Continuing a previous article on the Draft, Is Elway doing Due Diligence, this piece charts out where our players have come from. The NCAA released the chart below showing which states have the most recruits to the NCAA, at all three levels. This naturally leads to the question, what is the Broncos’ team composed of? Does the personnel department break with these stats? Examination discovered that when it came to drafting from the states players went to high school, Denver did indeed follow a pattern similar to the chart.
However, taking this one step further, we need to look not only at where our players went to high school, but which college conferences had a leg up on others in producing pro-football players. And with this statistic, Denver split from the map below. After some research, it appears the reason may lie with the Lead Scout who’s been with the Broncos longer than most of you have been out of diapers, and prefers to draft from the BIG-10 and PAC-12 regions. Additionally, the Mountain West Conference is in Colorado’s back yard, so those three conferences make up the lion’s share of Broncos players.
In total, Denver has 24 drafted players on its team, including Adam Gotsis. To keep in line with the NCAA chart of stats, I omitted him to keep things on the same level. Just know that of our 62 man roster, not including Practice Squad guys, 24 were players drafted by Denver. This ranges from Demaryius Thomas to Riley Dixon.
Only having 24 drafted players on the team, out of seven draft years, is concerning. Especially since most were from the last two years, which in itself is not great, but paying 2/3’s of your team’s money for Free Agent salaries is a killer to the team. Practice guys weren’t included in this evaluation because they change so often during the year and usually were never drafted by any team.
After we draft, I’ll update, and again after each cut. I used 61, not 62 because Gotsis went to high school in Australia. As you can see below, the players on the final 2016 roster didn’t match up with the above graphic. This could be many reasons, one of which is many of our players are older free agents and may reflect where players used to come from, not where the current trend is.
If you look at which states had players we drafted and were on the team in 2016, it looks like the chart below. This represents the 24 players. When looking at this, it seems like our recent batch of players fall more in line with the norm.
The following two charts break down the team composition, the first by conferences of the entire team, while the second breaks down what the NFL looked like in 2016. Based on this, Denver didn’t follow the norm. They had 9% more BIG-10 players.
It’s clear there’s a big lean towards the BIG-10 players. How did they do? Out of 14 on the team, only three started of the six drafted. One missed games from injury and needed surgery (Siemian) and another was on IR (Andy Janovich). Michael Schofield was the lone BIG-10 player out of 14 who didn’t miss a game. Schofield and Siemian are in competitions to start in 2017 because neither showed enough not to be demoted. One player out of 14 from the BIG-10 started and played every game. Janovich, when healthy, was the only player who graded out above average. He has the best chance of the 14 to start in 2017. Am I alone in seeing a problem here?
Denver drafted two out of the top 11 schools. But we kick butt in drafting from the BIG-10 schools.
On the chart below are all the players currently on the team that were drafted by Denver. Seven draft classes, consisting of 55 players-24 of which are still on the team. Of these 24, 15 players are from the last two years. So, NINE players drafted in the range of three-seven years ago are on the team and of those, 6 started. 10-12 were/are starters depending on how you count their play-which is less than half of 22.
I’m not a brain surgeon, but there are some large gaping holes of teams not drafted by Denver. Starting with the school who has the most in the NFL, at 44 – Florida State University. Then there’s Louisiana, Clemson, Auburn and Alabama. There are no players from these schools on the team and zero drafted by Denver. I find it this odd–until you look at the Broncos’ Scouting Department.
Slice this any way you want, but was examined in Part I, of this piece, we can only come to one conclusion: Houston, we have a problem! Elway needs to ask for at least one retirement from this department, that much is clear. Here are most of our scouts:
Scott DiStefano is in his 36th year with the Denver Broncos’ personnel department in 2017 and scouts the Midwest area for the club.
He began his career with the Broncos scouting the Rocky Mountain and Southwest regions before shifting his focus to the Midwest in 1990. In addition to his scouting duties with the Broncos during the 1980s, DiStefano also assisted with the breakdown of film cutups for Assistant Head Coach Joe Collier.
DiStefano, 59, was a quarterback at Colorado State University from 1976-80. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Colorado State in 1981. He served in that capacity for the year before coming to the Broncos in 1982.
A native of Alliance, Ohio.
Eugene Armstrong enters his 11th season as a college scout with the Denver Broncos in 2017 and evaluates the Southeast area for the franchise.
Armstrong joined the Broncos after spending seven years (2000-06) working in the Houston Texans’ personnel department, including his final three seasons with the club as a college scout evaluating the Southwest and Midwest regions.
Armstrong was hired by the Texans in 2000 as a scouting intern and was promoted to a college scouting assistant in 2002 for the franchise’s inaugural season. In that capacity, he maintained the club’s college database and reviewed prospect tapes while scouting the states of Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
Armstrong earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Tulsa.
Nick Schiralli joined the Broncos after spending two years (2006-07) as an offensive graduate assistant at the University of Florida, where he also was a four-year letterman as a wide receiver from 1996-99.
He was an offensive graduate assistant coach with the Tar Heels in 2005 after working as director of player personnel and special teams assistant from 2002-04.
As a wide receiver at Florida, Schiralli played 36 career games and was a two-time All-Southeastern Conference academic team selection. He was a member of the Gators’ 1996 national championship squad as well as two SEC Championship teams.
You would think a guy from Florida would have a player from any of the top schools in the south on the team. Is it him missing this boat or is he being over ruled in scouting decisions?
SO, the guy who scouts the southeast, the one with the teams and conferences with the most players in the NFL, is from Texas. Then a BIG-10/MWC/PAC-12 long time guy who scouted two (maybe) starters in 2017 and one scout who was a Florida Gator. Schiralli did get DT correct, to give him credit. What other drafted wide receiver on our team has started, though?
Then we have a first time Scout…
Jordon Dizon enters his third year with the Broncos as a Pro Scout in 2017. He was hired by the club on July 27, 2015.
Dizon evaluates pro prospects for the Broncos in addition to assisting with the production and presentation of advance scouting reports to coaching staffs.
A former linebacker, Dizon played 28 career games for the Detroit Lions after being selected by the club in the second round (45th overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft. He spent the 2010 season on injured reserve before retiring from professional football in 2011.
Dizon played collegiately at the University of Colorado, where he finished his career ranked fourth in school history with 440 tackles. He was named a consensus All-American following his senior season in 2007 to become the first CU linebacker to earn that distinction since Broncos Director of Player Personnel Matt Russell in 1996.
Brian Stark enters his sixth season with the Broncos and his second year as a national scout for the team in 2017. He worked as an area scout during his first four seasons in Denver, evaluating the Western region in 2015 and the West Coast from 2012-14.
Stark, 42, joined the Broncos after serving three seasons as the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for Yale University (2009-11) and nine seasons in various coaching capacities at San Diego State (2000-08). During those 12 seasons, he personally recruited or coached 12 NFL Draft choices. (Osweiler, Dysert, Siemian. Better hope the fourth one is the charm–Lynch).
Stark spent nine years at San Diego State, serving as tight ends coach (2008), director of football operations/recruiting coordinator (2006-07) and passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2002-05). In his four seasons as quarterbacks coach for San Diego State, the Aztecs’ signal-callers averaged nearly 3,100 yards and 18 passing touchdowns a year while setting 18 SDSU or MWC records.
He began his professional career at his alma mater, the University of Colorado, where he was a student assistant/assistant recruiting coordinator from 1994-98. Stark, a Fort Morgan, Colo., native.
Maybe, just maybe our college and pro scouts are showing a little regional bias in scouting evaluations? It appears as a result, the Broncos’ offense is weak, and we aren’t having much measurable success in translating drafted players into actual members of the Broncos’ roster. Especially on offense. Maybe the Broncos need to bring in some fresh eyes in the Scouting Department? What do you think?