DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 9: Champ Bailey #24 celebrates with teammates Marcus Thomas #79 and Quinton Carter #28 of the Denver Broncos v the San Diego Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 9, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Bart Young/Getty Images)
Recent discussions and murmurs around the web have offered up thoughts of Asante Samuel joining the Denver Broncos and the door closing on Marcus Thomas. I wanted to comment on these and other pre-draft thoughts and ponder on the Broncos plans for the 2012 NFL Draft beginning on Thursday.
At present, the Broncos have 71 players signed to the Roster. At the owners meeting last month in Palm Beach, Florida, there was a question on the table regarding expanding the roster limit for Training Camp and the offseason to 90 players. The question was shelved for a later time, so the will be no changes and unsigned draft picks will not count toward the 80-player limit. The Broncos have seven Draft picks and nine roster slots left. This gives them room to maneuver and I think there is a purpose for this.
The news of Defensive Lineman Ben Garland's return from active duty in the Air Force clears the air a bit on the supposed lack of personnel on the Denver D-Line. We've all been wondering what the hang up is in re-signing Defensive Tackle Marcus Thomas. It's been said that the feeling is mutual on Marcus staying in town, but he wishes a multi-year deal. Thomas has been petitioning fans on Twitter for support and is rumored to have interest by at least two other teams. The thing is, he hasn't had any known visits to any other teams. I have the feeling that the Broncos are calling his bluff.
There is no need for panic, because as I said earlier, this will allow the team some room to maneuver.
The same is true for Cornerback Asante Samuel. Whether or not the Broncos are able to sign him, Denver has a need for another Defensive Back with good coverage skills. At this point, the Eagles are practically giving him away. He could even be more readily available after the draft.
Let's just say, the team does pick him up before the draft. Now they have the means to defend the Patriots three-headed monster of Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. They can also keep up with the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions. All 3 teams blew out the Broncos last year. All three of those teams were in the playoffs too. We all know that the path to the Super Bowl in the AFC goes through New England.
Now, to tie all this together.
Denver has needs on the Defensive Line and Cornerback. They also have needs at Running Back and could use another Offensive weapon for Peyton Manning, whether that is a Wide Receiver or a speedy back who can also be used as a returner. An open field Yards After Catch guy. After finishing 25th and 24th in the league on Offense and Defense respectively, Denver cannot afford to only pay attention to one side of the ball. EFX knows this.
Many of us have stated, myself included, their wishes for the Broncos to draft one or two Defensive Tackles with their first 3 picks. I know I'd be happy with that. But since I am not a student of the draft (I really don't have the time or resources to evaluate college players), I can only go with what I know.
What I do know, is that the NFL draft is fluid. It is difficult enough to predict the top ten selections, much less the entire first round. The first trade will affect the rest of the draft, with some players dropping and others overdrafted. It is at best, a futile effort to predict the outcome with any success. This is why teams have a draft board and rank prospects according to their own parameters (need, scheme, character). The funny part is, when people say a player is overdrafted. Well maybe according to their evaluations, but truly, it can't be known until that player has been in the league for at least 3 seasons. If he can't be labeled a bust for three years, he simply can't be considered as over drafted either.
Are you still with me?
Okay, back to Samuel and Thomas.
So, hypothetically, the Broncos actually pickup Asante Samuel. And for instance Dre Kirkpatrick becomes available at #25 and the Broncos are on the clock. Do you take him?
This situation would give the Broncos four coverage guys in the Defensive backfield. Champ Bailey, Tracy Porter, Asante Samuel and Kirkpatrick. So who do you play?
All of them.
Champ can play Safety. He is good enough to make the change. He can cover and he can Tackle. It is more difficult for a Safety to make the switch to Corner than it is the other way around. Billy Thompson, Louis Wright, Steve Foley and Tyrone Braxton all did it. Not that it really matters what you call the position. It's really all a label anyway. The important part is to have the best eleven guys on the field. So what if all four guys in the defensive backfield are Cornerbacks.
That is just one scenario. If Kirkpatrick isn't available, the Broncos still have Samuel and can improve their squad at another position, whether it's on the Defensive Line or Running Back.
Now. Let's say the Broncos are on the clock and they decide their best pick is an Offensive player, or better yet, they don't draft a Defensive Lineman at all. After the draft is over, there will be another set of signings. Undrafted College Free Agents and what's left in the Unrestricted Free Agent Pool. I will bet that Marcus Thomas will be available to re-sign with the Broncos if the feeling is still mutual.
All I'm saying is, there is a plan for everything and team EFX is keeping all their options open in order to improve the 2012 roster.
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