Here we go again! The NFL combine is here! However, the Denver Broncos seem to be entering this year’s affair much more relaxed.
In 2011, as John Elway made his return to the franchise, the Broncos were in utter disarray and needed to be resurrected. A strong draft was not only necessary but critical.
In 2012, the Broncos used Tim Tebow and some much criticized trade swapping to maneuver for picks and again managed to have a strong draft.
In 2013, the mood seems lighter. Elway donned a leather jacket yesterday. Was that the only jacket he had in his suitcase? You can only assume there is at least a modicum of calm surrounding the organization. This is a developmental draft and there aren’t a number of players that can have an immediate impact on the Broncos. There are certainly prospects the team should be tracking for this year’s draft and at this weekend’s combine but why is John Elway so cool? He probably knows that if one prospect doesn’t fall the Broncos’ way this year, there is sure to be another prospect that can contribute.
If you’ve read Broncos blogs and sports pages, the positions that often get the most attention are defensive tackle, middle linebacker, safety, corner, running back and wide receiver. Having the twenty-eighth overall pick should bode extremely well then. This draft has loads of talent but not the kind of individual talent that can change a franchise over night. There are lots of options for a strong team that wants to get stronger.
At defensive end, it’s hard to over look Kawann Short and Kevin Minter. In many mock drafts they either fall to the Broncos or would be available. Unfortunately, Short will not be around this weekend. He is still battling through a nagging hamstring injury. It’s an injury that seemed to be a non-factor when he was dazzling scouts at the senior bowl and now appears to be enough to keep him out of this year’s combine. He plans to conduct an individual practice March 25. Still, with his wonderful season last year and his strong senior bowl MVP performance it’s hard to see his draft stock plunging far enough to stop him from going before the Broncos can get their hands on him. Bronco fans might be hoping that doesn’t happen. He certainly could be one of the few potential impact players out there.
Not to worry. There’s always Kevin Minter, a terrific middle linebacker out of Louisiana State. Like Short, his stock has been on a steady rise. He started off being projected in the second round and now it is difficult to imagine him not going in the first. Opinions regarding Minter certainly differ and the two main knocks on him are his speed and his ability to cover. However, he’s also been mentioned in the same breath as Ray Lewis and his football IQ could not be higher. He did have 130 tackles last season and was in the running for the Butkus Award. A poor showing at the combine would likely hurt his stock and drop him back into the second round, but a solid performance will almost certainly put him out of reach for Denver.
So, now what? The Broncos probably don’t have to be concerned. They are in a position that allows them to take the next best thing. Desmond Trufant could fall to Denver and he would be a welcome addition. Trufant is a very talented corner and he has a knack for staying healthy. He is also extremely fast. He is a little small at 5’11,” but he does run a 4.38 forty. Nothing wrong with that. His brother has made quite a name for himself in Seattle and there is no reason to believe that Desmond can not do the same with the Broncos. Trufant may also be gone at pick No. 28 although the chances are less likely.
If so, enter Terrance Williams. Williams caught almost 1,900 yards last year at Baylor and had 12 touchdowns to go along with the 11 scores he recorded in 2011. He’s a special player and runs the forty in just under 4.5. He made some terrific catches at the senior bowl as well. Some speculate that he is soft over the middle. Fair enough. Eric Decker has all the tools and the experience to excel in the slot. Having a speedster on the outside opposite Demaryius Thomas with Decker roaming the slot in a Peyton Manning lead offense would make for a terrific addition.
Williams and Trufant should be there when Denver’s number is called. However, Alabama’s Eddie Lacy or Florida’s Matt Elam should also be around at both the running back and safety position should the Broncos need more options. The point here is that even if the fans are still licking their playoff wounds, Elway and company realize that they are in an incredibly powerful place. They looking at a draft class that can’t help or hurt them too much. They will be looking to get what the draft offers instead of having to over play their hand or reach. Broncos fans should watch this combine and enjoy. It is a no pressure situation. If you’ve got a leather jacket, this weekend might be the time to put it on.