John Elway now has three drafts under his belt and last year I wrote about trends that I've noticed from his first two drafts and those trends showed up in Elway's third draft. In that third draft there were some other trends that I noticed that are worth mentioning. By being able to identify trends, we can start to trim off the fat of the draft prospects and narrow our focus on prospects most likely to be selected by the Denver Broncos. By no means are these set in stone because at any given time Elway could go in a different direction. However history has shown that that these are the trends Elway likes and has shown not to stray away from them. While some trends maybe obvious, but they are still important and often overlooked. Some times you've got to be reminded of the basics.
The trends are broken down into rounds one through three and four through seven. There will be examples of players that fit these trends from the 2014 draft class and from previous ones--including the broncos.
Simple right? Of course if a guy is considered to be drafted this high he has to be productive. By productive, I mean productive for more than one year. Too many times we see players just suddenly jump on the scene their senior year or maybe junior year. Elway stays away from these one year wonders in rounds 1-3. Production can be seen differently by each position but the overall principal is that production shows if the guy is a play maker. If you cannot make plays in college on a constants basis then you're chances of doing so in the pros are slim. Also being productive more than one year shows you can still produce high numbers while being game planned for. If a player suddenly jumps on the scene one year, coaches are less likely to draw up an effective game plan against that player. There's a difference between being game planned in a week compared to all off-season. These coaches have a ton of time on their hands in the off-season and when they are not recruiting, they're figuring out effective game plans to shut down those players. Hence why it is more impressive for a player to have high production for more than one year. You could use Cam Newton and RGIII as prime examples of a one year wonder.
- 9 out of the 10 players drafted by Elway had productive careers. The one exception and you'll notice his name pop up a lot is Brock Osweiler.
- Examples from 2014 draft: Marcus Smith DE Louisville, Lamin Barrow MLB, LSU
Start more than one year
- No one year starters.
- Only exception is Brock Os
- Prefers those who have started 3 years. Von Miller, Rahim Moore, Orlando Frankln, Derrek Wolfe, Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball, Kavyon Webster
No major injuries their last year
I include Nate Irving with this group because he did play his entire senior year. Cross off Antone Exum from Virginia Tech-highest grade was a second round pick.
No off the field issues (this is true for all rounds)
- Nobody that has been arrested or has other off the field questions (sadly there's a lot of talented prospects that fall under this policy). A good example of this is Alec Olgetree last year.
- After the 2013 off-season, Elway definitely won't bring in anyone with off the field issues.
- Below are a few examples of players from the 2014 draft:
- CBs: Bradley Roby-arrested for a bar fight in 2013 (1st round grade), Louchiez Purifoy Florida-arrested 2013 (3rd round grade), Victor Hampton South Carolina-has a long history (3rd round grade), Marcus Roberson Florida-is questionable (3rd round grade).
- RBs: Ka'Deem Carey Arizona-arrested 2012, Jeremy Hill LSU-arrested twice, James Wilder Florida State-arrested, Carlos Hyde Ohio State-questionable, was suspended first three games of 2013 for a bar fight, no charges.
- DE: Aaron Lynch South Florida-was kicked out of a meeting at the combine…yikes.
- LBs: Shayne Skov Stanford—DUI 2012 (3rd round grade) and Ueni Unga Brigham Young.
- G: Chris Watt, Notre Dame (3rd round grade).
- If there are any questions about a prospect off the field then move on to the next prospect.
Now I know some of you can probably list off a number of guys who had off the field issues that went on to be successful or so far is successful. That's great…moving on.
Not against trading down, has traded up a few times only in later rounds.
- Traded down 2011 second round and 2012 first round to second round. 2012 also traded up for Ronnie Hillman….sad I know. Look for rounds two and three as the trading rounds.
- Thought about trading up for Nick Fairley. I'm thankful Elway didn't make that trade.
A new trend is effort and this goes for every round. If there is a question about the guy's effort. Don't bother with him. Elway stays away from those players and a good example is Short from Purdue last year. In 2012 it was Worthy from Michigan State. Elway stayed away from both of them. Players from 2014 draft class that have questions of effort: Andrew Jackson, MLB, Western Kentucky, Brandon Thomas G, Clemson, De'Anthony Thomas RB, Oregon and Isahiah Crowell RB, Alabama State.
- Likes to take chances (Julius Thomas-one year wonder Omar Bolden --injury)
- Quanterus Smith is another example.
- Then of course you have your depth picks.
Elway has had good success in the later rounds. Some of the notable draft picks: Virgil Green, Mailk Jackson, Juluis Thomas, and Danny Trevathan. Some of these guys were prospects that fell in the draft. The biggest one was Virgil Green as he was rated a third round prospect and lasted until the 7th round. Jackson was supposed to go in day two but slid to the 5th round. I predict that Jackson will be a household name in 2014. Elway will take advantage of players falling in the draft. Even in the higher rounds. Did so in 2013 with Sly Williams.
One thing is very clear with Elway from day one is that he loves pass rushers. His first three picks have been on pass rushers: Von Miller, Derrek Wolfe, and Sly Williams. Thought about trading up for Nick Fairly in 2011. Almost signed Charles Johnson in 2011 with Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil on the team—free agency was after the draft that year. Could you imagine those three on one team? Also went after John Abraham in 2012. There was the situation with Dumervil but Elway wanted to keep him. Signs Demarcus Ware. Elway could even get another one in the draft if the right one falls. IMO Elway will get as many pass rushers as he can to the point where it looks like the Giants d-line that won them two super bowls. Broncos are almost there. Think about it, the broncos have: Ware, Miller, Knighton, Jackson, Wolfe, and Sly Williams. Then you have Quanterus Smith waiting in the wings. Could there be an 8th pass rusher added? We'll see.
Before I present my mock drat, I want to show what I believe to be the bronco's weaknesses: G, MLB, CB, RB, interior depth on the o-line, and maybe FS.
I've taken into account grades from: ESPN, NFL.com, CBS, and Walter Football for those positions I see as a need. In other words, most of my attention has been on those prospects. Also I have read a number of prospect reports from those four sites including MockingtheDraft and draftbreakdown.com.
My mock draft:
First Round: RYAN SHAZIER, LB, Ohio State 6'2 237 (call it 240)
2013: 23.5 TFLS, 7 sacks, 6 QB hurries, 4 passes broken up….insane
2012: 17 TFLS, 5 sacks, 3 QB hurries, 10 passes broken up…..insane
He fits what Elway looks for: team captain, started three years, was productive, and no off the field issues. No questions about his effort.
Ryan Shazier has been a popular pick now and one that I suggested for a while. You guys are probably annoyed with it already.
I see Shazier as the broncos new MLB even though he is listed as an OLB. If you watch him, he does play a good amount inside. Ohio State loves to be in their nickel package with Shazier anchoring the middle. From there he is effective at diagnosing plays and does a nice job flowing to the ball. Against Wisconsin he made a couple of nice reads and got some TFLs. Doesn't get fooled by screens. On one screen he literally goes through a linemen, almost makes the tackle (slows the RB down) and the ball carrier is tackled shortly after. That's a "WOW" play that gets you excited about him. Did a good job of reading against Michigan State too. Is scary fast, doesn't take long for him to get going. Explosive first step, he's literally getting to the QB in little over a second on some blitzes. Runs plays down from the opposite side. Usually makes the tackle. Has strong hands, refuses to get blocked by TEs. Wisconsin has good ones too (just ask Clowney). Gives great effort, there was one play against Michigan State where there was a long completion. Shazier runs 40 yards and makes a TD saving tackle. impressive to watch. He's got a non-stop motor as well.
Here's some notable quotes from his scouting reports:
"Smart and puts himself in correct position to make plays. Sniffs out the ball and almost always finishes when he's in the area. Never quits working to the ball and relentless in pursuit." CBS Dane Brugler
"Overall instincts are good but not elite. Presses blocks and makes it tough to lock on. Recognition skills continue to improve in coverage. Can run with most backs and tight ends, though bigger tight ends can box him out at times." ESPN
"Bends naturally. Changes direction and accelerates with ease." NFL.com
He's not perfect though. "Gets caught in traffic or engulfed by larger blockers when he hesitates to step downhill." NFL.com. "Too easily engulfed when attacking the line of scrimmage." CBS Dane Brugler.
His weakness is something that Rio can deal with. The broncos run a good amount of 4-3 over/5-2/hybrid defense. Shazier is being protected by big uglies up front. They keep him clean. He gets TFLs with ease. I like matching him up with Trevathan as well. I'd have Shaizer be my QB spy/blitzer and Trevathan as my coverage LB on passing downs. Von Miller has done an awesome job at spying the QB but I rather have him rushing. Imagine a pass rush of Miller, Malik Jackson, Terrance Knighton, and Ware. Then imagine a guy like Shazier there to pick up the pieces if someone like Wilson or Kaepernick breaks free. With Shazier's explosive first step, he'll have those two on the ground within in a bleak of an eye. Shazier may or may not improve his biggest weakness—which is taking on blocks. Part of it depends on adding bulk—could be limited--and technique. I believe his strengths are good enough to hide that weakness in his game. Also worth noting, most LBs in the draft have problems taking on o-linemen. Even Christian Jones struggles with it.
Second round: David Yankey G Standford 6'5 315
A three year starter, junior year was a starting LT, and was the LG for his sophomore and senior year. He's a good athlete. Gets up to the second level, good at pulling, his pass set is a thing of beauty. I saw one play where he was pass setting, noticed nobody was coming and redirected back outside the tackle to block a LB. Made it look easy. Not many guards are athletic enough to do that. Does a nice job of getting good position on defenders in the run game. Walls them off from the play. Not a big mauler, but physical enough to get a nice push.
What others have said about him:
"Highly intelligent with above average instincts and awareness. Outstanding shuffle footwork and lateral movement skills." CBS Dane Brugler
"Sturdy build and above-average anchor to handle power moves. Flashes a heavy punch to latch on and control rushers. Good patience and rarely overextended. Assignment sound in the run game. Identifies and locates targets quickly within the tackle box. Excellent awareness and patience in pass pro. Quick diagnosis with defensive line stunts and blitzes from the second and third level." ESPN.
"Could struggle to corral quicker interior defenders." NFL.com
"Room to improve his hand placement, struggling to properly latch-and-drive. Will stop his feet at contact and needs to better sustain." CBS
I do worry about his ability to handle quicker interior linemen. Struggled against Notre Dame linemen, a swim move easily beat him. Besides that, most of his weaknesses can be coached and from what I have read, he is a hard worker and a coachable player.
A guard needs to be addressed early in the draft because I don't like how other guards in the draft move once you get deeper into the rounds. Richardson is a big guy from Baylor but he cannot move worth crap. Gabe Jackson would be a nice pick. I chose Yankey because he has better awareness and more patient in pass protection. Jackson has a tendency to get fooled by stunts and blitzes. Granted Manning does call out everyone's blocking assignment and where blitzes are coming form. Yankey or Jackson, a guard is a must right now.
Third round: Pierre Desir CB Lindenwood 6'1 198
Desir is a tall athletic CB at 6'1 from a Division two school where he completely tore it up. He didn't run as fast in the 40 as I thought he would. Had an official time of 4.59 but got 4.52 and 4.53 on his first two 40 yard attempts. Said he could run a 4.4. Overall a good athlete. He didn't do too bad at the Senior which IMO is a win for him. If he couldn't handle the completion from top D1 seniors then he would have struggled. He was physical in one on ones. Got a pick in the game.
Production was insane even for being in Division two. Had seven picks as a sophomore, nine his junior year, and four senior year. He is a mature individual and has two kids and is married. Don't have to worry about him off the field.
What others have said about Desir:
"Fluid athlete with light feet, flexibility and balance." CBS Rob Rang
"Also displays quality press-man skills but must continue to develop jam at the line. Natural ball skills and plucks away from frame. Makes a quick transition after catch and looks convert turnover into points. An aggressive hard edge setter. Flashes ability to deliver big hit and constantly looking to strip the ball on tape." ESPN
"Loses a half-step in transition and will struggle to carry NFL receivers vertically." NFL.com
"Overly reliant on his athleticism and may need significant development from a technical standpoint before competing for playing time in the NFL." CBS Rob Rang
One note from his Senior Bowl week,
"Desir's East-West Shrine week was described by many as just "okay." A late addition to the Senior Bowl, Desir measured in at 6-1 195 and played collegiately at Lindenwood. All of that together generated low expectations of him, for me at least. But Desir competed hard all week and had perhaps his best day on Wednesday, displaying solid technique and good results in press coverage and also showcasing his athletic skills to make plays on the ball and recover quickly when beaten. All of this speaks to Desir's competitiveness as well as his ability, and competitiveness is a great trait for a cornerback to have because in the NFL you're going to get beat from time-to-time. The key is how you respond on the next rep. Desir displayed competitiveness and toughness all week." Source: http://www.vikings.com/news/article-1/10-Who-Stood-Out-During-Senior-Bowl-Practices/b115f72b-d4f0-48a8-8906-7d4a0875bf00
Desir is a risky pick in round three. He did average a third round grade from the four sites. I can see him being an effective special teams player his first year and maybe second (contributes more by that time). I like the height and athleticism. His press coverage skills need coaching as does other parts of his game. However he has good ball skills, good athlete, physical in the run game, and a play maker (both picks and FF). His ability to look for a FF would also make him valuable on special teams in year one and two. The Denver Bronco coaches are good at developing young talent and Desir could be a stud.
Worth noting, Rob Rang compared Desir to DRC. A main difference between the two is that Desir is more physical.
Fourth round- James Gaylee DE Virginia Tech 6'3 260
2011: 7 sacks, 12.5 TFLS, 13 QB hurries
2012: 5 sacks, 11 TFLS, 9 QB hurries
2013: 6 sacks, 10.5 TFLs, 21 QB hurries.
A three year starter who has a good motor (important trait for pass rushers). Solid vs the run but needs to learn more pass rush moves. Can dip the corner at times. A good athlete, explosive first step. Often times relies upon that too much. Coachable player with no off the field issues. Gives the broncos another pass rusher to develop and hopefully another late round steal.
Fifth round: Brandon Linder G Miami 6'5 320
A three year starter at right guard, started a few games at RT. Even got some work at center. Good awareness in pass protection. Doesn't get fooled by stunts or blitzes. Has difficulties keeping defender in front once the defender gets an edge. Has a little nasty edge to him in the run game. Not a bad athlete for his size, pulls decently, and gets up to the second level. I was a little concerned to see Haggman from MN put him on his back at the Senior Bowl. Had some success during one on ones against other linemen. Still got beat by speed moves. A hard worker and team leader. I see him providing depth on the o-line.
Sixth round: Marion Grice RB Arizona State 6'0 210 or Damien William RB Oklahoma 5'11 225
Two RBs that I do like in the later rounds are Grice and William. Both of them can be three down backs, mostly a third down option at this point. Williams has a better chance of being a 3 down back. He runs good routes, good awareness in pass protection/pick up. Gets north and south quickly. There are questions about his ability to make people miss.
Grice is a natural pass catcher. Runs good routes too but William is better. Doesn't do anything specular. Is either average or just above average in every category. However is a below average power runner. Grice is the better play maker of the two. Also is good in pass protection. Does a very good job of taking out the legs of defenders. He will put his entire body on the line to protect the QB.
I like both backs on third down. None of them have off the field problems nor injuries. Both are hard workers.
Overall I'm not impressed with the RB class. The better ones have off the field questions and one that doesn't, looks like the next Laurence Maroney or Marion Barber. Also there are quite a few RBs with fumbling issues. A few RBs that this entails are Lache Seasrunk of Baylor and Thomas from Oregon. Dri Archer as well. Between the fumbling issues and off the field problems, the RB class becomes that much thinner.
7th round pick: Brett Smith QB Wyoming
Oh what the heck, Elway seems to like him and Elway drafted a QB here last year. Plus it's not very often you see a Wyoming player get drafted. It's like seeing a Rhode Island license plate.
From this draft the broncos got a starting 3 down LB, starting LG, for now a 4th string CB (I want him to replace Tony Carter), another pass rusher to develop, interior line depth, a young 3rd down RB, and the great plains (or the high plains in this case) of Wyoming.