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KLEE: Thanks to Broncos draft, Manning and Miller get a boost

By Paul Klee Updated: April 26, 2013 at 12:00 am 0

ENGLEWOOD — First, John Fox got on the phone with Montee Ball.

The Broncos’ second-round pick, a tailback from Wisconsin, got a kick out of that exchange. Ball grew up a Broncos fan and said he emulated his football life after Terrell Davis.

Next on the phone was John Elway, who had a heartfelt message for Ball: “You are coming into a great situation here.”

Here’s what I thought after the Broncos bulked up by snagging Sylvester Williams, a burly defensive tackle, and Ball, a thick running back, in the NFL draft:

Send your thank-you notes to the following address, Peyton and Von.

Denver Broncos
Attn: John Elway
13655 E. Broncos Pkwy
Englewood, CO 80112

The best two players on the Broncos roster in 2012 just got that much better in 2013.

In their first season headlining the offense and defense together, Manning and Miller put up numbers that rattled the record book.

Keep the printing press warm.

With the addition of Williams, a 313-pound tackle, no one benefits more than Miller. The pass-rushing linebacker should see less attention and fewer double-teams from nervous opponents.

For the first time since Trevor Pryce manned the middle more than a decade ago, the Broncos should have an interior defensive line that can thump quarterbacks on its own. Not surprising, the Broncos had not used a first-round pick on a defensive tackle since Pryce in 1997.

“This guy is a little better than Trevor,” Elway said.

Conventional wisdom suggested the Broncos would cover for the loss of Elvis Dumervil by nabbing a player at Dumervil’s position, defensive end. The Broncos suggested QB pressure can come from elsewhere on the line, even if we haven’t seen that in Denver in 12 years.

Don’t forget: Dwight Freeney still needs a new team, too.

“There’s still a lot of massaging to do to the roster,” Elway said. “We’re always looking for those pass-rushers.”

As good as Miller was in 2012, he will be better in 2013.

As good as Manning was in 2012, he will be better in 2013.

If Wes Welker was Manning’s new toy in the passing game, Ball is the new option in the running game.

If he didn’t before, Manning has a guy for third-and-7 (Welker). Now he has a guy for third-and-2 (Ball) because he didn't before — not after Willis McGahee suffered a knee injury.

"He's always heading north and south,” Elway said. “We liked him a lot. He could possibly be a three-down guy for us.”

On third-and-7 against the Ravens in the playoffs, the Broncos ran Ronnie Hillman.

“We’ve got a pretty big stable of guys there (at running back),” Fox said. “We did go through quite a few of them this season.”

Some new favorite phrases emerged from this NFL draft. Draftniks are always a threat to the English language. We heard an analyst describe a player with "explosive presence" and "great tilt."

These are good things, I assume.

But for all the hullabaloo and jibber-jabber thrown around during the draft, one TV statement rang true. The NFL Network's Brian Billick identified the Broncos as the team talented enough to line up — without this draft — and win the AFC championship.

"I think we expect all of these guys to contribute," Elway said. "The earlier you go, the more you hope they contribute."

This draft was about the prospects selected by the Broncos — Williams and Ball, at the top.

It was more about the players already with the Broncos — Manning and Miller, at the top.

Paul Klee is the Denver sports columnist for The Gazette. Reach him via email (paul.klee@gazette.com) or on Twitter (@Klee_Gazette).

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