Jussel: Defense should be Broncos’ focus in draft

I’ve done my due diligence: Read every Mel Kiper and Todd McShay word; subscribed to websites; watched video of the top prospects; gleaned wisdom from every John Elway tweet and John Fox interview.

The six-pack of Rolling Rock has transformed into a 12-pack of Samuel Adams Boston Lager.

My peanut bowl has been filled to the brim and chips and dip purchased in bulk at Sam’s Club, all stashed in just the right places to help one fan enjoy the NFL draft that starts Thursday night.

Let the retooling of the Denver Broncos begin and may all the parts, new and old, fit.

We are assuming, of course, that Mr. Elway and his helpers have done their homework and come to a decision on how to best go about this process.

They have criss-crossed the country several times, attended a variety of talent shows, brought dozens of prospects into Dove Valley for lunches, dinners, probing body parts and probing conversation, and certainly have come up with a plan.

Some say they will take Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley with the second overall pick. Others say it will be Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus.

Those are the two real horses on the defensive line deemed worthy of being selected at the top of the draft. Others say Denver will pick Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller or LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, two more smaller, speedier defensive studs that also would seem to be immediate impact players.

I have no idea which of the above-named standouts Denver will take, but you can bet that if Denver stays in the second spot, it will be one of that foursome. The Broncos have brought in several quarterbacks for looks and talks, but it would be a major shock — read earthquake magnitude — if the Broncos take a QB with the No. 2 selection.

Because the draft is top-heavy with defensive standouts, there has also been much talk that the Broncos will trade down in the draft, getting rid of the second pick in exchange for more lower-level picks.

Tennessee, badly in need of a quarterback and picking eighth, and Houston, wanting Miller at linebacker and drafting too late at 11th to get him, have been rumored trade partners.

Using the NFL draft value chart, if one of these teams is willing to make a deal, Denver would be crazy not to do it.

If the Titans, for example, were wanting to trade first-round spots with Denver, here’s what would happen:

Denver’s second pick is worth 2,600 points. Tennessee wants a quarterback bad enough to swap its eighth overall pick worth 1,400 points.

Following the value chart by the numbers, Tennessee would draft second and Denver eighth and the Titans would still owe Denver 1,200 points — the equivalent of two mid-second-round picks (approximately 500 points each), and a mid-third-round pick (200 points).

Making this trade, Denver would pick eighth, 36th, 39th, 46th, 67th and 77th in the first three rounds of the draft and still be owed the equivalent of another third-round pick.

That would mean the Broncos have six or possibly seven of the first 77 players selected — and quite likely pick up one of the big four defenders mentioned above in the process.

I don’t see the Titans or any other team, including Houston, which would have to give up more even than Tennessee in terms of picks, giving up most of its draft for any of the players in this draft.

Because of the lockout and the inability of teams to trade veterans or sign free agents at this time, I look for the draft to stay pretty stagnant — especially at the top.

Denver, with the re-signing of cornerback Champ Bailey and the return of defensive end Elvis Dumervil, really needs to address the interior of the defensive line. The Broncos have cut several of last year’s starters and, while some may be re-signed, the cupboard at this point is bare, with no other method of restocking.

With Dumervil and Robert Ayers set at defensive ends in the new 4-3 alignment, I think Denver takes Dareus with its No. 2 selection — the more solid, surefire pick than Fairley and more needed than either linebacker Miller or corner Peterson.

After that pick, look for the likes of Michigan State middle linebacker Greg Jones, Texas corner Aaron Williams, Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure, Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph, UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers and/or North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin to be added to the Bronco list.

Here’s hoping they, or others like them, can play well, quickly — assuming, of course, there will be football to be played come autumn.


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