This is my personal analysis over 2011 Denver Broncos draft strategy
I will put up another post where I’ll explain my personal vision on drafting based on best available player and to stay true to the board.
Still, I hope you won't mind all my grammar mistakes, I'm trying hard to improve...but I think I still belong to practice squad....
This year (2012) for the Broncos staying true to the board will be more difficult than last year, because of not drafting second overall (and at the beginning of any round) and because 2011 season showed a lot of promises, at every position.
This last sentence is really important. The way the season finished, winning in the playoff against Pittsburg (who really cares losing to NE in a divisional playoff game after going 4-12 in 2010?) and even making the playoffs by those 6 win in a row…all these happenings are not helpful to really understand the talent level the Broncos have.
I don’t think the Broncos have the real talent to deserve drafting at 25….but the team has guts….players played hard and with heart in all kind of situations, last minutes improbable comebacks or harassing losses for more than 30 points…..they always played with guts and it makes it harder to evaluate correctly both bubble players already on the roster and the rookie pool out there. A future rookie player could be more physically talented than a player already on the team….but will he show the same guts and heart and will? This is impossible to evaluate.
Again, this year positions of most glaring need are defensive tackle, cornerback, inside linebacker, IMO.
I would not add safety to the glaring needs because I have faith that coaches will develop a starter out of one between Rahim Moore and David Bruton (Raphael Bush could be in the mix too) and also because Quinton Carter is, to me, a starter already. I still have hope that Brian Dawkins could come back for another year….
Defensive end depth is also needed, as also for offensive line, outside linebacker, running back, wide receiver and quarterback positions.
This being said, even if I see a lot of mock drafts giving a DT to the Broncos in the first round, I’m not sure that it will be the path that the Broncos FO will take.
The scouting team did his diligence the past fall and is cleaning up the board with university all-stars games, combine and pro-days. This means that the Broncos board is filled with all the prospect that could be interesting for the Broncos scheme and now is the time of the year when athletic tests, tape watching and interview done by the FO together with coaches is trimming down the number of the prospect that will really make the Broncos final board.
If I recall correctly, Brian Xanders said last year that Broncos board for the 2011 draft were including more than 200 players. I guess that this list generally also includes CFA that will be signed after the draft ends.
By analyzing 2011 Broncos selections using pre-draft player evaluations between some of the best known mock sites, I’m presenting here my opinion of how Broncos FO drafted in each round last year:
1st round: best available player depending scheme need: Von Miller (OLB).
2nd round: best available player dropped from late first – early 2nd round value: Rahim Moore (FS).
2nd round: best available player depending scheme need: Orlando Franklin (RT).
3rd round: best available player depending scheme need: Nate Irving (ILB).
4th round: best available player dropped from second day value: Quinton Carter (SS).
4th round: best available developing prospect: Julius Thomas (TE).
6th round: best available player depending scheme need: Mike Mohammed (ILB/OLB).
7th round: best available player depending scheme need: Virgil Green (TE).
7th round: best available player depending scheme need: Jeremy Beal (DE).
So, as is possible to see, IMO, the Broncos selected six players using the “best available player depending scheme need” category. I invented this category to list all those selection that apparently have been done not considering a more dire need on the roster, in terms of position.
Also is interesting that “Dropped” category (from the 1st round and third round) includes the selection of Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter, allowing to guess that both player were valued by the Broncos FO with an higher value that an available player at a position of need (¿defensive tackle somebody?).
In total, the Denver Broncos selected 9 players, 8 of which later made the active roster, 6 of them were their best available player at the moment of the selection, 1 (Julius Thomas) was a too good prospect to be passed up (at the end of the fourth round) and 2 players had to high grades on the board to be passed up (Carter and Moore).
Also the positional selection is really interesting:
3 linebackers (Miller – 1st; Irving – 3rd; Mohammed – 6th)
2 safeties (Moore – 2nd; Carter – 4th)
1 offensive tackle (Franklin – 2nd)
2 tight ends (Thomas – 4th; Green – 7th)
1 defensive end (Beal – 7th)
It’s clear that the Broncos didn’t focus at all at position needs.
Prior to the Draft the most glaring positions of need for the Broncos were IMO (in order of dire need):
- Defensive Tackle
- Outside Linebacker
- Inside Linebacker
- Running Back
- Tight End
The few positions that were not a need were:
- Wide Receiver
- Special Team (Kicker, Punter, Long Snapper)
Of course I was one of the many Broncos fans screaming to my laptop any time the broncos were missing to select a defensive tackle, and it happened seven times (Broncos selected Rahim Moore and Orland Franklin in back to back selections, so when they selected Moore I was quite confident that a defensive tackle would came next).
At the end of the three days, I was really wondering who the Broncos were gonna play at defensive tackle, on the roster there were only Vickerson and Unrein. Denver FO actually had a great pickup in trading form Bunkley; signing cut Ty Warren also was a major step in a good direction (even if he didn’t play any snap this past year due to an injury occurred during a pre-season game). Signing Marcus Thomas for one year was really good too. So at the beginning of the camp the Broncos had, on paper, the best group of defensive tackle in a long time.
This was just one example of how things could turn out to be different from the perception that a fan has about drafting. Any time the Broncos were selecting, there always were on “fan boards” some defensive tackles that could be picked, but the Broncos passed on them over and over again.
During post-Draft interview they then clearly explained that they knew about the defensive tackle need but they felt better following their board.
Of course last year, thanks to the lockout, Free Agency was coming after the draft, helping the Broncos on staying true to their board, but also is to be said that both Bunkley and Warren were not free agent before free agency started. The Broncos were able to get them without having a big financial impact that usually free agent signings demand. And that was really a great job, kudos to the pro-scouting team and Xanders for play their cards really well.
So this year the situation is different, as normally in the NFL post season free agency signing period will happen before the draft, so staying true to the board during the draft is more complicated for a team that could not solve their needs through free agency.
Has to be remembered also that lately more and more roster movement have been done in June, when some signing bonus has to be paid. Off course at that moment nothing is set on stone, but still chances are there for trading or signing cap casualties too.
I even personally think that in this time of financial difficulties, it would help teams if the NFL would schedule free agency after the Draft. In this way, great organizations could use draft picks for stocking talent, leaving eventual undrafted needs to be attended through free agency. I think it would be for the better of team financial situation and smart organizations as the Broncos, would get better instantly.