Did Broncos Make Mistake Trading up for Shane Ray?

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Nov 1, 2014; Columbia, MO, USA; Kentucky Wildcats running back Stanley Williams (18) is tackled by Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Shane Ray (56) during the second half at Faurot Field. Missouri won 20-10. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday night, day one of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos and John Elway surprised some, if not many.

The Broncos were scheduled to pick at number 28, but one player that was slipping caught Elway’s attention. The Broncos decided to trade away their first round pick, as well as this year’s 5th round pick (143 overall), a 2016 5th rounder, and offensive lineman Manny Ramirez for the Detroit Lion’s 23rd pick.

For some backstory, let’s backup up to my mindset before the draft.

After evaluating 50 prospects and quickly watching 10 more the day of the draft, I, like many others, had my favorites for the Broncos to pick. There were four guys that I thought realistically could be there at pick number 28 that I would’ve loved for the Broncos. Those players were D.J. Humphries, Eric Kendricks, Shaq Thompson, and T.J. Clemmings.

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All were still available before the Broncos traded up to 23. When the trade was announced, I had a bad feeling Denver would take offensive tackle Jake Fisher, who I thought was a 3rd round pick. There was a run on offensive tackles that led me to believe that Elway wasn’t confident Fisher would make it to 28. The product from Oregon did seem like a good fit for their zone-blocking scheme.

However, Adam Schefter then reported on TV that the Broncos would be looking to go defense. Right away I thought/hoped for Kendricks, who I wrote about days before the draft.

But then the pick was announced and the wind was kicked out of my tires. The pick was edge rusher Shane Ray of Missouri, ironically one of the 10 guys I brushed up on right before the draft.

While I didn’t have a concrete opinion on Ray, I knew enough to think that Elway passed up on some better talent for a guy that was overhyped during the draft process.

To add salt to my wounds, the very next picks at 24 and 25 were Humphries and Thompson. Ugh.

So, to give Ray an honest and fair evaluation, I watched five of his games: one from 2013 and four from 2014. Here are my thoughts on the Denver Broncos first round pick of 2015.