Broncos' Draft Review

Ryan Clady probably won't sell extra tickets, but selecting the big offensive tackle from Boise State was an important move for the Denver Broncos.

After Matt Lepsis retired this offseason, the Broncos' offensive line needed an overhaul. Between injuries, age and Lepsis' retirement, the line was slipping. Clady should help restore the Broncos line.

Clady will step in at left tackle right away. Denver had a few other options, such as Ryan Harris and Chris Kuper, but Shanahan didn't hesitate to name him the starter.

"We're going to put him in there at the left tackle position to start with, and we'll see if he can keep it," Shanahan said. "He's going to have some competition."

The Broncos were also considering Virginia's Branden Albert and Vanderbilt's Chris Williams, but weren't locked into drafting an offensive tackle with the 12th pick. However, the board fell exactly how they wanted, and Clady was an easy pick.

"We felt very fortunate that he was there," Shanahan said.

Denver felt good about its offseason haul in free agency at linebacker, safety and receiver and didn't reach for those positions. The second-round pick, Virginia Tech receiver Eddie Royal, was drafted primarily as a kickoff and punt returner.

The Broncos coveted Royal heading into the draft and were happy he fell to them in the second round. Denver considered some offers to acquire a third-round pick by moving back, but quickly picked Royal when he was available.

Shanahan said when the team picked Clady and Royal, it was the first time in all his years in the NFL he targeted two players for the top two picks, and both were available.

The Broncos spent the second day filling some depth at many positions. They drafted an offensive lineman, cornerback, running back, defensive lineman, linebacker, safety and fullback in their seven second-day picks.

"We're a better team, there's no question about it," Shanahan said.

BEST PICK: Offensive tackle Ryan Clady will probably be the best player, but that's not a surprise given he was the 12th pick of the draft.

But if second-round pick Eddie Royal, a receiver from Virginia Tech, is as good as the Broncos think he is, he could give a huge boost to the special teams as a returner right away. Denver also thinks Royal can be an effective receiver in the NFL.

COULD SURPRISE: Arizona State running back Ryan Torain couldn't have landed in a better situation as a fifth-round pick. The Broncos are looking for a permanent solution at running back, and the door will be open if Travis Henry isn't back at full speed. Torain said he is 100 percent healthy after foot surgery, and his size would be a good fit for the Broncos' offense, which has made 1,000-yard backs out of late draft picks before.

A closer look at the Broncos' picks:
Round 1/12 -- Ryan Clady, OT, 6-6, 316, Boise State
Clady has the athleticism to fit what the Broncos do on the line, with their zone-blocking scheme. His quick feet and long arms impressed the Broncos' staff. He will move right in at left tackle and the Broncos hope he will stay there for the foreseeable future.

Round 2/42 -- Eddie Royal, WR, 5-10, 184, Virginia Tech
Denver has been looking for a top-flight returner, and they hope Royal will fit that bill. Royal will return punts and kickoffs right away, and the Broncos have high hopes for him as a receiver as well. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he thought Royal was better beating bump-and-run coverage than any other receiver in the draft.

Round 4/108 -- Kory Lichtensteiger, G/C, 6-3, 310, Bowling Green
Lichtensteiger had a good college career, and should fit the Broncos' offense well. He might have slipped a bit because of shoulder injuries. Most Broncos linemen sit and learn for a year after being drafted, so Lichtensteiger won't be rushed back. He can play guard or center.

Round 4/119 -- Jack Williams, CB, 5-9, 181, Kent State
Williams is an undersized corner, and the Broncos' top four is pretty well set with Champ Bailey, Dre Bly, Karl Paymah and Domonique Foxworth. But Paymah and Foxworth can be unrestricted free agents next year, Bailey and Bly are getting older and the Broncos wanted a young fifth cornerback.

Round 5/139 -- Ryan Torain, RB, 6-0, 222, Arizona State
If Torain is healed from Lisfranc surgery, he could factor into the Broncos' running game. Torain is a talented back who slipped because of the injury, and the Broncos are looking for a workhorse back if Travis Henry doesn't bounce back strong.

Round 5/148 -- Carlton Powell, DT, 6-3, 300, Virginia Tech
Powell was good against the run in college, and that's what the Broncos need in the middle. With little depth in the middle, Powell could play right away if he has a good camp.

Round 6/183 -- Spencer Larsen, LB, 6-2, 242, Arizona
Larsen was productive at Arizona and projects as a middle linebacker with the Broncos. Denver also talked to him about the possibility of moving to fullback in the future.

Round 7/220 -- Josh Barrett, S, 6-2, 223, Arizona State
Barrett has good size and speed, but is coming off a rough senior season. If the Broncos can get him back on track, he could turn into a contributor.

Round 7/227 -- Peyton Hillis, FB, 6-1, 240, Arkansas
Hillis is a good receiver out of the backfield, which the Broncos covet in their fullbacks. Denver isn't very deep at the position so he'll have a chance to make the roster.

NOTES, QUOTES
--Denver hopes they helped the defensive line by sending a conditional 2009 draft pick to the New York Jets for tackle Dewayne Robertson. Robertson has a knee condition and Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said Robertson failed a Broncos physical, but Robertson has missed only three games in his career with the condition.

"We were willing to take the risk," Shanahan said.

--The Broncos took Virginia Tech receiver Eddie Royal in the second round over more publicized California receiver DeSean Jackson. Shanahan said the Broncos preferred Royal without providing details. Jackson had some questions about his character before the draft.

"It depended on what the team was looking for," Royal said about being selected before Jackson. "My personality, and me being more mature definitely helped out with this selection."

--The Broncos signed seven undrafted free agents, including a punter and a kicker.

--The club waived defensive tackle Michael Bozeman, safety Steve Cargile, guard Mark Fenton, fullback Steven Jackson, linebacker William Kershaw, fullback Paul Smith and running back Marquis Weeks.

--Shanahan said receiver Brandon Marshall is coming along as expected in his recovery from a major arm injury in March. Marshall is still expected to be ready by training camp.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "To get a guy like this, who we had as the top tackle after (Jake) Long, we felt lucky he was there." -- Coach Mike Shanahan on first-round pick Ryan Clady.



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