Trades, Players and Positions
This is my final statement about the Bronco's first round, and what I hope will be a solid primer for everyone here. I will post a Day #2 draft prep saturday night. Enjoy!
Denver will not trade up. Part of me wants to say that you rarely get a chance to pick this high, and that it may be a while before we are this close to top ten talent again, but this is a very weak top ten in my eyes, and no one is worth trading up for, regardless of need. Shanahan will listen to offers, sure, and both KC and the faders may want to trade down, but KC doesn't want to go to far and the faders can just rot right where they are.
Denver will trade down, but only under one condition....
The condition that will prompt Denver to trade down is whether or not OT Clady or OG/OT Albert is available at #12, but hang on one sec...cause its probably not what you think. Denver will trade down only if they are available. The idea here is that the third rounder has more importance than a $11-$12 million guaranteed OT.
So here is how I expect it to pan out: If Albert is taken but Clady is available (or presumably vice versa, but I have my doubts) then Denver takes Clady. If both are taken, Denver looks at another position, but not a trade down. If neither is taken, Denver finds a trade partner. If they trade back to the mid-late teens, they will target, in this order: Clady, Albert, Williams. If they trade back further, they will target, in this order: Clady, Albert, Williams, Cherilous. If Denver trades back they will not look at any other position than OT in the first round unless all four of the names above are gone. Not likely, but in that event Denver takes, in this order: RB Mendenhall, RB Stewart, ILB Mayo, SAF Phillips.
If both Clady and Albert are gone when Denver picks, they take RB Mendenhall. Again, they will not trade back if Clady and Albert are gone. The third rounder is not worth a seriously degraded first round pick.
As far as the #42 pick in the second round, I fully expect Denver to stand pat at #42 where they will look for a handful of players to fall to them: SAF Phillips, RB Chris Johnson, RB Felix Jones, ILB Curtis Lofton. They should be happy with any of those options if they have traded out of the #12 and have a 3rd round pick. If they haven't traded out of the #12, ILB Lofton moves to the top of the above list.
I have these players listed according to how I think they are ranked on Denver's board.
- Ryan Clady, OT: The most athletic lineman in this draft, and the closest to being ready to start in a zoneblocking scheme. Outside of Branden Albert, has the most potential of any OT in the first round.
- Branden Albert, OG/OT: Versatile, athletic, strong. This is a player that denver would target as a booby prize for trading back, but would not rank above Clady. If denver were thinking of taking another Foster-like shot at a big OT, this would be the guy to target. If he is as good of an OT as he was an OG, he could be the best lineman in this draft. But that is a big IF.
- Rashard Mendenhall, RB: Powerful, tough, durable runner. Great work ethic and awesome onfield production. Brave, almost too brave in fact, as he takes contact that he has the skills to avoid. Wasn't in a true one-cut scheme, but has patience and vision, and was an explosive inside runner. The thought of him teamed up with Bobby Turner is almost too much for my poor heart. My one hangup on Mendenhall is the ol' fumblerooski. I would not be one bit surprised to see Stewart ranked higher than Mendenhall on the Bronco's board because of this.
- Johnathon Stewart, RB: Before he gets written off for a toe injury, it should be noted that he played through injuries in college, and that the timing of the toe is the worst thing you can say about it. He can block, run inside, catch out of the backfield: he is the most complete RB in this draft. But his injury history is real, and its not the toe that is the problem: he had a chronic ankle injury. If he can pass a physical, then I'm not kidding when I say that he reminds me of none other than L.T.
- Chris Williams, OT: A solid, safe pick, with the smarts and experience to make an immediate impact. We have talked about Williams plenty, but I would like to note, that I have a strong feeling that starting with #5 here, we are talking about players who will probably not be offensive or defensive starters come 2008...
- Jerod Mayo, ILB: Powerful and very fast, this guys is a beast. Has the smarts for ILB but may not have the bulk to hold up. DJ had some problems staying clean as a MLB, and I would expect Mayo to have some of the same type of learning curve. Probably couldn't supplant K2 at this point, but definitely has as much potential.
- Gosder Cherilus, OT: Could push Harris, Pears and Kuper for LT duty, but is an allpro talent at RT. His versatility and athleticism should make him shine in Denver's eyes, and would be the best option for insuring the RT spot for years to come, in the event that Pears has hit his ceiling. Ready to be a runblocker int he NFL, and would need a little time to absorb Denver's system, but this would be a solid depth building pick.
- Kenny Phillips, S: This is a solid pick if Denver is picking somewhere late in the first and everyone above is gone. The likely scenario is they would pick anyone from above, and then not be picking again until Phillips is gone. If they do get him, they would be getting a solid safety with a complete game. Nothing too flashy, but fundamentally solid throughout, and a guy that could produce off the bench right away. And within a year he could be part of a long term, young solution to our safeties.
- Chris Johnson, RB: What else do I need to say? Electric returner, with a great football attitude and good character, and all the tools we are looking for in our change of pace back. This guy could be a LETHAL weapon.
- Felix Jones, RB: Another back that fits Denver's system very well, but a guy you don't hear much about. He gets labelled as an outside runner, but he has all the tools that we look for in one-cut backs. Not as powerful as Stewart or Mendenhall, but very quick, has solid character and great vision with good cutback acceleration. He needs to bulk up to be anything more than a pedigree of Selvin young, though.
- Curtis Lofton, ILB: Great attitude and great motor. This is another fast type of MLB that denver seems to be so successful with. He doesn't excel in coverage, which suits our current rotation, and he has experience at SAM, though he is a bit undersized to line up there. Denver would love to sit tight at #42 and have Lofton land right in their lap.
Here I am ranking the order of importance Denver is assigning to the positions in this draft. This is by far a secondary consideration to where they rank individual players but it is a good way of keeping track of priorities in the draft, in terms of what has the potential to be available. This isn't as clear as saying OT is #1 so they will take an OT with their first pick, it merely means that they KNOW they will get an OT in this draft. This surety is a combination of need and availability.
- OT. As I say above, this doesn't mean they have to take an OT first, or that it is the most important need of the team. What this means is that they have A need at OT and that their is a LOT of availability. Denver can target franchise OTs on day one and depth OTs throughout day 2. I have listed above all the names worth pursuing on Day 1, but a last name deserves mentioning as an emergency pick in the second round: OT Duane Brown: a converted TE he has the quick feet that Denver looks for but would need time to get his hand technique squared away. With time he could be a great LT for Denver, but not right away.
- RB. Another very deep class, especially through the first day. Between RB and OT, Denver has to be thinking that they have an opportunity to build a franchise running game to aid Cutler. From elite Denver-type backs in the first, to high quality fast game changers in the second, Denver can address either the changeup or power back, depending on when they want to spend the pick. If Denver doesn't select a RB by the time ILB Lofton comes off the board, chances are that they will pass on names like Ray Rice, and Matt Forte, who are not ideally suited to one cut running, and start looking again in the fourth round when Chauncey Washington comes up.
- ILB. Both OLB and ILB could be listed here, but I think Denver really wants to just insure K2's position for now. There are some early studs, and if Denver lands one of the guys I mentioned above, they should feel pretty damn confident going into the future. Day 2 has a lot of good options for assembling some depth behind the current LB starters, with most of the talent being on the outside, and most of them being of the WILL variety. If Denver doesn't look LB before round 5, don't hold your breath.
- DT: This is generally a weak crop from top to bottom with question marks, motivation issues, unsound fundamentals for most every prospect outside of the top two. The earliest Denver should consider DT should be if all the player's in the list above are gone, and the Bronco's have yet to use their #42, or if they have acquired a third rounder. They could look at: Harrison: a talented prospect who could be an elite run stuffer with potential for a pass rusher, but who has a lot of motivation and character issues, or Laws: an undersized player who produced and is very athletic, but was overachieving even at the college level and may not be durable enough in the NFL. Denver will want to look at these DTs as promising, but not worth the #42 pick. They should wait for them to fall to day two, to be nabbed with a third rounder if they have one, or ignored in favor of some talented run stuffers in the fourth and fifth rounds. This draft is good for little more than lining some depth up at DT, and with the acquiring of Robertson, Denver seems to recognize this.
- WR: There are no first day WRs worth one of Denver's picks, but if they acquire a third, they will be looking for names like Bennett and Royal to be around their spot. Again, solid depth in this draft, but little else, and another area where Denver has all their ducks in a row.
- SAF: This is not a great class for safeties, but Denver has opportunities on day one to at the very least, address safety. This is a case where need is moderate and availability is moderate, so it will be on Denver's radar, but they won't move specifically to address this pick. They should prioritize slipping DTs and WR in the third ahead of safeties like Barret and Morgan, because there isn't much drop off going into the fourth where they can look at safeties like Steltz and Adams.
- Everything Else: I wouldn't be surprised if Denver drafted a K or P, but I really don't think they will. There isn't anybody that leaps out as being light years ahead of some of the CFAs that will be available, so I highly doubt that Denver will waste draft picks.