Elway gets adrenaline going again

John Elway’s competitive juices are flowing again.

The Hall of Fame quarterback, who took over as the Denver

Broncos’ chief of football operations this year, said that during

his first foray into the draft room, ”I felt like I was playing a

football game. I think that’s why I was exhausted every

night.”

Elway said he constantly paced the meeting room just like he

used to do in the locker room before games or on the sideline

between possessions.

When Elway was brought on board to help steer a franchise that

has foundered since his retirement more than a decade ago, he said

he wanted that adrenaline rush again.

And it came roaring back during the draft.

”I was excited,” Elway said. ”Especially when you look at

that board and you start getting closer to your pick and you’ve

talked to the pick you want and then they’re falling to where you

want … I was up pacing, walking around, getting nervous, hoping

that the guy would fall to us.

”Even when I was playing football, I never sat. I didn’t sit

down much. I was always pacing when I was playing football on the

bench, too.”

Elway teamed up with general manager Brian Xanders and new coach

John Fox in deciding who to pick, and the trio settled on six

defenders among the team’s nine selections as they sought ways to

fix a dismal defense that was the primary culprit in their 4-12

season last year.

”I was expecting there to be more confusion, having the short

time per pick, than it really was,” Elway said.

The Broncos chose three linebackers, two safeties and a

defensive end to go with two tight ends and a right tackle. Elway

said it wasn’t at all difficult for him to dote on the defense even

given his offensive background.

”Well, the bottom line as a quarterback, you know if you don’t

have any defense and you can’t stop anybody, it makes your job that

much tougher,” Elway said. ”Believe me, I am all for being great

on defense, too. So we were all on the same page.”

And he didn’t lament the lack of an offensive skill player such

as a running back or quarterback, either.

”Well, I like those tight ends,” Elway said of Julius Thomas,

a former basketball player, and Virgil Green, who can probably

out-jump Thomas with his 42 1/2-inch vertical leap.

”I feel pretty good at wide receiver. I feel pretty good at

running back,” Elway said. ”And obviously you always want to

bring in that competition and I think as John (Fox) said, we’ll

deal with that in the other pool.”

That would be free agency, which will happen once the players

and owners solve their labor differences.

That’s also where the Broncos are going to have to look if they

want to bring in a defensive tackle after bypassing the deep pool

of run-stuffers in the draft. But nobody knows if free agents will

be four-year players or if they’ll have to wait for six seasons to

earn the freedom to shop their services.

”There’s some guys,” Elway said. ”If it’s six-plus, we should

get Marcus (Thomas) back. So, we feel pretty good about that.”

Elway said both Thomas and Kevin Vickerson are better fits in

Fox’s 4-3 scheme than Josh McDaniels’ 3-4.

Heading into the draft, the Broncos had a multitude of needs on

defense, and chief among them was finding a run-stuffer after they

ranked 31st in the league against the run, allowing a whopping 155

yards a game on the ground.

They considered Alabama’s Marcell Dareus with the No. 2 pick

overall but they decided Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, the

top pass-rusher in the draft, was too good to pass up.

Elway called Dareus a great player with a great future, but

”the difference to me was that (Miller) is one of those guys that

comes along once in 10 years.”

Miller reminds many of the late Derrick Thomas of the Kansas

City Chiefs, including Elway.

When he visited Dove Valley on Friday, Miller told Elway he

wanted to wear No. 58, just like Thomas did.

”I liked it. I thought it was great,” Elway said. ”I thought

it was the perfect number for him.”

Although, Elway admitted, the very thought gave him some

unpleasant flashbacks.

”It did. I said, ‘Don’t walk behind me,”’ Elway cracked.