Saturday, July 26, 2008

Preparing for the 2009 NFL Draft; pars decima.

In the effort to wrap up this series which developed an out-of-control life of its own, I am affected by what has transpired at Dove Valley since training camp began yesterday morning. After having scouted Carlton Powell in a couple of his Senior year/VA Tech games and concluding he is a special run-stopping DT, boom, he's out for the year with a ruptured Achilles (something Hector wished for sooner rather than later).

That has ramifications for the 2009 draft. Montrae Holland is running around trying to lose some weight. I hope that and the inevitable dogging/nicknaming that will follow puts him in a suitably nasty mood to do some hitting. If so, then Carlton may not be the only DL casualty especially if that group engages in some intra-squad smack. What? One group of fat guys calling another fat guy fat? Never!

Having observed high school football programs up close and personally for many years, I wonder about the way Shanahan and Co. orchestrate the off-season especially leading into TC. The Broncos are a group of mature athletes, not the squirrel-boy teenagers I've been around. The former have years of training and should have developed some sense of discipline, even the rookies (with the jury still out on Brandon Marshall). The latter must be guided with a carefully planned program with much strengthening, conditioning, stretching and gradually increasing running in which they have absolutely no input and very little time in which to develop bad habits.

High School football players who try to invent their very own (no adult supervision) off-season workouts often end up hurting themselves and/or each other (it's what they do). We expect more from NFL Players with the possible exception of Marshall who seems capable of hurting himself with the most innocuous items (hamburger wrappers?!?!). Please! Keep the pens and pencils away from him! Too sharp! Question is, "Is Shanahan trying to create an environment in which injuries are bound to occur, thus establishing a Darwinian weeding out process to produce the least injury-prone group?" If so, that didn't go very well last season, did it? Just wonderin' ...

If you read "pars nona", you may have noticed the introduction of a postion not mentioned in the previous partes: Punter/Plackicker and Placekicker/Punter. In the event you think a redundancy is apparent, it's just a matter of emphasis: one guy who does both with his strength lying in one of the two. Back in round six speculation we listed Sam Swank from Wake Forest who does all the punting, placekicing AND kicking off. I admit to being obsessed with one guy doing all of those in the interest of saving a roster spot with the contingency of injury dealt with by constantly carrying a kicker or two on the PS. All of the PS kicker guys would be kicker-multi-taskers, too. Staying with the same line of reasoning, how about a LS who isn't just a specialist but is another position guy (e.g., TE, LB, OL, DL with several on the depth chart)? That's why I'll be very interested to see if Josh Mallard can unseat Mike Leach as LS.
Here are some possible seventh rounders to consider in '09:
  • Ryan Succop, K/P, South Carolina, 6-2, 224, 37/37 XPA, 13/17 FGA, 49 long, 56 P, 2330 yds, 41.6 avg (34.4 net), 3 blk, 15 in +20 in '07.

  • Demonte' Bolden, DT, Tennessee, 6-5, 292, 26 tkl, 2 sk, 3 tfl, 2 pbu in '07.

  • Brandon Hughes, CB, Oregon State, 5-10, 184, 57 tkl, 7 tfl, 12 pbu, 2 int in '07.

  • Thomas Morstead, P/K, SMU, 6-4, 232, 43/43 XPA, 13/20 FGA, 53 long, 57 P, 2545 yds, 44.6 avg (39.3 net), 1 blk, 21 in +20 in '07.

You may have noticed that all the kickers listed are larger guys, not the teeny-tiny field goal kickers you often see on college teams that suit up eighty players for a home game and still manage to take several specialists on the road. That is because if one guy is doing ALL the kicking, he must be able to cover and tackle on his own punts and kickoffs.

It would be nice if the loss of Powell for the '08 season is the last season ending injury sustained by the Broncos in '08. Some other nice things might be: solidification of MLB w/Niko Koutouvides and Spencer Larsen; a strong RB committee which stays healthy; quality depth at most positions; and, the return of all five CBs in '09. These would facilitate a more planned and predictable draft without the necessity of acquiring too many UFAs. I still feel that the position needs of FS, G and TE will definitely be there in '09 and that they can be dealt with via the draft. I hope I didn't jinx Carlton by saying nice things about him and then listing some '09 DTs. We all wish him a good rehab from this injury, but even if he returns at full strength in '09 it appears a DT or two should be added.

The draft could be utilized for this as well as FA or both. The short life-span of NFL (especially Bronco) RBs may necessitate the addition of one via the draft. Kickers will probably be needed, but it's possible to get some without drafting at that position.

The Denver Broncos may only have six draft choices in '09 due to the DeWayne Robertson trade. FS + G + TE + RB + DT + ? = 6. That would be a very efficient usage of picks if the Broncos could get six guys at those positions who would make the team. It seems as if UFAs will be inevitable along with a trade or two. NO ONE will be more surprised than me if Denver actually drafts any of the players listed in this series. The purpose of the exercise was more to inventory, evaluate and speculate rather than predict. That is why each round had several "players of interest". This is what we football junkies do. We watch college football and wonder which players our NFL team will draft.

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