Since I did a fair amount of research on the DTs, LBs and RBs available in this draft.
I wanted to share my thoughts on the Broncos picking up Wolfe, Hillman and Trevathan. I will also discuss Blake a bit since he plays the position(s) that I know best from my playing days.
I'll admit that I bought into the draft groupthink. I wanted us to get Worthy or Still, but I have really started to like "The Wolfe." All you had to say was that you were sending "The Wolfe." WARNING - adult language.
Wolfe plays with very good technique. He has been coached well. He has a wrestling background so he knows how to employ leverage. His 6'5" frame means that he could add 10 lbs of muscle and presumable not lose any of his quickness. How do we know he is quick? Well, it shows up in game tape and there a little of that tape available on youtube. It also showed at the combine. His ability to start-stop and change directions is very good. I worked on a stat that I called CoD (change of direction) which was just the sum of the 20-yd shuttle and the 3-cone drill. His CoD was the 3rd best in this year's class of DTs (behind Cox and Martin). In fact, if you look back at the last four drafts Wolfe has the 6th best combination of quickness and power for a DT as measured by CoD and explosion number.
|combine weight||40||3-cone||20-yd shut.||LA||CoD||EN|
|Martin, V.||331||5.00||7.28||4.31||0.69||11.59||no broad|
Ok. So he has the combine performance and he has great college production for a DT. We know he has a great motor from watching the film on him. So why wasn't this guy being talked about in the same breath as Worthy, Still, Brockers, Cox, Poe and Reyes? The knock on him is that he played against weaker competition much like Reyes and Poe. Like Reyes and Poe his stats came against relatively weak competition and he had few chances to show what he could do against ranked opponents. In his one game against a team that finished the season ranked last season, WVU, Wolfe recorded 5 tackles with 2.5 TFL. As a junior he played against two teams that finished the season ranked - NCSU and Oklahoma. Against NCSU he had 2 tackles. Against OK he had 5 tackles and 1 TFL. As a sophomore he had 3 chances to play against ranked opponents - WVU, Pitt and Florida. Against WVU he had 4 tackles, 1 TFL. Against Pitt he had 5 tackles, 1.5 TFL. Against Florida he had zero tackles. So other than his game against Florida (facing Tebow and the Pounceys) he played fairly well in his biggest games.
The other point that I want to bring up about Wolfe is this - go look up who got drafted at #87 in the draft....John Hughes, DT, Cincinatti. This guy was completely off my radar (and almost everyone else's apparently). I looked at the top 20 DTs in the draft in my previous post. NFLdraftscout had Hughes as the 36th best DT in the draft. So why did this guy get picked with the 24th pick in the 3rd round, before Thompson, Ta'Amu, Howard, Crick and Chapman? One explanation is that the Browns don't know what the frack they are doing. There might be some merit to that, but another explanation is that Hughes, who was predominantly the 1-tech for Cincinatti, is an NFL-caliber NT. Hughes, 6-4 300, had 51 tackles, 12.5 TFL and 5.0 sacks as a senior. You could argue that Hughes' numbers look good because he played next to Wolfe (a similar argument was made about Bowers with Thompson in 2011). You could also argue that Wolfe's numbers are inflated because he played alongside a very good 1-technique. I'm not really sure what to make of the Hughes pick and/or what it means about "The Wolfe," but I'm cool. All you had to say was the you were sending "The Wolfe"
The Ozzy pick has already been dissected too many times. I not going to try, so I'll just move on to...
Again, I was crestfallen when we picked Hillman, no so much because I thought that he was a bad pick, but I was hoping that we were going to get another defender at 67 and wait until later to get a RB. The Hillman pick has grown on me after I went back and looked at the RB analysis that I did. The fact that Hillman broke Marshall Faulk's records at SDSU is cool, but immaterial. I think he is good pickup. He has a very good burst and I actually think that he plays faster than his 4.45 40 time. He he good quickness and vision form watching film, but I can't compare his combine numbers (or pro-day numbers) to the other backs in the draft because he didn't do many of the combine drills. In terms of game production he was quite impressive, but the same criticism can be leveled against him that is leveled against Wolfe - he played against fairly weak competition. Hillman only had five games in his two college seasons against teams that finished the year ranked in the top 25. Here are his rushing stats from those games
|9/24/2011||@ 12 Michigan||L 7-28||21||109||5.19||0|
|10/8/2011||14 TCU||L 14-27||20||55||2.75||0|
|11/19/2011||8 Boise St.||L 35-52||3||8||2.67||0|
|9/18/2010||@ 18 Missouri||L 24-27||23||228||9.91||2|
|11/13/2010||@ 2 TCU||L 35-40||13||54||4.15||0|
Outside of the game against Missouri and maybe the game against Michigan, has was fairly ineffective against ranked opponents. He might have been dinged up in the game against BSU, I'm not sure, some of our "Double Broncos" fans might be able to confirm that.
For his size, Hillman was able to carry the rock a good bit in college (24 carries per game as a soph and 20 as a freshman). He had 3 games in his career with over 30 carries. His ability to break long runs was ok. He had 44 runs of 10 or more in 2011, but he also had the most carries of the top 20 backs (311). Only 14.1% of his runs went for 10+ which was below average for this year (average was 15.3%) and the top was Bolden who had 20.8% of his runs go for 10+ (but only in 98 carries). In terms of absolute number his 44 runs of 10+ were tied for 3rd of the RBs in the draft - behind James and Wilson - tied with T. Richardson. His 15 carries of 20+ were again good (4th) but his % was low since he had so many more carries than James - who had 19 runs of 20+ in 247 carries. Only 4.8% of Hillman's carries went for 20+, James was the best with 7.7% of his carries going for 20+. So I am a little bit worried about his homerun threat capability, but I'll reserve judgement until we see him toting the rock in the preseason against NFL defenders.
I watched two entire game films on Hillman (vs Michigan and vs WSU) both are available on youtube. The scariest part of the game tapes is the fact that Hillman fumbles 4 times in those two games. I was unable to find the number of times that he fumbled in 2011 (or 2010 for that matter), but I did find that SDSU as a team only fumbled the ball 15 times in 2011. So it's possible that I just happened to see two games where he had buttery fingers, but watching our shiny new game-breaker RB fumble the ball is a little bit disconcerting after watching our last shiny new college RB do the same thing too many times as a Bronco. Speaking of KnoMo, I have seen some comparison between Hillman and Moreno so I wanted to dig a little deeper there to see if they are similar (I was not a fan of KnoMo when we picked him and I continue to not be a fan of KnoMo). Both left for the NFL after their second college season. Here are Moreno's combine numbers followed by Hillman in parentheses - Hillman didn't do the broad, 20-yd or 3-cone
5-11, 217 (5-9, 200)
40 - 4.50 (4.45)
vertical - 35.5 (37)
bench - 25 (17)
broad - 115
3-cone - 6.84
20-yd - 4.27
Hillman is shorter and lighter. Hillman is faster and has a little more lower body strength while being significantly weaker in his upper body. So how do these two guys compare in terms of game day production in their last year in college? see below
|Hillman - 2011|
|Moreno - 2008|
Both players had very similar numbers in their first college season as well. Again Moreno played against bigger, stronger, faster defenders in the SEC and so maybe his numbers look better because of his level of competition. In terms of games against ranked opponents Moreno fared about the same as Hillman
|9/27/2008||6 Alabama||L 30-41||9||34||3.78||1|
|11/1/2008||+ 1 Florida||L 10-49||17||65||3.82||0|
|11/29/2008||22 Georgia Tech||L 42-45||17||94||5.53||1|
|1/1/2009||+ 24 Michigan St.||W 24-12||23||62||2.7||0|
|10/6/2007||@ 12 Tennessee||L 14-35||13||30||2.31||0|
|10/27/2007||+ 13 Florida||W 42-30||33||188||5.7||3|
|11/10/2007||15 Auburn||W 45-20||22||101||4.59||2|
|1/1/2008||+ 19 Hawaii||W 41-10||9||61||6.78||2|
Like Hillman, Moreno had one really great game (vs Florida in 07). Moreno had two impressive games (Hawaii and GT), but he also had some games were he was a non-factor (UF in 08, MSU, Tenn.). So my conclusion is that both backs do appear very similar in terms of body type and college production. The difference is hopefully Hillman's greater field vision and breakaway speed, but we will have to wait and see.
Blake is currently 26. One of the reasons why lineman take time to reach their fullest potential is the NFL is that most lineman enter the NFL at the age of 21 or 22. The human male does not reach his peak in terms of strength and endurance until the age of 27. So Blake is essentially at his peak. Walton just turned 25. He is not there yet. When we drafted J.D. Walton there wasn't a whole lot of film available on him, mainly because Baylor football was not as prominent as it has been in the past two college seasons. Because of the hypeman trophy the Baylor QB received, there is a great deal of film available to watch Blake play. He is very effective both in double team situations and in single blocking. In terms of body type, Blake has much more of his weight in his lower body relative to Walton or Beadles (see pics below). Blake has more "sand in his pants," in other words, Walton does no have much of a butt while Blake does. He squats over 600 lbs and this shows up on film. He is very effective at stonewalling a bull rush and you need a strong anchor to do that on regular basis. At this poitn we don't know whether Blake is going to line up primarily at G or C but he already has a stronger lower body than both Walton and Beadles. Additionally he appears to have fairly quick feet. In terms of combine numbers here is how he stacks up to both Walton and Beadles (Zane had a bad hammy so he opted out of many drills):
While I like Blake's physical maturity I am not expecting him to contribute immediately because he is still fairly new to the game, but the same criticism was leveled against Orlando Franklin last year and he contributed almost immediately so there is a chance. If we had landed Akeem Hicks in the draft one might come to conclusion that Broncos really like Candadian players with Blake, Franklin and Bolden drafted in the past two years.
He fits the mold of both Fox and JDR like in the their Mikes. Small(er), quick, strong and a sure tackler. I was going to say more about him, but Palehorse78 already said what I was going to say.
Knowing what you know now about Wolfe and Hillman, what will their collective contribution to the Broncos be over their careers?
one or both are busts (5 votes)
career role-players (6 votes)
average starters (7 votes)
above average starters (24 votes)
Hillman makes the Pro-bowl, Wolfe doesn't (0 votes)
Wolfe will make a Pro-bowl, Hillman won't (35 votes)
Both will be pro-bowl players are some point (16 votes)
One or both will make All-Pro at one point in their careers (16 votes)
109 total votes