NFL Draft: John Elway doing enough due diligence?

With the Montee Ball revelation that he had an alcohol problem as far back as college, it begs the question: what are the Denver Broncos doing?

John Elway, Matt Russell and his scouting staff have a solid record of bringing in free agent talent. Some will say it’s because you already know their talent and don’t have to guess.

I say there’s more to it. Scouting should go all the way to high school. In the case of Paxton Lynch, we do know they did contact his. I’m guessing it’s because he was so raw they wanted to find out more. Like Trevor Siemian, he never played quarterback until then.

It seems to me, that every recruit should get a check out that far back. Look for a pattern of injuries, discipline problems, grades and friends. Then do the same in college. Compare the two. See if there is a steady pattern up moving up, a stop in injuries and better choices made.

Below is a list of our draft history for the years with a current player. It’s not pretty. It’s perfectly normal to have far more recent selectees than from the past, but ours is pitiful.

We currently have 24 players that Elway drafted. Eight started: Von Miller, Virgil Green, Derek Wolfe, Michael Schofield, Matt Paradis, Max Garcia, Andy Janovich and Riley Dixon. If you add in Siemian, you get nine.

Of those, Virgil, Schofield, and Garcia were rated unkindly. Wolfe and Janovich struggled with injuries. Siemian was ranked poorly and had injuries. Paradis had surgery. So, Von and Riley were the lone guys without injuries and ranked at the top. Two.

If you look below, you’ll see we have taken players with injury histories and some have continued it. We’ve also taken some guys with troubled back grounds who, more or less have matured and grown out of their wild oats.

The recruiting department in Englewood should do more due diligence. There is enough inside information on certain drafted players, that this wasn’t done. They drafted purely from game tape, coaching bias and combine numbers.

It may be only the ‘squeaky wheels’ get closer scrutiny than the ones some other scout raised flags on. If a player hasn’t been arrested or detained or flunked out, is anyone digging deeper?

Johnny Manziel’s history with alcohol abuse was front page news when Archie Manning kicked him out of the, Manning Passing Academy. Why the Browns didn’t see this as a major red flag is head shaking, but shows Denver isn’t alone in ignoring troubling signs.

The one thing Gary Kubiak may have given Denver is a better crop of character draftees. When one digs into the players Kubes brought in, it’s clear to see many were men of deep character. There was a pattern with him. For the two drafts he had some say in, we seem to have a less troubled group, although injury histories were ignored. This is not to say that players  have no flaws, only that it shows it mattered to Kubes more than his predecessors. Will their talents rise up to match?

Seeing this list gets one in the gut.

2016 – DENVER BRONCOS (Kubiak)
1 26 Paxton Lynch QB Memphis
2 63 Adam Gotsis DT Georgia Tech
3 98 Justin Simmons SAF Boston College
4 136 Devontae Booker RB Utah
5 144 Connor McGovern G Missouri
6 176 Andy Janovich FB Nebraska
6 219 Will Parks SAF Arizona
7 228 Riley Dixon P Syracuse
2015 – DENVER BRONCOS (Kubiak)
1 23 Shane Ray DE Missouri
2 59 Ty Sambrailo T Colorado State
3 92 Jeff Heuerman TE Ohio State
4 133 Max Garcia C Florida
5 164 Lorenzo Doss CB Tulane
6 203 Darius Kilgo NT Maryland
7 250 Trevor Siemian QB Northwestern
7 251 Taurean Nixon DB Tulane
7 252 Josh Furman DB Oklahoma State
1 31 Bradley Roby CB Ohio State
2 56 Cody Latimer WR Indiana
3 95 Michael Schofield T Michigan
5 156 Lamin Barrow LB LSU
6 207 Matt Paradis C Boise State
7 242 Corey Nelson LB Oklahoma
1 28 Sylvester Williams DT North Carolina
2 58 Montee Ball RB Wisconsin
3 90 Kayvon Webster CB South Florida
5 146 Quanterus Smith DE Western Kentucky
5 161 Tavarres King WR Georgia
6 173 Vinston Painter OT Virginia Tech
7 234 Zac Dysert QB Miami (Ohio)
2 36 Derek Wolfe DT Cincinnati
2 57 Brock Osweiler QB Arizona State
3 67 Ronnie Hillman RB San Diego State
4 101 Omar Bolden CB Arizona State
4 108 Philip Blake C Baylor
5 137 Malik Jackson DE Tennessee
6 188 Danny Trevathan LB Kentucky
2011 – DENVER BRONCOS (None)
1 2 Von Miller LB Texas A&M
2 45 Rahim Moore DB UCLA
2 46 Orlando Franklin T Miami (Fla.)
3 67 Nate Irving LB North Carolina State
4 108 Quinton Carter DB Oklahoma
4 129 Julius Thomas TE Portland State
6 189 Mike Mohamed LB California
7 204 Virgil Green TE Nevada-Reno
7 247 Jeremy Beal DE Oklahoma
2010 – DENVER BRONCOS (McDaniels)
1 22 Demaryius Thomas WR Georgia Tech
1 25 Tim Tebow QB Florida
2 45 Zane Beadles G Utah
3 80 J.D. Walton C Baylor
3 87 Eric Decker WR Minnesota
5 137 Perrish Cox CB Oklahoma State
6 183 Eric Olsen G Notre Dame
7 225 Syd’Quan Thompson DB California
7 232 Jammie Kirlew DE Indiana

I expect of the starter names, that some will be removed and others added. With Ware retired (sniffle), Shane Ray will step up. With a TE added in the draft, one would expect Green moved down. With the addition of Ron Leary, either Garcia or Schofield lost their spot. If we draft a RB in the first round, we could see him as the starter. Justin Simmons and Will Parks will be starters in time, I assume the same for Bradley Roby, but right now, our defense consists of two that were drafted by Elway. Two out of 11 defensive starters.

Slice this any way you want, but it’s fairly glaring there is an issue in the Personnel department. It’s time changes were made. Either in how they do business or who is doing the business. Elway looks at talent, but it’s not his job to do the leg work. That’s on men like Matt Russell and Tom Heckert.

I’m going to show massive bias, but I find it odd of the 44 FSU players in the NFL (the most), Elway has drafted, zero.  More than that, scouts aren’t going to the games. A couple FSU sites list the scouts attending every game. Broncos are consistently absent. FSU isn’t the only team this is happening to. I know it shouldn’t matter than a Scout in Englewood was a former University of Florida WR booster and former coach there, since he isn’t listed as covering the SE region; however, it’s odd there’s no Clemson, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia.  The big powerhouses in the south have zip, too?

When only two of the players drafted during Elway’s term are healthy and graded well, it makes one question what kind of leg work are they doing? Ignoring some schools, bringing in hurt and questionable histories. If you look at the classes, you can’t see a pattern where the head coaches really mattered. It’s too soon to see if the last two classes end up in the same dust heap, it does appear as if we have more than one from each year who’ll still be around in five years. Maybe things will look better going forward, because it things don’t change, our team will be bankrupt.

Maybe having a parade of Head Coaches and Coordinators has mattered. Each guy brings his own staff and they like different traits and while it’s the scouts who sell their guys to Elway, the coaches do add in, too. So, beyond fixing the personnel department, keeping Vance Joseph for more than two years may help, as well. My biggest concern in hiring Mike McCoy was that he’d want to move on the second a HC position opens up and our offense is back on the carousel. The worst thing you can do to a QB and the offense.

Besides that, unless Bilichick is your HC, having a parade of pricey FA’s come strolling through every year doesn’t help with continuity and chemistry. It also hurt rookies because they’re missing mentors.

Jeff Essary from Mile High Report adds another wrinkle to why we’ve got to stop the FA heavy roster, read it here.

One last, please don’t hate me, but it’s time for Steve ‘Greek’ Antonopulos to retire. It’s been 40 years. Since the first Orange Crush team. He’s the one giving the ok on all these players coming to us with injury histories. They’re not a deal if they come to us broken and then keep getting hurt. Does Greek have a quota of ACL’s he wants to draft?

It’s just time to stop ignoring the obvious. Elway now appears to have the right coaching staff on defense and offense. Next up should be to take a look outside his office door.

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