When Denver Broncos head coach John Fox met the press at the conclusion of the day on Friday, he repeatedly referenced a couple of things that stood out to me.
The first was that we have lots of holes to fill. Certainly, we have many fine players returning from 2010, but the bottom line is that the team performance yielded a 4-12 record, and when that is the case, it is very reasonable to assume there are multiple positions that could use a little, or a lot of, shoring up.
And when you have multiple holes to fill, no matter how well you draft-and there is no question the Broncos have gotten excellent young prospects-you can only take one player at a time, and in the interlude between your picks others will come off the board. So, you can’t take every player with one pick.
But you cannot eat a cow in one bite, either. You can, however, take one bite of steak at a time, eventually accomplishing the former.
So we can’t be alarmed about not getting every position filled at once. It will take multiple selections and signings.
The second point John Fox made repeatedly was that we also will turn to the next “available talent pool.” The next available talent pool, once determined and clarified by the courts and through collective bargaining, will be the signing of free agent players, and that grouping will include veteran free agents whose contracts have expired, as well as college free agents not selected in this three-day drafting period.
And when all those are put together, you have a lot of bites of steak.
Day three of the draft features five selections for the Broncos, and it is possible that when everything is considered, fans will only have high familiarity with first round choice Von Miller and second round choice Rahim Moore. That’s no sin-most people only know the most famous skill position guys on offense and defense, and then we learn others after they come here and make names for themselves.
Which leads me to a final thought on the selection process. One of our former Rocky Mountain News beat men, Steve Caulk, now in public relations in the Denver area, sent me a Facebook asking who was the “most accomplished, latest selection” in Broncos history.
We have had a lot of great players in our history, but back in 1983 the team took a defensive end from Minnesota in the 12th round-that defensive end, Karl Mecklenburg, went on to become one of the finest linebackers in Denver and National Football League history. But I remember when we took him, and I remember bringing all the draftees in to have a group “meet the press,” and not a single member of the press even approached or acknowledged Meck. And that is in no what a criticism of press behavior. He simply was a nobody, a total, complete unknown taken by Denver with the 310th selection in that year’s draft.
And just for the heck of it, here are a few other candidates for this subjective selection as best latest choice ever made by Denver:
Marlin Briscoe, the modern era’s first black quarterback, who also had a notable career after leaving Denver, was the 14th Bronco and 357th choice in 1968.
Steve Foley is a member of the Broncos’ all-time team at safety and was pick number eight/199 in 1975.
Superb play-making defensive back Tyrone Braxton, was number 12/334 in 1987, just one selection away from being the final pick in the entire draft, “Mr. Irrelevant.” There was nothing irrelevant about Tyrone Braxton. He was a champion and a gamer.
In 1994 the last choice made by the Broncos was 7c/218, an obscure center from Boston College named Tom Nalen. Anybody think he will make the Ring of Fame in time? A great player.
The very next year Denver used pick 7b/222 to take a tight end named Byron Chamberlain, who was a fine player here and in Minnesota. And that selection in 1995 was just two after the Broncos used number 6b/196 to take Terrell Davis, whom I believe is the greatest running back in history NOT in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Long time NFL linebacker Nate Wayne was 7b/219 in 1998, following on the heels of selection 7a/200 that same year, longtime offensive lineman Trey Teague.
In 2000 the Broncos took an ex-Marine with pick number 6/189, and I’ll bet everybody still remembers Mike Anderson. A tough, fine running back.
Chris Kuper is a very fine starting guard for the Broncos right now, and Chris was selection number 5/161 in 2006.
Back in 2008 the Broncos took fullback/linebacker/special teams ace Spencer Larsen with selection number 6/183, then followed that up with pick number 7/227, a running back named Peyton Hillis. Sometimes we let good players get away. It happens to all teams, and with him, it happened to us, in another regime, in another day.
Just last year we added offensive lineman Eric Olsen from Notre Dame with number 6/183, and then with 7/225 added a fine defensive and special teams player from Cal, Syd’Quan Thompson.
Now, remember, some guys never get drafted, but you sign a lot of them, and sometimes they turn out to be a kicker like Rich Karlis or a wide receiver like Steve Watson-or even the greatest undrafted wide receiver in the history of pro football, Rod Smith.
Greg Kragen, a Pro Bowl defensive tackle, was an undrafted free agent who played on our Super Bowl teams in the 1980′s.
Ditto offensive linemen Keith Kartz and Dave Studdard, who were not drafted by Denver yet started on the championship teams in the 1980′s and protected John Elway.
Remember also, it takes a lot of players to make a team. They don’t all make the Pro Bowl, but you need 53, and they all contribute. That’s why they call it a team.
The player acquisition period for 2011 will not end when the draft is over.