“With the 2nd pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the Denver Broncos select…”
With ears perked and eyes wide open, could the name of the player that comes out of Roger Goodell’s mouth change the Broncos defense? Could it enhance the offense? Could it change the Broncos franchise forever?
In prime draft position, the Broncos can create waves within the organization. The last time the Broncos held a top 10 draft pick was in 1991 when the team selected OLB Mike Croel with the 4th overall pick. Floyd Little is the most notable high first round pick, selected 6th in the 1967 draft out of Syracuse.
While the Broncos have had some great drafts in the past, the pressure cooker is on high for the John’s and GM Brian Xanders to rebuild this historic franchise.
In terms of the draft, a team’s first round pick(s) tells fans which direction the team is heading. For example, it wasn’t much after Troy Aikman was drafted first overall in the 1989 draft that the Dallas Cowboys garnered their title “America’s Team” with three Super Bowl wins in the 90’s. There’s no doubt that when the Green Bay Packers selected Clay Matthews in 2009, it changed the course of their history in the post Favre era.
The Broncos attention was narrowed to offense in the early round of the draft last year. In 2010, five offensive players were selected before Perrish Cox was taken in the 5th round. In 2009, the focus was on defense in the early rounds, but it was also Josh McDaniels’ first rodeo in the high chair. First round pick Robert Ayers is still trying to prove himself as is second round pick Darcel McBath. Alphonso Smith was traded away in the heat of McDaniels’ two year long frustration period.
The lack of attention to the defensive side of the ball in the draft occurred prior to McDaniels’ arrival in Denver.
In Mike Shanahan’s last draft (2008) as head coach of the Broncos, just two of his nine picks came with defense in mind. To his credit, however, he did pick up Peyton Hillis in the 7th round.
In 2007, the team’s first and second round picks are now playing for the Raiders and the Buccaneers, respectively. Jarvis Moss had plenty of opportunities, but never proved himself while Tim Crowder also had trouble making Denver the right fit.
The last time the Broncos stole the defensive show in the draft was when they snatched Elvis Dumervil in the 4th round in 2006.
Two years prior to that, the Broncos won big when the picked D.J. Williams in the 2nd round of the 2005 draft.
It’s been years since the Broncos have had a monster draft. They have seven picks to make this year, and the focus has to be on defense.
While it’s fun to toy with the idea of the ultimate quarterback competition – Orton v. Tebow v. Newton (or Gabbert), the Denver defensive drought makes the orange and blue loyalty cringe more than Al Davis at the end of a Raiders loss.
If there’s one thing that John Fox is known for it’s his ability to bring poor teams back from the brink quickly. If there’s one thing John Elway is known for, it’s his competitiveness. This team is in the right hands for the right change to occur rapidly.
The Broncos have been through the struggle, so the progress and growth is right at the fingertips.
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