Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Broncos Draft Thoughts

Posted by mizzou1028 on April 29, 2009

I waited a few days after the NFL draft to post my thoughts on how the Broncos did because I needed time to digest their selections and determine whether or not I truly liked the moves the team made.  The truth is, like with every draft, it will be a minimum two seasons and probably three before we can really assign a grade to this or any team’s draft, so any opinion expressed now is really a shot in the dark.  For example, it looks like the Broncos’ draft of 2008 is good for the time being, as Ryan Clady and Eddie Royal both had outstanding rookie seasons.  We still need to wait another year or two however before we can truly evaluate that draft as a whole.  That said, I have a few thoughts on the Broncos’ selections from last weekend:

The Good:

– I really like Knoshawn Moreno.  A lot.  I know running back was not necessarily a need area with so many bodies on the roster already (including free agent signings Correll Buckhalter, J.J. Arrington and LaMont Jordan), especially in light of the money committed to that position already in the offseason, but I think Moreno could make an immediate impact for the Broncos.  I think a lot of times teams make a mistake of reaching for a position of need (more on that in a moment) and often pass up on special talents that could actually make the team better over the long haul.  I think Moreno could well be the offensive rookie of the year, for he possesses tremendous speed, breakaway ability, and ability to break tackles.  I watched enough Georgia games last year to see that Moreno is the real deal.  The other thing I like about him is he didn’t come from one of these spread offenses you see in college.  He actually learned how to pass block and be effective as a receiver out of the backfield.  If all goes well, Moreno could be the Broncos’ starter week one.  I don’t think there is any question he was the best back on the board and certainly a big playmaker.  Let’s face it, the Broncos haven’t had a consistent tailback since Clinton Portis, so it would be nice to have a consistent running game to rely on again.  Too many times last year the Broncos were unable to convert on 3rd and short, and it really cost them.  If Moreno can move the chains on 3rd & 3, it will not only  help the offense be better, but it also means less time the defense would be on the field.  That could be a win-win for the Broncos.  I really think Moreno could end up the offensive rookie of the year.

– The Broncos I think got an steal with the 18th pick in defensive end Robert Ayers of Tennessee.  Denver will be switching to a 3-4 defense under Mike Nolan, and Ayers is one of the few defensive ends in the draft that could actually fit well in that scheme.  Ayers will have a lot of pressure on him to perform since he’s the only defensive front seven player the Broncos picked, but he also shouldn’t have much competition to beat out for the job.  If the coaches are to be believed, he definitely has the skills to rush the passer and cause havoc.  

– I think the Broncos got first round talent when they selected Alphonso Smith, cornerback at Wake Forest in the second.  He seems to have great instincts and has an ability to intercept the ball.  He may be undersized at 5-9, but he makes up for it with great cover speed and his ability to make plays.  He can also contribute in the kick return game.  Coupled with the signings in free agency, the Broncos secondary should be vastly improved from a year ago.  

– I think the Broncos really made an effort to get guys who can help on special teams.  In addition to Smith, they took Notre Dame’s David Bruton in the fourth round.  The reports on Bruton say that he is a real player on special teams.  Texas Tech’s Darcel McBath has a reputation for being a special teams gunner too.  This could be very key for the Broncos being that they ranked dead last in starting field position for opposing teams last year.  If other teams start at say, their own 20 instead of the 35 or 40, don’t you think that will make a huge difference for the defense?  I think the importance of this is not to be underestimated and is really being overlooked by those who are blasting the new regime.

– I’ve had a chance to see the press conferences of each of the picks in the first two rounds, and have sat in on teleconferences with the remaining picks, and I have been extremely impressed by the demeanor of all of them.  Not to say that character necessarily will win you games, but it is really nice to see the Broncos picking quality kids.  Too many times at the end of the Shanahan era, you’d see players have issues off the field.  I have a feeling that won’t be an issue with any of these guys.

The Questionable:

– I think it is fair to wonder why the Broncos didn’t really address the defensive front seven.  This was clearly a need area and was seemingly ignored, save for the selection of Ayers.  I do think if B.J. Raji was there at 12, the Broncos might have taken him and hoped Moreno was there at 18, but Raji was long gone when the Broncos’ turn came.  It does seem a little odd on the surface to spend free agency resources on running back and secondary and then double up on those areas in the draft.  The optimistic side of me says that the Broncos think they need rebuilding everywhere and took the best players available regardless of position.  On that note, why reach for defensive linemen if you don’t think one is there that is worth taking?  The 2007 draft, which featured defensive linemen Jarvis Moss, Tim Crowder and Marcus Thomas, hasn’t exactly paid off, so perhaps McDaniels and his staff would be equally ripped for taking guys at that position that didn’t pan out.  I do wonder what the Broncos can expect from the current defensive front seven, although the hope is that guys will be healthier than last year.  I think the front seven is a question mark, and it would have nice to see the Broncos address it, but perhaps they will be proven right in their belief that this draft wasn’t deep in that area and that they would have been reaching for guys with lower value than what they selected.  Time will tell.

– I found the trades the Broncos made in the draft to be curious.  They surrendered a first round pick in 2010 for the right to pick Smith in the second round.  If the Broncos struggle again as they have the past two years, this has the potential to be a top 10 pick next year.  Of course, it is very laughable to be able to claim to know where the pick will be a year from now.  I have heard form too many idiots who are convinced the Broncos dealt away a top 5 pick.  Like anyone really knows, especially being that we’re coming off a season where Arizona made the Super Bowl.  I am generally not one for trading a first round pick for a second rounder, so I am skeptical about that part of it, but if Smith turns out to be a major impact player, than the trade would be worth it in the long run.  

– The Broncos also traded two 3rd round picks to move up into the second round, which isn’t necessarily bad on the surface, but they used the pick on North Carolina tight end Richard Quinn.  Quinn caught a total of 12 passes in his career at North Carolina, and while he is a fantastic blocker, doesn’t seem to be worth a second round selection.  I visited with a former scout at Broncos headquarters on Sunday who said he had Quinn rated as a fifth round prospect.  The knock here is not in any way on Quinn, who seems like a great kid, seems like a perfect fit for Josh McDaniels’ system and could really provide some tight end depth, but rather on the Broncos taking Quinn in that spot.  It seems like the Broncos could have selected Quinn with one of the third round picks they traded to move up to that spot, or maybe even later in the draft.  Josh McDaniels did say that he wasn’t even remotely concerned with where other teams had players rated, and like I said he seems to be a great kid, but was he worth trading two picks for?  

Overall, I think the Broncos’ draft did not go as anyone really expected.  They took three secondary players, and actually spent more picks on offense than they did on defense.  Perhaps it was shocking also that McDaniels took a quarterback in the sixth round with the initials T.B.  It is also ironic that Tom Brandstater of Fresno State has an identical size and weight to McDaniels’ protege Matt Cassel.  Something there tells me that we may in fact see this kid taking snaps for the Broncos around 2012.  In fact, it will probably be 2012 before we can really assign this draft a grade.  I am frankly sick of Broncos fans bashing McDaniels, even though a lot of it is still remnants from the Cutler trade.  I say let’s give him a chance.  Give him a chance to build a roster, and let’s see if we’re winning games again this year or maybe even next.  I think we might just be surprised.  I’m not saying playoffs or Super Bowl, but I know it’s no sure bet that Denver’s pick that they traded next year will be in the top 10.

Just remember, the first game is against Cincinnati.  That should be at least one win right there.

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2 Responses to “Broncos Draft Thoughts”

  1. Doug Baker said

    Nice article. Without flogging a dead Bronco 🙂 you know I feel that Cutler was more at fault than McDaniel’s…but I still feel McDaniel’s has gotten off on the wrong foot and now has an average QB instead of a potentially great one, or at least a very good one.

    I thought the Bronco draft was kind of weird…

  2. Throwbacks said

    I’m an avid football fan so I found this post to be really interesting. I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to post ! I’ll be adding your site to my newsreader and letting my users know about your site as well.
    thank!
    John

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