John Elway and Vance Joseph speak about the NFL draft, veteran players and more.


ENGLEWOOD, Colorado. During a conference call, many topics were covered from the current picks to some insight on veterans on the team.

VJ: “With [DE DeMarcus] Walker, he’s a great inside rusher and having more rushers is always a premium. With [WR Carlos] Henderson, he provides interior speed for us as slot receiver. He’s a returner, a kick returner or punt returner for us. [CB Brendan] Langley is a fourth or fifth corner and that was a need for us also. It was a good day for us.”

JE: “DeMarcus was the top guy on our board that fell to us. We’re thrilled how that fell. You never know how it’s going to fall. We can never have enough of those pass rushers and he can do it inside and he can do it outside. We’re excited about him. Carlos is a tough guy, and he’s got a lot of production. He brings a physicality with him, he can really run, he’s a returner and plays special teams, and Langley, too. Brendan is really raw, but he’s got great speed and is going to take some time. He’ll learn from the best corners in the league that we have here, so we’re really excited about them. They’re tremendous special teams guys. We feel really good about how it fell today.”

On how much room Langley has to grow as a defensive back

JE: “He was the guy that we wanted on our board. We thought he was the best player on our board at the time. That’s why we went that direction. We did have him in here and we liked him a lot when he was in here. We liked his mentality. He wants to be great. He’s a competitor and he’s got that edge to him. He does have a way to go. He started as a wide receiver and has come to corner. He’s got some good instincts at corner, but it’s going to take him some time. In the meantime, he’s a returner. He’s fast, physical and can play on special teams, too. That came in to the equation also because he was effective on special teams and a really good punt returner. Like all these kids, it’s going to take them all a little bit of time. They’ll all get better. As we talked about, we don’t draft All Pros, but we hopefully can coach them there. That’s VJ’s job.”

VJ: “Absolutely. As a corner, he’s raw, but he’s six-feet tall, 200 lbs. and runs a 4.4 [40-yard dash]. That’s the starting point for an NFL cornerback, and those things are there for him. It’ll take some time for him but he’s got a high ceiling.”

On how the Day 2 draft picks players help add toughness

VJ: “It’s a tough game, and you want guys with a tough, winning mentality. That’s contagious. That’s a great trait to have as a football player. You want tough guys, confident guys and guys who hate to lose. We added four guys in the last two days with the right mentality, and guys who hate to lose. That’s important.”

JE: “It’s not that this team hasn’t been a tough football team up to this point. Especially on the defensive side—we play with so much confidence on the defensive side—but offensively, we’ve struggled a little bit confidence wise. If we can add some toughness on the offensive side in these 10 guys, that’s going to help us get that confidence back. We want to have the same mentality on the offensive side that we have on the defensive side right now. We want to play with that same type of confidence. Bringing these guys that are physical guys and competitors, that’s going to help us get there sooner. That’s why Carlos is going to be a good fit offensively because he’s a tough, physical guy, as well as Garett, who you met today. Those type of guys coming in on the offensive side are going to help get us there.”

On Joseph’s thoughts on Garett Bolles

VJ: “He’s a tough guy. He’s obviously an athletic tackle. In our division, every team has got two rushers. Having a tackle that can block speed, that was important to us. He was that guy in the draft. He was the best tackle as far as pass protection in the entire draft. His confidence and maturity, that’s going to help. Playing tackle is like playing cornerback in this league. If you have adversity, it can be tough. With his personality, if he has adversity, he’s going to fight through it. He’s a guy that’s ready to play.”

On how diverse of an offensive threat Henderson is

JE: “There’s no question he has the ability to do that. The run after the catch—anytime you can get the ball in a guy’s hands like that and he’s got the ability to take it to the house, that’s something that you always want. It’s not always easy to catch and run with the ball, and that’s what he likes to do. He creates the big plays and that’s what we really liked about him.”

On how draft philosophy changes on the second day of the draft

JE: “It’s the first draft VJ and I have had together along with [Director of Player Personnel] Matt [Russell] and [Director of Pro Personnel] Tom [Heckert] and everybody in that room. It flowed great. We’ve stayed true to the board, and I think that’s always been my philosophy. We did have discussions at every pick and we talked three or four different guys, but ultimately when it finally came down to it, we ended up taking the guy that was highest on our bard and we’re glad the way that it fell. Staying true to that and trying to find the best football players you can; football players that are going to come in and make your football team. We had the meeting before the draft started today and we started counting numbers. It’s going to be hard to make our football team. We’ve got a lot of good football players, so that’s why we have to be that good in the draft because we’ve got to find guys that can come in and compete and have a chance to make our football team. There is not a whole lot of slots because we do have a pretty good football team.”

On taking a defensive lineman in the second round for the second year in a row

JE: “First of all we were thrilled with where [DE] Adam [Gotsis]. I’ll let Vance talk about that, but we just looked at DeMarcus’ production: 25 sacks the last two years, the energy that he plays the game and the hustle that he plays with the game. I think he had 44 tackles for losses. He can play inside, he can play outside and so you just never have enough good pass rushers. I think Adam is going to take a huge step forward this year. You look at our defense and where our defense was two years ago, and VJ and I were talking about this, how effective we were when we had [Jaguars DE] Malik [Jackson] inside and rushing inside. DeMarcus has that ability and will have that ability. That’s why we’re so excited about him. We think Adam is really going to take a big step this year and then DeMarcus is going to bring an already good repertoire as far as pass rushing moves and be able to rush the passer.”

VJ: “I’ll follow up there. Adam, he had a great camp last week. He’s in good shape. He’s healthy. Last year he wasn’t totally healthy. He’s in a good place in his head right now. He’s working hard. He looked great last week. He looked fast. He looked explosive, so I’m excited about Adam. He’s in a good place now. Last year he thought he couldn’t be himself as far as a player, but he’s back. We’re excited about Adam.

On balancing draft selections between high collegiate production and high upside

JE: “It’s all part of the equation, and so each equation is a little bit different. When we’re getting close to our pick and we’re discussing the different guys that we may take at that pick, production has a lot to do with it. If you can get production, talent speed and size with it, it makes your decision a heck of a lot easier. It gets more difficult the deeper you get into the draft because now all of the sudden there are bigger holes or more holes in different players, so you’ve got to figure out what characteristics do you like the best? And which ones can we coach the best, the coach help him with and solve for him? But when you get in the first three rounds, it’s a little bit easier because you’re dealing with a lot of really good athletes.”

On the improvements to the offensive and defensive line

VJ: “The defensive line, in my opinion, we’ve gotten better there. We’ve gotten bigger and stronger there with [NT Domata] Peko and [DE Zach[ Kerr and now with Walker being a dynamic inside rusher. That helps there, and with Adam Gotsis being healthy this year. The defensive line, it looks different. We’re big and we’re strong and explosive. Offensive line also, with obviously Bolles and [G Ron] Leary and [T Menelik] Watson. I mean, that’s three large, tough men. We’re looking different on both sides of the ball as far as size and toughness. We’re excited about that because in this league, you win up front on both sides of the ball, and we’ve made great improvements on both sides, in my opinion.”

On whether the team considered trading up from pick No. 51 to select Walker

JE: “We were making a lot of inquiries about going up, so yeah. We were working hard. When it first got started, there was a lot of actions and different things going on in that second round. We made a lot of attempts to get up. We kept just missing and sure enough, thankfully, DeMarcus kept falling back to us. We were close and couldn’t get anything done. It was one of those things. You can only work so hard and if you don’t force it and you do what you feel is right and follow your gut and then at a certain point, you say it’s too much and don’t do it. Things have a tendency to work out. They did for us today with DeMarcus falling into the second round and now we got to keep our third and so we were able to get two more good football players there. I like to be good, but I also like to be lucky (laughing).”

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