Heading into the 2016 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos faced some depth issues along the defensive line. Malik Jackson had just taken a big-money deal in Jacksonville and Antonio Smith had been cut loose.
However, the Broncos still had Vance Walker (at the time) and the recently signed Jared Crick, to go along with starters Derek Wolfe and Sylvester Williams. GM John Elway needed to find a quality player in the draft class who could bolster depth and offer long-term upside.
By taking Lynch, Denver had to forsake some D-line prospects who could very well have been high-impact contributors as rookies. But the need-vs-value combo with Lynch was too much for Elway to pass up.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1767581-broncos-draft-rewind-paxt... As Super Bowl Champions, Denver wasn't up again until the final pick in the second round. One guy who remained on the board was a little-known prospect from Australia, coming off an ACL tear suffered on Halloween of the previous year.
In the NFL, general managers and scouting directors will often include more than just the head coach in evaluating Draft prospects. Defensive line coach Bill Kollar is widely regarded as one of — if not the — best position coaches in the NFL.
Elway's front office values his input. Kollar really liked Georgia Tech's Adam Gotsis, despite the fact that he wasn't 100 percent and had only been playing American football at a high, competitive level for a couple of years. Gotsis played Australian Rules football for eight years prior to his American playing career.
Kollar pounded the table and Elway obliged. Denver selected Gotsis with the No. 63 overall pick in the second round. In the NFL, second round picks are expected to be long-term contributors and star-potential players.
Gotsis became the highest-drafted Australian-born prospect in the NFL history. He's also the first Australian to ever be drafted by the Broncos, for whatever that's worth.
Much like the expectations that Lynch had to endure as a first round quarterback, Gotsis entered the Dove Valley facilities with a modicum of the same — as a second round pick. But Gotsis wasn't fully recovered from his knee injury.
It was going to take time to get him up to speed. As a prospect, many scouts had Gotsis on their respective boards, however, he was widely considered to be a mid-round pick. Something about his size/athleticism combo really intrigued Kollar and Elway though.
The question that will follow Gotsis around, until he proves otherwise, is this; why did the Broncos take this relative no-name D-lineman — coming off an ACL — in the second round, when they could likely have gotten him in the third, or the fourth, or maybe even the fifth round?
Hindsight is 20/20 but the Broncos obviously had some intel on another team having interest in the big 6-foot-4, 287-pound D-lineman. Although the value might not have been ideal, Elway clearly did not want to risk losing out on the opportunity to take Gotsis.
Denver wasn't positive, but their medical staff was confident that Gotsis would be ready by the start of the season. The team took it easy with him through OTAs and a little ways into camp, the training wheels came off and Gotsis was allowed to compete full bore.
As the season unfolded, Gotsis was eased into the Broncos D-line rotation. By season's end, he had appeared in all 16 games (222 snaps), totaling 14 tackles (5 solo), a pass defensed and a fumble recovery.
Not exactly stats that pop off the ol' box score. Nick Kendell recently published a film study on some of Gotsis' tape as a rookie. There were some encouraging aspects to his performance, but clearly, he has a long way to go before he's even close to the impact player the Broncos drafted him to be.
Considering all the work from a technique and football IQ perspective still left for Gotsis, he also has to work on building his core strength. He was bullied by opposing offensive linemen at times last year. He needs a lot of time in the weight room, as Bill Kollar recently opined via the team site.
"Physically, I've told him all along: You've got to get bigger and stronger -- or else," Kollar said. "These guys are too big and strong and tough in this league.
"I told him, 'If I were you, I'd take one week off after the season, I'd get my [rear end] into the weight room and I'd lift until there was no tomorrow. Because otherwise you don't have a chance,'" Kollar said. "You've got to be able to get in there and fight.
"Right now, where he was physically -- he wasn't where he needed to be."
What complicates my analysis on Gotsis' rookie performance is the knowledge that he wasn't 100 percent. I believe Kollar alluded to Gotsis' limitations due to injury in his last comment above. But ultimately, NFL coaches and players say that if you're healthy enough to see the field, then the injury bug is no excuse.
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To a point that's true. But we can't ignore the fact that Gotsis' one-year anniversary from tearing his ACL was the day after Denver's Week 8 victory in San Diego. Still, there's no doubt that Gotsis was a disappointment as a rookie.
The Broncos finished as the No. 28 rushing defense, and if there was one factor to point to that kept the defending World Champs out of the playoffs, it was that. When Gotsis was on the field, he was more often than not a liability.
Time in the weight room and getting further away from his ACL tear can only help Gotsis. But the way I see it, it's going to take a couple of years for Gotsis to develop into the caliber of player Denver hoped he would be.
I didn't love the Gotsis pick when it was made. But I was willing to give John Elway and Bill Kollar the benefit of the doubt. Almost one year later, I really don't like it, especially considering that the Broncos passed on selecting another impact player in the second round, when the odds were that Gotsis would have fallen to them later on in the Draft.
Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.