Saturday, July 12, 2008

Preparing for the 2009 Draft; pars secunda:

Having previously established (in my own tiny mind, that is) the definite needs for the Broncos in the 2009 draft (TE, G, FS), how might we expect the club to go about targeting and scouting the pool of college players at those positions? Denver currently employs almost a dozen college scouts. When you consider the coaching staff has three strength and conditioning coaches, eleven position coaches, two coordinators w/two assistants and an associate head coach, that's a lot of guys in the organization (not counting several others who are also involved) specializing in scouting and evaluating college talent. Compared to the number of people who openly express their opinions on the internet just prior to the draft it doesn't seem like many, but these Bronco employees do this every day for a living. For some football teams, eleven is larger than the whole coaching staff.
In addition to specific areas of need, some approach to the issues of draft position, need vs. talent at each choice, quality vs. quantity overall and available assets for maneuver is formulated. In '06, Mike Shanahan managed to trade up for Jay Cutler in the first, taking another offensive player (Tony Scheffler) in the second. Seven players were drafted in '06, mostly on offense. In '07 Shanahan once again traded up for Jarvis Moss in the first, picking another defensive player (Tim Crowder) in the second. Other moves were made which resulted in only four players being drafted in '07, three on defense. Mike picked a good year to go for volume drafting nine in the deep '08 pool of college football players. Five of them play offensive positions, and the first three guys picked were on O, too. Need at most positions caused Shanahan to stay pat, in spite of the many experts predicting trades and deals. It may be that '08 will be remembered for quantity and quality.

There is much current speculation concerning a projected record for the Broncos in '08. Estimates vary, but even the most pessimistic call for a winning season. Where will they pick? My guess is not before #20. So much can happen between now and April '09. We don't even know who will make the team yet in a year when almost all roster spots, including LS, are very hotly contested. Injuries and retirements will almost certainly occur, some sooner and others much later. Caveat emptor. With that in mind, revisit the previous paragraph. Did anyone notice a pattern? The trend would seem to indicate a defensive player in the first round of '09.

After inventorying the current roster in "pars prima", I'll predict the Broncos will draft a FS in the first round of the '09 NFL Draft. When observing the process, in the first round anyway, matching a need with the best player available seems to be the goal. Ryan Clady is a perfect combination of the two. There were so many needs in '08 that Shanahan had to use a trade, c.15(?) UFAs and 7 CFAs as well as the 9 draftees to bring in over 30 new faces. The first round could have been MLB, DT or S (as many had speculated-Kenny Phillips), but when Clady was there it seemed, in my opinion, a no brainer. There is still much residual grousing about not taking a big-name RB, but that may be more than water under the bridge as Denver has assembled an interesting and promising group.

The very best MLBs in '09 will be gone before #20 unless Shanahan can move way up. It is possible that salary cap considerations could produce a need at CB, but I hope not. When April (month of the boar?) rolls around again, there may be a lingering perceived need on the DL, but once again the best will be gone by the time Denver picks. Current trends would indicate a defensive player and the previous process of elimination is my way of boiling it down to FS.

Two previously undiscussed variables are Juniors coming out and the NFL Combine. Those just need to await analysis (ever notice the first four letters of that word?) until after they happen. Well, having predicted the first round will bring the Broncos a FS, I suppose you'd like me to make a prediction of exactly who it will be? OK. Courtney Greene, FS, Rutgers, 6'2" 210lb., leading tackler in '07 (101 TT, 1 SK, 4 PBU and 1 INT).

I challenge all other blogs, pundits and ... dudes. You heard it here (although I don't think Ian will agree) first.

No comments: