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Woody Paige: Denver Broncos boss must win the offseason to cruise down John Elway Drive

February 24, 2018 Updated: February 25, 2018 at 11:28 am
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Woody Paige: Denver Broncos boss must win the offseason to cruise down John Elway Drive (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)

For obvious reasons the street between Mile High Stadium and Interstate 25 should be renamed John Elway Drive.

But the Elway Way of doing football business has taken a wrong turn and lately become the ''L'' Way.

The Broncos have lost two-thirds of their past 24 games including 10 on the road, and the proud franchise that won back-to-back Super Bowls with Elway as the quarterback has failed to reach the playoffs in back-to-back seasons with three ordinary quarterbacks he drafted.

Elway and his traveling party of more than 30 members of the Broncos' front office and coaching staff desperately need get back on the right track in Indianapolis this week.

The NFL Combine is the next adventure in the Broncos' challenge to turn around this wallowing team. Elway can't miss again on draft choices, free agents and, yes, coaches.

It's certain that when the Broncos' Boss gives his annual Combine interview to the national media, he won't duplicate his words from 2017.

"We've got two young (quarterbacks) that we're happy with,'' Elway said then.

At the termination of the last season, Elway distinctly identified quarterback as the Broncos' principle priority. "For us to have any chance, we have to get better at that position.''

Quarterback aside for the moment, the Broncos also definitely have to get better at several other positions. How long must Denver wait for a quality offensive line, a third wide receiver, even one tight end of excellence, an eminent running back, a returner who can return, another defensive end, two more inside linebackers and a cornerback?

If you're K.C. or C.K., the two QBs I've advocated for months in The Gazette for the Broncos to sign, would you come to Colorado, no matter the contract size?

Porterhouse to rump roast.

The Broncos weren't very successful at the Combine last trip. They drafted only one player - Garret Bolles - of 25 they met with. They also signed as free agents Tyrique Jarrett and Jamal Carter (who both played briefly in the stench of the stretch).

When the draft concluded, the general consensus was the Broncos deserved a grade of B-. It seems underserved now. In retrospect, that draft class earns a D, saved only by Bolles, who was named to the all-rookie team.

Bolles started all 16 games. The other seven draft picks had a combined start total of 0. Three - Carlos Henderson, Jake Butt and Chad Kelly - were injured the entire season. De'Angelo Henderson appeared in five games, DeMarcus Walker 10, Brendan Langley and Isaiah McKenzie 11 each. McKenzie shouldn't have played in any game. Walker had seven tackles and one sack, and Langley was a magician. He disappeared. For a few games all were DNPs (Did Not Play).

With 10 picks in the draft after receiving a third-round compensatory choice two days ago, the Broncos will have the most in the Elway Era. And the Broncos must produce their best overall draft since John's first year -- 2011 - when the Broncos selected nine players. Von Miller was second overall. The Broncos had six other draft selections who would become starters at one time.

The Broncos kept all eight players from the 2016 draft (despite low picks because the Broncos were world champions), and seven have been starters, and the eighth was punter Riley Dixon. But a pall hangs over that draft because first-round selection Paxton Lynch was a dud his first two seasons, beaten out by a '15 seventh-round pick - Trevor Siemian.

Elway is not happy with those young QBs.

Two running backs the Broncos interviewed last year in Indy and passed on in the second and third rounds were Alvin Kamara and Kareem Hunt. The Broncos whiffed on nine all-rookie team players available when they they had picks after the first round.

The Broncos should sign Kirk Cousins or Case Keenum and trade the fifth pick to the Bills for the Nos. 21, 22 and 96 (1,700 trade value points for 1,696.)

With those choices, the Broncos draft Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey, UTEP guard Will Hernandez and Indiana wide receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr. The Broncos would have a quarterback, a complete offensive line for years and a third (6-foot-4) receiver.

And John Elway would be on the way to another famous comeback Drive.

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