Only one week until Draft Day 2011, and I could not be more excited. This is the highest the Broncos have picked in the draft since I have been alive, so it's odd that I have really no clue what player they are taking. John Elway, Brian Xanders, and John Fox have reportedly put together a big board comprised of 190 players, all of whom have probably been "mocked" by one of us or another here on Mile High Report, which is okay.
As fans, shouldn't we be excited to look at all the scenarios?
I know that's one of my favorite things about the draft, and I think John Elway enjoys it too, which is really cool. Xanders said something of interest to me at the Broncos' pre-draft presser. He said that he made up about 90 percent of the Broncos' board, which I find interesting because people keep on talking as though Elway is the one making all the decisions. While that may be true (I don't know, I'm not there), I think Xanders' opinion finally holds the most weight, and I say finally because he's about to endure his 15th draft in the NFL.
I think I think...
1. Brian Xanders is a better GM than Josh McDaniels
It's easy to tell from some of Xanders' comments he wasn't fond of some of the moves Josh McDaniels made as the head honcho in Denver, namely passing on Clay Matthews, who Xanders has now referred to multiple times in interviews/conferences. However, Xanders has also said he likes the prospects of Demaryius Thomas, and thinks he can be a dominant wide receiver in the NFL.
Xanders now has 190 players that he presumably likes in this draft, where McDaniels went with about 100. There is nothing wrong with that, but McDaniels passed on a lot of talented players because they were not "scheme friendly", but now the Broncos are working with the 4-3 alignment so you can have many more prospects on the board.
I can't wait to see our first draft/offseason with Brian Xanders calling the shots, not just in terms of finances, but now building the team.
2. Nick Fairley will be dominant
I tried to hate this guy, mainly because he is 22 and Dareus is only 20, but I can't do it. I really like Nick Fairley, and I think he's going to be an excellent pro football player. I am not jumping ship, or jumping on his bandwagon--so to speak--but I do think Fairley would be a fine choice with the 2nd overall pick, and I think teams are trying to put bad info out there on him so he will fall to their pick.
Fairley is an incredibly gifted athlete with natural strength and instincts. You saw what happened the one year he dedicated himself to the weight room and the film room, etc.--it was unbelievable.
This is a guy that made plays not even the king of Auburn homers thought he could make in the National Title game--and he is the real deal.
3. The Broncos cannot go wrong with the 2nd pick
Unless they take a quarterback. The only QB I have with a top ten grade is Cam Newton, and the only QB I would touch other than him in the first round is Blaine Gabbert, probably in the 15-32 range. I don't think either guy is worthy of a top five pick, but they both could very easily be that.
The Broncos have to be looking at five guys with their first round pick--Marcell Dareus, Von Miller, Nick Fairley, Patrick Peterson, and Da'Quan Bowers.
Would we all agree--any one of those guys would make us significantly better defensively? Bowers would be a reach, but the other four are legitimate day one starters, and would add something that we have not had in a long time on defense--SPEED.
4. The Broncos will use more picks on offense than we anticipate
Let's not forget, the Broncos' offense was not much better than their defense. Our line struggled all year long to be competitive, our running game was among the worst in the league, and we were awful in terms of putting points on the board once again.
Our defense is the worst in the league, so it will be addressed early and often, but the offensive unit will not be ignored.
5. I think the Broncos would be elated to steal Mikel LeShoure in the 2nd round
I anticipate that the best back to come out of this draft will not be picked in round one, unless some team takes Mikel LeShoure in the first round. This is a guy who is 6'0" 230 pounds, has great speed, vision, agility, and power, and also never fumbled in college.
Does it get any better?
LeShoure burst onto the scene this season, so it's not like he has a ton of tread on his tires. He will be a steal to whatever team takes him, and I hope the Broncos come away with him.
6. Kyle Rudolph is the most over-mocked player to the Broncos
But it's justified. Rudolph has the chance to be special, and a real asset to this team. With a young quarterback, his best friend can often be a tight end. If the Broncos drafted a big DL in the first round, would you really be that disappointed if they took LeShoure and Rudolph in the second? Really?
Great tight ends don't grow on trees, and this guy is built like one. In my opinion, he is a top 15 player in the draft, and if we have the chance to snag him at 46, we have to jump at it.
7. The Broncos want to get FAST at linebacker
I think particularly, this team would like to add guys like Lawrence Wilson and Casey Matthews, two smaller guys who simply make plays, regardless of their size. I also think this is a position (along with RT) that the team will look to address in free agency, whenever that might be.
This team is not going to reach for a starter. Mason Foster is a good, good player, but with a 2nd round pick? Do I really buy that? I'm not so sure, but we shall find out soon enough.
8. The draft will not be used to fill needs in A,B,C order
I think this should be a given. The Broncos are not going to go out of their way to fill a bunch of needs with mediocre players without getting value (i.e. taking LB's in the 2nd round, or taking crappy safeties and corners in the middle rounds).
The Broncos do NOT want to be picking this high again, so they need to make these picks count. I'm not saying they will go out and draft wide receivers because they think they are the best players available, but they will certainly have a plan heading into the draft of, "Who is the best defensive player on the board at 36, 46, etc..."
For that reason alone, I don't think you'll see the Broncos address the right tackle position early on unless they get a guy with first round ability falling to their second round pick, which is unlikely because Buffalo picks in front of them.
9. The Broncos will trade down in the second round
I think the Broncos would like to move down somewhere and get some picks in the 4th or 5th round again. This is a trade that likely won't happen until they are on the clock in the 2nd round, but I think it's something that could very easily happen. Now, if a player that is not supposed to be there should fall, things will definitely change. However, this is something that I think the Broncos will try very hard to do on draft weekend.
10. This is the most important draft in a long, long time
The Broncos will hopefully never be picking in this slot again, and hopefully nowhere near it. Another 20 years of dominance like we had there for a while would be great, and I think they have some of the pieces in place to do it. Just remember that no four picks are going to turn this franchise around, but it will be a combination of the 2009-2013 offseasons that will make the Broncos into the team we hope they can eventually be.