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Denver Broncos general manager John Elway answers questions from the media during the NFL Scouting Combine on February 27, 2019 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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Mile High Monday: Broncos coaches not going to the Combine

(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The NFL is getting ready for the Scouting Combine coming up in a week. It’s an important part of the pre-draft process, largely because of the medical checks and team interviews that happen at Indianapolis. While teams have their draft boards largely together, the Combine gives them a chance to double check their work to ensure the numbers from workouts match what is seen on film.

I like going to the Combine to get information and interview prospects I have yet to talk to on my “All-Star Road Trip.” Those scouting trips are where I can observe and talk to senior prospects. But with so many underclassmen going to the NFL, it’s nice to interview some key juniors and redshirt sophomores, as well.

I also like contemplating life and sports when driving around with the top down on my old Jeep TJ – even in February! The following is a result of those trips during the week.

Buckle up, let’s take a ride through my thoughts.

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Loose Lips Sink Ships

Broncos head coach Vic Fangio has decided to leave his assistant coaches at home in Denver to study film rather than travel to the Combine. It’s been called a potential “wave of the future,” as the Rams are leaving their coordinators at home for similar reasons. Expect other teams to follow suit in the future because the NFL is a copycat league.

I think it’s smart because of all the trouble NFL-types can get into when at the Combine.

The Combine is a great place to get information. After the activities of the day are done, everyone goes out on the town for dinner and some drinks afterwards. Some of these adventures can go well into the wee hours of the morning, so who knows what could be said when coaches, scouts and general managers are out and about.

You hear a lot of interesting things at the Combine if you know where to go and who to listen to. Remember, these aren’t just agents talking, as agents always do. These are team officials who can potentially reveal too much when they’ve had too much fun.

The Broncos have a great staff and quality assistant coaches who are staying home. I’m not saying these guys would leak information; I’m just highlighting how it is a wise move for Fangio to keep these guys working in Denver rather than expose them to potential trouble in Indy.

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Tag! You’re It!

The Broncos are preparing for free agency and there may be a few players that are on their potential list of targets who could instead be essentially off the market with a franchise tag. They have enough of their own free agents to keep, but it’s tempting to see what else is out there as the Broncos look to get back to the playoffs in 2020.

One player who could be on the Broncos radar is Bills defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. However, my sources around the team indicate that Phillips could have the franchise tag placed on him by Buffalo. Such a tag would give Phillips a one-year deal around $15 million for the upcoming season.

A second-round pick of the Dolphins in the 2015 NFL Draft, Phillips was an intriguing prospect coming out of Oklahoma because of his size, strength and quickness in the middle of the defensive line. He didn’t even make it through four seasons with the Dolphins before getting waived in early October of the 2018 season.

The Bills promptly picked him up and Phillips seemed to finally play up to his potential. That’s why the team decided to keep Phillips around with a one-year, $4.5 million contract in 2019. In fact, Phillips collected 9.5 sacks last season. That was a career high, pushing up the total sacks for his career to 15.0 in five pro seasons.

While his nearly 350-pound presence would be a fantastic fit for the Broncos up front on the defensive line, Phillips may have done enough in 2019 to convince the Bills to keep him around – even if it means they have to use the franchise tag on him. March 10 is the deadline for NFL teams to place the franchise tag on players who are set to be unrestricted free agents when the new league year begins.

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Good News… Kind of

This is the greatest wide receiver class in the history of the NFL Draft. There is so much talent in this class that we will see incredibly talented wide receivers fall to the second round. I predict we could see as many as five wide receivers in the first round, but I have nine receivers graded as first-round talents.

One of my favorite wide receivers in this draft class is Laviska Shenault from the University of Colorado. Shenault is a tremendous athlete who can hurt defenders with his body control, concentration and run-after-the-catch ability. He has first-round talent, but Shenault may fall to the second round based on his injury history with the Buffaloes.

Last week, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter gave us some good news on Shenault.

It’s good news that Shenault will not need surgery on his groin, but it’s not the greatest news to come out for the young wideout right before the Combine. If he can work out at the Combine, that would greatly benefit the young receiver. His draft stock is going to be something to monitor as we get through the Combine and into pro-day season in March.

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Fan Family

I’ve often referred to my co-workers at The Fan as my “Fan Family” because of what they mean to me. We have some of the best talk show hosts in the nation and I’m proud to be with one of the top sports stations in the country. In addition to great hosts, we also have a great group of former athletes who do a fantastic job of providing insight into what it takes to be a pro athlete.

On Thursday, the entire station went to Top Golf to celebrate finishing 2019 as Denver’s No.1 ranked radio station in target demo.

It’s great to have the group of co-workers like we do at The Fan. I started in radio back in 2003 on 760 The Zone as a fantasy football analyst on “Drive Time Sports” with Mark Schlereth. Having a friend like Stink to help show me the way has been a Godsend.

Listening to Schlereth every day on The Fan is a joy. Schlereth has worked hard in everything that he does to become one of the best NFL analysts in the country. We are lucky to have him on our station.

Orlando Franklin has become a fast friend with me, which is cool because I’ve been covering the Broncos long enough to remember when Franklin was a key member of the team. I love that he has a great passion for all sports, and Franklin does not pull any punches when discussing sports.

Brandon Stokley is one of the coolest guys I know. He definitely likes to have fun and knows how to make bold opinions entertaining and informative. Stokley can get fired up talking about sports and listening him tell stories about his NFL career is just fun.

Tyler Polumbus is a dear friend. I hosted the first show that Tyler ever did on the airwaves after he retired. The Super Bowl 50 champion chose to go into radio quickly after his playing days were done and I knew from day one that he was going to be a star. Tyler is a natural at radio and I love listening to him on “The Drive.”

Nick Ferguson has a lot in common with me besides just football. We are both nerds who love things like “Star Wars” and comic books. Ferguson’s background as a player and a coach gives him a unique perspective on our airwaves. I like hearing what he has to say, especially when it goes against the grain of what others may think about what’s going on in sports.

We could not do this without you! Our success is a direct reflection of our audience. I certainly appreciate having a large and dedicated audience to interact with on the air, in person and on social media.

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