|04-26-2006, 03:28 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
How the Broncos operate on draft day
Stand up and be counted
Shanahan's draft war room may be more of a democracy than a dictatorship
By Mike Klis
Denver Post Staff Writer
Broncos coach Mike Shanahan has the final word, but he's always willing to hear opinions, including those from Jim Goodman, who was recently promoted to director of player personnel, and general manager Ted Sundquist, right. (AP / Ed Andrieski)
Lunch will be served and nibbled at nervously. All the highlights of Reggie Bush will have been played and replayed by the networks. Early afternoon will put the Baltimore Ravens on the clock with the 13th draft pick and signal the Broncos to get ready at No. 15.
Contrary to perception, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan does not spend draft day at Dove Valley pacing from on high in a state box, lording over the team's war room.
A prominent website recently described the Broncos' system as closer to tyranny than democracy. The scouts, led by Jim Goodman, are nothing more than information collectors, the website said. The scouts pass on their reports to general manager Ted Sundquist, who disseminates, condenses and delivers a tidy proposal to Shanahan, who then makes his pick.
Such a description irks the Broncos. Shanahan may be the decider, as our president would put it, but he is also a consensus builder.
Here's something people might not know: In the minutes before the Broncos announce their selection Saturday, Shanahan will put their choice to a vote.
About the time the 13th pick is announced, Shanahan and his coaching staff, Goodman and his scouting staff and Sundquist will gather in a large, theatre-style conference room at the Broncos' headquarters. After Shanahan, Sundquist and Goodman consult, the Broncos will likely narrow their possibilities to three prospects.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles will be on the clock with the 14th pick. As the Eagles confer, someone from the Broncos may well be taking calls from teams drafting behind them, wondering if Denver is willing to make a trade.
Shanahan known to deal
"Your guy is always looking for action," Ron Wolf, the former Green Bay Packers general manager, said of Shana- han. "You could do something with him."
Indeed, Shanahan already has been up and down the draft board. The Broncos traded the 29th pick up to No. 15, then the 22nd pick down to Nos. 37 and 68.
"I used to talk to Bill Parcells. Randy Mueller did deals," Wolf said of the Dolphins' general manager, formerly with the Saints. "Al Davis would do deals, but you had to give your firstborn. Other guys, after a while, you don't bother calling them because you're wasting your breath."
Oliver no Atwater
It doesn't appear likely the Broncos will move up from No. 15, but because they have more draft picks (nine) than open spots on their roster, it would not be a surprise if they make another draft trade.
"You get a lot of calls even when you're in the back end of the first round, because you have some people waiting in the second round who are willing to step up," Sundquist said. "I don't think necessarily we'll be getting more calls than usual. It all depends on whether a particular team is sitting on a guy who happens to be there. It could be you're ready to pick at 15 and you don't get any calls because nobody's ready to pick Humpty-Do."
If there is no trade, the three possibilities for pick 15 will be quickly reviewed at Dove Valley. Shanahan will then ask for the lead scout on each prospect to make a formal presentation. Then comes the vote.
Typically, the tallies are lopsided for one prospect, although rarely unanimous. One exception was 1989, when the team was on the clock with the 20th pick and the war room was split on two safeties.
Some liked Louis Oliver, who hit like a linebacker but ran like one, too. Others liked a kid from Arkansas, Steve Atwater. Head coach Dan Reeves deferred to new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who liked both players.
Finally, defensive backs coach Charlie Waters spoke up, saying he really wanted Atwater.
Oliver went five picks later to Miami, where he became a good player. But he was no Steve Atwater.
Try not to panic
If the Broncos' vote Saturday is fairly split on two prospects, Shanahan will open up the room to more discussion.
The best-case scenario is everybody in the room agrees on a player, say Ohio State wide receiver Santonio Holmes, and that player is available at No. 15.
The worst-case scenario is what happened to the Packers in 1996. Wolf was in the midst of rebuilding Green Bay to glory and was enthralled as the 27th pick approached.
"We were sure with about two minutes to go we were going to get this linebacker from Miami," Wolf said. "We were talking to him on the phone, we had already given the name to our guy with instructions to stand up there because when Baltimore passes, we were going to take this guy.
"His name was Ray Lewis."
Tantalizingly, 25 teams passed on Lewis. Excruciatingly, the Ravens did not. Baltimore, not Green Bay, wound up getting perhaps the NFL's best defensive player of the next decade.
"When Baltimore took him, I kind of panicked and everything fell apart in the first round for us," Wolf said. He had a couple chances to trade the pick. "In retrospect I should have done those other things. But I didn't."
He took offensive tackle John Michels, who quickly became a bust. It happens to every team, even those who win Super Bowls, as Green Bay did that year.
Cut your losses
"You know no matter how you work at it, how much you study, about 20 percent of your (top-round) selections are going to be failures," said Hall of Fame and former San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh. "And there's not a lot you can do about it. We had some of the greatest drafts in history, but there were other times when we were mistaken. What you do then - and I know this is how Mike operates - is you cut your losses.
"You don't wait and wait for somebody to live up to what you say he has or keep him because you were the one who made the decision."
With the 15th pick Saturday, the Broncos hope they get a player on par with Ray Lewis, knowing there's a 20 percent chance they could get another John Michels. Or they could trade it away.
Whatever happens, Shanahan will seek considerable input before he becomes the decider.
|04-26-2006, 12:38 PM||#4|
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|04-26-2006, 12:42 PM||#5|
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|04-26-2006, 01:42 PM||#8|
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