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Grading, welcoming the Denver Broncos' Rookie Class of 2016

After an intense NFL Draft Weekend, the Broncos finished the three-day event having added competition, depth, athleticism and tons of "upside." It was a good draft.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country!

Wow, what a Draft weekend, eh?

ICYMI, here's your Denver Broncos Rookie Class of 2016:

Since it's very popular (if not ridiculous) for sports pundits to give grades after each round and overall, I decided I should jump into the fray because, seriously, how hard can it be to throw out a letter and give an opinion? (and after listening to these guys all weekend, it clearly doesn't have to be the right opinion to get paid to say it)

You know what grade I'm giving John Elway and the Broncos scouting crew? An A of course. As the resident optimist, I'm sure you expected that, but to keep you honest, I'm knocking it down to an A- (because I'm sure they misspelled a name on the draft board at some point).

But yes, I'm going with the bold "A for excellent" grade - and you know why?

Because I didn't recognize a single player on that board other than Lynch. Yet, as soon as the Broncos drafted those players and I read about their "upsides" (my favorite of all Elway's clichés), I immediately loved each one:

Adam Gotsis who? Oh wait, Bill Kollar begged for him, actually banged on doors for six weeks asking for him? OK, I'm sold.

Justin Simmons - is Karl Joseph gone? Oh, who cares, I just watched Simmons jump and I'm pretty sure he could leap over tall buildings with a single bound. Sign him. Now!

Devontae Booker - really? Oh, but almost 2,800 rushing yards and over 600 receiving yards in just two seasons? Keeper.

Connor McGovern? His twitter handle is "McGovenator" and he has great hair. This is all I need. Well, that and the fact that he was 99-0 as a wrestler. Preeeetttttyyy certain that's a good record and he's as strong as an ox.

Andy Janovich - is that pronounced Yawnovich or Jan-avich? Woah, a fullback! Best part, he averages four more yards per carryafter the first hit. A few backs on the current roster could learn a thing or two about this.

Will Parks - didn't we already take a safety? Oh right, NoFlyZone and all that. Always need depth. Just look at last year. Great pick.

Riley Dixon - we did not just take a punter, did we? Well, Britton Colquitt's contract is pretty expensive. Savvy competitive move there, Elway. Genius. (plus, apparently Dixon points his toes).

So seriously, it was a strong draft for the Broncos with some big-time athletes in some positions of need as well as just great players to add depth and keep this championship train rolling.

Obviously, Elway and our guys did their homework and found gems even outside the "most talked about" college stars over the last two months.

I'm really excited about it. I think it fell really well for us and we really got a lot of good football players and good guys. -John Elway on the Broncos' 2016 Draft Class

And when you remember that the Broncos were picking at the bottom of every round (a good problem, but nevertheless a challenge), the Broncos came away with some steals (Simmons and Booker, for example) that attests to our GM's studious approach to the process.

Bravo John Elway. Bravo Broncos.

"I tell you what, I'm really excited about it," Broncos' GM John Elway said on Saturday of the Broncos' draft. "I think it fell really well for us and we really got a lot of good football players and good guys. I'm really thrilled in how it fell."

Head coach Gary Kubiak is also feeling pretty darn awesome about the new guys coming in.

"I think one of the things that really impressed me is ... we've got a Super Bowl football team, but yet you look at this draft and I think we've got some guys that are going to help our football team immediately," Kubiak said. "That's very impressive."

Welcome to Denver, Rookie Class of 2016!

But now a few words of wisdom for you. These aren't coming from me but rather from Larry Fitzgerald, a nine-time Pro Bowler at Arizona, and it's excellent advice. Here are some highlights of my favorites:

"This is the NFL, there are no weak links. You're playing against men - against professionals - and every single one of them is probably just as driven and passionate about this game as you are."

Fitzgerald writes that nothing beats Sundays, and if you can be great on this stage, you'll be remembered. But it won't come easy. Every team has great players, the best of the best. Stay focused on the hard work required because the game will pass you up quickly if you don't.

"Ignore the bad things said about you, but don't buy into your own hype either."

Fitzgerald recommends a small inner circle of people who will keep it real with you. And if you want to be that guy who blows his first paycheck on bling, you "need a damn wake-up call."

"When you join your team for your rookie season, make sure you keep your mouth shut and your eyes open."

Is there better advice? I didn't think so.

Many of you have experienced some stardom in college, and many of you will have that opportunity in the pros. But for every success story in the NFL, there are at least a dozen busts. You may be lucky enough to be surrounded by a lot of talent your rookie year that will allow you to succeed early (and since you all are Broncos, you most definitely are surrounded by talent).

But there will come a time when you have to really earn it out here, and the more time you spend working, rather than flashing (or dabbing), the easier that hard work will be.

Watch the veterans, mimick the leaders, study the playbook and get to work. You're especially lucky because the Broncos locker room is chock full of "good guys" who will push you but also encourage you and teach you.

Take advantage of that; not every rookie is so lucky.

Horse Tracks

Broncos sign 19 college free agents, including former Memphis wide receiver Mose Frazier - The Denver Post
Minutes after finalizing their eight-player draft class, the Broncos began to sign college free agents, bringing in more than a dozen Saturday night.

2016 NFL draft: Denver Broncos keep Gary Kubiak's promise, add FB
The Broncos want to use a two-back set more often in 2016, so they added a fullback in the sixth round in Andy Janovich.

Max McCaffrey turns down interest from Broncos, signs with Raiders | Broncos Wire
Max McCaffrey, son of former Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey, turned down an offer from Denver to instead sign with the Oakland Raiders.

Broncos' third-round pick Justin Simmons expected to fill David Bruton's role immediately - The Denver Post
Running through coverages and recalling responsibilities, Justin Simmons began to show off his intelligence from day one as a new Broncos' new safety.

Paxton Lynch's ascension to NFL comes on wing-T offense, loyalty and commitment - The Denver Post
Broncos draft choice Paxton Lynch is Peyton Manning and Denver's heir apparent at quarterback.

2016 NFL draft: Devontae Booker could play early for Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos went for future impact early in the 2016 NFL draft but got a few players on Day 3, notably RB Devontae Booker, who can play early.

Five Day 3 players who could have a big impact -
The first and second round draw the hype, but the third day is where GMs earn their money. Conor Orr predicts five players drafted on Saturday who could make an impact in the league (psst...Broncos got one of them).

Seven Takeaways from John Elway and Gary Kubiak: Mark Sanchez, Sylvester Williams, rookies, and more
Head Coach Gary Kubiak and EVP/GM John Elway touched on plenty of subjects after the draft concluded.

How the Broncos' Day 3 picks will fit -- from Devontae Booker to Riley Dixon
Find out how the Broncos' Day 3 picks will fit on the roster as they begin competing for spots this spring and summer.

Adam Gotsis sends perfect tweet after being drafted by Broncos | Broncos Wire
After the Denver Broncos selecting Adam Gotsis in the second round of the NFL draft, the defensive lineman sent the perfect tweet.

German WR Moritz Boehringer drafted by Vikings -
Moritz Boehringer's last competitive football came as a member of Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns of the German Football League. The next time he suits up, it will be with the Minnesota Vikings.

Winners and losers: Jaguars ready for playoff push -
The draft is officially in the books and the Jaguars will not be a "sleeper" playoff pick this year after adding Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack. Gregg Rosenthal names the winners and losers of the draft.

Cowboys land Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott -
The Dallas Cowboys have finally picked a quarterback. The team on Saturday used their fourth-round pick -- at No. 135 overall -- to pick Dak Prescott out of Mississippi State.

Brian Hoyer signing one-year deal with Bears -
Brian Hoyer didn't have to wait long after the NFL draft to find his next NFL home. Hoyer is signing a one-year deal worth $2 million with the Chicago Bears.

'Mr. Irrelevant': Titans take CB Kalan Reed -
Everything ends ... even the NFL draft. Southern Miss cornerback Kalan Reed was selected by the Tennessee Titans with the 253rd and final pick in the 2016 NFL Draft on Saturday in Chicago.

Losing Tom Brady Is Unlikely To Doom The Patriots | FiveThirtyEight
Here we go again. When news broke last May that Tom Brady would be suspended for four games for his role in the divisive Deflategate scandal, we scrambled to ...

Chiefs grab Stanford QB Kevin Hogan in fifth round -
The Chiefs have plenty of faith in Alex Smith, but that didn't stop them from adding another quarterback on Saturday. The team used their fifth-round pick (No. 162) on Kevin Hogan out of Stanford.

Former Colorado State players Rashard Higgins, Cory James selected in NFL draft 2016 - The Denver Post
It took a lot longer than expected, but former Colorado State receiver Rashard Higgins finally heard his name called in the NFL draft by Cleveland.


How would you grade the Broncos entire draft class?

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