The magic of the NFL draft, the thing that turns a soporific scouting exercise into must-see TV, is simple:
When it comes to football, everybody knows everything, and nobody knows nuthin’.
Anyone who has spent more than ten minutes around the game acknowledges you can’t actually judge a draft for a minimum of two or three years. Nevertheless, the entertainment imperative means everyone is going to grade it immediately anyway.
With that in mind, I invited reaction on Twitter (maximum 140 characters) to the Broncos’ second day, in which they selected defensive tackle Derek Wolfe of the University of Cincinnati, quarterback Brock Osweiler of Arizona State and running back Ronnie Hillman of San Diego State. Here’s a sample:
“C- minus for today, at best.”
“Quality draft so far, good picks for next year and the future, I really like the choices.”
“I would give them a D for the draft so far.”
“I’m not impressed either, but since I don’t pretend to be smarter than EFX, I’ll let the pros do their jobs.”
“In Elway I Trust. Go Broncos!!”
“I think Wolfe is excellent, Hillman is underrated and Osweiler is quizzical. EFX knows more about football than I do GO BRONCOS”
“I’ll give you a single word… nonsensicle.”
“No cookie jar is out of the Broncos reach.”
“Unknown pig farmer to stuff the run, Small forward for a QB, and a firecracker RB. I am confused, not optimistic, but hopeful.”
“Drafting Plan B.”
“Puzzling – even if you like Osweiller he doesn’t help us win now – thought plan was to go all in while Manning here.”
“Did someone let Josh McDaniels back in the bldg?”
“Draft grade D-. Elway needs water wings as he is completely out of his depth with this debacle.”
“1) Need filled – DT 2) wasted pick on friend of Elway’s son – QB 3) Need filled – RB”
“Peyton Manning is the tree, the lights, and the stand. Now looking for tinsel. I’m happy.”
“I love how media experts think Elway was saviour for getting PM, but they now compare his draft to McDaniels.”
“All good except Osweiller. WTF? Need help now with Manning, not 4 yrs from now! He will never play. Hope I’m wrong.”
“Really, what does anyone really know at this point??”
“Need, toy, project…I had no idea the #Broncos were that close to a championship?”
“Broncos got who they wanted, not who others thought they should want. Elway said they don’t view the team the way others do.”
“Draft 2012 as grade C. Like DT Wolfe but really a QB and RB? NEED DEFENSE. Got lit up too much last year. Need CB SS LBs”
“East Coast brawn meets West Coast skills”
“it seems everyone knows better than those making decisions for the Broncos.”
“reminded me of mcdaniels drafts. Reaching when you don’t need to, leaving obvious picks on the board. Qb pick a waste”
“love it. Reached a lil on Wolfe, Qb of the future, and we have the next Lesean McCoy at RB! Not to bad.”
“whet a joke. Osweiler is a 4th round pick. @Denver_Broncos have so badly mismanaged this draft it’s incredible.”
“Underwhelmed. Could have waited for Wolfe and Hillman, no one would have picked them up…”
“Underwhelmed. Hoping time will tell, but we could have obtained each of these three later in the draft.”
Yes, those last two were different people, even if it doesn’t sound like it.
Anyway, you get the idea. I started fixing the spelling mistakes, then I stopped, so please don’t point them out.
The fact is, despite what people say, none of them can actually see the future. If they could, they’d be breaking the sports books in Vegas, not hanging out on Twitter. There have been hated picks on draft day that turned out well and picks greeted orgasmically that turned out poorly. Boring as it is, the tweet that comes closest to my own view was this one:
“I’ll let u know my reaction to the Broncos draft picks in 5 years. Because at this point, nobody really knows.”
Before we get to the Broncos’ take, here’s a sample of commentary from the players selected:
“There wasn’t a lot of contact like there was from the other teams,” said Wolfe, the 6-foot-5-inch, 300-pound defensive tackle selected with the 36th pick after the Broncos had traded down twice, from Nos. 25 and 31. “It was kind of put under wraps; there was kind of a shock when they took me. I’m pretty excited.”
By the way, if you want to hear the interview Dave Logan and I did with Wolfe on KOA shortly after he was selected, you can find it here.
“I’m just absolutely ecstatic to be a Denver Bronco,” said Osweiler, the 6-foot-7, 242-pound quarterback selected with the 57th pick. “It’s a dream come true. I absolutely can’t wait to get to Denver and can’t wait to get to work and give everything I have to that organization.”
As for holding a clipboard behind Peyton Manning for a while, Osweiler said he was unconcerned: “A lot of quarterbacks might be upset about having to sit behind somebody, whereas I look at it as a tremendous opportunity to learn from one of the best, if not the best, quarterback to ever play the game.”
Personally, I like any draft pick who uses the word “whereas,” but that’s just me.
And, yes, Osweiler called Jack Elway, John’s son, one of his best friends at ASU, so if you want to believe the elder Elway used a second-round pick to do a favor to one of his kid’s pals, well, I’m guessing you may also think aliens killed President Kennedy.
Finally, we have Hillman, the 5-9, 200-pound running back that was perhaps the most electric offensive player in the Mountain West Conference. He played last year at 189 pounds, but weighed in at the NFL Combine at 200.
He is a man of few words. Asked if he had any contact with the Broncos prior to his selection, he replied: “Not that much.” Asked if he was therefore surprised to be selected by them, he replied: “Yes, I was. I was very surprised.
“I’m just going to come in and try to help win, that’s all I can do,” he added. “I’ll just bring my versatility to the team and being able to create more on offense.”
The Broncos gave the media wretches a change of pace when the second and third rounds were finished, sending coach John Fox downstairs in place of Elway, who had the duty the night before. So these comments are all from Fox.
“Derek’s a guy that played both 5-technique (defensive end in a 3-4 defense) as well as 3-technique, defensive tackle. He’s got good length, he’s got good speed for that length, 6-5, 300 pounds. He’s got a great frame. He can get bigger. Very, very productive as far as creating havoc on the quarterback mostly because he does a great job with his hands as far as snatching off things. I think the most productive sack guy of all the tackles in the draft. He’s got a great motor. On some testing things that we do, he’s a high character guy and a guy that I think will bring a great attitude to our defense.”
“He’s a guy that when we went to visit I thought had an outstanding interview, outstanding workout. I think he has a bright future. I don’t think you can ever have too many quarterbacks. I don’t think it’s going to be one of those things where Peyton Manning’s going to feel threatened by any stretch. He’s got great mobility for a guy that big, he’s got quick twitch. A tall body helps you see through some of those lanes you get in this league. All in all, I thought he was what you’re looking for in a prototypical quarterback in the National Football League.”
On who Hillman reminds him of:
“One of the big things was, no offense to Marshall (Faulk), but he broke all his records there at San Diego State. He fared pretty well. I think (Faulk) would be an example. That’s the first one that comes to mind. That’s pretty big shoes to fill. He’s kind of (Darren) Sproles-like. Very explosive. He’s dynamic when you hand it to him, check it down to him or even long passes to him. So he’s a pretty all-around running back.”
Fox was asked what separated Osweiler from the other quarterbacks available late in the second round in his mind.
“Everybody has their own evaluations,” he said. “The thing that was most impressive to us was his accuracy and mobility for a big guy and just his production in a young guy coming out. I’m sure he’ll learn a lot from Peyton Manning.”
I mentioned to Fox that Elway said the Broncos’ goal this year, like last year, was to find three starters in the draft. So I wondered if Fox had any misgivings about using the club’s second pick on a quarterback who obviously would not be starting.
“To create that competition, grooming a guy, bringing a guy in, I think is always good because it’s such a premium position,” he said. “And you never know what happens. It’s important to have depth. That’s an important position moving forward in time.”
Several questions tried to get at why the Broncos had Wolfe rated higher than a number of better-known defensive linemen who were available at No. 36, including Kendall Reyes of Connecticut, Jerel Worthy of Michigan State and Devon Still of Penn State.
“We evaluate it,” he said. “We look at a lot of tape. We work at it probably in most cases harder than most people who talk about it on TV. So we’ll stay true to what we do, not so much public opinion, and obviously we thought very highly of Derek.”
Was his high level of effort, his constant motor, a big part of what set him apart on the Broncos’ board?
“When we have our first team meeting, everybody that has one of those chairs obviously has some God-given talent or they wouldn’t have one of those chairs,” Fox said. “From experience, it’s the makeup of a guy that makes the difference. So we put a lot of stock in that.”
Just before he headed back upstairs, I asked if the Broncos took Osweiler with their second pick, at No. 57, because they had information that he was about to be taken by somebody else.
“Again, you just stay true to your board,” he said. “You don’t get all upset about that. That guy’s there, you like him, you’re committed to him, we’re committed to him and you pick your guy.”
The Broncos traded two picks to move up in the third round to take Hillman, so they are back to seven picks overall, meaning they have four remaining today: two in the fourth round (Nos. 6 and 13), one in the fifth (No. 2) and one in the sixth (No. 18). Tracking them by their overall numbers, they have Nos. 101, 108, 137 and 188 still to exercise.
Let me leave you with the line of the night. Janoris Jenkins, the cornerback from North Alabama by way of Florida, was taken by the Rams in the second round. He’s had some off-field issues, so someone asked him what made him different from the talented but troubled Adam “Pacman” Jones.
Replied Jenkins: “I never shot up a strip club.”