Welcome to the first edition of Mile High Monday on 1043TheFan.com. It’s essentially my version of Monday Morning Quarterback or Monday Morning Football in America or any number of “weekly brain dump” articles you can find on the web at the beginning of the work week.
It’s been an interesting week for me, mostly because of the whirlwind experience I had during the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tenn., over the last few days. I flew back to the Mile High City on Sunday and have had some time to decompress after such a busy three-day schedule on the air covering the draft for The Fan.
Now home, I’ve gotten a chance to drop the top on my old Jeep TJ, listen to music with the wind blowing in my hair and enjoy the fresh mountain air. This article is a result of my thoughts traveling home.
Buckle up, let’s take a ride.
Music City Mayhem
I had never been to Nashville, so I had no idea what to expect when I landed late on Wednesday night. The airport was full of NFL banners and flags at each gate. As you walked towards baggage claim, signs proclaimed to welcome NFL fans for the 2019 NFL Draft. Nashville was ready to be a great host right from the start.
Downtown, they had blocked off parts of Broadway and put the stage for the NFL Draft at the end. The streets were filled with NFL jerseys from every team in the league. Most were Titans fans, but I did see quite a few die-hard Broncos fans during my four days in Tennessee. I saw a local news report after the first night of the draft that indicated Nashville was full of ticked off bachelorette parties because of the NFL’s presence. Nashville is certainly a party town, but with apologies to all the soon-to-be brides out there, this was the NFL’s party.
Reports indicate more than 600,000 people were part of the draft experience during the three-day event. That’s a number that is far superior to the fan totals in Chicago, Philadelphia and Dallas (the sites of the last three drafts). Good job, Nashville!
The Broncos secured a player who could be their quarterback of the future when they moved up in the second round to select Missouri’s Drew Lock. Broncos general manager John Elway has long been an admirer of Lock, dating back to last college football season and the 2019 Reese’s Senior Bowl earlier this year.
Instead of taking him in the first round, the Broncos were able to pick him up as a value selection with the 42nd overall pick.
Sources told me at the time, the Broncos were worried about the Green Bay Packers selecting Lock with the 44th pick. Mock drafts a week or so before the draft indicated that Lock was going to fall and some of them had the Packers ending up with the Mizzou gunslinger near the end of the first round.
In addition to the Packers, I’m told the Broncos were also concerned about the Oakland Raiders moving back into the second round and taking Lock before their 52nd pick. I had been saying on the air since the Scouting Combine that the Raiders were in near constant contact with Lock and his family before the draft.
Instead of waiting around, Elway couldn’t resist moving up to get his man.
The Broncos had a certain pattern I noticed unfolding during each round of the Draft. I am close with the guys over at WalterFootball.com, as they do some of the best work covering the NFL that is out there. During the Draft, I had their list of NFL Draft Visits Tracker: By Team pulled up on my computer.
In addition to making calls and texts to agents and NFL personnel when I could, I wanted to make sure I was tracking where the players the Broncos showed the most interest in were heading. It’s not a list you can follow religiously each year (the Broncos did not visit with Bradley Chubb before last year’s draft), but it was interesting to note nonetheless.
As the draft unfolded, it became clear that the Broncos were only picking players they had out for a visit before the draft. Each team only gets 30 visits (local prospects do not count), so these are certainly prospects a team wants to get a closer look at prior to selection.
All the way up to their final pick in the draft, CU wide receiver Juwann Winfree, Denver only selected players from one of those visits. The team got a long look at Winfree earlier in the month, as well, when they held their local pro day from UC Health Training Center.
Small Town Dreaming
Most every Broncos fan out there loves the selection of Kansas State offensive lineman Dalton Risner. He was a favorite target for fans and analysts before the draft, and I felt the Broncos would be getting a gift if Risner was actually on the board when their first pick came up in the second round.
Risner grew up in Wiggins, Colo., a town of less than 1,000 people on the Eastern plains. In fact, Wiggins is not too far from where I grew up in Grover, about 50 miles north.
Colorado fans love homegrown talent, but I just want people to realize how difficult a journey Risner had just to get attention.
If you play high school football in the city, you’ll get quite a bit of exposure and should be recognized by most of the major colleges in the area. My son played for Chatfield High School, and there was no problem getting top players recognized (watch out for Dalton Keene at Virginia Tech).
Like Risner, I played small-town football where no recruiters go to see you and people always hold the level of competition against you. I played in a 6-man state championship, the final football game I ever played, but there were zero people there to see if any of us could make it to the next level.
Risner played 11-man football, but at the smallest level (1A) in the state. He was such a standout player that college teams couldn’t help but notice. It’s a huge leap from small-town football to Division 1 FBS, but Risner made it, became a star and now gets a chance to continue his playing career in the pros.
Don’t Be That Guy
Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy made a ton of people mad on Twitter when he tweeted out a major spoiler for “Avengers: Endgame.” The movie came out last week and fans clamored to see it while also staying away from any information that would give away the ending.
Even fans who had names of characters muted had the largest happening in the movie spoiled because McCoy misspelled the character’s name.
Needless to say, don’t spoil major movies for people. And don’t be like McCoy when it comes to initiating a conversation about spoilers on social networks.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the playoff success of the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets. I was in full draft mode this weekend, but at the same time, I made sure to get some cold pops after the final day of the draft in order to watch the Nuggets.
Both the Avs and the Nuggets will be playing in the second round of the playoffs, and that feels great as a Denver sports fan. I’m sure Pepsi Center will be rocking anytime the series comes back home.
After years of disappointing seasons, it’s outstanding to see the success of both teams.
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