The Broncos look forward to the draft (Ben Liebenberg/NFL.com, via NFL.com)
The NFL Draft is like a modified game of darts. Each pick is a dart, with the later picks being thrown further from the board. There is no guarantee any shot will be a bull’s eye, but teams with a shot from further back (the last pick) have a much tougher shot than those who throw from close (the first pick). Having more darts (extra picks) gives you a greater chance of scoring higher than fewer darts (fewer picks).
The Broncos have six darts this year, including one particularly good one: the second pick in the draft. As JaMarcus Russell has proven, though, there is no such thing as a “sure shot” from any position. So why not get together as many darts to throw as possible?
The Broncos have some major changes on defense coming and are expected to focus on the front seven in the draft this year. The two big pieces are DJ Williams and Elvis Dumervil, although there are concerns about how well Dumervil would do in a 4-3 defense. The Broncos could also look at drafting a center, cornerbacks and safeties.
The second pick is great and is expected to be a slam dunk, with the Broncos selecting either DT Nick Fairley of Auburn or CB Patrick Peterson of LSU, depending on who is available.
The second pick, though, is just one dart. An injury or disappointing performance leaves the Broncos with a potential missed throw. So why not instead convert that great dart into several good ones?
The Detroit Lions have the 13th pick in the 2011 draft and are targeting a cornerback. It would not be unheard for the Broncos to trade the 2nd pick to the Lions and get their first (13th) and fourth round picks. Again, an extra dart.
Kyle Orton is not the future for the Broncos, but he is a good quarterback could certainly help a team win now. The extension he signed last year makes him less appealing to other teams, as he is owed $8.4 million, but a team that feels they are a QB away from winning or have some extra money to spend (Minnesota, Miami, Washington) could part with up to a third round pick. Another dart.
The Broncos can also save a dart by pursuing Champ Bailey and setting up to sign him once the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is signed. Bailey has become a staple of the Broncos football team, and although he will be 33 next season, he still has a few years of being a key piece of the defensive rebuild.
The Broncos have a major stockpile of wide receivers who can provide the Broncos extra darts. Brandon Lloyd is signed to a very appealing contract for someone who produced at his level last season and is signed through next season. However, the Broncos cannot expect to have things turned around at that point. How about a second round pick for Lloyd? A fourth round pick for Jabar Gaffney? Those two moves give the Broncos two more darts and free up space in the starting lineup for Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker after their rookie years.
Finally, as Kim Constantinesco’s article contests, the Broncos could reunite DeAngelo Williams with Fox, Willams’ head coach from Carolina, by signing him this offseason. With Williams and Knowshon Moreno on board in Fox’s run-heavy offense, one or two of Lance Ball, Correll Buckhalter and Laurence Maroney become available for trade. Ball showed promise in 2010, and Buckhalter and Maroney could pull a fifth and sixth round draft pick. Two more darts.
Those trades add six picks to the Broncos’ arsenal of six (and one saved dart), giving them twelve. Yes, all of those trades won’t happen, but having even eight or nine darts to throw for a management group with the experience of Fox and general manager Brian Xanders would put the Broncos in excellent position to rebuild the Broncos.
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