Now that the 2010 NFL season is officially over, it’s time to look ahead to the upcoming draft. This April, the Denver Broncos have a horde of valuable picks, including the second overall pick in the first round.
The #2 overall pick is the highest pick the Broncos organization has ever had in the NFL Draft. The Broncos have selected a player within the first 5 overall picks of the NFL Draft only 3 times in their history. This includes TE Riley Odoms with the 5th pick in 1972, G Chris Hinton with the 4th pick in 1983, and LB Mike Croel with the 4th pick in 1991. It is generally agreed that Hinton was an excellent pick since he was traded away (with others) to bring in the savior of our franchise, John Elway. Odoms had a spectacular 12-year career for the Orange and Blue where he started 134 games, played in 4 Pro Bowls, and appeared in the Super Bowl after the 1977 season. Croel, on the other hand, played only 4 seasons for the Broncos before moving on and eventually finishing his career in the XFL. Croel was a big disappointment because he started his career so well and looked like he was going to be a star, but his star quickly faded. This tells us is that the Broncos, like every other team, have had both hits and misses with high picks over their history.
The second pick in this year’s draft is the most important pick the Broncos have had in a long time. Not only will it be the first pick of the Elway/Fox era, but the Broncos organization is in desperate need of a few difference makers on and off the field. So what will they do with the pick?
The Broncos could trade this pick away in order to move down and acquire additional picks. This can be advantageous to teams that have struggled on the field because more players can be attained and more holes can be filled in a single draft. Of course, this only works if those extra picks turn into impact players. Trading down also results in less risk because missing on a player late in the first round can hurt a lot less than missing on a top pick. Players drafted early in the first round are extremely expensive, and large amounts of guaranteed money can get tied up on a top draft pick that can be a complete bust. On the flip side, if the Broncos trade down, they could miss on a franchise player who could change the fortune of the entire organization.
If they decide to use the pick and draft a top rated college prospect, it would hopefully bring in a player who would excel for many years and be a mainstay in their starting lineup. This would require a huge investment, but the return could be worth it. The Detroit Lions owned the second pick last year and they chose Ndamukong Suh out of Nebraska. Suh signed a $68 million contract with $40 million guaranteed, but he rewarded the organization by being named the 2010 Defensive Rookie of The Year.
The Broncos decision on what to do with the second pick may very well hinge on the new collective bargaining agreement and their finances. According to Dave Krieger of the Denver Post, The Broncos ranked 27th out of 32 teams in regards to player payroll in 2010, and they were an astonishing $26 million under the salary cap in 2009. The financial state of the Broncos organization is a topic for another article, but if the Broncos are trying to tighten their belts, making a large investment in a player drafted at the second pick may be difficult. But if a rookie wage scale is introduced in the new CBA, the initial cost of high draft picks may be greatly reduced. If this occurs, it is much more likely that the Broncos will use the pick and bring in a big name college player.
So if they do draft a player, who should they take? According to almost any draft source you can find on the internet, the top 5 players available in no particular order are CB Patrick Peterson out of LSU, DT Nick Fairley from Auburn, DL Marcel Dareus from Alabama, DE Da’Quan Bowers from Clemson, and WR A.J. Green out of Georgia. Most people agree that the Broncos need to make drastic improvements on the defensive side of the ball, and with John Fox being a defensive oriented coach, it is a safe bet that if the Broncos use the pick it will be on one of the 4 defenders listed above.
My feeling is that the Broncos need to draft a player with the second pick and bring in an impact guy on the defensive line. John Fox needs to get a defensive anchor that he can count on for years to come. Patrick Peterson looks like he will be an excellent cornerback, but it would be difficult to pass up on either of the defensive linemen from the SEC conference to draft a corner. Without a solid pass rush that puts some pressure on an opposing quarterback, the best cornerback in the league won’t do much good. If the Broncos could land either Nick Fairley or Marcel Dareus with the pick, and then get Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers back from injury, the defensive line will be drastically improved almost immediately. That group would be a core the Broncos could build a championship defense around, and that is what the draft is all about.
So what do you want the Broncos to do with the pick?
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