Three days, seven rounds and nine selections – another NFL Draft is in the rear-view mirror for your Denver Broncos.
And so what exactly have we learned from the process? Ask and you shall receive. Following are 10 quick takeaways – some obvious, others not so much – from the Orange and Blue’s past 72 hours …
1. John Elway and Co. didn’t see many overbearing roster needs. Sure, the offensive line had the obvious holes to plug, but when the Broncos traded up five spots in the first round to snare the best player available – pass-rusher Shane Ray – at a position well down the team’s list of needs, it was clearly a luxury Elway thought the current roster allowed him to afford.
2. Speaking of the pass rush, Wade Phillips’ D figures to be packing as much or more heat than any other NFL stop unit this fall. Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Derek Wolfe, Malik Jackson, Antonio Smith and the rookie Ray have all had six-sack-plus seasons in the last few years and now they all could be coming from different angles on any opposing QB dropback. Watch out.
3. Brock Osweiler very much remains a part of the long-term quarterback picture. Even though the Big O’s rookie contract is up after this season – a campaign which could be the last for 39-year-old Peyton Manning – the Broncos declined to spend a mid-round pick on a potential QB challenger as many draft pundits had predicted.
4. The battles for the three open offensive-line starting spots will be tight, and the versatility of most of the candidates gives the Broncos plenty of options. At right tackle, second-round selection Ty Sambrailo joins the fray with Michael Schofield, Chris Clark and Paul Cornick while fourth-round pick Max Garcia could either challenge Gino Gradkowski and Matt Paradis for the starting center spot or join Shelley Smith, Ben Garland and Jon Halapio in the left-guard derby. Stay tuned …
5. It looks as if the starting nose tackle will be either Sylvester Williams or Marvin Austin. Denver did spend a sixth-round draft pick on Maryland project Darius Kilgo, but it bypassed a number of available 3-4 anchors in the early rounds in favor of other needs.
6. The Broncos like what they had at safety and inside linebacker. The team parted ways with starting safety Rahim Moore and backup Quinton Carter, and there are lingering injury questions with projected starting inside ‘backers Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshall but the Broncos expressed a lot of faith in the current contingents by adding only Oklahoma State safety Josh Furman with their final pick to either position.
7. The Broncos have a new coach in Gary Kubiak, and he’s bringing his old offensive philosophy back to the Mile High City. That much was confirmed when the Broncos used a third-round pick on tight end Jeff Heuerman, bringing the number of tight ends/fullbacks on the roster to a healthy six.
8. Lorenzo Doss and Taurean Nixon, the late-round Tulane cornerbacks selected by the Broncos, are facing quite the uphill battle. Chris Harris, Aqib Talib, Bradley Roby, Kayvon Webster and Tony Carter currently occupy the top five depth-chart slots in comprising what’s likely the deepest position on the team. Translation: Open jobs are few and far between, so making an immediate impression on special teams will be key for the rooks.
9. The Kubiak-Colorado State connection remains alive and well. With his sons playing at CSU, Kubiak has long had an NFL pipeline connecting to Fort Collins, and this season will be no different with Sambrailo’s addition making it four former Rams on the current roster as the offensive tackle joins Smith, running back Karpi Bibbs and linebacker Shaquil Barrett.
10. Finally, don’t believe that just because the draft is done, the Broncos are done acquiring first-year talent. Just keep a close eye on the Broncos’ crop of post-draft signees. After all, the Orange and Blue are working on a remarkable streak in which at least one undrafted rookie has made the team’s 53-man roster coming out of training camp in 11 straight seasons.