|08-10-2007, 04:13 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Broncos give draftees an "A"
The four linemen have been impressive as the preseason opener nears
By Bill Williamson Denver Post Staff Writer
This is the week NFL teams begin to know what to make of their rookie class.
The second week of training camp separates players on the 53-man roster from the man on the street. If you are struggling to make an impact as a rookie, it will be noticed this week. A true NFL player will soldier through the second week and won't crumble under the piles of repetition.
That has stuck out about the Broncos' small, but potentially high-impact, draft class. The kids aren't wilting. They're striving.
"We think we've got a group of guys who love football," Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist said. "That's so important in rookies, and that's something you don't really know until you get them in your camp. These are
tough days, but they are working hard and they want to improve. And they're getting better. We see it in their eyes. They all want this."
The Broncos' six undrafted rookies, including running back Selvin Young of Texas, also are likely to play extensively against the 49ers in the preseason opener Monday night. Barring a surprise, those players are more likely bound for the practice squad than the 53-man roster.
The Broncos had some obvious needs entering the April draft. They wanted help on both lines and they traded away three picks to get it. The defensive line was the greatest focus as the team selected ends Jarvis Moss (first round) and Tim Crowder (second) and tackle Marcus Thomas (fourth). In the third round, the Broncos made a short detour to the offensive line, taking tackle Ryan Harris.
Moss gave the team a scare Monday when he was carted off the field with a left knee injury. It turned out to be a twisted knee, and Moss was back on the practice field Wednesday but failed to practice Thursday as a precaution. Moss, a pass-rushing specialist from Florida who was the No. 17 pick in the draft, also has impressed the coaching staff with his ability to play against the run. Early in the season, Moss likely will get most of his playing time in passing situations. He is working in the first-team nickel defense package.
"Jarvis is coming on well," coach Mike Shanahan said. "He needs to work on his strength, like most rookies, but he's looking good."
Crowder, a star at Texas, has impressed the staff with his ability to play steady, smart football early in camp. The game is not too big for him, coaches say. Crowder could push John Engelberger for a starting spot at end.
"I am tickled that we drafted Tim," defensive line coach Bill Johnson said. "He's going to be a good one."
Thomas is the most intriguing of the draft picks. He was kicked off Florida's eventual national championship team for breaking team rules. If not for that, he likely would have been a first-round pick. Moss, his college roommate, repeatedly has said Thomas was the best player on the Gators' defense.
Thomas has been a beast in many camp practices. It seems either his helmet is popping off after an aggressive play or an offensive lineman's helmet is on the grass. Thomas is playing catch-up after being out of football shape in the offseason workout programs. Because of a logjam of veterans at tackle, it wouldn't be a surprise if Thomas isn't active in the early season before getting a chance to make a contribution later.
"Aggression is Marcus' strength," Johnson said. "He still has to work on the fundamentals, but there is clearly a good player there."
Harris, who missed part of practice Thursday with a sore back, has a chance to be on the active 45-player roster on game days. From the first day, he has impressed the coaching staff off the field with his intelligence and on the field with his ability to work into the Broncos' blocking system. He is the backup left tackle and could compete at right tackle in the preseason.
"I'm just trying to fit in with these guys," Harris said. "I have a ways to go, but I love being part of this line."
|08-10-2007, 05:26 AM||#2|
Fan of the home team
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Durango, Colorado
I gave the draft an A the day the picked up these guys. I was THRILLED. I think they the cards fell the past two years have been amazing. When they picked up Jay Cutler last year I was shocked. Draft is over. We won. Everybody go home and then they got more quality guys? I know. I know. Wait 20 years. You never know but considering the Broncos have been drafting players whose careers start off in the morgue. Come on! What's not to get excited about.
|08-10-2007, 10:26 AM||#3|
True Orange & Blue
Join Date: Jul 2006
2 straight draft classes with players that will actually contribute. If things work out right, last years draft could be the best in Bronco History. Cutler-Starting QB, Traded for Javon-#1 WR, Scheffler-#2-TE legit receiver, Marshall #2 WR, Hixon #3 WR?, Dumervil passrushing specialist, Kuper - Starting RG, Eslinger - future C. Not to mention M. Bell UDFA
|08-10-2007, 10:47 AM||#4|
Friend of the unsung
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: London UK
I think that something has definitely happened with our drafting:
1) we now have better assistant coaches
This may have been more of a factor in people being let go than we realise. Despite all the boo-shiat about Shanny's megalomania, he actually relies on his position coaches to provide the evaluations and recomendations of the individual players
2) We have had some luck
There's always a element of luck in all of this - no-one really knows which guys are going to react well to the NFL and which won't. We had some bad luck on top of everything else and now its evened out a bit with some good fortune.
3) draft strategy has changed
We're not quite so hung up on stockpiling a bunch of lower-round picks - we seem to have finally rid ourselves of the notion that we're better at finding gems on the second day than everybody else and realised that probowlers only come from there once in a blue moon. It was understandable considering that Tommy Nalen, Shannon Sharpe and Terrell Davis were ALL late-round picks but that was just a one-off and we're now a little more realistic about building a championship-calibre team these days I feel.
Sadly, however, despite all the encouraging news its STILL too early to judge even last year's draft a success. Every draft takes four years to judge properly and these last two will be no exceptions I feel.