During a conference call after the second day of the 2016 NFL Draft concluding, John Elway and Gary Kubiak discussed their mindset over the course of the first three rounds.
Elway, when asked about how he felt on the Denver Broncos draft so far, said, "I’m real excited the way the first two days have gone. If you had asked me on Wednesday how would like it to go, we couldn’t have planned it out as well as far as when we did our mocks and the way that everything has gone. We were extremely thrilled with the way that everything has fallen and the guys that we’ve got. We were talking about it on the way down here. We really couldn’t ask for anything else, for any more. It’s really been good. We not only got quality football players, but they’re all quality young men. They’re going to fit in really well."
The culture of the Broncos that Elway envisioned when he arrived in Denver has been at the forefront of his drafting philosophy and that is definitely something that goes under-appreciated.
When asked the same question, Kubiak agreed with Elway's sentiments, adding, "I just echo what John just said. Obviously we filled three big needs on our football team with the type of players that we were looking for. We feel very fortunate from that standpoint. I know we go home tonight, we’ve got to regroup and we’ve got a chance to really add to the depth of our football team tomorrow with some quality picks. It’s been a great two days. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and getting better once again."
Of the two picks on Day 2, Adam Gotsis probably caught most off guard. The Aussie is nursing a knee injury, but the Broncos coaching staff really liked this prospect. So much so that they lobbied hard for Elway to draft the kid.
His career here will wholly depend on defensive line coach Bill Kollar, who will have teach the raw young player the nuances of the NFL game.
"When you look at where we are picking at the bottom of each round we kind of need to anticipate that if someone has a third-round grade on him the chances are they aren’t getting to the bottom of the third," Elway said of the Broncos reasoning for drafting Gotsis early. "He is a guy that we targeted and we didn’t want to take any chances to let him slide. We had a couple chances to move down back and we decided not to."
Kubiak is less sold on the idea of Gotsis being too raw to contribute, saying, "What did he have? Twenty sacks or something like that? A couple of interceptions. [He was] very productive. Let me just say this: our defensive line coach is pretty good. When he comes down over the course of the last six weeks banging on our doors, saying, ‘You guys give me a chance to work with this guy,’ John and I felt really good about that. Bill and the defensive staff, we just wanted to add him to our group. He had a great energy with him in Indianapolis. Very impressive. [He is] climbing every day as a player. He’s a late starter with the game, but I think he’s going to fit really well with our group right now and I think we’re going to have a heck of a group when it’s all said and done."
Day 2 ended with the Broncos selecting free safety Justin Simmons with their 98th pick.
Elway really liked what he saw from Simmons and hopes his addition will provide Wade Phillips with some added scheme flexibility for the No Fly Zone.
"He is a big, rangy guy that can play centerfield and we can leave T.J. in the box," Elway said of Simmons. "He also has played some corner, so he has cover ability which we really liked."
Kubiak elaborated on Simmons potential role even more saying, "I’m sure you’ve seen this guy’s measurables. They’re off the charts the way he can run, jump, those types of things. Obviously he’s going to fill a lot of roles on our football team, but the biggest thing he gives us is the ability defensively to have some flexibility with T.J. being a box player and ‘Stew’ being in the middle of the field. This kid can come down either way. You want flexibility at safety in this league. Guys have to be able to cover. They have to be able to come down into the box and do those types of things. He’s a very smart young man, so we’ve added a big piece to the puzzle. Obviously with losing Bruton, this is a great get for us as a team."
Overall it was a solid defensive Day 2 for the Broncos and now comes the value of Day 3 where Elway and his staff have excelled at finding quality late-round talent. From Malik Jackson to Danny Trevathan to Matt Paradis, this is where the Broncos built a championship team.
The inside linebacker position has to be the Broncos top position of need right now, but Elway was noncommittal to revealing any of his intentions today.
"We took the guys that were highest on our board. We stayed true to our board again," Elway said. "Fortunately the guys that we wanted [we got] and they were all in positions of need. That’s why it’s fallen so well for us at this point in time. Again, we’ll continue to do that same thing tomorrow and see how everything falls tomorrow."
So far so good.