Sports Illustrated’s MMQB spent the 24 hours prior to the NFL Draft behind the scenes with fifth-overall pick Bradley Chubb, and since the best defensive player in the draft ended up falling to the eager laps of the Denver Broncos, the inside story of the hours before the pick is quite illuminating for Broncos fans.
This was one of the most anticipated drafts in recent memory. What was it like to live it? We spent time with Bradley Chubb & his agent, Erik Burkhardt, on draft eve: https://t.co/EOIOHzCGMb— Jenny Vrentas (@JennyVrentas) May 1, 2018
“My agent told me right before I went out, don’t be surprised by anything,” Chubb told Jenny Vrentas about the Browns not picking him at No. 4 as had been widely suspected - and expected. “So I wasn’t surprised when that happened.”
But the Broncos were.
From Vrentas’ story:
The two teams picking later in the top 10 text [Erik] Burkhardt again, now wanting to know if the Broncos are calling. Also surprised are the Broncos, who in none of their mock scenarios had Chubb still available to them at 5. They were ready to trade down—ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Denver had a deal worked out with Buffalo, which was trying to move up for Josh Allen—but quickly scrapped those plans. “We didn’t trade,” Elway said at a press conference, “because Bradley was there.”
Not having mocked the NC State pass rusher in any scenario is telling as to just how caught off-guard Elway & Co. were. It’s also a testimony to their process that having done enough homework on Chubb, they knew better than to pass him up.
As Elway said after the draft, “you can never have too many pass rushers.”
On the eve of the draft, Chubb’s agent Erik Burkhardt had brought to the family’s hotel room a wooden easel and a large pad of paper plus a marker. He wrote numbers 1-8, and he listed the first eight teams picking in the draft.
“We can only control so much, and whether it’s up here  or down here , we keep it cool, keep it smiling,” Burkhardt told the defensive end. “Everything happens for a reason.”
With the Cleveland Browns keeping their No. 1 overall pick unknown to even their senior-level staff until hours before the start of the draft, Burkhardt wasn’t completely sure where his client would go - but he was sure it wouldn’t be past the Bears at No. 8.
Although Elway had telegraphed that his No. 5 pick was for sale - and the Broncos and Bills reportedly had a deal on the table for Denver to trade down - the Broncos were still a possibility in the Chubb room thanks to none other than Von Miller.
“Look, these guys have been really quiet, so I can’t get much of a read. But I know Von Miller is going up there talking about Bradley, saying he’s a mix between himself and Khalil Mack,” Burkhardt told Chubb and his surrounding family members that included his parents. “If Von has him on the other side, Von is going to keep eating; way less double teams. He’s advocating for him, right? That’s what he’s doing.”
Chubb - whose fatherAaron was drafted in the 12th round by the Patriots in 1989 - remembered Miller’s comments. Although he had not believed Miller had actually said it until seeing a video, Chubb almost didn’t allow himself to believe in the possibility of playing alongside the Super Bowl 50 MVP; it seemed too good to be true.
But the following night in the Green Room when the call from Elway came in, Chubb remained calm on the line while his mother jumped up from the table and did a dance.
Soak it all in, rook.— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) April 27, 2018
It's really happening. pic.twitter.com/uXf7YPdeOr
Learning later that the Broncos had been shocked Chubb was still on the board at 5 but didn’t hesitate to snag him, the 2018 winner of the Nagurski Trophy for the nation’s top college defender felt a true sense of desire from Denver.
“The organization really wanted me,” Chubb said, “and I know it’s genuine.”
It would turn out that someone in Chubb’s camp was hoping for Denver too.
Vrentas writes that Chubb’s mom Stacey snapped a picture of the easel with the notebook and its list of teams, thinking she may want to reference it on Draft Night.
When she looked back at her photo from the previous day while on their flight to Denver, she realized “5. Broncos” had been the one team her son’s agent had circled.