With Von Miller on board, the Broncos were pretty much a lock to take a bunch of defensive linemen, right?
The Broncos had other plans for the direction of this team. John Elway and the front office said they wanted four starters in the first three rounds, and by golly if they didn't get them.
I was extremely critical of the picks made on Friday evening, mainly because when I go into official "draft mode" I have a specific plan set in my head, and when that plan changes, I get another plan, and the process continues. On Friday, taking a safety, offensive lineman, and linebacker were definitely not on my mind, but the Broncos really made the most of these picks. They did end up getting--at least on paper--four starting players and guys at positions we really did have a need at.
Credit the Broncos' front office, they are making these picks knowing full well what is at stake, and what they are skipping out on. The Broncos saw Marvin Austin up close--didn't want him. The Broncos probably looked into Stephen Paea's injury issues--didn't want him.
Word out of Denver today was the Broncos wanted Jarvis Jenkins, but he went to the Redskins a couple of picks before the Broncos were up, so that didn't happen.
The Broncos did not take advantage of one of the deepest defensive line drafts I have seen in a long time in the first three rounds. They could still make some amends on Saturday afternoon, but obviously the Broncos' board did not include guys like Paea and Austin ahead of players like Moore and Franklin. Sometimes that is just the way the ball roles.
My theory right now is that the Broncos have great confidence in their free agent scouting as well as their ability to potentially re-sign Marcus Thomas to go along with some of the talent they have added today, not to mention they believe fully in the ability of their revamped linebacker corps.
Now, on to the picks.
**TRADE: Broncos trade 36th pick to San Francisco 49ers for 45th pick, 108th pick, 141st pick**
I pretty much expected this much to happen today. I predicted that we would trade down with our later selection, but this was a good trade as well. It gave the Broncos picks in the 4th or 5th rounds and now they have a very balanced draft with picks in every round, including two in the sixth.
2. Second Round, 45th overall (from 49ers): Rahim Moore, Safety, UCLA
I was very critical of this pick at first not because of the player, but because of his position. Still, this pick shows the Broncos placed a great value on creating turnovers with their first two picks. The first pick was used on the best pass rusher in the draft, and the second was used on a guy in Moore who has 11 interceptions the last two years.
Granted, he picked off 10 passes in his junior season, but teams really shied away from Moore in 2010, and he could really be a ball hawk for the Broncos' defensive backfield. Perhaps what sold me the most on Moore was his post-selection commentary:
"I knew I wasn't going to be a first-round draft pick, which is fine because I never planned to be one. I knew my range; I knew what I was going to be coming out of college. The overall experience has been spectacular. Today I feel like I went No. 1 overall. I'm so excited. I can't wait to get to work and get to Denver."
Well, Moore is a little undersized in terms of his muscle mass, but he has all of the skills necessary to be an elite safety in the NFL. He's not a Troy Polamalu type of tackler, but he has improved in this area, and is simply a playmaker. He's definitely not going to be an "in the box" type of safety in the NFL. John Elway described him best when he called him a center fielder. Moore is going to be the guy on the back end of the defense--similar to what Renaldo Hill does now-- that makes plays left by his teammates. With the Broncos significantly improved pass rush (at least on paper), it will free up guys like Moore to make plays on the back end.
Definitely an undercut tackler who is quicker than fast, and a guy who isn't a liability against the run, but will definitely benefit from having powerful players in front of him.
This is a guy who is really going to benefit from the additions of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil, and we'll see what the Broncos are able to do tomorrow to continue to add to the front seven.
"Defense wins championships...Von Miller is a big-time talent. He has every little bit of a second (overall) pick you can think of. He's just that type of guy. I can't wait to make plays on the field with him."
3. Second Round, 46th overall (from Miami): Orlando Franklin, Offensive Lineman, Miami
At this point in our draft, I was pretty mad, but further review shows that Franklin was a solid pick as a guard, and is a guy who will absolutely start for the Broncos from day one. He can play pretty much anywhere on the line, but here's what his role will be with the Broncos:
"They told me they see me playing right tackle."
The soft spoken Franklin doesn't lack for fire on the football field. He will be 24 at the start of the season, so he's a little older than most rookies, but that's not a problem because he can probably play in the NFL for a long time as long as he checks out medically.
Franklin was asked back to Indianapolis for the Combine medical re-check, and apparently that is of no worry to the Denver Broncos, who used a very top tier choice on him. Here is a medical report from ESPN, making this pick somewhat curious:
In 2007, suffered left wrist injury vs. FSU and underwent surgery to repair fracture and two torn ligaments. Sat out spring practice in 2008 while rehabbing from surgery. In 2009, tore meniscus in left knee. Did not have an MRI until three weeks before 2010 camp. Played 2010 season with the injury and then underwent surgery on left meniscus. Did not run second 40-yard dash at combine because of the surgery.
"I like to think of myself as the most physical offensive lineman that was in this draft, and I am looking forward to bringing that nature to the Denver Broncos."
Indeed the Broncos will need some of that physical nature. They are going to be moving to the zone blocking scheme, and the plan is that Franklin will start for them at right tackle or left guard in the process, which means it's bye-bye for Ryan Harris, who has had a solid run as a Bronco. This is the question I have--are the Broncos willing to open up the competition between Beadles and Franklin at right tackle? This is no longer a power offense where Franklin might be useful as a tackle, so we will see if he can be effective in that role early on, and if not, will Beadles kick outside to block Tebow's blind side?
This is definitely a tough guy who will help the Broncos' atrocious running game with his overall power and sheer size. If the Broncos can keep him in check physically and mentally, this could be an outstanding pick and a guy who can play for a long time. I like this scouting report:
Relentless player who wants to finish every block like its his last. Franklin has the physical gifts and on-field smarts to be selected early in the draft.
4. Third Round, 67th overall: Nate Irving, Linebacker, North Carolina State
Fast linebacker who plays bigger than his listed size. He probably gives the best scouting report of himself:
"For those people who don't know me, I'm just a physical linebacker who likes to impose my will and punish the ball carrier or get a blocker out of my way to get to the ball carrier."
Not only that, but Irving brings some much needed intensity and leadership that the Broncos have lacked for a long, long time at the linebacker position. This selection really solidifies the Broncos' linebacker corps, at least on paper with D.J. Williams at the WILL, Von Miller as the SAM, and now Irving as the MIKE, and that's apparently where the Broncos told him he would be playing.
"I talked to the coaches, and they like me in the middle."
Quick, instinctive, hard hitting guy who finishes plays. He offers upside as a blitzer on passing downs and has a fantastic resume' from his time at North Carolina State. This is a guy who is constantly around the ball, constantly making plays, and he has overcome adversity to get where he is today. Irving missed the entire 2009 season due to being in a serious car accident, but came back in 2010 with a vengeance.
As a senior, Irving had 92 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, six pass breakups, three forced fumbles, and two fumbles recovered. Like I said, if this guy wasn't around the ball, it's because the NC State offense was on the field.
Very good range against the run, and has been big time proucer for the Wolfpack since he was a redshirt freshman in 2007. What Broncos fans should be most excited about are the intangibles Irving brings to the table. This could finally be the fiery leader the team has lacked at the MIKE linebacker position for so long.
Irving is a fast linebacker that makes plays all over the field. Well prepared player that reads keys quickly and has a nose for the football in run support. Drops smoothly in coverage, has terrific ball skills and the closing burst to get after the quarterback on blitzes. Vocal leader and fierce competitor.
"I was looking at the earlier pick, and I saw Von Miller, and I'm just looking forward to getting out there and playing alongside him. With me in the middle and him on the edge, we could wreak some havoc on every offensive team in the league."
We can only hope, Broncos fans.
Here's to a great day three!