It is the beginning of a new era in Dove Valley. You are John Elway and draft day has officially arrived. Gary Kubiak is your head coach and Wade Phillips holds reign defensive coordinator. Each respective man has a penchant for being able to find and develop talent at certain positions and both approach you privately on who they believe the team should target in the draft.
You have done your diligence, but still are unsure on what is the right call. You understand the team has several pressing needs. The war room is contentious, with each coach making a case for a certain player they believe will help this team out the most. Scouts are debating amongst themselves taking sides with each statistic or relevant piece of information provided. Crunch times nears and you have to make a selection. Everything has been considered and the big question is finally popped:
Who do you select for the Denver Broncos with their first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and why?
Joseph: The best offensive lineman available at #28. If that is one of the OTs that most of us like (Flowers, Peat, Fisher or Clemmings) then I'd be happy. If all 4 of those guys are gone, then I'd take Erving if he's still on the board. If all five of these guys are gone, then I'd take the best defensive lineman available unless that happens to be Randy Gregory. Goldman, Shelton or Brown would all help this year and next when all of our DL will be free agents.
Scotty: I don't have a specific name here. Give me the top defensive or offensive tackle prospect atop the board.
Ian: I did a post about this recently, there is a long history of teams getting really good players at #28. I fully expect the Broncos not to reach for a need and they'll end up getting a position that most fans will kind of scratch their head over. For that reason I've gone with Maxx Williams (TE, Minnesota) a few times when projecting Denver's first round draft pick, Randy Gregory (DE, Nebraska) if he falls, Owamagbe Odighizuwa (DE, UCLA) whom the Broncos had for a private workout.
I expect center Cameron Erving (C, Florida State) to be available here or for really crazy predictions-- talented wide receivers are all over the board at that point: Breshad Perriman (UCF), Dorial Green-Beckham (Oklahoma), Jaelen Strong (Arizona State).
Mike G: Depends on how the board falls. With my 1st round pick I want the best talent. Outside of OL or possibly ILB you're not really going to find a lot of rookies that can start on this team. But you can always find someone to rotate and play situational roles elsewhere. If you gave me a scenario where a premier OL, ILB, and DL/Rush were all available, I'd probably go with the pass rusher.
Sadaraine: The highest guy available on our big board. This is how teams stay talented and there is no reason to reach with your first pick for need. Elway is as hit or miss as any other GM in the draft, but he's a superb leader for the team and has shown in his short time that they have a solid system for scouting players. Trust your system and pick the best guy there just like you did last year with Roby.
Now the real fun begins. After a night’s sleep (or no sleep at all) the second day eases in with rounds two and three on slate. You have had a chance to reassemble your draft board to list the highest valued players remaining with profound clarity. The Broncos are sitting at #59 in the second round.
Good players should be available, but the top players at positions of need begin to fly off the draft board. You begin pacing around the room furiously and decide to get on the phone to discuss a trade in order to have a shot at the two best guys on your board.
Name a few prospects you would like to see the Broncos make a move up for in the second round?
Joseph: If Eli Harold is still on the board midway through the second (highly possible), I'd be happy moving up to get him. I'd say the same thing for Byron Jones.
Scotty: Grady Jarrett, Denzel Perryman, Laken Tomlinson and Odighizuwa.
Ian: I think that Eric Kendricks (ILB, Miami), D.J. Humphries (OT, Florida) or Jack Fisher (OT, Oregon) would all be worth trading up for. I feel that guys like Shaq Thompson (OLB, Washington), Laken Tomlinson (OG, Duke) and Benardrick McKinney (ILB, Mississippi State) and quarterbacks Bryce Petty (Baylor) and Garrett Grayson (Colorado State) would all be available, but some are straight-up reaches at #58, but completely acceptable in the third round.
Mike G: The way things are shaping up, this might be the round that the Broncos use to move up and select an ILB. You expect there to be a run on WR and linemen in the first so you'll have some leftovers from those positions. If the Broncos are finally serious at ILB, this is where a lot of that position projects to.
Sadaraine: I’d love to, but I don't watch college or scout the guys much... many of our staff are far better at it than me and it would be silly for me to try to name some names. I can say that I'd love some depth at ILB or OL right around this pick.
After securing two players feel who can take you to the next level, you begin to strut around the War Room, smiling and shaking hands with your coaches, scouts and personnel evaluators. The focus begins to shift and you begin discussing some under the radar names that you feel could outperform some of the more highly touted players in this years draft. You have had success finding diamonds in the rough over your tenure as GM and now is the time to make that magic happen again.
Give us some insight on a FCS or small school prospect that you feel would be an excellent addition to the Broncos after the two rounds?
Joseph: I’ve written quite a bit about Ali Marpet at this point. I'd love to see him on the Broncos, but I can already hear the howls if we use our pick at #59 on him. There are questions about him because he played D3 football, but those questions mainly revolve around how well he will handle a full season of banging on guys his size or bigger - something that he didn't have to do at Hobart College. Outside of that his play at the Senior Bowl and his showing at the combine told me that he can be a great OG at the NFL level.
Scotty: Wide receiver Tre McBride from William & Mary. I see him being the next Pierre Garcon.
Ian: David Johnson (RB, Northern Iowa), Tre McBride (WR, William & Mary), Dezmin Lewis (WR, Central Arkansas), Kyle Emanuel (OLB, North Dakota State), Edmond Robinson (OLB, Newberry), Dominic Rufran (WR, Wyoming) and Jerry Lovelock (QB, Prairie View A&M) are all guys that I think would be great additions.
I should probably highlight that Dominic Rufran is one of the best pass catchers that I have ever seen, he almost single-handedly took out Nebraska in 2013 and started 2014 on the Biletnikoff watch list. I don't know who he would be comparable, think a slot receiver that catches everything. A look at his statistics won't make anything stick out, but Wyoming didn't have a quarterback in 2014 and faced competition like Oregon and Michigan State which were scary schools to not have a quarterback against.
Mike G: Ali Marpet is everyone's small school prospect. Saw a short piece on him aired on ESPN and he seems like a good, hard-working kid. I would love to see the Broncos add him to the roster and have him compete at LG. Coincidentally, he would only be the 2nd player from Hobart to ever play in the NFL.
Sadaraine: I'd love to, but I don't watch college or scout the guys much...many of our staff are far better at it than me and it would be silly for me to try to name some names. I can say that I'd love some depth at ILB or OL right around this pick.
Day Two has now come to an end and you and the team are pumped up on how things went in the first 48 hours of the draft, but the real bread and butter arrives on Saturday. The ability to find guys in the middle and late rounds of the draft is what sets the great GM's and player evaluators apart from the rest of them. You have another morning meeting with everyone in the War Room and position coaches begin to make their cases for particular players. A certain prospect is named, which brings a rift amongst those in attendance.
Under no circumstance should the Broncos select _______________:
Joseph: Under no circumstance should the Broncos select Randy Gregory because he is an addict and marijuana is still banned in the NFL despite being legal in Colorado. Randy Gregory could not stop himself from smoking up a day or so before the NFL combine - knowing full well that every prospect at the combine gets drug tested.
Scotty: Bryce Petty because that would be awful.
Ian: I have no idea, if they're selecting someone it is because they know more than any of us or at least feel like they do.
Mike G: Under no circumstance should the Broncos select Garrett Grayson.
Sadaraine: A kicker because we already have that answer and if we don't they are easy enough to find without burning a pick.
After an hour of debate, the aura of negativity evaporates and you are ready to endure the final hours of the NFL Draft. You are excited about the possibilities the day brings, as you have a wealth of picks in comparison to other teams and feel as if you can really make Day 3 one to remember.
Denver has 7 selections on the third day of the draft. How would you approach these selections and what positions would you address?
Joseph: Use these picks as if they are "first dibs" on the guys who you would have targeted as UDCFAs in previous years. In particular I would focus on guys who are projects like Blake Bell (QB turned TE from Oklahoma), Nick Marshall (CB turned QB turned CB from Auburn) or maybe guys who are specialists (P Kyle Loomis from Portland State or KR/WR J.J. Nelson from UAB). I would also like to see us take "risks" on freakishly athletic RBs like Corey Grant from Auburn, Akeem Hunt from Purdue or Terrell Watson from Azusa Pacific.
Scotty: There are a few positions we could address. First, offensive line: You can find zone-blocking offensive lineman in the late rounds. Second, running back: Let Kubiak find his next late round gem. Third, wide receiver: Get depth at receiver and a guy who can return. Finally, tight end: Get some depth to help compete for the fourth spot on the roster.
Ian: Just select whoever is at the top of their list and they'll take care of filling out anything of need via the College Free Agent feeding frenzy like they have done so well since John Elway took over.
Mike G: I would take chances on players with freakish athletic ability who project well as special teams contributors. I would also look for those "tweener" positions like hybrid S/LB to cover TE, the amazingly tall WR that could add 10-15 pounds and be a killer TE.
Sadaraine: I'd love a developmental free safety there if a guy like that is out there. I'd also like to see some LB depth and another RB late.
The NFL Draft offers an infinite amount of possibilities and the Broncos will explore and do everything they can in order to make the team successful now and from now on. Lay out your answers in the comments section and feel free to chime in with how you would approach this years draft if you were in command of the Broncos War Room.
Once again, thanks for reading and have a wonderful NFL Draft week!