The Denver Broncos had a great report card after day one at the NFL draft. Of those PO readers who responded, 32% gave the team an ‘A’ for selecting North Carolina defensive tackle Sylvester Williams. Twenty-five percent gave them an ‘A-‘ for the pick.
With that pick more than a day old, let’s grade the Broncos for their day No. 2 selections.
In the second round, the Broncos added some great size and youth to their backfield by picking running back Montee Ball out of Wisconsin. Ball has roughly 17 pounds of bulk on Knowshon Moreno and nine years less of wear and tear on the body than Willis McGahee.
Ball led the country with 1,923 rushing yards and 39 total touchdowns (33 rushing) in 2011, which was also the year that he was a Heisman Trophy finalist. He returned for his senior season and racked up 1,850 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2012.
Eddie Lacy was still on the board when the Broncos selected Ball, and John Elway said they picked Ball over Lacy because they felt better about him medically.
“The bottom line was that we looked at the medical,” Elway said. “It really came down to the medical side and that’s what tilted the scales to Montee…When we looked at the medical and going through our medical staff, we just felt that Montee was a better choice for us at that spot.”
Ball won’t just be looked upon to run the ball of course. With Peyton Manning running the show, his pass blocking skills will have to be top-notch as well. It sounds like he’s better at that than Ronnie Hillman was coming into the league, according to what the draft scouts are saying.
“Effective cut blocker in the hole and willing to stand up to blitzers when protecting the quarterback,” is what NFL.com lists as his strengths. They also say that he is “willing to run into compressed spaces and doesn’t worry about contact. Hard runner. Stays patient behind pulling guards and fullbacks, has enough quickness to break off a run if the space is available to him. Lowers his pads on contact, keeps his legs moving to gain extra yards against glancing blows.”
“Montee is a productive player with excellent feet and vision,” head coach John Fox said. “We view him as a three-down back that will be a great fit for our team. He has top-flight character and we’re pleased to add him to the Broncos.”
Ball compares himself to former Broncos backfield great, Terrell Davis.
“I’ve watched Terrell Davis—all of his interviews; all of his highlights; everything. I grew up watching him a little bit. It’s really crazy right now. I’m so excited. I’m very, very excited.”
The Broncos weren’t done after they picked up Ball. In the third round of the draft (90th overall), the team selected South Florida cornerback Kayvon Webster. Webster was projected as a 6th or 7th round pick, but the Broncos saw something much different.
The 5-10, 195-pound defensive back ran a 4.41 40-yard-dash. In 2011, Webster had 49 tackles (one for a loss), two interceptions, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Last season he had 82 tackles (four for a loss), two sacks, and three forced fumbles for a very poor USF team. Webster is said to play very aggressively and could be used on corner blitzes because of his quickness.
“Corner was a position we wanted to address,” Fox said. “Of course we staged that through the whole draft. We were happy he got to us…He’s 5’10” and-a-half, 195 [pounds], he’s got great short quickness. Probably one of the fastest corners in the draft—he ran a sub 4.4. We felt good about his upside and what evidence he put on tape.”
With speed like that, it’s possible that the Broncos could use him in the return game as well (As much as we would like to see Trindon Holliday field all the kickoffs and punts, it’s good to have some depth there).
Webster said that growing up, Elway and the Broncos got him into football.
“Broncos were my first team I grew up watching, when John Elway was in the Super Bowl in ‘98 and that got my eye wanting to play football,” Webster said.