At approximately 7:45 on Thursday night Roger Goodell could announce: “With the 10th pick in the 2019 NFL draft, the Denver Broncos select Devin ...’’
Then the NFL commissioner would pause ephemerally.
Which last name — “White’’ or “Bush?’’
Whichever could become the best inside linebacker chosen by the Broncos in the first round since Dick Butkus (1968), Randy Gradishar (1974) and Al Wilson (1999). Wilson, who will be backstage in Nashville preparing to proclaim the Broncos’ second selection (Iowa tight end Noah Fant or Kansas State tackle Dalton Risner?), would be smiling, the same as Gradishar, John Elway and Vic Fangio in Denver.
Butkus wouldn’t be as thrilled. He signed a half-century ago with the NFL Bears instead of the AFL Broncos.
Intriguingly, LSU’s White won the most recent Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker, and Michigan’s Bush has been a Butkus finalist, and an All-American, the past two seasons.
Bush or White? Both are projected to be among the first dozen picks. They are so eerily similar.
White is a 6-foot, 237-pound prodigy who ran a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. He has a wing span of 75 7/8 inches, 9¾-sized hands and 32-inch arms. Bush (5-11, 234) ran the 40 in 4.43 seconds, and his measurements are 76 1/2, 9 5/8 and 32. Their drill stats in Indianapolis were close to identical.
Each is cornerback quick, reacts superbly to the pass and the run, can tackle, blitz and cover and will be a plug-and-play three-down inside linebacker as a rookie. Both were team captains, three-year starters and departed after their junior seasons for the pros. They are 21 this year.
Imagine either with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb.
The Broncos’ president of football operations wants to present his new coach with a defensive endowment at a position where the Broncos dearly need a wunderkind.
Quarterback must wait.
The Broncos will draft 1, but not No. 1. They likely will pass on a QB until perhaps the fourth round. They gave up another fourth-rounder to acquire veteran quarterback Joe Flacco, who the Broncos are hoping will play extremely well for two-three years. Elway was impressed during last week’s first view. “He can make all the throws — still has the strong arm — so Joe was very good in camp.’’
On Tuesday Elway wouldn’t admit to the Broncos’ plans for a backup QB, although he did tell me they will have “four in camp’’ as a result of the draft or another free agent signing.
Elway held his annual pre-draft gathering with the media, mandated by the league, and was in a rather jovial mood. “Welcome to the most irrelevant press conference of the year.’’
Early on, when asked about Bush (whose father played against Elway in Super Bowl 33), the Broncos’ Boss responded: “I’m not going to talk about each individual player, but obviously he’s had a great college career and played very well. I’m going to leave it at that.’’
The other Devin wasn’t discussed.
The most obvious question — “Who are the Broncos drafting’’ at 10 — was addressed, but Elway certainly was biting. “Don’t know yet,’’ he said, then flashed his famous molars.
At Mile High Noon he wasn’t giving away free lunches or free information.
Yet, John admitted he still is somewhat bitter over Dan Reeves shocking him and the NFL world by drafting quarterback Tommy Maddox in 1992’s first round.
“How did that work out?’’ John said sarcastically. Well, Maddox eventually did become the MVP of the XFL. John didn’t need a replacement. He played for seven more seasons.
It can be suggested he wouldn’t pull the same stunt on Flacco, but Elway did draft Brock Osweiler in the second round the same season Peyton Manning arrived in town.
Missouri’s Drew Lock has been an early, and often, mock draft choice nationally, and the Broncos did have extreme interest. But, with the addition of Bronco Joe, and despite the visits of Lock, Kyle Murray and Dwayne Haskins to Dove Valley, and a private workout of Daniel Jones, the sincere belief must be the Broncos will take on the second day someone of the Clayton Thorson-Jarrett Stidham ilk.
Elway, who said the franchise’s draft board has been complete for days, is “in a “hurry up and wait mode. I’m just as anxious as everybody else.’’
The wait begins to end Thursday night.
And the Broncos’ pick could be ...