Mike Shanahan tackles the questions

Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan addresses the media following Day One of the 2006 NFL Draft. Check out the full transcript.

On selecting Vanderbilt QB Jay Cutler in the first round of the NFL Draft
"Very seldom are you in a position to get a quarterback of his quality. To get a guy like Jay, we were very excited. We weren't really sure when he was going to go. We were hoping that he would go a little bit later than earlier, and we feel very fortunate to get him. We feel like he's a guy that can make all the throws, he's an excellent athlete as well and he's done a great job throughout his collegiate career. We're excited. It's always tough to get those quarterbacks, especially with that type of ability. We're looking forward to him coming in."

On if the Broncos spoke with Cutler leading up to the draft
"We don't talk to them (prospects) because sometimes when you talk to them, you give it away. I had a chance to talk to (Titans Head Coach) Jeff Fisher a number of times, and Jeff was working out all three quarterbacks and spending a lot of time with all three, and Jeff thought the world of him (Cutler). Obviously, I liked what I saw on film. He can make all the throws, and I liked the way he handled himself and I liked the way he played. Jeff had a chance to spend a lot with him right there obviously in the same city and didn't feel like he had any flaws. Jeff and I have been close through the years, and I didn't have to give something away, so that's always nice."

On creating competition at the quarterback position with the selection of Cutler
"All you like to do is have competition. You try to create competition. We've been very fortunate the last couple of years. Obviously Jake (Plummer) is in his 10th year and took us to the AFC Championship Game and played quite well on a Pro Bowl level. He's (Plummer) an athlete, he's playing at a very level and won a lot of games, and hopefully we'll continue to do that with Jake at the helm. But when there's an opportunity like that, you don't want to pass it up because you know you are one play away from an injury. We've got a quarterback in that situation that can come in and throw, and we'll get a chance to evaluate him and are just excited to have him."

On where he had Cutler ranked among the draft's top three quarterbacks
"Obviously we had him at the first pick."

On Cutler's success at Vanderbilt
"Being in the SEC, being at Florida (as an assistant coach in the early 1980s) and understanding the quality of play in that conference, for him to be a player of the year speaks for itself. Very few times can a quarterback at a school be the MVP where they don't have the same type of athletes that some of the schools have in the conference. He's done some spectacular things throughout his collegiate career, but more importantly, I like the way he handles himself. He's an athlete. He runs quite well, is very strong and has been healthy. I'm just looking forward to him being with the Denver Broncos."

On competition at quarterback on the Broncos' roster
"Jake understands that there is competition. If we didn't draft (a quarterback), it could have easily been in the second or third or in free agency. Regardless of where a guy is picked, the guy has to come in here and compete. Jake understands the nature of this job. Jake has a lot of confidence in himself."

"There is a lot of competition, and everyone is playing for a job. Jake had the same situation in Arizona. That's just the nature of the job. There's always going to be competition. There's always going to be great players. If you back away from competition, you shouldn't be the guy anyhow. That's just the nature of the National Football League."

On trading on draft day
"We go through scenarios like this all the time, but usually we are not in position or we don't have enough draft choices to make the moves that we did today. Getting a first-round draft choice this year from Washington (in a trade last season) and trading that pick for No. 37 and No. 68 gave us some flexibility with the 15th pick. Normally, you don't have that opportunity to move up like that. We talked to a number of teams about moving up and moving back. But we were happy it worked out. It was a great opportunity for us, and I thought it worked out well."

On finding a team to trade with to move up in the draft to select Cutler
"We talk all the time, but to be honest to you, that (St. Louis) was the first team that would actually… The other teams, regardless of the offer, were very happy where they were. They (the Rams) were the first team that would actually talk about possible compensation."

On if the team considered trading up to select USC QB Matt Leinart
"Why would you go for another guy when I already said he was our first pick?"

On discussing trade scenarios to move up in the draft with other teams
"We started early in the draft. I think we started with San Francisco and worked our way up. You never know. Sometimes, a team will have somebody targeted, sometimes they're willing to back up. We talked to Detroit and Buffalo, and we thought there was a possibility there, but they were very happy with their pick. We really didn't talk about compensation—They were very happy with their pick. That's the nature of the business. We do that all the time. When you pick in the latter part of the first round, very seldom do you get a chance to make some of these trades. We were very fortunate to have No. 15 and an extra second and an extra third to do some of the things we did today."

On acquiring Packers WR Javon Walker
"Javon was in here yesterday (Friday), and I had a chance to spend some time with him. We went out to lunch, and I brought him over to my house and had a chance to sit down and talk with him. His rehab (right knee) is going well. The target is to have him ready once we go to camp. He is still recovering from his ACL, and I don't want to push him along too quick. He went through all the physicals with our trainers and doctors, and he should be ready to go full-speed by the time we start camp."

On Walker's ability as a wide receiver
"I just think he brings a lot to the table. He's got great speed, great size and is very physical. He can turn a short gain into a big play. He's very good blocker in the running game. He's one of the guys I look at and call a complete receiver."

On signing Walker to a new contract
"We've got the parameters in agreement. It's basically going to be in that six-year time frame. Obviously, there's no contract being signed, but we've talked and are fairly close."

On Walker's recovery of a right ACL injury suffered in the 2005 season opener
"I felt very good. We had Javon go through our doctors and trainers, and they felt very good taking a look at the X-rays. They felt like he was in great position to be ready to go once we start the season. We don't want to start him too quick. We're not going to put him in mini camp. We're going to get him ready to go and he'll be there for meetings and those types of things, but to actually start practicing we don't want to put him out there too quick."

On where Walker is currently training
"He was in Tallahassee just finishing up a couple classes. He has been in Arizona going through a workout program. He's been doing quite well, but he will come in here."

On how the acquisition of Walker affects the status of Broncos WR Ashley Lelie
"Ashley is still on our football team. I've got a lot of confidence in Ashley. He's made some big-time plays for us. He's got some more competition—That's what it means. He's got to come in here and compete, and hopefully he wants to do that."

On the status of Ashley Lelie
"I think it gives him the best chance to compete. Ashley is in the last year of his contract. If you want compete with the guys that we have on our football team and you want to get better, it's hard to do that when you are away. But Ashley has done a lot of great things for this organization, and he's made a lot of great plays for us. I'd still like him on this football team. I'd like for him to come in here and compete. If he doesn't, I can't do anything about it except with mini camp, but I can't see how that would help him for his future contracts unless he comes in here and really performs at a high level next year."

On if Lelie will play for the Broncos in 2006
"I'd say the chances are very good that he will be a part of our organization. I can't say 100 percent, I can't foresee the future, but I will be very surprised if he is not a part of our organization."

On Lelie wanted to be a No. 1 receiver
"You want to bring a guy in here and give him the chance to compete. Ashley has been obviously one of our starters. He wants to be the No. 1 receiver, and the best chance of being No. 1 is to come in here and compete with the other guys. That's the only way I know to be No. 1 is to come in here and get better. But Ashley is a class guy. Sometimes, people do things which they think is the best benefit for him, but we signed him to a five-year contract, and I'm still looking forward to him making plays for us. Hopefully, he will."

On other NFL teams looking to trade for Lelie
"I can't go in that direction, and I won't go in that direction. But Ashley has had some interest, and I'll leave it at that."

On the Broncos' communication with Packers General Manager Ted Thompson
"I think there was good communication going back and forth. Obviously, he would like a ‘One' (first-round pick). I think that the 37th pick and what they did with it, they got some good value with a player (Walker) that didn't seem like was going to come back. I think it was the right time to make a trade for Green Bay, and I think it was the right time for us. I think it was a win-win for both sides."

On if this is the happiest he has been after the draft's first day
"I think we've got some big-time impact players. The only time you get some big-time, impact players, usually you lose about 12, 13 games, and that's not a lot of fun as a head football coach. To be able to have the type of season we had and still be able to get some quality guys that I think can help our football team is real encouraging."

On Western Michigan TE Tony Scheffler, whom the club selected in the second round (61st overall)
"He's a guy at 6-foot-5 and a half, 255 pounds and ran a 4.5 40 (yard dash), had the best time in the 10 and the shuttle (among tight ends at the combine) and has unbelievable hands. It's nice to have a guy that will take a little heat off the wide receiver when a team is playing two-deep. We just thought he had a big upside. He's a former wide receiver in high school, started out as a wide receiver at Western Michigan. He moved over to tight end and just has a great feel for making the big-time catches. I think his development will be more with blocking, very similar to Shannon Sharpe, Desmond Clark, Byron Chamberlain, Billy Miller, different wide receivers that we've had. The only advantage he has is that he's been playing that type of position for a couple of years."

On Walker and Scheffler helping the Broncos' offense
"That's why we got him (Walker). That's why we got Ashley, too, for three wides. A guy like Tony can come in and help us in a base and two tight-end set along with the tight ends we've got. Any time you get an extra wide receiver that has been to the Pro Bowl and is very physical, he is going to bring something to the table. He's a guy that's a great competitor and a guy that's made plays very consistently. Knock on wood that the ACL comes around and he does the things that he needs to do to be ready to go. That's always a gamble, but I think it's a very good gamble. Then you've got a guy like Scheffler that comes in at 6-foot-5 and a half that can run very well and is more like a wide receiver out there making those types of plays. But he's (Walker) probably the fastest guy that we've had for a long time, so hopefully he can make the transition. Then you've got a quarterback (Cutler) who has big-time potential. Very few times do you get a chance to take a guy like that unless the season is really going poorly, so I feel like we had a good day."

On the Broncos focusing on upgrading their offense in the first day of the 2006 NFL Draft
"I think we talked about it last year. We've added some depth at the defensive line over the last couple of years. We continued to do that this year. You take a look at our secondary with three defensive backs, taken in the second and third rounds last year, that we felt were big-time contributors to our football team. Then the depth at the linebacker position—We've got three guys I consider Pro Bowl players with great speed and great ability. I felt more depth was needed on the offense. We'll address our needs tomorrow. We've still got three No. 4's, a five and a six. There's still a lot of great players out there, and hopefully we will be able to snatch up a couple."

On the value of acquiring Walker
"It's hard to really pass up a Pro Bowl player, a very physical player. A guy that has 4.3 speed coming out, a guy that is a very competitive blocker in the running game, a guy that has been able to take the short pass and go the distance and been able to come up with the big-time plays… You don't find those guys very often. When you take the 37th pick, and there was a couple guys we felt very good about, but it's hard to beat a guy that's already done it."

On NFL players in general recovering from ACL injuries and Walker's specific recovery
"I think it all depends on when it happens. It happened in the first game of the season (2005). That's been a long time ago. That's why I think he'll be ready. As long as you don't push him too quick. All I can do is go by the X-rays, the MRIs and those types of things. Our doctors felt very good looking at his knee. He's right on pace to recovery, and he should be ready to go. We've had a number of scenarios (knee injuries) that were much worse than Javon's, and they were ready to play."

On last season's trade with Washington to acquire the team's 2006 first-round draft choice
"When you have a few more picks, sometimes it works out. We did do it (trade) last year with Washington thinking that this might help us out. It doesn't always work that way. If Washington only won four or five games (increasing the value of the 2006 first-round draft choice Denver acquired), it would have been easy. Regardless, we knew Washington was a good football team. We thought they'd be very close to where they were maybe even a little bit better, somewhere in that area. We thought we'd still have some great value at that pick (Washington's 2006 first-rounder). Regardless if they were No. 20 or No. 29 or No. 32, we still felt we could do something with that draft choice."

On trading Denver's second first-round draft choice, No. 22, to San Francisco in the weeks leading up to the draft
"We had the 15th pick, and getting No. 37 and No. 68, we felt we could get two quality players. Even though it might not be that one player that you might covet at No. 22, we felt we could get two quality players at 37 and 68. We thought it would also give us some more flexibility in trading in case we wanted to move up or possibly go back. So having that extra pick sometimes will help."

On USC running back/Denver native LenDale White being taken in the second round
"I was kind of surprised, but any time that you don't run the 40 and you have problems with a hamstring, sometimes organizations are a little bit unsure exactly of the commitment of somebody. Tennessee got some great value out of him. I'm sure he's excited to play, excited to prove everybody wrong, that he should have been a top-15 pick. That's the nature of this business. Whatever has happened is over with. Now, you've got to go out there and perform. As I tell our players, ‘It doesn't matter if you a first-round draft choice or it doesn't matter if you are a free agent, now you've got to perform on the field.' The only thing a first-round status gives you is a year, possibly two, because of the money commitment. As we all know from previous experiences, you've got to perform. I think that's what our players like. They know regardless of where a guy is drafted, if a guy doesn't perform, he'll be released. Free agents believe they have an opportunity to come in and compete with those guys because we only play the best players, regardless of where we drafted them."

On the Broncos' running back situation
"I think we've been pretty successful with our running backs over the years. One of the reasons why we did (release) Mike (Anderson) is we felt very good about our running-back situation. Take a guy like Ron Dayne, we've got a lot of confidence in him. We know what Tatum Bell has done. Cedric Cobbs has brought a lot to the table. We liked what we saw with the practice squad for a year. Take a look at Cecil Sapp. Cecil was very successful at the tailback in college. Cecil could come in and play extremely well. We have a number of candidates, I believe, that can get the job done for us."



VandyMania.com Top Stories