Broncos look for help on D-line in draft
Safe to say, the Broncos will not be faxing their pick to league
Still, it’s that balky fax machine and the repercussions of
losing Elvis Dumervil that helped shape the way Denver heads into
this week’s draft.
The team that tied for the best record in the league last
season, then lost both its playoff game and Dumervil to the
Baltimore Ravens, needs a pass-rushing defensive lineman as much as
anything this offseason.
The Broncos have the 28th pick Thursday and whether Executive
Vice President John Elway decides to use it, or trade down as he
did last season, he figures to have his pick from a deep group of
defensive ends, including Tank Carradine and Bjoern Werner of
Florida State and Datone Jones of UCLA.
”There are a lot of good football players there,” Elway said.
”It’s kind of a matter of what kind of flavor you like.”
Entering his third draft as a Broncos executive, Elway acts like
a true NFL front-office veteran in his pre-draft meetings with the
media – speaking in broad generalities, discussing his appreciation
for ”the best player available” and even talking up Dumervil’s
replacement, Robert Ayers, a first-round pick in 2009 who has 6 1/2
Dumervil had 11 sacks last season and 63 1/2 over his six
healthy years in Denver.
”Robert Ayers had a good year last year,” Elway said. ”He was
coming on and he’s the starter there at right end right now. I have
faith that he is going to come in and have a good year.”
That message could, of course, be one part true and another part
for the benefit of Dwight Freeney, the free-agent pass rusher who
could still wind up in a Broncos uniform but only at the right
price. Freeney kept himself out of the frenzy of signings when the
market opened; word is he’s holding out for a better deal that
could come when teams see what they have come the end of draft
The Broncos certainly won’t have Dumervil, and in his pre-draft
news conference, Elway fielded a few questions about what, exactly,
happened. The short version: Things got dicey when the Broncos said
”OK” to Dumervil even though he’d missed their deadline to agree
to a restructured deal and a significant pay cut. In a late rush to
complete the deal, Dumervil and his agent didn’t get the signed
contract faxed to the Broncos in time and the team had no choice
but to waive him.
”If there’s anything I would take back it’s the fact that if
there’s a deadline, there’s a deadline,” Elway said. ”There’s a
reason why there’s a deadline, because you can’t get everything
done fast enough. It’s an unfortunate situation, but that won’t
Why the fax machine?
”I’m not going to get into that,” Elway said.
While Elway talks about drafting the best player available,
there are some positions where he will almost certainly not go, at
least not early.
Quarterback. Tight end. Receiver. Denver is set at all of
The Broncos could use some depth at linebacker. They might also
be looking for the cornerback of the future, now that Champ Bailey
is 35. His rough game against Baltimore – he was the man in
coverage on a pair of long touchdowns by Torrey Smith – brought on
the predictable chirping about him moving to safety someday.
”That’s fine,” Bailey said of the possibility of Denver
drafting a corner. ”I don’t really look at that any kind of way. I
see what players they draft, how can they help us? Plain and
simple. Every guy is looking to be replaced at some point. I’ve
been looked at that way for the past six or seven years. It doesn’t
affect me one bit.”
Elway’s most intriguing decision could very well revolve around
Some Denver fans think the Broncos would have a third Lombardi
Trophy had they had a running back who could’ve milked the clock
down in January during the drive before Joe Flacco completed the
game-tying 70-yard touchdown pass over safety Rahim Moore.
Willis McGahee was on injured reserve and Knowshon Moreno got
dinged up earlier in the game, leaving the heavy lifting to a
rookie, Ronnie Hillman, who was built more for change of pace than
grinding it out. All three are under contract, though if the
Broncos find a better every-down back, they might go there.
Elway, however, is a realist when it comes to drafting running
backs. Using a first-round pick on one is a risk. (See, Moreno).
Meanwhile, the back who helped him finally win the Super Bowl,
Terrell Davis, was a sixth-round pick.
”That’s not to say that a good running back is not still very
important, because you’re going to need to be able to have some
balance in your attack,” Elway said. ”I think with the trend and
where it is going, the running back has been bumped down a little