Chatter leading up to the NFL Draft had University of Wisconsin running back Montee Ball falling not only out of the first round but possibly all the way down to the third or fourth.
The Denver Broncos made sure that didn’t happen Friday night when they took Ball with the 58th overall pick in the second round. Ball, the all-time FBS career touchdowns leader, was the third running back selected, after North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard (Bengals, No. 37) and Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell (Steelers, No. 48). Many expected Alabama’s Eddie Lacy to be the first running back off the board, but he was still available when Denver took Ball and eventually went to the Packers at No. 61.
Ball, who may have hurt his draft status by running a 4.66 40 at the Combine before cutting that time to 4.46 at Wisconsin’s pro day, was a Heisman Trophy finalist as a junior when he ran for 1,923 yards and scored 39 touchdowns. Last year, he was hindered by early-season concussion problems but still ran for 1,830 yards and scored 22 touchdowns.
He should have a chance to start immediately for the Broncos, whose leading rusher last season was 31-year-old Willis McGahee with 731 yards. McGahee and Knowshon Moreno (525 yards) were Denver’s top two rushers, but neither was a long-term solution at the position.
“I grew up watching the Broncos; they were my favorite team,” Ball reportedly told Denver media via teleconference shortly after being selected.