The first-year Denver Broncos just finished their three-day minicamp, and coach Vance Joseph is pretty excited about his rookie class.
“The first meeting we had Thursday evening was fun. It’s a mature group. Everyone was up in their chair and taking notes and engaged,” Joseph said, noting that this group isn’t necessarily a typical group of rookies. “They were engaged in our conversation. That was impressive with these guys. It’s a good group. It’s a handpicked group for our football team. I’m impressed with them so far.”
Joseph noted that the group had nine hours of football meetings and 40 minutes of on-the-field work.
That’s a ratio the coach likes with the new guys.
“The entire goal was to bring the guys in and get them comfortable with our system,” the coach said. “That was accomplished.”
The other goal is to get them ready to play NFL football.
“I think the evaluation is over. We’ve drafted and signed these guys. The evaluation process is behind us,” Joseph added. “So that part is over. It’s time to help these guys become NFL players.”
Although a little “rookie hazing” is not a bad thing, Joseh acknowledged that it can’t go too far because that’s not what being a team is about.
“It’s our job as the staff and as coaches to find the guys who can help us and fit our culture and mold them. Make them Broncos,” he said. “It’s hard to bring guys in and mold guys and bring them in when you’re hazing and going too far. That becomes personal and we don’t want that.”
For the rookies themselves, the weekend was a very positive experience and they are ready to join the team for Phase II of OTAs this week.
Here are my favorite quotes from the rookies who spoke to the media today.
Garett Bolles on being a leader of the rookie class:
“We’re all leaders out here. We’re all trying to find our way, but one person needs to step up. If that’s me, then that’s awesome. If somebody else, that’s great. I’m just out here just trying to do everything I can do possible to get ready, so that when the vets come out here on Monday I’m ready to go and can run with them.”
Jake Butt on proving he’s the best tight end in the 2017 draft class:
“Absolutely. It’s something Coach Geep [Chryst] texted me from day one. He wants me to prove that I’m the best tight end in this class. That is why I’m here and that is why I’m here to work. That is how I feel. Right now, my job is just to get healthy and learn as much of this playbook as I possibly can. That has been my focus. Down the line, that is the ultimate goal.”
De’Angelo Henderson on choosing No. 33:
“My fraternity brother Anthony Frye died March 2, 2016. He wore No. 33 when he played at Coastal. He was one of my closest friends. I love him to death. … I could go on for days about how good of a person he is. How genuine he was. How much we talked about this moment coming. I miss him, I definitely want to honor him. My mentor also – have to throw this in there, [Assistant Special Teams Coach for Indianapolis Colts] Maurice Drayton wore 33 as well. So that’s pretty cool, too.”
Isaiah McKenzie on being a Bronco and what he can bring:
I love they coaches—I love the way they coach. They are teaching me a lot. I had a great time and I'm enjoying myself. … I can do a lot in the return game. If they want me to block, play gunner or run the ball I'm going to do it. I'm doing everything possible on special teams to make the team better.”
DeMarcus Walker on a message that resonated with him:
“It was Coach Ray [Jackson], our player development director. He said, ‘Once a year there is a rookie class that gets a chance to go to the Super Bowl. Why can’t it be us?’ That’s a stepping stone right there and it’s something that we have to work toward.”