potentially resolve the labor dispute, there’s one specific issue on which the owners needs to take a broader view — and to quit insisting on getting their way. In 1993, when the Reggie White antitrust lawsuit was resolved, the parties agreed that some disputes would be resolved by binding third-party arbitration. Other disputes would go first to a Special Master and then on appeal to Judge David Doty, the judge who handled the White case.

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