RBs add wrinkle to Broncos’ draft plan
The Denver Post
There are some certainties, but far more possibilities.
The Broncos are converting their defense to a 3-4 alignment. This is known. They need to fortify their defensive front seven. No secret there. In possession of the Nos. 12 and 18 picks for the NFL draft that will be selected Saturday, the Broncos would love to come away with defensive tackle B.J. Raji and defensive end Tyson Jackson.
But what happens if Raji, who could go to any one of the teams in the top 10, and Jackson, who could go to Kansas City at No. 3, aren’t there by the time the Broncos are placed on the 12th-pick clock, much less at No. 18?
Among the possibilities that could be generated by such a scenario would be for Broncos coach Josh McDaniels to take an irresistible gander at a running back such as Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno or Ohio State’s Chris “Beanie” Wells, or a receiver such as Florida’s Percy Harvin.
At his coaching core, McDaniels is an offensive coordinator. If the Broncos’ draft board presents the choice of a fourth-best defensive lineman or first-best running back, could McDaniels be blamed if he sends word to New York to nab Moreno?
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“His lateral quickness and burst is incredible,” NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock said of Moreno. “He makes people miss. His acceleration is incredible. He catches the football. He’s a willing blocker and pass protector. The only thing he doesn’t have is the ability to run away from people in the open field.”
Defense remains the Broncos’ top priority. Even if Raji and Jackson are gone, the Broncos may consider defensive end Robert Ayers, defensive tackle Peria Jerry or outside linebackers Brian Orakpo or Brian Cushing in the first round.
But even after signing veteran tailbacks Correll Buckhalter, LaMont Jordan and J.J. Arrington during free agency, the Broncos most likely will draft another running back this weekend. If not Moreno or Wells in the second round, the Broncos could consider Pittsburgh’s LeSean McCoy with their No. 48 pick in the second round, Alabama’s Glen Coffee in the fourth round or perhaps Boise State’s Ian Johnson in the seventh.
“Those second-day guys, you’re all hoping there’s a Terrell Davis out there someplace,” former Baltimore coach Brian Billick said of the former Broncos running back surprise. “What we’re seeing more and more as a trend is a lack of willingness to take a running back early in the draft because I think this has clearly become a two-back running back league.”
The draft also could say something about the Broncos’ confidence in receiver Brandon Marshall. He has been their most productive receiver the past two seasons and because he’s only 25, his best years should be ahead.
But Marshall also raises immediate concerns at Dove Valley. In the past seven weeks, he has been arrested and underwent hip surgery. Charges of disorderly conduct against Marshall were quickly dropped, and the Broncos remain hopeful he won’t be suspended. Ordinarily, they wouldn’t seriously consider a receiver with one of their top three picks because of the position’s long learning curve.
“Now, the two guys you might see a level of productivity (from are) Jeremy Maclin and Percy Harvin because they also might give you some return capability,” Billick said. “And they also might give you productivity on third down. But I don’t know if there’s anybody in this draft that you’re expecting to come in and have an 80- or 90-catch year. It’s a much tougher transition position for wide receivers than probably ” other than quarterback ” any other position.”
Mike Klis: 303-954-1055 or firstname.lastname@example.org