Last Wednesday, I was browsing through MHR when I saw an article entitled "Live MTD Mock Draft Sign Up". As a hardcore draft fan, I clicked on the post. It was a message from the guy that was running a live draft over at SB Nation's draft website "Mocking The Draft". He needed someone to run the Broncos and be their GM. I immediately went over there and signed up. The draft is now over and I would like to report my progress to you all and get your opinions.
First, let's talk about the details. The live draft was going to be 3 days long. Friday would be rounds 1-2. Saturday would be rounds 3-5 and Sunday would be rounds 6-7. Before the draft, every team was required to email the person running this thing(Seton) a list. The list was supposed to have 10 prospects that you want for each pick. So 10 prospects for #2 overall, 10 prospects for #36, etc. That way, if you were unable to make your pick, Seton would take a look at your list and make the pick you wanted depending on who was available. Other rules included:
- You get 5 minutes per pick.
- Only use the headline for announcing picks. Use all caps
- Announce trades early in the clock because the clock does not reset
- Make sure you are ready when your turn is up. We don't want to have to use your lists to make picks
- If you have a trade pre-arranged with somebody and the terms you set with that person are met, don't back out of the trade and screw the other GM
- Remember that this is a fun event, don't get mad if your people are picked one spot before you
Now that you all know the rules, let's get to the picks.
In case you didn't know, the Broncos enter the draft with the #2, #36, #46, #67, #186, #189, and #247. That is one first round pick, two second round picks, one third round pick, two six round picks, and one seven round pick.
My Draft Strategy
Entering the draft, I wanted to do a number of things. I wanted to get at least 2 Defensive Tackles. With such a heavy defensive tackle class, I planned on taking two defensive tackles, Dareus at #2, and another in the second. However, I also wanted to add picks in the mid rounds so I was looking to trade down from #36. The other thing I was set on doing was drafting a linebacker. The Broncos do not have a Sam linebacker so it was important to get one. With all that being said, let's get to what happened this weekend.
The Panthers went on the clock. They stayed on the clock for the full 5 minutes. There was no pick. So Seton went to their list and he announced the pick to be Cam Newton, Quarterback from Auburn. I went on the clock. As expected, I quickly typed out that the Broncos select Marcel Dareus, DT from Alabama. As soon, as I typed my pick out, the Panthers rep showed up and said that the Panthers were taking Marcel Dareus and not Cam Newton. Seton declared that the Panthers were going to take Dareus and that Newton was still available and now I was on the clock.
My first thought was "DAMN". My second thought was "Oh crap, who do I take?" As the clock ticked away, I had to make a decision. Should I take Von Miller, the very talented linebacker who could be our Sam linebacker? What about Patrick Peterson, the very athletic cornerback that many people consider the best defensive player in the draft? Maybe I should just take Nick Fairley, the most dominant player in college football in 2010.
With the 2nd pick in the 2011 draft, the Denver Broncos select: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Now, I know many here won't be happy with the pick. The majority of people will say I should have taken Von Miller. I didn't for a number of reasons. First, I think Peterson is the better prospect. Second, I think drafting a 4-3 DE and asking him to play 4-3 LB is going to be a more difficult transition then most believe. Third, I think Peterson is going to learn a ton under Bailey and will turn into a shut down corner.
In reality, I would prefer to trade down to Arizona and pick up Miller, but staying at #2, I'm picking Peterson.
At this point, I don't have another pick until #36. I immediately start talking with other teams about moving down from #36. A couple teams were interested in moving up, but my most serious discussions were with Baltimore. They own the 58th pick in the 2nd round. Now, from 36 to 58 is a pretty big drop. I started the negotiations by asking for #58, a 3rd and 4th round pick. Unfortunately, the Baltimore GM was a smart man and realized that that was an absurd amount to pay. Last year we made the exact same trade with them to move into the 1st round. There wasn't any way I was going to be able to swing that deal. Ultimately, we decided to trade my #36 for his 2nd round #58 as well as a 4th and 6th round pick.
We announced the trade towards the end of the first round. However, as the second round started, I realized that Corey Liuget was still on the board. My heart sank in my chest when I saw that he was available. Did I just trade #36 and miss out on the 3rd best DT in this draft? As it turns out, I didn't. New England ended up taking him at #33 so all was good.
Entering the 2nd round, my key targets were Stephen Paea, Marvin Austin, Kenrick Ellis, Mikel Leshore, and Mason Foster. I was hoping one of them were going to be available at #46.
As it turned out, all of my targets were available when I went on the clock. I decided that my decision came down to Paea, Austin, and Ellis. Austin is a person commonly mocked to the Broncos, but do I dare pass on Stephen Paea? No I do not.
With the 46th pick in the 2011 draft, the Denver Broncos select Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon St.
At this point, I wonder if Marvin Austin might slide all the way to 58. Nope, he ended up going right after I picked. So my attention turned to Ellis, Leshore, and Foster. Time ticked closer and closer until I was finally on the clock. Leshore, Ellis and Foster were all available. Who do I pick? Leshore is a very good player who would be a great tandem with Moreno, but we also need DT's. We have a lot of interest in Ellis and he has a lot of potential. What about Foster? We still don't have a Sam linebacker. What do I do?
With the 58th pick in the 2011 draft, the Denver Broncos select Kenrick Ellis, DT, Hampton
We need DT's above everything else. We can always get a starting linebacker in free agency if we need to and there will be plenty of RB's available at my 4th round pick. Ellis is a big DT with a lot of potential. If he can stay out of trouble, he will make a heck of a pair with Paea.
That was the end of day 1. I ended the day with Peterson, Paea, and Ellis as well as an extra 4th and 6th round pick. I was very satisfied, but was eager for the next day to begin. I had a 3rd rounder, a 4th rounder, three 6th rounders and a 7th rounder left. I was eager to get more players.
Day 2 came and the action picked up quickly. As soon as I entered the live draft, I got several offers from teams wanting to trade up. I looked at the board and I understood why. Aaron Williams, Steven Weisnewski, and Curtis Brown were all on the board. None of these players were of any interest to me, but there were two players I had my eye on: Mikel Leshore and Mason Foster. The talented RB from Illinois and the tackling machine from Washington were still available in the 3rd. I needed one of them, but could I possibly trade down and get one? Thankfully, one of the teams looking to trade up was the Dallas Cowboys whose 3rd rounder was not far from mine. We talked some details. The Dallas GM offered me their 3rd and 6th to move up 4 spots. I put on my best GM cap and convinced him to trade his 3rd and 5th round to me in exchange for my 3rd and one of my 6ths. He accepted and I got myself into the 5th round.
At this point I had one 3rd rounder, one 4th rounder, one 5th rounder, two 6th rounders, and one 7th rounder. #Winning.
When I traded down, I was sure that Leshore was going to be gone. So I just waited and hoped that Foster was going to be available. 5 picks later I went on the clock and both Foster and Leshore were on the board. Wow. What do I do? Leshore would be picking the best player available and Foster would be picking for a need. I consulted my friend Sayre and I made my choice.
With the 71st pick in the 2011 draft, the Denver Broncos select Mikel Leshore, RB, Illinios
We definitely need help at RB and Leshore is extremely talented. Getting him in the 3rd is a steal. I took the best player available and got a borderline 1st round talent in the 3rd round. He will instantly share carries with Knowshon and make a big impact early.
As the third round continued, I noticed that Lance Kedricks and Luke Stocker were still available. I contemplated trading back into the 3rd to pick one of the talented TE's, but decided against it.
As the 4th round started, there were several players I wanted that were still available. Jaiqwaun Jarett, Nate Irving, Luke Stocker, and Virgil Green along with one other were all available. I wanted one of these guys. Each team made a pick and my players were going quickly. Jarrett was first followed by Irving Stocker and then Green. There was just one player left. I crossed my fingers and hoped he made it to my pick. My pick came up and he was there. I was giddy.
With the 123rd pick, the Denver Broncos select Mark Herzlich, LB, Boston College
Herzlich is one of my favorite players in this draft. He has such an incredible story. After being told he would never play football again thanks to cancer, he overcame the odds, beat cancer, and is now preparing to be drafted in the NFL. He is a terrific leader and was at one point the best linebacker in college football. He is the exact type of linebacker the Broncos need. Anyone with that much fight in him needs to be in orange and blue.
Now there was a long wait. I didn't have another pick until late in the 5th round. So I waited. My preliminary thoughts were that I would take the BPA whether it be a LB, RB, DT, CB, or S.
As my pick neared, there were some good prospects available. Jordan Cameron, Kelvin Sheppard, Richard Sherman, Rob Housler, Lawrence Wilson, and DJ Williams were all available at the start of the 5th. Unfortunately, Cameron Sheppard, Sherman, and Housler were all picked before I went on the clock. I went on the clock with an interesting decision to make. DJ Williams is a very good receiving TE. Wilson is a linebacker who fits the mold of a Fox LB. I also gave Colin McCarthy, Ian Willliams, and Chris Culliver some thought. After examining everything, I came up with a pick.
With the 143rd pick, the Denver Broncos select Lawrence Wilson, LB, Connecticut
I have constantly said that the Broncos worst position has to be linebacker. They could probably upgrade every position. So I decided to go with Wilson. He's an undersized guy who might be able to start down the road. We have already shown interest in him so we get another body in our linebacker corps.
Day 2 ended and I was very pleased with how the day turned out. I got Mikel Leshore, Mark Herzlich, and Lawrence Wilson. I had one more day left and I had two 6th rounders and one 7th rounder left. I was ready to end this draft strongly.
The final day was here. Two 6th rounders and one 7th rounder were what I had to work with. I had my eye on 1 player in particular today: Julius Thomas. The basketball turned football player was still available. I wanted him in the worst way. Unfortunately, the very first pick of the 6th round was the Carolina Panthers picking Julius Thomas. I yelled out a couple expletives and looked for other prospects.
One thing was apparent the entire draft, no teams were interested in running backs. There were an absurd amount of running backs available in the 6th round. Allen Bradford, Taiwan Jones, Quizz Rodgers, Noel Devine, and Derrick Locke were a couple. I had two 6ths so I decided that it would be a good idea to get another RB. It's good value and some very good ones were available. My pick came up and I picked the best one I could.
With the 186th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select Jamie Harper, RB, Clemson.
I know that two RB's will be controversial, but there is no mistaking that John Fox will run the ball a lot. Moreno has been injury prone, Buckhalter is old, LenDale White is coming off a big injury, and Lance Ball isn't anything special. Leshore is a great talent and will step up and become the #2 back. Harper will be the 3rd. He's a big back with deceptive athletic ability for a guy who is 6 ft 3, 230 lbs. He's a terrific receiver out of the backfield and gives us 3 fantastic backs moving forward.
Now I have one more 6th round pick. It's only 3 spots away from my other. There were three guys left that I had to decide from: WR Jeremy Kirley, FB Stanley Havili, and S Shiloh Keo.
I was heavily leaning towards Keo. In fact, if I could re-do anything in this draft, it would be picking Keo here. I think the guy is a stud and will be a terrific backup/ST player. However, I didn't pick him.
With the 189th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select Stanley Havili, FB, USC
As a USC fan, I have watched Havili wreak havoc on the Pac-10 for years. He was adored at USC for his blocking ability and being a mismatch as a catching FB. In the end, I decided to pick Havili over Keo. I regret it in some ways, but I don't totally regret it. He's a good blocker, a very good receiver, and a leader. He's one of my favorite fullbacks due to his ability to be a mismatch. He's a guy who you can put on the goal line, fake the ball to the RB and toss it to Havili who was mismatched against a slow LB.
Now I have a long wait. My next pick is not until the end of the 7th so all I can do is wait. I see late round players that I like a lot getting picked a long the way. When Keo was picked, I cried a little bit. Andre Smith, Martin Parker, Mike Mohammad, Steven Friday were all taken ahead of me. I had to go deep in my own draft board to find out who I was going to take.
With the 247th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select Eric Hagg, SS, Nebraska
This was to make up for not picking Keo. Hagg is a guy with good overall instincts. He's got good size at 6 ft 2, 210 pounds with long arms. Per Wes Bunting of National Football Post, "Is at his best in man coverage when asked to play up near the line and get his strong hands on receivers. Does a nice job using his length to re-route off the line and stick to receivers initially through the play. However, the more space he's asked to play in the less effective he is. Doesn't possess much fluidity in his hips, gets upright on his drop and is really choppy with his footwork." Hagg will likely be a backup/ST player which is not bad towards the end of round 7.
Now, we got to choose 4 Undrafted Free Agents. The rules were simple, as soon as the UDFA thread went up, you got to put 4 players that weren't drafted. First come first serve. If you wrote a name that was already written, you had to choose someone else. I was extremely fast and posted second and got all of my guys:
TE Mike McNeil
S Nate Williams
DE Karl Klug
DE Justin Trattou
With that, my 2011 live mock draft was complete. Let's go to a quick review before I hear all your thoughts. I started the draft with 7 picks: one 1st rounder , two 2nd rounders, one 3rd rounder, two 6th rounders, and one 7th rounder.
I made two trades and ended up with one 1st rounder, two 2nd rounders, one 3rd rounder, one 4th rounder, one 5th rounder, two 6th rounders, and one 7th rounder.
2011 Broncos Draft
1st round- Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
2nd round- Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon St.
2nd round- Kenrick Ellis, DT, Hampton
3rd round- Mikel Leshore, RB, Illinois
4th round- Mark Herzlich, LB, Boston College
5th round- Lawrence Wilson, LB, Connecticut
6th round- Jamie Harper, RB, Clemson
6th round- Stanley Havili, FB, USC
7th round- Eric Hagg, S, Nebraska
UDFA Mike McNeil, TE, Nebraska
UDFA Nate Williams, S, Washington
UDFA Karl Klug, DE, Iowa
UDFA Justin Trattou, DE, Florida
I started with 7 picks in 5 rounds and ended with 9 picks in 7 rounds. I got 1 CB, 2 DT's, 2 LB's, 2 RB's, 1 FB, and 1 S not to mention the TE, S, and 2 DE's I got as undrafted free agents. THAT is how you run a draft Brian Xanders.