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What does Fangio’s draft “history” tell us about the Broncos’ plans?

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The Denver Broncos are going to take a DB or maybe even two in the 2020 NFL Draft if Vic Fangio has anything to say about it.

Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

One of the parts of John Elway’s run as decision maker that isn’t talked about near enough is who he listens to when it comes to acquiring talent. From Brian Xanders to John Fox to Gary Kubiak to Vance Joseph to the present day, I’ve always wondered how the voices in Elway’s ear could be changing what he’s trying to do. It’s something we’ve discussed among ourselves at Mile High Report a number of different times, but Joe Mahoney and I wanted to dig into it this year to see if there were any implications for the 2020 NFL Draft.

Joe Mahoney looked back to 1995 to get an idea of how Vic Fangio’s presence could have impacted his team’s draft strategy in the modern NFL.

Note that this includes four years in which Fangio was the LB coach for the Ravens. All the rest of the time he was the defensive coordinator.

What follows is our conversation on the findings, edited for clarity.

JoRo: One reason I was really curious is because at the 2019 NFL Combine Fangio mentioned how he had done a lot of pre-draft work as a DC with the Bears. He mentioned how the move to the top job mostly meant that he was now looking at the entire roster. With that in mind, were there any findings from your digging that surprised you?

Joe Mahoney: Total number of DBs was significant, but I was also struck by the relative lack of first round DBs. Only 4. Tyrone Poole, Dunta Robinson, Eric Reid and Jimmie Ward. Poole and Robinson were Corners. Ward and Reid were safeties.

JoRo: I think that may be one reason why there is this idea that Fangio doesn’t place as much value on corners. I was surprised by how many safeties there were, but it makes sense. The more I’ve dug into Fangio’s D, the more I believe safety is a really important position for his scheme.

Joe Mahoney: Seven DBs taken in the 3rd round is significant.

Joe Mahoney: So is 12 DBs taken in the 6th

JoRo: If I remember correctly a bunch of those Day 3 DBs came with the Bears. Adrian Amos comes to mind. So did Eddie Jackson. Looking at the roster and the fact that there’s an argument to be made for both a safety and a corner, how likely do you believe it is that the Broncos chase one in the draft this year?

Joe Mahoney: I think we go after a CB in the top 100.

Could the Broncos' pursue an early corner or safety?
Could the Broncos’ pursue an early corner or safety?

Joe Mahoney: Three edge defenders in the first is also interesting. Jason Peter, Aldon Smith, and Leonard Floyd.

JoRo: One other group that kind of catches my eye is that for going back to the 90s, Fangio doesn’t take as many linebackers as his reputation seems to lead people to believe. Only five in the first two rounds. I kind of wonder if the three edge backers means the Von Miller heir won’t come this year so much as they’ll chase a first round guy next year or 2022 if they don’t plan to keep him.

JoRo: Floyd wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire when Fangio was there either. Not to take a shot, but fans tend to overrate a coaches expertise when factoring in their decision making in the draft.

One edge rusher I really like for the Broncos' scheme is Notre Dame's Julian Okwara.
One edge rusher I really like for the Broncos’ scheme is Notre Dame’s Julian Okwara.

JoRo: Are there are position groups that your research seems to indicate Broncos’ Country shouldn’t expect early? I thought DT would have more bodies.

Joe Mahoney: I did too.

JoRo: Would you say looking into Fangio’s draft history changed what you thought the Broncos were going to do going into the draft at all? Confirm any prior beliefs?

Joe Mahoney: If you assume he had significant influence on the draft as LB coach, then I learned he does not lean as heavily defense as you would expect.

What do you think Broncos’ Country?