Shanahan talks about the draft

The 2008 NFL Draft is in the books. Read Denver Broncos Head Coach Mike Shanahan comments on the Broncos' selections at the post-draft press conference.


On each new member of the Denver Broncos
"Let's start out with Kory Lichtensteiger. He is a person that can play both the center and the guard position. We were very impressed with him and the way he has played. We were just hoping that he would be there. Not to often do you get a guy who can play both the center and the guard position. We feel like we got some value there."

"The next person was cornerback Jack Williams from Kent State. He is a guy that is very physical and has the ability to play the pass, up coverage as well as off coverage. He is a guy that we thought was very consistent in making plays."

"Ryan Torain, a running back from Arizona State, has a lot of abilities and some great run instincts. He is a guy that I am very high on and was hoping would be there somewhere in the fourth or fifth round. We felt very fortunate to get him."

"Carlton Powell, defensive tackle from Virginia Tech, is a guy that moves quite well. He will get a chance to come in right away and compete with our defensive lineman. He is a very sharp kid and a person that has the flexibility to play both tackle positions."

"Spencer Larsen from Arizona is a very physical linebacker that I believe can not only play the linebacker position but possibly the full back position as well. He is an all around type athlete."

"Josh Barrett, a safety out of Arizona State, is a very physical safety with great speed in the 4.3 range. He is about 225 lbs and has done a great job on special teams."

"Peyton Hillis from Arkansas is a fullback... Very strong, very physical. I think he will fit in well with our blocking scheme. He is a guy we got late in the seventh round, and we feel very fortunate he was there."

On the draft overall
"Overall, I felt good about the draft. Sometimes when you go into the draft, you get a lot of your needs and sometimes you don't. I feel like we were able to get some quality players both offensively and defensively and also able to fill some of the needs that we needed."

On his draft strategy in 2008
"You never really know what is going to happen. It doesn't mean that we haven't talked to a lot of people and they are ready to move and right before our pick, someone else picked a guy that they wanted. We had a few scenarios like that in the draft, but you don't move just to move. If the guy that you want is there, then you stay with the pick. Most of the guys we wanted were there at that time. We had a lot of offers to move, but we felt the value was there to take our pick."

On drafting players with good character
"Most of those guys [with good character] we have on our team. There are always a few exceptions, but that has been a big emphasis since we have been here. Even through those Super Bowl years, there were a couple guys behind the right guys to lead them in the right direction. As we all know, if they don't stand up and do the right things than they won't be with us very long. I am very happy with our draft class and the type of character that we did draft and I think everyone here could tell from the interviews that we have some quality individuals."

On his confidence regarding Ryan Torain's recovery from a foot injury
"Very confident. You have to talk to the doctors and do some research, but he should be ready in a short time."

On drafting a few players with previous medical issues
"What you do way before you pick them is go into the draft when someone like Lichtensteiger who might have a problem with his shoulder and you find out when he will be able to go. You talk to these doctors in advance, a week before the draft starts to kind of get an idea of when they will be ready. I feel very good about everybody and they should be ready by our June mini camp and some may be ready by the second week of May. We have a lot of time here to get these guys into football shape, get them into all the classes and have them jump into things right away."

On speaking with doctors before drafting a player
"These doctors have been doing this a lot of years. Like Greek (Broncos Head Athletic Trainer Steve Antonopulos)--He can tell you almost within a week whether a guy has a three-to-four month injury or when a guy should be back. These guys have been doing this a long time, going through these injuries year after year. There always are probably 100 guys in the draft that don't have a passing grade at that time. You just have to find guys you are comfortable with."

On whether he thought about addressing kickers in the draft
"We have two kickers committed already. Right now I don't want to say who, but we do have two committed kickers. We have a couple guys that will come with us and compete."

On how many college free agents he will sign
"Usually we sign five to seven people. That's what we've been doing for the last hour--talking to these agents and these players and trying to put a game plan together."

On whether RB Ryan Torain would have been a higher pick if he was not injured his senior season
"I think he's got first-round ability, I will say that. So I really put the whammy on them. Any time I say a guy has first-round ability--he probably has no chance at all. But I really do believe he is that type of tailback and time will tell."

On whether he was looking for a bigger running back when drafting RB Ryan Torain
"We got a big back [Torain] and also in free agency we got another smaller back, too. At least we got a commitment, and we will find out tomorrow if the commitment stays, but I believe it will. We've got a little bit of everything. We've got some bigger backs, a smaller back and we've got some competition. That's what you like."

On whether LB Spencer Larsen will play linebacker or fullback
"Most of these linebackers at the collegiate level played fullback in high school. He's the type of guy that [is] very intelligent, very sharp, plays the game extremely well. I just thought he was one of those guys, watching him with his quickness and agility [and] his ability to catch the ball, that he could go either way. It's hard to find fullbacks in the National Football League. We're hoping we found one out of Arkansas in the seventh round [FB Peyton Hillis], and Larsen may help us both ways. I can't tell you right now; we'll just kind of wait and see."

On FB Peyton Hillis
"In high school, he played tailback and broke all of these records, so if he ever went to Arkansas and they recruited him as a fullback he wouldn't wind up being at Arkansas. He would wind up at some other place. But when you take a look at the tailbacks Arkansas had, he went to the fullback position and [he is] a little over six feet [tall], 240-something pounds and he blocked extremely well. So he got put in a situation, probably, not what he was hoping for when he came out of high school. That's what most fullbacks are--converted tailbacks. I thought he did a great job because he's an excellent blocker and we'll wait and see how he fits in."

On whether he addressed cornerback depth by drafting CB Jack Williams
"We're not deep. You always have to have five corners and we have four corners. We really have six right now but two of the names I'm sure you don't even know. We have some competition. We want to bring a guy in case one guy [goes] down, [and then] you're at least two deep. I don't think you ever have enough corners. Obviously the offense can dictate what type of defense you are in, so if you are going against an offense that's using three, four and five wide receivers, you have to have a few defensive backs and we felt very fortunate that Jack was there with our fourth-round pick."

On if the Broncos are a better team after the draft
"We're a better team, there is no question about it. No. 1, you have [T] Ryan [Clady] coming in here starting out as our left offensive tackle. [Former T] Matt [Lepsis] didn't have one of his best years last year. He was coming off an injury and didn't play at the level that he normally played at. With Ryan coming in with his type of ability, I think we will make an improvement there regardless of him being a rookie or not. There is going to be a learning curve there, there are going to be some mistakes, but he's got the athletic ability to come in and help our football team win. [That] gives us the ability to move other people to different positions even though we have to have a backup at his position.

"Any time you take a punt returner or a kickoff returner [WR Eddie Royal], you really don't have to teach that. A guy can come in right away and return punts and kicks and it's something you don't have to coach. For him to come in as a wide receiver in the second round and say he's going to contribute--it's really hard to contribute, I believe, early at any skill position other than the running back position. There is just a curve there. But I think this guy has the ability to not only be a punt and kickoff returner, but he was the best receiver I saw in the draft coming out of the break. He's got an unbelievable knack of beating bump-and-run [coverage]. He's got that type of quickness and agility and obviously he catches the ball well.

"To get these two guys in the first two rounds--[they] were the two guys we were hoping to get. That [has] happened zero times in my NFL career--that I could pick out the first two guys I wanted with my first two picks--and that actually happened. You feel very fortunate, but I'm hoping not to pick at the 12th pick very often."

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