First, the Broncos traded up and selected Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler. The move was a bit strange because Jake Plummer is only 31 years old, and the team is in win-now mode after making the AFC Championship Game last season.
"Jake Plummer, I think he's got a lot of years left," Cutler said.
Cutler will sit and watch for at least a year behind Plummer. The Broncos don't think Plummer will be affected by the move. Coach Mike Shanahan said Plummer had a good season last year and shouldn't be bothered by the pick of Cutler because it's part of the business. However, the drafting of Cutler is a clear indication Plummer has almost no chance to reach the end of his contract, which expires after the 2009 season.
Denver got its immediate impact player by using its second-round pick to acquire Javon Walker, the former Pro Bowl receiver who wanted out of Green Bay.
The Broncos checked out Walker's knee before the trade and figured he would be ready for training camp. Denver also had agreed to the parameters of a new six-year contract extension with Walker.
Denver concentrated on offense in the draft. The Broncos selected Western Michigan tight end Tony Scheffler late in the second round, receivers Brandon Marshall of Central Florida and Domenik Hixon of Akron in the fourth round, guard Chris Kuper of North Dakota in the fifth and Minnesota center Greg Eslinger in the sixth round.
Denver has concentrated on defense the past few years in the draft but wanted to get some offensive firepower this year. Denver felt good about adding some speed at receiver, a couple of linemen that fit their zone-blocking scheme and a quarterback of the future.
"Sometimes you address your needs," Shanahan said.
BEST PICK: Because Denver expects to draft in the final half of the first round every year, the chance to get a franchise quarterback this year was too good to pass up. Picking Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler might create a tense situation with incumbent Jake Plummer, but the Broncos felt that they couldn't pass on a player with Cutler's skills.
COULD SURPRISE: Louisville defensive end Elvis Dumervil didn't slip because he wasn't productive. He had 20 sacks and won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy given to the top defensive player in the nation. But he is short at 5-11, which scared teams off. The Broncos could have done worse in the fourth round than pick someone who was so successful rushing the passer in college. If Dumervil has a good training camp, he could have a big role as a rookie.
A closer look at the Broncos' picks:
Round 1/11 -- Jay Cutler, QB, 6-2, 228, Vanderbilt
Denver traded the 15th and 68th overall picks to move up four spots and take Cutler. The pick was a bit of a surprise because the Broncos feel they are close to the Super Bowl and Cutler will sit this year behind Jake Plummer, who is only 31 years old. But Cutler has a strong arm and fits in Denver's scheme because he is mobile, and the Broncos think he can be their quarterback of the future.
Round 2/61 -- Tony Scheffler, TE, 6-5, 261, Western Michigan
Scheffler has good hands and very good speed for his size, and because Denver is thin at tight end he could see a lot of playing time right away. The knock on Scheffler is his blocking, but he said he can improve in that area. He better, because one of the reasons the team gave up on Jeb Putzier is he never developed into an adequate blocker.
Round 4/119 -- Brandon Marshall, WR, 6-4, 230, Central Florida
Marshall is a big receiver who has some good speed. He split time between receiver and safety his junior year because the team was short in the secondary, and then moved back to receiver during his senior year and had a very productive season. Marshall could end up playing tight end in the pros.
Round 4/126 -- Elvis Dumervil, DE, 5-11, 258, Louisville
Dumervil was productive in college, getting 20 sacks as a senior and forcing a Division I-A record 11 fumbles. But Dumervil is short, which is the reason he slid in the draft. The Broncos need a pass rusher off the edge and hope that Dumervil's height won't preclude him from getting to the quarterback.
Round 4/130 -- Domenik Hixon, WR, 6-2, 192, Akron
The Broncos already had plenty of depth at receiver when they drafted Hixon. Hixon can help right away on special teams and should compete for the kickoff and punt return jobs immediately. Hixon has a broken bone in his leg and won't be ready until the start of June.
Round 5/161 -- Chris Kuper, G, 6-4, 302, North Dakota
Kuper is a good athlete and can play guard or tackle. He will probably play guard for the Broncos and his athleticism fits what the Broncos like to do with their zone-blocking scheme.
Round 6/198 -- Greg Eslinger, C, 6-3, 291, Minnesota
Even though Eslinger he had a great college career, he isn't big and fell to the sixth round. But he was in the same zone-blocking scheme in college that Denver uses. Former Gophers center Ben Hamilton was a fourth-round pick in 2001 and he has become a solid starter for the Broncos.
--Broncos receiver Ashley Lelie isn't happy with his situation in Denver and has been working out in Arizona instead of with his teammates in Denver. The Broncos can't force anyone to attend the voluntary workout sessions, but participation has always been strong and eschewing the workouts hasn't been looked upon favorably.
Lelie wanted a trade but he wasn't dealt during the draft and Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he expected Lelie would be with the team this season.
"He wants to be a No. 1 receiver, and the best chance of being No. 1 is to come in here and compete with the other guys," Shanahan said.
--The Broncos tried trading up in the draft once Green Bay's pick at No. 5 passed and USC's Matt Leinart and Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler were still on the board. Every team resisted Denver's efforts until St. Louis was on the clock at 11th overall.
Denver maneuvered with a few trades to get the 15th overall pick of the first round, then packaged a third-rounder with that pick to move up four spots and take Cutler.
"When you pick at the latter part of the first round, very seldom do you get a chance to make some of these trades," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said.
--The Broncos drafted two players who can handle long-snapping duties. Tight end Tony Scheffler was a long-snapper in high school and college and offensive lineman Chris Kuper can also snap. The Broncos already have tight end Mike Leach to long snap but having Scheffler and Kuper could be a positive down the line.
"It's something I look forward to doing at the next level," Scheffler said.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--S Chris Young (not tendered as RFA) was injured last season, but he was a promising player and still could return.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
--WR Charlie Adams had a decent season as Denver's third receiver and will be back.
--LB Louis Green is a good special teams player who fills a role for the Broncos.
--S Sam Brandon: Potential UFA; terms unknown.
--LB Keith Burns: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LB Patrick Chukwurah: UFA; terms unknown.
--RB Ron Dayne: UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--DE John Engelberger: Potential UFA; 3 yrs, $750,000 SB.
--LS Mike Leach: UFA; 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--OT Matt Lepsis: Potential UFA; $25M/4 yrs, SB unknown.
--DT Demetrin Veal: ERFA; terms unknown.
--DT Gerard Warren: UFA; 6 yrs, terms unknown.
--DE Kenard Lang: FA Browns; $5.9M/3 yrs, $900,000 RB; 2006 cap: $1.9M.
--WR Javon Walker: Trade Packers.
--LB Nate Webster: UFA Bengals; $1.505M/2 yrs, $200,000 SB; 2006 cap: $685,000.
--RB Mike Anderson (released).
--DE Marco Coleman (retired).
--DT Monsanto Pope: UFA Jets; $625,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB.
--DE Trevor Pryce (released).
--TE Jeb Putzier (released).
MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.
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