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Broncos draft: So far, so good for Kubiak's first two drafts

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Kubiak and his coaches have done a great job developing young players and getting them ready to play on the field.

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One of my favorite lines from John Elway speaks to his philosophy on the draft - "We don't draft All-Pros, we develop All-Pros."

We don't draft All-Pros, we develop All-Pros. -John Elway

So once Elway and the personnel department do their jobs, it is then up to Gary Kubiak and his staff to get these kids ready to play in the NFL and get them on the field.

Reportedly, one of the key rubs in the relationship with Elway and John Fox was Fox's propensity to play veterans over rookies and not let younger guys develop with more playing time.

Contrast that with the Kubiak regime.

2015 Draft Class contributors

1. Shane Ray: Even while battling through injuries that caused him to miss several weeks and being behind two Hall-of-Fame pass rushers, Ray was still rotated in regularly and logged 30 percent of defensive snaps. He looks to play an even bigger role this year as DeMarcus Ware's playing time will be scaled back.

2. Ty Sambrailo: Set to be the starting RT at the beginning of last year and then moved to be starting LT when Clady went down, Sambrailo's season was unfortunately cut short due to his own injury. But the rookie was pegged as a starting tackle right out of the gate, and he looks either compete for the RT job or move inside and start at guard.

3. Jeff Heuerman: Apparently Kubiak and his staff had big plans for Heuerman before the tight end tore his ACL in rookie camp. Kubiak later admitted mid-way through the season that him being hurt really limited what they were wanting to do on offense. Heuerman is healthy now, and the staff again sees him playing a big role this year.

4. Max Garcia: Garcia was part of a three-guard rotation throughout the season that saw him shift between LG and RG depending on who needed a break or was hurt the most as Evan Mathis and Louis Vasquez struggled with injuries all year. Garcia logged 50 percent of the offense's snaps last year and is penciled in as a starting guard this year. Not bad for a 4th round rookie.

All of our top four picks in last year's draft were positioned for significant playing time last season, and should all "start" this year by seeing a majority of the snaps. Sixth-rounder Darius Kilgo might also see his reps increase on the D-line as he showed some promise last year as well.

Now let's turn our attention to this year's class. These will be more subjective projections, but I think we can all agree that there is some promising talent and opportunity in this year's class.

2016 Draft Class contributors

1. Paxton Lynch: A lot has already been said about Lynch, and more will continue to be said so I won't say much other than, even if he doesn't start right away this year, we drafted him with the intention of him being our QB of the future. We'll see how it shakes out, but he at least will be given the opportunity early and often.

2. Adam Gotsis: This is one where Elway's opening statement really comes into play. D-line coach Bill Kollar reportedly banged the table for this kid for weeks leading up to the draft. Now he will get a chance to develop and mold him into a role that Malik Jackson left wide open for someone to fill. I see Gotsis pushing for a lot of playing time this year and figuring heavily into the d-line rotation even if he doesn't technically "start."

3. Justin Simmons: Simmons should immediately replace David Bruton and contribute right away as the third safety in our big dime package. This is another situation where "starter" is a squishy term, but I see the 3rd safety position as a bigger role than our second ILB even though that position is technically a starter. We are in our sub packages over 60 percent of the time now, and the way Wade Phillips likes to play it, T.J. Ward slips into an LB role with the third safety filling in behind him up high with Stewart.

4. Devontae Booker: I see him immediately pushing Hillman into spot duty and splitting carries with C.J. Anderson from day one. He is a complete back who had 80 catches over the last two years and pass protects well, so he is a 3-down player.

5. Connor McGovern: McGovern has a chance to challenge for a starting guard spot, and at the very least, rotate in as a 3rd guard if Kubiak continues the guard rotation from last year.

6. Andy Janovich: In the later rounds you are really just looking for depth and special team players, but Janovich has a chance to be a big contributor on the offense from day one as a fullback/h-back and should help our run game immediately.

7. Will Parks: A solid depth and special teams pick, but when you look at how bare our cupboards were at safety, Parks has an opportunity to contribute some snaps in the box if Ward gets dinged up or needs a breather.

8. Riley Dixon: Aside from having a name that sounds like a country singer, Riley could wind up being our starting punter going into this season as Colquitt's salary/performance ratio is a 10' x 10' waving, flashing, neon red flag that points to him being cut.


So let's tally that up. Denver has had 17 draft picks in the last two years. I could easily see 9-10 of those players contributing heavily this year and into the future. More importantly, I see our top four picks from each draft getting significant playing time (depending on how this year goes for Lynch).

The future definitely looks bright for Denver as the new coaching staff, paired with Elway's roster building, have us set to win from now on.