I'll say this for the Broncos - they certainly are trying to stay ahead of the information tidal wave that is the internet. The Broncos currently have several members of the team, in all capacities, blogging about the team's day-to-day life, from writers to cheerleaders, to even Miles, the team's mascot. You can add one more name to the impressive list, and one more feed to your growing list of Broncos's sources. General Manager Ted Sundquist is now adding his first-hand knowledge to the blogosphere and only a Mike Shana-blog would be better. Most out there think the Broncos don;t have a GM, that Shanny makes all the personnel decisions, and while that may be the case, I think Sundquist is alot more involved than people think.
Sundquist addresses two specific picks that Broncos fans point to as busts, and gives some insight as to why those picks were made - Marcus Nash in 1998 and Deltha O'Neal in 2000 -
Subsequently there are only four receivers left on active rosters since the '98 draft that were selected after Nash; Joe Jurevicius, Hines Ward, Tim Dwight and Jim Turner. Important to note, only Ward and Turner remain with their original teams. At the time, Ward was converting from QB, not a lock at WR and seen as a 3rd round pick. Jurevicius was more in the McCaffrey mold (whom we already had) and Dwight, though explosive as a returner, was undersized for our liking and considered a 3rd to 4th round pick.
Twenty-five other WR's from the class of '98 are no longer in the League. Many might argue how we could pass on such a "now" productive player as Hines Ward at the time, but I guess the same question should be asked of the other 61 picks that occurred prior to his selection as the last choice of the third round (#92).
Yet from '98 -'07 Denver ranks 8th overall in gross receiving yards, 6th in TD receptions, 13th in total receptions & 9th in avg yards per reception. All while leading the NFL in rushing and finishing 5th in total offense. Somehow I don't think the selection of Marcus Nash has crippled our passing game or our offense since 1998.
2000 saw Denver in need of a returner and a young corner prospect. Deltha O'Neal had been an explosive kickoff and punt returner for Cal in '99. He recorded 9 interceptions that season and was selected a consensus first team All-American playing in the "pass happy" PAC-10. Clocked at 4.40 during his personal workout, Deltha had the arm length, ball skills and instincts the League was looking for. The Broncos had tied for 20th in interceptions (15) and were 25th in punt return average (7.2). Kiper projected him as a first round pick, along with TSN at the top of the second. Ray Crockett and Dale Carter had been the starters the year before and all the numbers pointed towards Deltha slotting nicely into our defensive secondary as a productive turnover and return specialist.
Only seven DC's remain active from the '00 draft and none are with their original teams. The first round has only five picks after our selection that remain with their original team; Sebastian Janikowski OAK, Chad Pennington NYJ, Shaun Alexander SEA, Rob Morris IND and Keith Bullock TEN. Though all have proven productive, none of those players fit a need at the time. Six first-round picks selected after ours are now out of the League.
O'Neal was traded to Cincinnati where he tied for the League lead in interceptions (10) and made the Pro Bowl a second time in '05. He currently sits tied for 5th amongst all DC's in interceptions since '00. Current Broncos Champ Bailey and Dre' Bly, along with former Bronco Tory James, rank 1 through 3. O'Neal was certainly deserving of the selection.
Solid points, to the last. I made the following comment on the post, however, targeting what I look at as the source of at least some of the problems the Broncos are currently experiencing --
Now, some of my thoughts on the draft...
While it is easy for anyone to pick a name and focus on it, I look at draft retention and there is no doubt that it plays a factor in a team's depth or lack thereof. I recently broke this down - http://www.milehighreport.com/story/2007/11/2/91112/3144 - comparing the Broncos to the elite of the AFC the past 6 or 7 years(Pats, Colts, Steelers) just to see there we stood.
Using the theory that you can't judge a draft for at least 3 years, I used the 5-year period from 2000-2004. During that time, the Broncos drafted 44 players. Only 3 remain - Ben Hamilton(2001 - 4a), D.J. Williams(2004 - 1), Jeff Shoate(2004 - 5). To be fair, the Broncos did use some trades to improve the ball club using picks and players from these drafts. Even if you include Clinton Portis(2002-2), George Foster(2003-1) and Tatum Bell(2004-2) and say they brought us Champ Bailey and Dre Bly we are at 5. Another pass is given because while Ian Gold was originally drafted in 2000, though he left and returned as a free agent.
That makes the total 6/44(13%).
Without getting into a lot of detail here, here are how the other teams broke down --
All three teams have retained more of there draft picks from 2000-2004, and when you look at the names in that list it is easy to see why those three teams have all won Super Bowls since the Broncos last one the big one --
Colts - (Reggie Wayne, Ryan Diem, Dwight Freeney, Dallas Clark, Robert Mathis, Bob Sanders, Jake Scott)
Patriots - (Tom Brady, Richard Seymour, Matt Light, Asante Samuel, Jarvis Green, Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, Eugene Wilson, Dan Koppen, Ben Watson)
Steelers - (Marvel Smith, Clark Haggans, Casey Hampton, Larry Foote, Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor, Max Starks, Ben Roethlisberger)
There are some big names there making a big time contribution. The Broncos are struggling a bit now because there were some years that the draft has not paid dividends in the past. The Broncos have 3 complete draft classes(2000, 2002, 2003) that have a total of one player still on the roster(Gold) and like I stated above, he actually left and came back.
I will agree that more goes into every selection than any of us realize, and all teams miss from time to time. But there is definitely a correlation between the team's perceived struggles on the field and draft miscues off of it.
I will say this, though. 2005, 2006 and 2007 appear to be solid drafts, and this is a young team for the most part. As we all saw Monday Night, the future of the Broncos is definitely bright, and the present doesn't look too shabby either.
While I agree that, at any given time, there is good reason why a certain player is chosen, the Broncos did struggle with the draft during the 5 year period I looked at, especially when compared to the "elite" of the AFC during that time frame - Indy, New England and Pittsburgh.
I will be eagerly awaiting more insight as Mr. Sundquist releases it and encourage you to do the same. The internet is a wonderful thing, and the Broncos choice to accept, rather than run from it, is just another reason why I love the Orange and Blue!