The excitement of the 2016 NFL Draft has come to an end, and now the real work begins - making the roster.
But thanks to John Elway's ability to draft intelligent and hard-working players, the newest Broncos are embracing that role with great anticipation.
And it is not lost on any of the rookies that they just got drafted by the reigning Super Bowl champions - which means they could be part of the "defending the title" season while having an opportunity to learn under the best.
"I'm just really looking forward to getting plugged in as soon as I get there and learning from obviously the best defense in the country last season," said safety Justin Simmons out of Boston College. The third-round pick was seen as a steal by many analysts. "Just learning from those guys and learning how to improve my game so I'm excited for that."
Adam Gotsis, the Aussie who has only been playing American football a few years, was definitely stoked to be a Bronco and joining the NFL's best defense.
"One thing I pride myself on is playing defense. To become part of the best defense in the last 30 years or so, it's an awesome feeling," Gotsis said, adding that learning under "guys that leave it all out there" is going to be the best training he could ask for. "I watched the Super Bowl and I watched the way they play with pride and passion. They play for each other, and I think that's the most important thing at the end of the day. They won that Super Bowl as unit. The whole defensive unit won that Super Bowl. It's just awesome to be a part of that."
Clearly, they get it.
Devontae Booker, a running back who is recovering from a knee injury, slid in the draft some and the Broncos were able to grab him in the fourth round. But Booker - who will be joining an offense that will undoubtedly be dedicated to "Kubiak's run-focused" offense - no doubt knows his slide put him with an ideal team.
"I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I wouldn't really blame my injuries for me dropping," said the former Utah Ute. " I'm thankful for Denver picking me up in the draft and I'm going to come in and work."
Connor McGovern, a guard from Missouri who is a former wrestler and son of a body builder, loves the fact that he will be joining a zone-blocking offense.
"I think that's a perfect scheme for me. I'm more of an athletic guy, and the zone scheme is perfect for that," said McGovern, who is comfortable playing tackle, guard, even center if he needs to. But one of the things Elway and the Broncos liked best about him was his massive strength and love for the weight room. "I think it helps a lot, whether it be my actual strength on the field and being able to use it there or as a mental confidence booster. I was always one of the strongest guys on the field."
Can't say how excited and blessed I am to be a @Broncos. The grind starts and I am ready to start playing some football.— Connor McGovern (@McGovenator60) April 30, 2016
The offensive line has been an issue for several seasons, and Elway and head coach Gary Kubiak are hoping with a few free agency additions, the return of some injured players and a few new players like McGovern that the line is less of an Achilles heel this season.
"We wanted to draft an offensive lineman, and [McGovern] is very athletic. He's got that flexibility and is very athletic, and a tough guy," Elway said, noting 300-pound guard's love for the weight room and the tough mentality that adds to the team. "If they're working that hard in the weight room, then you know what kind of guy you're getting. ...[He's] our kind of guy."
Andy Janovich, a fullback from Nebraska, didn't remember if he talked to the Broncos at the Combine in February, but it clearly didn't matter to him. He was just too excited to be on this championship-caliber team. And if that's playing fullback or contributing on special teams, it makes no difference to him.
"I'm just really excited to come in, be part of the team and contribute any possible way I can whether it's special teams or fullback. I'm just very excited," said Janovich, who says he models his game after Cory Schlesinger, a fullback for the Huskers in the 90s and then a Detroit Lion for 13 years. "If special teams is the way I can contribute, then that's what I'm going to do. I just want to come in and compete with everybody."
Will Parks knows he was the second safety picked up by the Broncos and that doesn't bother him at all. In fact, he's looking forward to the competition and the learning curve he's about to experience. It is the No Fly Zone after all.
"Justin Simmons is a good player and we're going to push each other to work every day and we're going to learn from guys like T.J Ward, Chris Harris and Aqib Talib," said the safety out of Arizona. [Playing with] all these dudes, it's a dream come true. These guys are all great players. ... I'm just excited right now and I'm kind of stuttering, but I'm just ready to get to work."
Competition at several positions was a theme for Elway's draft this year, even if unintentional. But from the quarterback to the punter, the rookies don't mind.
Punter Riley Dixon, who walked on to Syracuse and eventually earned a scholarship, has been competing his entire football career, and he's OK with that. It's all about getting a shot.
"Anywhere you go you're going to be competing for a job, and [Britton Colquitt] is obviously a very good punter. I'm just looking to help the team any way I can," Dixon said. "It will be nice to have someone to compete with ... and doing my best to help the team."
Paxton Lynch, a first-round pick the Broncos traded up to get, is coming in to an interesting quarterback situation to say the least. With the retirement of Peyton Manning in March and the free agency exit by the previously thought heir apparent Brock Osweiler, the Broncos found themselves without a known leader. Picking up Mark Sanchez quelled some fears and incited a few others as the Broncos also attempted to trade for Colin Kaepernick or even consider Matt Hoyer.
The addition of Lynch has finally solidified the quarterback roster but left the depth chart flexible.
"My job here is to come in and come to work every day," Lynch said about his role as backup or possible starter. "Day in and day out, give everything I've got, compete with those other quarterbacks and I know they're ready to compete as well. I'm going to do whatever I have to do to help this team win ball games, whether that's playing or pushing the guy in front of me."
If it's not lost on the rookies that they just joined the Super Bowl champions, it's also not lost on Elway and Kubiak that they got some great young players to work with.
"I think when you look at the people we got," Elway said, "...you say that we got better as a football team."
|Broncos 2016 Draft Picks|
|1||26||Paxton Lynch||QB||6'7"||245||Memphis||Scouting Report on Paxton Lynch|
|2||63||Adam Gotsis||DT/DE||6'4"||287||Georgia Tech||Scouting Report on Adam Gotsis|
|3||98||Justin Simmons||S||6'2"||202||Boston College||Scouting Report on Justin Simmons|
|5||144||Connor McGovern||G||6'4"||306||Missouri||Coming Soon...|
|6||176||Andy Janovich||FB||6'1"||238||Nebraska||Coming Soon...|
|6||219||Will Parks||S||6'1"||194||Arizona||Coming Soon...|
|7||228||Riley Dixon||P||6'4"||221||Syracuse||Coming Soon...|