I am not a fan of NFL Draft Grades. It seems like a senseless practice to 'grade' a draft before any one of these guys steps on a NFL field or even receives their playbook. What it is, however, is something to talk about. Some people enjoy grading their team's draft, and to ignore it would be to ignore an entire segment of Denver Broncos fans. So, with that in mind - and using the efforts of BroncoCanuck in this FanPost - I bring you the Denver Broncos NFL Draft Grades from around the web:
We'll start with the thoughts of the Contributors of MileHighReport. As I get their opinion, I'll add it here:
The Broncos finally handled the NFL Draft the way I think it should be handled - with patience and trust. By trust, I mean trusting of the Draft Board the personnel staff spent the past 4+ months putting together. When the decision was made to go with Von Miller over Marcell Dareus, the Broncos made the decision to not over-value the defensive tackle position. We'll find out in time whether or not that was a mistake, but for now we have to trust the fact the Broncos didn't overreact and they didn't mortgage the future. Denver made a couple of deals, but didn't waste any future draft pick. They started the Draft with 7 picks, but finished the weekend with 9 new players.
After strategy, I thought the Broncos did a solid job building depth - and getting value - for the picks they made. Miller is the premier edge-rusher in the draft and you simply cannot have too many guys that can get to the quarterback. The Broncos added the top-2 safety prospects in the draft, adding depth and competition to a position with aging veterans and uncertain backups.
Orlando Franklin provides the Broncos some flexibility with a guy that can play inside or out. He also plays with the kind of nasty streak you want to see in the trenches. Nate Irving is a wildcard, but like Franklin he plays with a nasty streak and was likely a Late 1st/Early 2nd round prospect before the injury.
Even the final pick - Jeremy Beal - had a tremendous college career. Most thought he would get picked in the 4th or 5th round, so to get that kind of production in the 7th round is a big win. He'll also come in with a chip on his shoulder - never a bad thing.
The truth is we don't know now - and won't for 2-3 years - what kind of Draft this was. I am comforted, however, by the way John Elway, Brian Xanders and John Fox handled the draft. It focused on defense, it focused on value and it stayed true to the draft board the Broncos established. Right now, that is all we can ask for.
A lack of a DT is a concern, but a 4-12 team has so many holes that filling them all is not exactly a reasonable expectation. After looking at our current roster with the new draftees included, there is little doubt that this team had a dearth of talent at the Linebacker and Tight End positions. They also added youth to an aging defensive backfield. It's hard not to grade this draft out as an A, though I have little doubt that 12 months from now the chorus for a DT in the 2012 NFL Draft will be deafening all across Broncoland. We'll just call the 2011 NFL Draft a good first step. Go Broncos!
|Sayre Bedinger||A||The name of the game is value, and the Broncos got nine guys at the end of three days with 4th round grades or better. Through the fourth round, they had 5 guys with 2nd round grades or better. The Broncos got a ton of value in this draft, but I wasn't happy with it throughout. My mind was dead set on upgrading the defensive line, specifically because we had cut two of our 2010 starters. However, as I had time to digest and look at the draft as a whole, it's really a great crop of players. The Broncos upgraded the pass rush, the pass defense, and the two worst positions offensively. Very good draft.|
|Brian Shrout||A||I like that Fox/Elway/Xanders were able to parlay the picks we had into nine. Out of those nine picks, I'm reading that three have 1st year starter quality -- LB Von Miller, OL Orlando Franklin, LB Nate Irving. I've seen TE Julius Thomas compared to Antonio Gates -- which gives us an upgraded at that position. With Moore and Carter we added some young depth for an aging secondary. We added more depth with Mohammed and Green. The surprise for me was the Beal pick. My initial reaction was indifferent, but then I started see a lot of praise for him, so it will be interesting to see if he can land a spot.|
I’m excited that we got value at every pick. We didn’t panic and reach for a player at any point in the draft. Top to bottom, the Broncos took the best player available, despite coming into the draft with a grocery list of needs. By my estimation, the Broncos have accumulated 5 starters for 2011. I believe Von Miller, Rahim Moore, Orlando Franklin and Nate Irving should all start, as well as Virgil Green. I’m especially excited about Virgil Green out of Nevada, the security blanket that helped Colin Kaepernick become a second round pick.
Although, I was initially upset that we took Von Miller instead of Marcel Dareus, I’ve come to accept it. We are still getting one of the premier linebackers in all of football. With that said, we definitely need to improve the defensive line during free agency. Part of what makes Von Miller great is using his speed to penetrate the line of scrimmage and blow up running plays. However, it becomes pretty difficult for him to use his speed when offensive linemen can get to the second level and get up in his facemask. Regardless, we have definitely addressed our needs at linebacker and safety during this draft, which will hopefully improve the NFL’s worst defense. Overall, I think the Broncos had a solid draft. We definitely closed the gap in the AFC West and I’m hoping we don’t ever have the number 2 overall pick again.
I can get behind this draft and the logic used on nearly every pick. It looks like they will be model citizens, so the off-field drama of the last few seasons should dissipate. I also believe the Broncos brought in some intelligent leaders. My only real question mark is Orlando Franklin. We all understand that the club has decided not to offer Ryan Harris a large contract (they may try to keep him at a less than ideal number), but as a 3rd-rounder, is Franklin an upgrade. I look forward to watching this group in Training Camp.
First a note on draft strategy. I like what Denver was able to do in terms of picks and sliding around the board, and I think that after three years of that, we can say that is probably one of Xander's warroom strengths. On to the picks.
As the Draft approached it was becoming clearer and clearer to me that Denver would only be able to address starting SAM or starting DT, but not both, the fall off in grades was too severe after round one. And while I am a firm believer that it all starts in the trenches, Von will likely be a very solid pick going forward, as his greatest strength is an ability that is often equated with the trenches: backfield pressure. Denver addressed a lot of needs with Von, acquired a smart player and a terrific lockerroom addition. It is my pleasure to root for the young man in Orange and Blue.
Second round strategy left something to be desired. By trading down I believe Denver passed on starter caliber players at need positions on both offense and defense. Acquiring Rahim was a solid move, and he will be able to challenge Hill for a starting FS position. I don't expect that he will supplant Dawkins, but it is a possibility. Franklin is a rising talent who will probably need a year before he is a clear cut starter in the league, as functional strength needs to be added to his arsenal to man the right side. Assuming the Ryan Harris situation doesn't work out, I expect he will get thrown to the wolves, and we will have to suffer through rookie growing pains. He isn't quite ready for the starting RT job, but it shouldn't take more than a year before he is, and he can backup RT, LT and LG, so I expect that he will be around for quite a while.
Both TE prospects are project picks, with Green being more polished, and will probably act more as a versatile H-back option. I expect it will take at least two years for him to develop into a consistent producer. Thomas may take even longer than that, or he may wow the pants off us in the early going, but he is definitely a project, and patience is to be expected.
The Irving selection is an odd one, even though I like him as a prospect. He isn't the kind of ILB that can stay clean, so it is doubtful he will be much impact int eh running game, however he has the instincts and abilities to be a good source of interior blitz pressure, which we need. If we can get to third down, he may prove useful for nickle packages, but he can get shut down on the blitz if someone makes contact.
I like all of the prospects individually, including our late guys like Jeremy Beal, but the whole package leaves me wondering if we couldn't have accomplished more this year. Bottom line, I think the team that starts the season won't be much different personnell wise than the team that limped to a 4-12 finish under McD.
Now, here are some thoughts from around the web....
|Clifton Brown for The Sporting News||B||Von Miller and Rahim Moore will upgrade a defense that desperately needs it, and Orlando Franklin will help the offensive line.|
||B-||Had the Denver Broncos not been lacking defensive tackles on their roster and their draft class, their efforts over the three days of the 2011 Draft would rank higher. The addition of pass rusher Von Miller -- an immediate candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors -- certainly boosts their grade. So does the fact the Broncos were able land UCLA free safety Rahim Moore in the in the second round. Moore, the top-rated free safety by NFLDraftScout.com, should be aided by the assistance of veteran Brian Dawkins. The Broncos could see an immediate impact from big, burly offensive lineman Orlando Franklin, their third-round choice. Of the Broncos' late-round selections, Portland State tight end Julius Thomas is the most intriguing. Thomas is the latest former basketball player to attempt the conversion to the gridiron.|
|Mel Kiper||B||"The addition of Von Miller as a no-brainer because he can be the defensive rookie of the year; Rahim Moore, the first safety off the board, was great value; and Nate Irving "could be a steal." However, he does have concerns over the lack of defensive line help. So Kiper gives a 'C+" for addressing team needs, but a "B+" for getting value."|
|Randy Covitz (KC Star)||A||The sack-starved Broncos pair ’09 NCAA sack leader Miller with ’09 NFL sack leader Elvis Dumervil, who missed all of last season. Moore, a ballhawk, will be heir apparent to Brian Dawkins, 38, while Irving has big-play potential in new 4-3 defense. Franklin will move from LT to a guard. Carter will have impact on special teams. Thomas is another converted basketball player hoping to be the next Tony G or Antonio Gates.|
|Adam Caplan (Fox Sports)||C||"While Miller is a great player, he would be better off at defensive end rather than outside linebacker. Most personnel evaluators believe he would be a better fit for a 3-4 defense than Denver's 4-3."|
|Sports Illustrated||A||The Broncos gave up more points than any team in the NFL last year and capitalized on that in way the Cowboys should have: Aggressively grabbing defenders. It started with No. 2 pick, Von Miller, a pass-rush specialist OLB. It was a perfect needs-based selection: Denver was No. 29 last year on our Defensive Hog Index and dead-last league wide at pressuring the quarterback, forcing a Negative Pass Play on just 6.3 percent of dropbacks -- half the rate of the best pass-rush team in football last year, the Super Bowl champ packers (12.2%). Second-round pick Rahim Moore was the top-rated safety on most boards, and the Broncos landed him with the No. 45 pick. He could start right away.|
|Mocking The Draft||A||While I don't think Miller is a great fit in a 4-3 defense he is still a tremendous player. This draft needed to be heavy on defense and that is exactly what happened. Franklin will help the offensive line and could play either tackle or guard. Watch out for Virgil Green as he has tons of speed and could stretch the defense in passing situations.|
|Pete Prisco - CBS||B-||
Best pick: Second-round pick Rahim Moore is a safety with range. That's the kind you need in this modern NFL filled with passing.
Questionable move: Passing on Marcell Dareus to take Von Miller is questionable with their big hole inside on their defense.
Third-day gem: Fourth-round pick Julius Thomas is a tight end who is a former basketball player. That means he has the athletic ability to get down the field.
Analysis: John Elway's first draft was solid. He made moves to fix a defense that needed it badly. If first-round pick Von Miller is an explosive pass rusher, this will be a nice draft.
|SBNation||B-||Von Miller is perhaps the most uniquely athletic rush linebacker to come along in years, and it will be very interesting to see how he assimilates to John Fox and his 4-3 defense. The team also found valuable adds to Fox's defense in Rahim Moore, Nate Irving and perhaps even seventh-round pick Jeremy Beal. The two tight ends, Julius Thomas and Virgil Green, are intriguing selections. It's tough to get overly excited, however, knowing that the Broncos have a dearth of talent at defensive tackle, one of the deepest positions of this draft class.|
I will be adding more and more as the day goes on. Feel free to email any others you find to me - firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to give your grade on the Broncos draft in the poll, and your reasons in the comments.