The Denver Broncos drafted more toys for Peyton Manning on Friday, selecting WR Cody Latimer with the 56th pickand OT Michael Schofield with the 95th. Neither are necessarily sure-fire starters Day One, but that's a rare trait of second and third round draft picks. Both add depth and can compete.
Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway said the Broncos were targeting Latimer and decided to move up when the run on wide receivers was taking place in the second round.
"He was high on our board," Elway said. "The players that we wanted, once they started disappearing, that's when we decided we wanted to move up and make sure that Cody was still there. He was our target at that time when we moved up, so we felt it was time to move. We're thrilled to get Cody there."
Both Elway and head coach John Fox said Latimer's tenacity as a blocker separated him from other receivers on Denver's board.
"He's big, fast, very tough and an outstanding blocker-maybe the best blocker at the wide receiver position in the draft," John Fox said.
"We really liked the complete package," Elway said. "Really the cherry on top of the sundae was how he goes about and plays the game. He was the best blocking wide receiver, by far, in the draft. He took pride in what he did. He took pride in blocking. To me, that's what separated him."
The Broncos drafted OT Michael Schofield with versatility in mind. Denver's o-line is in the middle of some personnel shifting, with Orlando Franklin testing his mettle at left guard and Chris Clark possibly moving to right tackle. Schofield played both positions in college, giving the Broncos depth and experience - and another name to add to the competition.
"It gives us a lot of different options," said Elway. "With the offensive line there we're depending on what we do with [OL] Orlando [Franklin] and if he can stay there, but we're going to look at all of the different options. With his versatility he'll start at tackle and move inside and play some guard also."
"He's got a lot of upside," John Fox said of Schofield. "Very long, very athletic. A guy that we studied really hard in the Senior Bowl as well as his college tape and we think has tremendous upside and can come in and help us right away."
The Broncos didn't have a lot of contact with either player before the draft - both Latimer and Schofield voiced surprise at the Broncos choosing them - but that shouldn't suggest the Broncos didn't do their homework on these players. Where Bradley Roby comes with a recent history of off-field incidents, both Latimer and Schofield are highly touted locker room leaders.
"We only have so much time to spend with so many different people," said Elway, "so the character reports that have come back on these guys, especially Michael and Cody, today came back squeaky clean and what kind of guys they were. We try to spend as much time with everybody that we can but we really relied a lot on our scouts and the background they get when they're at the school call. Both these guys came back with tremendous compliments from both their schools."
Elway said the Broncos will look to Schofield, Latimer, and Roby to come in and have an impact as soon as 2014.
"We expect all these guys to come in and compete and hopefully at some point make us better," said Elway. "We're not putting them on the back burner. We're going to have them compete. I think they all have the ability, all three of them, really have the ability to come in and help us."