New Broncos DBs eager to learn from the best
DENVER, Colorado ” Tumbling into the second round of the draft Saturday, Wake Forest defensive back Alphonso Smith felt a sting of disappointment.
However, the anguish was eased by falling to the Broncos, a team high on his wish list. Denver traded away its first-round pick in 2010 to Seattle for the opportunity to nab him at No. 37.
“Denver was one of the teams I really wanted to play for, just having a chance to play with Champ (Bailey) and Renaldo Hill ” and my favorite player in the league is Brian Dawkins,” Smith gushed Saturday night in a conference call. “Just to be in the same locker room and same meeting room with those guys is truly a pleasure.”
Darcel McBath shared that respect. The Texas Tech safety, whom the Broncos selected with the 48th pick, is awed by the secondary.
Namely, Bailey and Dawkins.
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“I’m blessed because I get to come into a system that has two future Hall of Famers,” McBath said. “Those guys are great. My eyes are going to be wide open, my ears are going to be wide open. I’m just going to be trying to learn from those two guys. Those two guys alone are great, and if I could pick up some things from them, I’ll be a better player.”
Smith is eager to show he was worth the high price of the trade with Seattle.
“What I think separated me from other corners is I understand the game and I’m really smart,” said Smith, who picked off 21 passes in his career, ranking him 10th in NCAA history. “I take calculated risks. I get called a gambler sometimes, but I know when I can … I was a pretty savvy football player and instinctive.”
Smith considers Dawkins one of his idols and can’t wait to meet him.
“You have no idea,” he said. “Being a rookie, it’s the best situation coming in. With that being said, I add a little pressure to myself. I think I might have the best rookie season out of the cornerbacks.”
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded up two spots to leapfrog the Broncos and grab Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman with the 17th pick.
Did the Bucs suspect the Broncos were targeting Freeman with their 18th pick?
“We certainly didn’t give them any reason to do that,” Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said. “They might have felt that was something they were uncertain about and they made the move.
“We weren’t interested at that point in a quarterback.”
Primarily a defensive end at the University of Tennessee, Robert Ayers will be asked to line up at outside linebacker as well in the Broncos’ 3-4 defensive scheme.
That’s fine with him.
“Whatever one they ask me to play, I’m going to play,” said Ayers, who was taken at No. 18. “I can play any position, but what I’ve been hearing is outside linebacker.”
Ayers arrives with the reputation of being a one-year wonder. He started two games his first three years and then 12 in 2008.
So, what changed?
He says nothing.
“Defensively, I was there with a lot of other guys in the country. I just didn’t start,” Ayers said. “I had a good junior year. My senior year is really when I started to get a lot of publicity and I really shined.”
The Broncos did their homework, closely analyzing Ayers’ last year in which he led the Southeastern Conference in tackles for a loss (151/2).
“In your evaluation of each player you want to make sure you’re aware of that. We are with Robert,” McDaniels said. “He’s the kind of player we’re looking for on defense in our front seven ” tough, physical, versatile, can affect both the running game and the passing game.”
Don’t adjust your television set. That team in the brown and gold uniforms with striped socks really will be the Denver Broncos.
For two games next season, the Broncos take a break from their familiar blue and orange uniforms, wearing throwback jerseys from the 1960 season to mark the 50th anniversary of the American Football League.
Denver plans to don the yellow jerseys with seal brown trim against New England on Oct. 11 and the white jerseys with brown trim at San Diego on Oct. 19. With each, they’ll wear brown pants.
What made the jerseys truly distinctive in their day were the socks with brown and gold vertical stripes.
When Jack Faulkner took over as head coach in 1962, he had the drab uniforms burned at a public bonfire, ushering in the era of orange and blue.