ENGLEWOOD – Ignoring for a moment the splashy – and some would say luxury – pick of quarterback Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos had a productive and efficient draft.
The team’s two biggest needs after signing three free agent defensive linemen were receiver and interior offensive line. Denver took two receivers and three players who can play guard or center.
They also needed linebackers, and selected one before signing former Dolphins linebacker Akin Ayodele in free agency, according to ESPN. Cornerback depth and finding a returner weren’t dire needs, but Denver still took care of them by drafting two players that can do both.
The Broncos finished the three-day draft by taking Oklahoma State cornerback Perrish Cox in the fifth round, Notre Dame center Eric Olsen in the sixth, then trading for two seventh-round picks to take California cornerback Syd’quan Thompson and Indiana defensive end Jammie Kirlew. Thompson and Cox can return kicks. Kirlew is 260 pounds and probably will fit at outside linebacker with the Broncos.
Now that a majority of the offseason moves are done, McDaniels sounded pleased with the makeup of his roster.
“Excited, very excited,” McDaniels said. “We feel like we’ve added a lot of depth in a lot of areas.”
Cox and Olsen were the first additions on Saturday.
Cox was the only player in the draft class who came with some off-field concerns. He was suspended for Oklahoma State’s bowl game, and later banned from working out at OSU’s pro day, after missing curfew twice in the week leading up to the Cotton Bowl. McDaniels didn’t think there were serious character concerns, but Cox has to “live up to his end of the bargain.”
“The Cotton Bowl mistake was a mistake on my part,” Cox said. “It’s something that I learned from and something that I want to put in the past. Hopefully I can do that and move on from it.”
The Broncos appeared to be done for the day after taking Olsen, who McDaniels said will probably begin his career at guard, but traded a 2011 fifth-round pick to Tampa Bay for a pair of seventh-round picks.
Thompson was a punt returner for Cal, in addition to his cornerback play. Kirlew had 23 career sacks and was a two-time team MVP for the Hoosiers.
The Broncos put a lot of work into the draft preparation, back to when general manager Brian Xanders had the initial draft board done very soon after last season ended. In the last few months the Broncos got their draft plan ready, and McDaniels was pleased with how it was executed.
“Very smooth, very smooth,” McDaniels said. “The scouts obviously are trained almost completely in terms of what we’re looking for and did a great job this year.”