John Elway knows the importance of being around draft prospects at senior bowl.

 

The Broncos have the 5th overall pick in April’s draft and signs are pointing towards the team choosing a quarterback with the selection. General Manager John Elway likes what he saw during the last two practices at the Senior Bowl. “They look good. It’s always hard coming down and throwing to people you are not familiar with and new routes. I thought the first two days have been really good. Very strong arms, so it’s been fun to watch.”

It is mock draft-season and a lot of people have the Broncos taking Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. Elway said some positive things about the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner. “He’s a guy that competes. He comes out here and throws the ball very well. He’s got a strong arm. He throws with good anticipation. He’s had a good couple of days.”

Because the Broncos are one of the coaching staffs in the Senior Bowl, they get an extended and up-close look at the players on the team, and that is a big advantage when it comes time to draft. “It helps. There is no question. To be able to get into meeting rooms with them, get to know them as people, have the coaches be around them and see how they are in the meeting rooms—they learn a little bit about them as well as their football knowledge. It’s important. It’s definitely a plus to be around them for a week.”

March 14 is the start to the new league year and free agency begins. It is rumoured that Denver will go after a veteran quarterback, after the team acknowledged that they are moving on from Trevor Siemian and likely Brock Osweiler, and possibly even Paxton Lynch. “That’s the first step. There is no question. I think seeing where all of that falls—first thing first. Even though we go to the Combine [first], once we get back to the office after the Super Bowl is over, we’ll dig into the free agency side of it. That will be the focus until we get to the Combine.”

Denver requested (and got the green light) to have Mayfield be on the North team at the Senior Bowl, which makes it more and more obvious that they will target him in the draft. Elway spoke about the request. “We wanted to have an opportunity to get to meet him. Obviously we’ve seen what everyone else has seen, what he can do on the field and the type of player that he is. To be able to be around him and get to know him a little bit was important.”

Not only do the team’s coaches get to spend time with the Senior Bowl players, but the General Manager does as well, and Elway views this as a huge bonus. The more time they get to spend with rookies, the better. “They get to know the players. I think that is the biggest part of it. You get to spend time and spend a week with them. Usually you go to the Combine and you get 15 minutes with them. Pre-draft, we get 30 visits from young players. This way we get to see 50-55 of them and be around them and coach them a little bit. It’s a big plus to spend a week with them.”

Once the Senior Bowl concludes, the Broncos will head back to Denver. They will sit down as a coaching staff and discuss the players by position, not only from what the young guys do on the field, but also the interactions with them off it. “We’ll get back and once we get back we’ll go through the week and talk about everybody. Each position coach will go through their position and talk about each guy and what they liked and didn’t like. That is why having the personal touch through this weekend is a good advantage for us.”

After finishing 5-11, the Broncos have a lot of work to do and positions to fill. What will they do in the draft? Well, as of now, we can only guess. Will they go after the Heisman Trophy winner if he’s available, or will they decide to go against what a lot of people predict? We will find out on April 26th.

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