Denver Broncos News: Horse Tracks - 4/6/11

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Water Seeks Its Own Level in Talent Pool " DenverBroncos.com
Much has been made of the Broncos’ brain trust taking a hard look at the quarterback position, but they are actually doing that at all positions, some just being more glamorous than others. When it comes down to it, a team is going to draft players, and there is no way of knowing absolutely how that infusion of new talent will impact the existing roster here and elsewhere.

Is Tebow "Go-to-Guy" or "Guy-to-Go?" - KDVR
While the bar stool arguments about this could go on forever, thinking about it in a different way may make things clearer. Say you, the Broncos fan, are at a restaurant, and you are dead set on ordering the fish. The chef strolls by (Elway), so you ask him about it. He responds in a lukewarm fashion and says "The fish is good---but you should really try the steak!!" That steak is a quarterback other than Tebow. While it may be that the steak is just that good, it may also be that the fish just isn’t, and when it comes to ordering up that entrée, I’m responding with two words "Chef’s recommendation."

Q&A: Lockout leaves NFL's international games on hold - The Denver Post
The NFL has had discussions about games in China and the Broncos were named in some of the preliminary talks as a team that would have played in one of those games — likely in Shanghai — if they had come to pass. Look for the NFL to try to play in China again and continue to play in Europe. Also, the Bills have an agreement to play some home games in Toronto.

Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller rising in NFL draft - The Denver Post
Poll some scouts and folks who make the personnel decisions around the league and there is an elite player who is still rising on the draft boards. Surprising that a top-five player such as Miller could still be considered as rising, but what that really means is the people who make the calls on draft day are becoming increasingly comfortable with Miller as an all-around prospect.

NFL NEWS

Drive-By Football: The Ratio of Relative Importance
What determines success in today's NFL? Is it high-flying offenses like the Colts and Patriots, or dirty physical defenses like the Ravens and Steelers? A Football team consists primarily of three units: Offense, Defense, and Special Teams. Only one of these units is on the field at a time for each team. Each drive is a one-on-one match-up between offense and defense—with special teams plays scattered throughout. The question: What dictates play in the NFL? In other words, what is the relative importance from offense to defense to special teams?

Another lockout issue | National Football Post
New coaching staffs do have the luxury (and something I see as a necessity) of holding an extra mini camp in the offseason. That camp—which is a usually a veteran camp—is held on one of the weekends leading up to the draft. However, as new Vikings’ coach Leslie Frazier announced on Monday, Minnesota will cancel their scheduled camp this weekend because the NFL is currently closed for business. And we can apply the same thing to new staffs in Carolina, Denver, Cleveland, Tennessee, San Francisco, and Oakland (unless the lockout is suddenly lifted).

Hall of Fame Game could create an edge for 2 teams | National Football Post
In the event the labor battle wages on into the summer and the start of training camps are delayed, one of the first casualties will be the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game. The kickoff to the season has been a staple at the ceremonies in Canton, Ohio, since 1962 and it marks the first televised NFL event since the draft. But the Aug. 7 game will not be played unless the owners and players can hammer out an agreement well in advance of it.

When discussing 2011 season, owners walk tightrope between fans and players | ProFootballTalk
The problem is that the players hear these statements, too. Thus, the owners’ commitment to playing football in 2011 (Titans owner Bud Adams recently "guaranteed" that a season will happen) diminishes to a certain extent the league’s ability to drive a hard bargain, since vowing to the fans that games will be played this season takes the ultimate economic weapon against the players — denial of game checks — off the table. Thus, the players could dig in even harder as the season approaches, refusing to move from their desire to continue to get 50 cents of every dollar earned, since the owners have promised that games will be played.

What were the seminal offenses/defenses of each decade? | Smart Football
1990s: Zone blocking and multiple-eight man front defenses.

Report: Refrigerator Perry gets his ring back - NFL News | FOX Sports on MSN
Forrest took $8,500 out of his college education fund to buy the Super Bowl XX ring that once belonged to Perry and then returned it to the Fridge on Saturday morning, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. It just seemed like the right thing to do, Forrest told the newspaper.

2010 Carolina Panthers: What the Film Revealed - NYTimes.com
On the bright side, the Panthers’ season answered once and for all the question of whether an N.F.L. team can win without a quarterback. The last coach to say a team could win sans a good quarterback was probably John Fox — and he changed his view a few years ago. Fox’s Panthers validated his new stance; neither Matt Moore nor Jimmy Clausen proved capable of executing a pro offense. Both were unable to read defenses before the snap and failed to push the ball downfield in the face of pressure.

NY Giants Owner Fumbles in Bid to Escape Jury Duty - NYTimes.com
The owner of the New York Giants tried a courthouse version of the Hail Mary pass Tuesday to escape serving on a jury hearing a drug trial before a judge threw him for a loss, rejecting excuses that included the upcoming NFL draft and his role as a negotiator for team owners in the work stoppage that resulted from their dispute with players.

NFL DRAFT

Pondering a future without the NFL Draft | ProFootballTalk
It’s hard to imagine life without the NFL Draft. It just doesn’t sound realistic: What would Mel Kiper talk about? While the dissolution of the draft in favor of a system where every player was an undrafted free agent seems illogical — not mention abhorrent to most fans — it is an issue currently on the table.

Final preparations for the draft | National Football Post
During the meetings that would last a week to ten days we would discuss each player individually, going over his character and his playing ability. If there were any medical questions, that was discussed also. Anyone (coach or scout) who scouted or worked out the player would have a chance to contribute in the discussion and trust me the discussions can get lively, especially if there is a difference in opinion as to the player’s ability. Discussion is good because you want to make sure that you have the right evaluation on each player. It’s not about who is right, it’s about being right.

Two sport studs | National Football Post
QB Colin Kaepernick: Nevada (Baseball) As a high school senior Kaepernick chose football over baseball, despite the fact he was considered a better pitching prospect than QB. His fastball was capable of reaching the mid 90’s and he was actually drafted in the 43rd round by the Chicago Cubs in the 2009 MLB draft. You can tell when you watch him on tape he still feels comfortable delivering the football as if he’s a pitcher, as he possesses an elongated release and isn’t real compact/clean with his throwing mechanics. Therefore, one of his major drawbacks as a prospect looks to be directly correlated with his time spent as a pitcher.

Breaking down the rules regarding pre-draft rookie visits | ProFootballTalk
As NFL spokesman Randall Liu explained it via e-mail, each team may transport a maximum of 30 draft-eligible players to the team’s home city or another location for a one-day physical examination. These players cannot be timed and tested. Interviews and written tests may be conducted during the visit.

NFL.com Blogs " Blog Archive Brandt: Broncos could go QB at No. 2 "
Gil Brandt still believes in Tim Tebow as a viable NFL quarterback, but he does buy into the notion that John Elway and John Fox might not share his opinion — and that they very well could take a quarterback with the second overall pick in the draft. During his weekly NFL.com chat, Brandt was asked about the situation. "Apparently, John Elway does not feel that Tim Tebow will ever be the franchise QB the previous regime had hoped he’d be," said Brandt, "so they are thinking about drafting a QB.

Mikel Leshoure gaining on Mark Ingram to be first RB drafted - Peter King - SI.com
My feeling is the Browns are borderline sold on McCoy and won't do anything about a quarterback in this draft, unless it's taking one down the line. Seattle could choose one. Denver could too, though I think it'd be a big mistake. But you're right, teams like San Francisco, Arizona and Minnesota just don't know what to do right now because they're not sure what they can get in free agency and whether that should impact what they do in the draft. It's a very tough deal.

Running backs likely will be scarce in 2011 NFL Draft first round - Don Banks - SI.com
And so it has come to this regarding the state of running backs in the first round of the NFL draft: While there seems to be a growing debate whether former Heisman winner Mark Ingram of Alabama or Illinois' Mikel Leshoure will be the first rusher selected, maybe the more pertinent question is whether this year's first round will come and go without at least two running backs being selected -- something that hasn't happened since 1963.

N.F.L. Draft: Kyle Rudolph, Second-Ranked Tight End - NYTimes.com
Rudolph reminds me of Jason Witten because he’s a big, physical player who imposes his will as a blocker and ball carrier, but he’s also savvy and nimble as a receiver and route runner. I don’t think Rudolph has Witten’s top-shelf physical skills, but Rudolph’s are good enough to make him a productive N.F.L. starter capable of similar production in an offense that chooses to feature him in that capacity.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Draft countdown: Pick No. 23
Overview: The term solid comes to mind when generalizing the crop of players that have been selected with the 23rd overall pick. The statistics don't jump off the page, but PFW found that many of the players taken No. 23, which is held by the Eagles this year, have gone on to have productive careers:

ProFootballWeekly.com - The long path of Martez Wilson
From a distance, Martez Wilson appears to be following a familiar path to the NFL. Athletic kid — the fastest on his freshman high school team — dominates on the prep level from the moment he first steps on the field before becoming a five-star recruit. Elects to attend his home-state, major-conference school. Starts slowly but ends his college career playing great ball prior to passing on his senior season and making himself eligible for the draft. Workout warrior impresses coaches and scouts to increase his stock and become one of the top players at his position.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Carolina seeks second-round pick
Carolina is still unsettled at the QB position, but history suggests GM Marty Hurney will not select one until the second round, where his focus remains on securing a pick.

With draft boards mostly set, NFL teams now completing due diligence - NFL - Sporting News
You're going to be reading a lot about players who are rising and players who are falling between now and April 28, the opening night of the NFL draft. Take it all in with a few drops of Visine. The Houston Texans, for example, already have their draft board set. The only thing they'll be doing over the next few weeks is tweaking their board and, like a lot of NFL teams, sending out misinformation. "Our board is set," G.M. Rick Smith said via the team's website. "We've got the preliminary board set, but ... we'll spend the next month really, really studying our board and these players, and assessing the value and making sure that we've got them pegged the right way so that we give ourselves a chance to have some success on the three draft days."

Second-round picks with first-round talent | National Football Post
Not only is there some real talent toward the top end of the draft, but the first-round depth is very good as well. Therefore, with only 32 picks in round one, some talented, potential impact-caliber prospects who possess first-round grades are likely to fall into round two.

NFL.com news: Blue-chip talent scarce, so teams must weigh risk vs. potential
Every draft is filled with blue-chip players. Sometimes they come off the board early -- such was the case in the 1989 draft, which produced four Hall of Famers in the first five picks -- and sometimes they last until the later rounds. As I mentioned last week, the key to any draft is being able to accurately define the blue-chip players and those who have blue traits. The definition of a blue-chip player is as follows: He has unique ability and will become one of the best players (top five) at his position in the league, or will eventually be a featured player on the team. This player has no weaknesses, nor does he have any off-the-field issues that impact his performance on the field. Players with blue traits share the same definition, but need more time to refine their talents.

Da'Quan Bowers Could Be a Draft Day Steal - Mocking The Draft
I am a strong believer in Da'Quan Bowers and feel that he will have a very successful NFL career. While the knee injury and 40 time should impact his draft stock it shouldn't be significant. Workouts and tests play to much of a role in the evaluation process and sometimes clouds a team's perception. Bowers is suffering from technology and social media as the twitter universe is full of criticisms. However, I am confident that NFL teams will be making their own judgments but the public perception on Bowers has taken a negative turn.

Dropping DEs could create trade flurry - CBSSports.com
Tampa Bay drafts 20th overall, and general manager Mark Dominik has had the line in the water since February, when he publicly expressed the Buccaneers might be interested in dealing on draft day. As the draft board takes shape, we might have better insight into Dominik's thinking. And bet your Barry Sanders rookie card he's not alone in the "trade 'em if you've got 'em" approach. The depth of the defensive end class and the volatility of other positions creates uncertainty in the draft in the 15-20 range. That's looking like fertile territory for trades, especially if a player the caliber of Da'Quan Bowers slips into the middle of the round. The trickle-down could push other quality defensive ends into the lap of teams that didn't expect to have a shot at players such as Iowa's Adrian Clayborn and Missouri's Aldon Smith.

NFL LOCKOUT

Scout.com: Professor Rapp Redux
Presumably, when the two sides to settle this dispute, they will agree on a provision that reinstates player contracts executed under the prior CBA. It’s also possible that the players will be able to negotiate some sort back-pay to cover any missed salary payments during the lockout as part of the resolution of the dispute. But the bottom line is that lock outs like the one the teams are pursuing are meant to exert economic pressure on employees precisely by denying them regular payments.

NFL's lockout unlikely to match length of NHL's | The Tennessean | tennessean.com
Yet there are significant differences between the current NFL lockout and the last NHL lockout — both in the reasoning behind the stoppages and in their duration. NHL owners faced a more dire economic future at the time than do their NFL counterparts. That's largely why three national sports business experts this week said they feel that the NFL lockout will end before it claims an entire season.

Brady can aid fantastic finish to labor dispute - NFL - Yahoo! Sports
This is why Brady and his two buddies are uniquely positioned to make a move toward resolving this staredown. Given his relationship with Kraft, the Pats quarterback surely could reach out in an attempt to arrange an ultra-secret, off-the-record settlement meeting with a select group of savvy and sensible owners. In addition to Kraft, I’d vote for the Giants’ John Mara and the Steelers’ Dan Rooney (he is, after all, a diplomat by trade) to sit across the table from the three quarterbacks. Sorry, Jerry Richardson – you’re not invited. Nor are Kessler, his fellow union lawyers or league counterparts Jeff Pash and Bob Batterman. Even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Smith would have to sit out these talks.

N.F.L. Players Put Faith in Antitrust Lawyer - NYTimes.com
The man largely responsible for one of the more daring plays in professional football was never much of an athlete. Jeffrey Kessler grew up in Brooklyn in the 1960s as an admittedly inadequate two-guard in basketball, his shot only slightly less bad than his ball-handling. He played no football.

Ten things to know about the Wednesday court hearing | ProFootballTalk
Tomorrow, the first major skirmish in the antitrust lawsuit filed by the players against the NFL occurs in Minnesota. We’ve said plenty about it over the past 24 days, and we’ve decided to cobble together a 10-item summary of the most important things to know about one of the most important court dates in the history of the league.

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