Mile High Monday: Broncos Address Needs in Draft
By Chris Krier
Denver Broncos first round draft pick Sylvester Williams speaks at a press conference at Broncos headquarters. (Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)
If you count the free agent acquisition of ex-Charger Shaun Phillips, the Denver Broncos brought in 8 players during the draft plus another 15 as undrafted free agents.
All 8 of those players line up at different positions meaning the Broncos addressed almost every need that existed prior to the draft. It seemed John Elway stuck to his guns about drafting the best player available while at the same time filling the remaining holes on a talented roster.
You can’t ask for much more than that.
The Broncos got things started in the first round by taking DT Sylvester Williams out of North Carolina with the 28th overall selection. He was a great value pick since it was widely considered a surprise he slipped that far.
“’Sly’ (Sylvester) Williams, as we said, we were thrilled that he was still there at 28. He was a guy that we’ve been looking for, a young anchor in the middle of the defensive line, for some time and were able to find a good one that has a chance to be a great one,” Elway said.
Williams and Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton (signed as a free agent earlier this offseason) bring a lot of bulk into the interior of the defense that wasn’t there a year ago.
Denver went with RB Montee Ball from Wisconsin in the 2nd round. It was no secret the Broncos wanted to get a tough running back in the draft this year and he fits that bill. Ball, who grew up a Broncos fan, was statistically one of the best running backs in college football history and a two-time All-American. He finished with over 5,700 scrimmage yards and 83 total touchdowns during his 4 years at Wisconsin.
“With [RB] Montee Ball, we were in need of a running back. With the situation we were in, to have him fall to us in the second round and him being a top guy on our board, we’re thrilled with that. The production he had in college was tremendous,” Elway said.
Denver was also looking to add depth to their secondary during the draft, and they got it with South Florida’s Kayvon Webster in the 3rd round.
Webster is a 5′-10.5″, 195 lb. senior cornerback who started 32 games during his career. He finished with 190 tackles over four seasons (two as a full-time starter) and was invited to the 2012 East-West Shrine Game.
The biggest question remaining for this team was answered in a span of about an hour on Saturday afternoon. The Broncos finally revealed how they intend to replace the production of Elvis Dumervil. First, they drafted DE Quanterus Smith with their first pick in the 5th round, and shortly thereafter they announced the signing of free agent pass-rushing specialist Phillips.
Smith is an absolute monster. At 6′-5″ tall and 250 lbs. he is an explosive player who has the length and quickness to get after the quarterback. He registered 3 sacks against Alabama in his senior season when he lined up against DJ Fluker, the San Diego Chargers first round selection. If it wasn’t for an ACL injury late last year he would have been selected much earlier in the draft. According to reports Smith will be healthy for the start of training camp.
Elway thinks Smith could be a steal in the 5th round: “It was his pass-rush ability. When you look at his stats, I think he had 12.5 sacks last year. He led the nation in sacks and I think he only played nine games. He’s got a unique ability to rush the passer. He went to Western Kentucky, but we saw one of his best games was against two really good tackles at Alabama. He’s got the unique ability to duck and a great feel to rush the passer. That’s why with Quanterus being available in the fifth, obviously he’s coming off knee surgery, but the medical staff and ‘Greek’ (Head Athletic Trainer Steve Antonopulos) thought he would be ready to go June or July this year. We were happy to get him in the fifth round.”
Phillips may not have the best reputation in Broncos Country, but there is no doubt he has a knack for getting after the quarterback. In his 9 years with the Chargers he has compiled nearly 70 sacks in 108 starts. His contract is incentive-laden and designed for him to focus on one thing: Put the opposing quarterback on the ground. He should be able to flourish while surrounded by talent such as Von Miller.
“When we brought him in to visit, we had a real good conversation. He played outside linebacker in a 3-4 which in essence is the same thing depending on what side you are on whether it’s the open side or the tight side. Basically it’s how we use Von and whoever the right end is. He’ll have flex on early downs to be a ‘Sam’ linebacker over a tight end as well as being that open end, [DE] Robert Ayers’ position now. He has both those abilities like Von Miller. Von is pretty much in on all three downs. We look at him a little bit like that. He will be a valuable asset for sure,” Denver Head Coach John Fox said.
The Broncos finished off the draft by adding three players who will add depth to spots where it was needed. WR Tavarres King from Georgia was taken in the 5th round, versatile OL Vinston Painter out of Virginia Tech was drafted in the 6th, and hopeful third quarterback Zac Dysert from Miami of Ohio was taken in the 7th round.
There is no doubt that this football team is much better today than they were at the start of the offseason. Outside of the Dumervil situation they put together an A+ free agent class and now they’ve brought in a solid draft class behind them.
The 2013 Denver Broncos have a chance to be very special and Broncos Country is chomping at the bit to see them on the field. Now we just have to wait for the start of the season.
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