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Draft Comes to a Close

Posted Apr 30, 2011

In their first draft together, the Broncos' top three executives led a team that selected nine players in three days.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Assigned with the task of rebuilding the Broncos in the 2011 NFL Draft, Denver's brass elected to stay true to their draft board and lay a foundation for a restored Orange Crush defense.

Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway, General Manager Brian Xanders and Head Coach John Fox teamed with their ranks of scouts and assistant coaches to select twice as many defensive players as offensive players.

Thanks to two trades, the team started the draft with seven picks and ended with nine, selecting three linebackers, two safeties, two tight ends, an offensive tackle and a defensive end.

"It has been a great three days," Elway said. "We looked at the board and what we got out of this draft -- I think we are really happy with it. I think we got guys that can come in and help us right away and also got some good depth and created some good competition."

On day three of the draft, the club selected Oklahoma safety Quinton Carter, Portland State tight end Julius Thomas, Cal linebacker Mike Mohamed, Nevada tight end Virgil Green and Oklahoma defensive end Jeremy Beal. They join a draft class that includes Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, UCLA safety Rahim Moore, Miami offensive lineman Orlando Franklin and N.C. State linebacker Nate Irving.

"With the process that we had with the board, we really stuck to our grades and the best player available up on the board," Xanders said. "We were not going to reach down below just because of the position that we had (a need). When we took linebackers, they were the best players for our system and for our team, instead of reaching."

The Broncos stuck to that best-player-available mantra even as they looked to add more talent at defensive tackle and running back, two positions not addressed in the draft.

"We looked at the running backs and the defensive linemen -- believe me, we looked hard at the defensive linemen the whole time until the last pick to see if there was somebody that we thought would come in and make our football team," Elway said. "We wanted the best player, who at the time we thought would come in and make our team, and not just take a guy for that position because we needed one."

Fox said the team was able to address a number of its holes through the draft, and Elway said last week that the team planned to look to free agency for positions that were not adequately improved in that time.

"I think typically in the National Football League, you have two means -- one is college (draft) and the other is free agency," Fox said. "Never in any year that I have been in the NFL have you accomplished meeting all your needs in just one of those pools. So, I think that we will have to address that moving forward in the next pool."

The biggest example of the team's decision to take the best player available at every pick is the No. 2 overall selection, Miller.

A topic of debate across the country, many mock drafts leading up to the weekend had the Broncos selecting Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, who headed to Buffalo with the very next pick.

While Elway said he believes Dareus will have a long and successful career in the league, Fox said Miller was the top player on the team's draft board.

"The difference to me was that (Miller) is one of those guys that comes along once in 10 years -- a guy that has a chance to be dynamic on the football field," Elway said. "We just feel like the upside is there."

With Miller leading a class of nine new Broncos, Fox said the club has improved, and the front office will look to continue that growth when free agency begins.

"One of the main criteria of this draft was to get faster on defense," Fox said. "That is something that we felt like was a deficiency and I think we accomplished that in a pretty big way."

"Moving forward we are going to do everything in our power to better our football team in the next pool."