As we approach the 2020 NFL Draft, there is heavy debate in Broncos Country on the direction the team should go with the 15th-overall pick in the first round.
Some would like the Broncos to draft a stud wide receiver to pair with Courtland Sutton. Others would like the Broncos to draft an offensive lineman and solidify the left tackle position. Cornerback, linebacker and defensive line are all positions that the some have suggested would like the Broncos to pursue.
There’s also division on whether Denver could trade up or trade back. Or just stay put at No. 15
Some arguments are that a team shouldn’t draft a wide receiver in the first round, or that they can’t pass up drafting a player like Henry Ruggs. Some feel that the addition of Jurrell Casey means the Broncos shouldn’t draft a defensive lineman The new one is the Broncos shouldn’t invest the pick in a cornerback.
None of these examples should dictate the strategy on how the Broncos evaluate their potential first-round draft pick.
It’s not be about position. The focus should be to draft a player that can be effective at a high level for five to 10 years, regardless of the position they play.
Essentially, the Broncos strategy should be to not miss on the pick.
Going into the 2014 draft, the Broncos were set at cornerback, they had emerging star Chris Harris Jr. and recent big-name free agent Aqib Talib. Not many people felt that cornerback would be a top priority for the Broncos, especially in the first round.
With the 31st pick in the first round the Broncos drafted Bradley Roby. Even though Roby only played five seasons in Denver, with just one as a starter, he was a very good pick. Roby made multiple big plays in his time in Denver, especially in the 2015 playoff run to the Super Bowl.
The 2015 defense was brilliant and having Roby as the third cornerback provided the Broncos a luxury that played a major role in their all-time great defense. Had the Broncos told themselves they didn’t “need” a cornerback, they would not have drafted a vital part to one of their championship teams.
Roby wasn’t the best player in his draft and he’s not a Hall of Famer, but the Broncos did not miss on the pick. They drafted a player that was able to come in and contribute from day one.
Nobody has ever second-guessed the Broncos decision to draft Roby.
Teams might not always draft the best player on the board. The odds are that they won’t. Even if a player isn’t the “best,” they can still be a very good draft pick.
In 1996, the Broncos had the 15th overall pick and drafted linebacker John Mobley. Mobley would be a day one starter and played seven solid seasons in Denver. Mobley is not a Hall of Famer, but he was consistent and solid throughout his time in Denver. He had a big pick six against the Patriots on “Monday Night Football” and is most remembered for batting down Brett Favre’s pass and sealing the Broncos victory in Super Bowl XXXII.
Fans that watched Mobley speak highly of his time in Denver. You can still see fans wear his jersey on game day.
What is never brought up is that Mobley was drafted ahead of Ray Lewis. Lewis is obviously the better player, but drafting Mobley was so clearly a good decision that there is no reason to question it.
When teams force themselves into drafting for a position or follow some weird set of rules, it can set an organization back.
In 2016, the Broncos felt they needed to draft a quarterback and selected Paxton Lynch. In 2017, they felt they needed to draft a left tackle and picked Garett Bolles. Narrowing their focus led to two of the worst draft picks in Broncos history.
Everybody will forever second guess the decisions to draft Lynch and Bolles. The criticism of both those picks is that the Broncos did not do enough to identify the potential issues that were obvious to others. Many scouts and general managers did not want to draft either player. Both were considered raw and immature. The more question marks a guy has, the more likely a team is to miss on that pick. Neither Lynch nor Bolles ever belonged anywhere near the first round and it was obvious to a lot of people.
The Broncos energy should not be used to find the best wide receiver or the best offensive lineman, but rather in identifying the most effective player that is available at 15. If that player happens to play a position of need, then that’s great. If it’s another position, that’s also great.
Just make sure nobody is second guessing your decision for the next 30 years (Tommy Maddox).
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