Thursday, May 14, 2015

Evaluating Broncos 2011 and 2012 Drafts

Following up on my previous posts about what I believe one should expect from a draft pick in each round, let's look at how the Denver Broncos 2011 and 2012 draft classes measure up.

2011 first round: Von Miller -- I think everyone knows the answer to this question. Now we just need to hope that, at some point in the future, Miller and the Broncos will agree to an extension.

2011 second round: Rahim Moore -- Moore struggled as a rookie, but improved his second season. His third season was cut short with a health scare, but he fared well in his final season. I'd call him a good pick.

2011 second round: Orlando Franklin -- I think everyone will agree that Franklin, a four-year starter on the offensive line who got better each season, was a good pick.

2011 third round: Nate Irving -- Irving had to go through a learning curve before he finally cracked the starting lineup late in his third year, although some might argue that was out of necessity. He entered his fourth year as a starter, had a good start, then injuries cut his season short. While I would lean toward him being a good pick, I can understand why someone might argue he was overdrafted, given he didn't contribute as much as some may have wished.

2011 fourth round: Julius Thomas -- Not only was Thomas a good pick, he was good value.

2011 fourth round: Quinton Carter -- Carter worked his way into the starting lineup as a rookie, then injuries sidelined him the next two seasons. He emerged as a rotational player his fourth year, but again, injuries sidelined him. Injuries can neither be prevented nor predicted in every single instance, so I tend to lean to Carter being a good pick because the Broncos got a little mileage out of him. Again, though, I can understand if someone would call him overdrafted.

The rest of the class: Virgil Green was clearly a good pick. Jeremy Beal and Mike Mohamed weren't with the team for long, but as I've mentioned, that's not necessarily a big deal, given that expectations were that they weren't going to be roster locks each season.

2012 second round: Derek Wolfe -- Do you remember the time when a certain Denver radio personality admonished the Broncos for failing in the 2012 first round? Do you remember how, after several players didn't fall to the Broncos, that they failed big time when they traded down with Tampa Bay, who took Doug Martin? Do you now realize just how silly that looks in retrospective? As we have learned, Doug Martin was overdrafted, while Wolfe has been a quality starter for three seasons. You can now tell that radio personality what a good pick Wolfe has been.

2012 second round: Brock Osweiler -- This one will certainly be debated. It's true the Broncos had no idea what they would get from Peyton Manning when they signed him. On the other hand, they could have drafted Russell Wilson, or drafted another quarterback after the second round. Then again, if they had taken Wilson, and Manning still performed at the high level he did, Wilson is sitting on the bench, and who knows if Osweiler might have excelled elsewhere. I do think it's fair to call the Osweiler pick a case of overdrafting a player. With that said, this could change depending on circumstances. If the Broncos, at any point, indicate they want to extend Osweiler past his rookie deal, that's a sign they still believe he can be the quarterback of the future. If they extend him, and he proves to be a worthy starter, we can certainly reconsider Osweiler's case.

2012 third round: Ronnie Hillman -- This one is easier to categorize. Hillman has had his moments in his three seasons, but it doesn't appear likely he'll be the starter this coming season. I think we can safely label Hillman an overdrafted player.

2012 fourth round: Omar Bolden -- Bolden has been a quality special teams player, and last season, gave the Broncos a kick returner they desperately needed, and handled himself well when asked to start. I'd call that a good pick.

2012 fourth round: Phillip Blake -- Blake spent his rookie year on the practice squad, then was cut in training camp before his second season began. He never played in an NFL regular-season game. He's absolutely an overdrafted player, and while my criteria does not apply a "bust" label to players taken in the fourth round or later, I certainly understand why other people may label Blake a bust.

2012 fifth round: Malik Jackson -- Jackson has emerged into a quality rotational player during his three seasons. That's certainly a good pick.

2012 sixth round: Danny Trevathan -- Trevathan emerged as a starter in his rookie year, then broke out in his second year as one of the team's best defensive players. Injuries cost him most of his third season, but there is hope he can bounce back in his fourth year. I definitely call him a draft-day steal, and if this year, he plays at or above the level of his second season, the "draft-day steal" label shouldn't even be debated.

Overall, John Elway and his staff did a terrific job of drafting in 2011, and did pretty well for themselves in 2012. If I was grading drafts, I'd definitely give the Broncos an A for 2011, and lean toward a B for 2012.


  1. Great work reflecting on past drafts....thank you!

  2. Love the thoughtful commentary and clearly explained rationale. Thank you.