|05-10-2006, 08:43 PM||#1|
Draft Defense Early&Often
Join Date: Oct 2004
A Fresh Start
A Fresh Start
New England drafted Cedric Cobbs in 2004, but the former University of Arkansas runner was on the Broncos' radar at that year's draft.
By Andrew Mason
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- It may be Cedric Cobbs' third year in the NFL, but it is though his career is starting anew.
It's not only a do-over, but it comes with a team that wanted him in the first place.
Cobbs' presence on the Broncos' roster is testament to a basic tenet of the team's protocol: that no scouting report on a draft prospect ever hits the trash bin the moment the draft concludes. If anything, its value only increases.
The 2004 draft passed with the former University of Arkansas running back passing to the New England Patriots. The Broncos had him in their sights, but when Tatum Bell was on the board in the second round, they opted for the former Oklahoma State runner.
"The year that we took Tatum and had Julius Jones coming out, Cedric Cobbs was the guy that we were going to take in the third round had neither one of those been available," General Manager Ted Sundquist said, "so that tells you how we feel about Cedric."
Denver's interest in Cobbs was such that he was one of the rising rookies the Broncos brought to Dove Valley that year.
"They said they would pick me up and said they really liked me of the running backs in the draft," Cobbs recalled. "But it didn't go that way. They went a different way and I ended up going to New England."
Last fall, Cobbs' path wound to Denver after the Broncos claimed him for their practice squad. It took another winding direction two weekends ago when the Broncos' draft weekend passed without selecting a running back. It marked the first time since 2001 the Broncos didn't pick a runner, although Sundquist and Head Coach Mike Shanahan both spoke publicly of the team's interest in University of Minnesota running back Laurence Maroney had they not chosen to trade up to the No. 11 slot.
Maroney, coincidentally, went to Cobbs' former employers in New England.
"I'm happy that we didn't take a first-round running back because that means that player would get his opportunities simply because he's a first-round draft pick," Cobbs said.
Denver officially signed former University of Arizona running back Mike Bell as an undrafted free agent Monday, but Bell is the only rookie back among a group that includes Tatum Bell, Ron Dayne and Cobbs.
No matter what moves the Broncos made, Cobbs chose not to fret.
"It's not really my job to worry about another back coming in," he said. "All I can do is take care of my responsibilities and that's to come out there and do everything I can possible to get in shape and do everything the coaches want me to do. I kind of focus on myself right now and getting the job done at hand and whatever the coaches need me to do, my focus is to get it done."
As Cobbs focused on his development during his practice-squad stint last year, so too did his position coach, running backs mentor Bobby Turner.
"He disciplined me in a number of ways when I came in last season," Cobbs said. "He didn't like the way I ran; he thought I ran too high sometimes, and he wanted me to fall forward. That's one thing he talks about is he wants players to fall forward for the extra yard."
You've heard of the power of positive thinking? As Cobbs recalls, last autumn was the season of negative reinforcement -- albeit with the intention of fostering growth.
"(Turner is) the type of coach that's always critical no matter what you do," He's always has something negative to say, and it's negative what he's saying but it's a positive way in helping you. He's always trying to make that player the best he can be.
"I work really well under him, the way he talks to me. I understand it, he gets the point out. I can work really well under him and understand what he wants of me. That's what I did last season was trying to figure out exactly what he wanted out of me and I think I got that accomplished."
Cobbs is attempting to travel a similar path to the one that Reuben Droughns traversed earlier this decade. Denver signed Droughns after two frustrating seasons to open his career, installing him as a backup fullback in 2002. He filled in as a starting fullback through the last portion of the 2003 season, then became the starting tailback -- and the Broncos' fifth different 1,000-yard rusher of the Shanahan era -- in 2004.
So what Cobbs wants to do has been done before. Perhaps that's why he knows he can take his time with his fresh start.
"My thoughts are not to push for playing time right now," Cobbs said. "I just want to allow the coaches to believe in me and have someone to be able to count on at any given moment."
Until then, he'll work, watch and learn.
"I think I still have a ways to go," Cobbs said, "but I've had a good start."
A good start -- and a fresh one.