Is it weird that I know a lot more about Michael Brockers than I know about Andrew Luck?
I'm gonna go on a limb here and say no. In fact, I'll go further by guessing that half of my MHR brethren stand with me in possessing more knowledge about Dre Kirkpatrick and Devon Still than we do about Matt Kalil and Justin Blackmon. We've just never seen Andrew Luck or Robert Griffen as legitimate prospects for our Broncos - so I guess while we do know about them, we just haven't spent as much time pouring over their details or even simply discussing them. And I think all of that probably goes doubly so with respect to the prospects that aren't as famous while also being seen (by us) as unattainable.
I think wise guys like you and me tend to prioritize the single girl in the room that's an "8" rather than lusting after the neighbor's wife that's a model. We're still going to look, sure, but we'll not spend a lot of effort. It's the same with the draft and its prospects. It's normal that we spend more time looking at the pluses and minuses of all the likely suspects and those players that are actually attainable, rather than spending our days lusting after Trent Richardson or Maurice Claiborne.
It's pretty normal and not too far fetched to think there might actually be a man-dime out there that we've been ignoring somewhat, mostly because we thought he was out of our league. So let's talk about this "10" and what it might take to get him...Although I had already come to terms that corner was our major priority leading into the draft - since adding Justin Bannan and releasing Andre Goodman within just a couple days of eachother - I was still surprised (and proud) at the balls EFX showed by making a move for Asante Samuel. He was making $10M/yr at the time and eventually renegotiated to around $6M/yr in his new contract. Now that we know the end cost, the initial attempt is probably not as surprising, but it still stands as a giant "Here's Your Sign" moment. It means EFX are either waging a major disinformation campaign, or else they really want a corner. Personally, I believed we needed a corner worse than a DT since before the Asante Samuel tire-kicking, so I'm inclined to stay that course thereafter.
Shortly after we heard that EFX had big enough stones to go after a top-10 corner right after signing the best quarterback the world has ever seen (yeah, it's like that), there was a report that came out about the brass calling around to find out how far we'd have to move up to get Stephon Gilmore (CB). I didn't really buy it. My knee-jerk reaction to that story went like this:
John Elway to John Fox and Brian Xanders: "Let's go out and try to get Asante Samuel, and let's make sure everybody knows about it". John Elway again: "Once we’ve failed in that mission, let’s start calling around to let teams know we’re targeting another corner. Let’s tell them which corner we’re targeting. And then let’s leak it to Spano so that he can tell anybody we might have forgotten".
In other words, I wasn't buying that the team would telegraph their intentions so drastically. Once we kicked the tires on Asante Samuel, it felt like there was just no way EFX would let the cat out of the bag if they were truly interested in moving up for Gilmore. So once again, I pretty much ignored the guy. Somehow that has since changed, though. I still can't understand why EFX would be so incompetent as to let this information leak - if it is indeed true - but I now think that Stephon Gilmore, well he does make sense.
I can see why the team would want to move up to take Gilmore.
Maurice Claiborne is going to be long gone. Dre Kirkpatrick has some character flags and he might be over-drafted due to his elite size, anyway. My favorite prospect in the 2nd round, Jayron Hosley, was just found out to have failed a drug test. Janoris Jenkins is action packed with issues. In short, there just aren't a lot of top corners available - not the kind of "team guy" that EFX generally look for. But there is Stehpon Gilmore - the guy we thought was too good for us all offseason long.
Half the mocks in mock-land involve trades, and yet I've never seen Gilmore's name to Denver. Anywhere. Ever. I've never seen a prospect report on him here at MHR. It's rare, in fact, that his name even comes up. Why? Well, it's because he's a 10 that we though was out of our league. But maybe he's not...
Stephon Gilmore is a leader. He's an on-field General that knows the responsibilities of everyone around him. He's a team-guy. He's smart - a film room junky and a true student of the game. Coaches and teammates absolutely love him. Gilmore has terrific size at over six-foot-tall, and he's got elite speed - 4.40 at the combine in the 40 yard dash. And he's a baller. No, really - he's a baller. He makes impact plays all over the field. Sacks, forced fumbles, interceptions; you name it, he's on it. He also comes out to really thump and punish ball carriers and "craves contact". If that wasn't enough, he also plays on special teams and as a return man.
This is a durable and experienced 40 game starter out of the SEC that still has a lot of upside (since he began his starting streak as a true freshman). He's got the exact size you want in an elite corner, and he's got both the speed and the ball skills. Gilmore is physical in run-support and in all aspects of his game. He's a guy that has no known red-flags or character concerns. He's well liked and well respected as both a teammate and an on-field leader. He's not cocky, though, which is nice because most corners these days are.
What I really just can't drill in far enough is his big play ability. He's a ball-hawk without a lot of interceptions (8) simply because teams have been throwing away from his for the past two years. And I'm not just saying that. I like to look at "passes defended" versus interceptions as a way to get an idea of how good a player's hands are. I don't know how scientific it is, but I generally figure that a good corner knocks down about two passes for every one that he catches. It's sort of a way to verify how many picks a guy should have if he's being thrown away from. Gilmore has a really great ratio there. So he can catch, which means he makes quarterbacks fear him. And like I said earlier, he also notches sacks, has a knack for forcing fumbles and also likes to hit running backs. Especially for a corner, this kid just finds a way to make plays. All over. Stephon Gilmore has never missed a game and is ready to step in and make impact immediately.
So, the question is: Is he out of our league?
If this man-dime is taken by the Jaguars at #9, then sure, he was out of our league all along. I would contend, however, that if he does indeed make it past those guys, then he's likely to be on the board at least until the Bengals make their first pick at #17.
So, will the Jaguars pick him? A lot of mock drafters seem to think so, maybe even up to half of the main-stream guys. Personally, I don't see anything sexy about picking a corner, and I think the Jags will have an owner in the room that's pushing them to make a sexier pick this year. If I'm wrong then he's gone. If I'm not, then he's still available.
Moving past Cincinnati would mean wheeling with the Jets for something in the neighborhood of two 3rd round picks - one this year and one next year. That would put us at #16 where we would have Stephon Gilmore at hello.
So I guess to sum it up, I think I've recently opened my eyes to this potential man-dime that plays the position that we meed most. Somehow it took for the Broncos to either slip up, or to strategically misinform, before I ever allowed myself to man-crush on this player that I had previously thought was out of our league. The more I've read and watched the more I like. Check him out and tell me what you think.
In my opinion, it's more likely than not that Stephon Gilmore lasts on the board until pick #16. I think the price to move up for him at that spot (a couple 3rd rounders -ish) is slightly tolerable. And I think that he's the type of player that our FO sincerely covets, regardless of whether they leaked information or not.
So I'm going to end by saying Kendall Wright is still my expectation if we stay at #25, but Stephon Gilmore at #16 makes even more sense. What say you?
And happy draft day, btw. I'd say good luck to all of us, but we don't need luck... we've got EFX.