Now we enter another big dry-spell for the off-season and before my life strays too far into football hibernation, I want to get some thoughts out there on this draft and what I take away from it. Also, just for kicks I'll include some points on what I predicted going into the draft including both hits and misses. In case you missed it, here it is in all its glory.
Just for Fun
Opinion pieces like mine are a lot of fun. Maybe they mean something to us personally, but in the grand scheme of things, let's not take ourselves too seriously. If we do, we risk ending up defending tool bags like Josh McDaniels with our dying breaths or some such nonsense.
#1: Trade Up for Talent
This wasn't hard to predict honestly. We had 10 picks in the draft. We traded our #1, #5, #5 2016, and Manny Ramirez to move up and grab Shane Ray. It was gutsy and bold and I truly love it now that I have had a chance to dig into who Ray is and what he brings to the table.
One point I want to make here is that we absolutely needed to trade up to grab Ray. Of the four teams we hopped (Cardinals, Panthers, Ravens, and Cowboys) there are three of those teams that would have loved to have Ray in their defense. Also, there was no way the Cowboys wouldn't have picked him had he slid that far.
The other side note on this is that we gave up pennies for this pick. Swapping firsts is of course a necessity. The 5th rounders we gave are all worth less to us because of how John Elway manages our compensatory picks. Also, as I graded Manny Ramirez, it was a win-win for us to let him go home to Detroit. He really is at his ceiling and it is time for our line to get younger and more talented.
#2: Offensive Line Early and Often
Again, this hit is no rocket science. Everyone here at MHR was clamoring for help on our offensive line and for good reason. We need help there in a bad way. I'd venture to say it was our weakest unit going into the year and we bolstered it with some solid help in round two and four.
I expect to see Ty Sambrailo competing hard for a spot this year, but a lot of that is going to hedge on how fast he can bulk up to NFL levels as that's the only big knock on him I see. That being said, he's a very versatile and sharp cat and he definitely has a shot. Ultimately I'd not get too excited, CSU fans. If he can't step in at a high level he won't be a starter come day one.
Max Garcia was a pick I quickly fell in love with. Here's a guy that is going to come in and be able to develop into a future center for us without bold expectations for day one. Can he break the line up? I give him a puncher's chance.
#3: NT Help is On The Way!
In the 6th round we picked up Darius Kilgo as a Nose Tackle prospect. This fit pretty darn well with what I noted going into the draft. We aren't so poor at the position as to need a high draft pick here, but we need to develop some depth for the future. The great thing here is that Kilgo will have a superb opportunity to work some of the best defensive line coaches in the NFL. If he has the goods, we'll see him taking a role next year in our rotation.
#1: We Don't Care About No ILB!
I had us pegged to pick up a ILB prospect in rounds 2 - 5 as I'm sure most of MHR was thinking. We came away with no one. Either the board didn't fall nicely to us or our front office doesn't value ILB as much as we do. I would bet that is a little bit of both to be honest. For all the doom and gloom we've heard reported about Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan's injuries, it looks like our coaches are confident in the depth of our LB corps as it stands today.
#2: Where Did This TE Come From?
In the third round we took Jeff Heuerman and I never saw it coming. You would think our depth at TE would have been good enough. With hindsight being 20/20 this pick shows us that Owen Daniels is a stop-gap and Virgil Green may not be seen as a great option in the passing game. While this pick isn't a big need in my mind, I do like what he brings to the table and I think he has the potential to be an impactful TE in the future for our franchise.
#3: No WR Need Apply
Another big surprise to me was that we didn't take a WR. Hopefully this says more about our faith in the young fellas we have under contract than anything. My eyes are going to be following Jordon Norwood and Nathan Palmer very closely this Training Camp to see if they have the goods to make a push into the #4 spot.
As always with life, if you open your eyes a bit, there are oftentimes little signs and signals that you can pick up that let you know more about the situation you are studying. The NFL draft is definitely no exception to this. Here's the stuff I saw from this draft:
The Broncos Do Like Brock Osweiler
Rumors were abound pre-draft that the Broncos were looking to make a splash early on a QB. That never came to fruition and may have been more of a smokescreen than anything. We'll ultimately see what is what next year with Brock's contract situation, but no picking up a more talented guy than Trevor Siemian has to make Brock feel pretty good.
The Broncos Don't Value Traditional ILBs
Like much of the NFL, Denver isn't big on 2-down thumpers as a solution. We seem to favor more athletic LBs that have versatility rather than real thumpers. I for one approve of this theory, though the injuries at ILB and loss of Nate Irving worry me a bit.
Common Grading of O-Line Doesn't Mean *$#& to Denver
We had a lot of ideas going into the draft about what O-Linemen would be good fits and I can't think of one instance of us saying we'd take the two linemen we got as high as the Broncos took them. Gary Kubiak and Co. know what they want in linemen and the moves we made show that Elway is going to get them what they want and to hell with popular convention. Keep this in mind next year for the draft.
John Elway Continues to Improve in his Draft Management
No GM is going to be stellar every year at their draft picks. I'm sure there's probably a couple of these picks that will have us scratching our heads later. The thing I saw this year that I really really like is that Elway is doing the smart things that the great GMs of the league do: Getting value early in the draft and cashing in on compensatory picks.
All the gnashing of teeth, rending of robes, and wearing of sackcloth that we partake in about letting free agents walk sometimes miss the 20,000 foot view of what is going on (I'm looking at you Bronco Mike). Sure we would like to keep more of our guys who are talented, but if you factor in the compensatory picks we get against the cost of the guys that are looking to get paid, it just makes way too much sense to stockpile draft picks and let the money hungry look for work elsewhere. We'll be getting another good handful of picks next year too, so this is a pattern that we've seen emerge over the past couple off years now.
One last thing on this is that I loved the trade up for Shane Ray. That was superb value for us and for Detroit. Keep in mind those 5th round picks don't mean as much to us since we have compensatory picks rolling in. Also as noted above, we weren't going to be keeping Ramirez anyway. That trade was leaps forward from the first one of the Elway era.
Now it is your turn
Hit up the comments and let me know what insights you got from this draft. What do you disagree with me on? What did I miss? Any conspiracy theories about the Bronco War Room?