The Duke and The Dipstick disagree over The Draft customarily.
In 2011 John Elway’s first pick, and No. 2 overall, as the Broncos’ Boss of football operations was linebacker Von Miller. An audacious columnist had recommended John select cornerback Patrick Peterson, who was chosen fifth by the Cardinals. A day later Elway flashed his famous smirk and said sarcastically to me: “Broncos trade Miller for Peterson.’’
Miller and Peterson each have been Pro Bowlers eight times and were named to the recent All-Decade first team. Miller has played in seven postseason games, Peterson just three. Miller was MVP of Super Bowl 50. Peterson has compiled 25 interceptions, 12 fumble recoveries, 438 tackles and four sacks. Miller’s numbers are two interceptions, nine fumble recoveries, 490 tackles and 106 sacks.
Elway wins, but both will be enshrined in Canton.
I craved for the Broncos to draft Dak Prescott in 2016. The Duke traded up to get Paxton Lynch, who I knew was a slug after meeting him at a Super Bowl party. One for The Dunce. I favored Ronnie Hillman as a third-round running back choice in 2012. So did Elway. Tie.
Drafting is not a precise science. Of the 66 players Elway drafted, 28 became true starters.
Bizarrely, though, both John and the pusillanimous sportswriter agreed, before the past draft, on Drew Lock, Noah Fant and Dalton Risner, but not in the same order. Will we agree on anybody this week? This is John’s 10th NFL draft as an executive. This will be my 50th — since covering Archie Manning in 1971 when, on Jan. 28 , he was picked No. 2 by the Saints, behind Jim Plunkett, who was selected by the Boston Patriots, who changed their address to New England the next day. Manning’s two quarterback sons and Elway went first in drafts.
I followed the ’71 draft about the same way as the ’20 draft will be — from a social and physical distance. The draft will be held in New York City, and I will be in my home in Denver. Back then I was in Memphis. In 1971 the selections were announced by NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle in a ballroom at Manhattan’s Belmont Plaza Hotel — at an event attended by two representatives from each team. This week commissioner Roger Goodell will make the draft declarations from his house in Bronxville, N.Y., a train stop from Grand Central Station.
(In ’71, the Broncos, picking 12th, opted for offensive tackle Marv Montgomery, who would start 32 games in six seasons prior to being traded in 1977.)
Will Elway draft an offensive tackle in the first round for the second time in four seasons? The Broncos certainly could utilize another because Garett “Holds’’ Bolles has struggled and Ju’Wuan “And Only’’ James got on the field for three games last season. Most likely, a top-drawer tackle won’t be obtainable. A quartet will be taken before the Broncos’ spot, and Elway will not deal up for a tackle.
He certainly could exchange for a higher first-round pick to grab a wide receiver, though. Elway has been on an elevator ride in the opening round of nine drafts five times, including twice in his second season of control. Overall, he has made 20 draft-day deals. Expect Elway to make multiple maneuvers, particularly in the third and seventh rounds, with his 10 picks.
Elway has drafted more for position than best available player in the first round while generally loading up on defensive players (six seasons). The consensus among draftniks is the Broncos will get Henry Ruggs III, Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb (wide receivers), but none is anticipated to be there at 15. Elway must trade to 8 (Cardinals) or 10 (Browns) to get in front of the Jets, the Raiders and the 49ers.
As I’ve suggested, Elway could drop into the 20s and get LSU receiver Justin Jefferson and an extra pick. Or he can be steadfast at 15 and pick defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw, linebacker Kenneth Murray or cornerback C.J. Henderson — who would enthuse Vic Fangio.
These are the eight players The Dimwit wants The Duke to draft:
Jefferson (LSU), cornerback Kristian Fulton (LSU), center Lloyd Cushenberry (LSU), offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson (Georgia), inside linebacker Logan Wilson (Wyoming), defensive end Leki Fotu (Utah), safety Jeremy Chinn (Southern Illinois) and runner/receiver/returner Raymond Calais (Louisiana).
Elway will make his final first-round decision at about 8:30 Thursday night. He will not consult me or you.