Broncos Update Insider - 5/2

In the volumes of post-draft analysis, the Denver Broncos barely got a mention. There wasn't much to talk about. The Broncos stuck to their plan, targeting players that filled needs, and were pleasantly surprised when many of them fell. There was no need to pull off complicated trades when the players Denver wanted were available to them.

When Boise State's Ryan Clady fell to the Broncos with the 12th pick of the draft, Denver's offensive line took a turn for the better.

The Broncos had usually picked linemen with late picks, with the exception of 2003 first-rounder George Foster, who didn't pan out. Denver hit on plenty of those late picks at a time when not many teams were using the zone-blocking scheme.

The Broncos had to invest to get a top left tackle, and that's what they project Clady to become. Clady wasn't drafted with the 12th overall pick to sit on the bench.

"He'll start at left offensive tackle the day he comes in," Shanahan said.

That means a shuffle for the rest of the line, which suddenly is deeper than it has been in a few years, even with the retirement of Matt Lepsis.

Chris Kuper, Ryan Harris and Erik Pears will probably fight for the right tackle spot, with any one of the three being capable of backing up Clady on the left side. All three have credentials.

Kuper started most of last season at left guard and his strong play late in the season impressed the Broncos. He was penciled in at left tackle before Clady was selected. Harris was a third-round pick last year and the team likes his potential if his balky back holds up. Pears started most of 2006 at left tackle and all of 2007 at right tackle, so he has versatility and experience.

Center Tom Nalen and guard Ben Hamilton are expected back at 100 percent. Montrae Holland is coming off a solid year at right guard. Veteran Casey Wiegmann and third-round pick Kory Lichtensteiger can provide depth at guard and center.

The improvements in the starting lineup and the talented depth should be good news for the Broncos running game.

--In the volumes of post-draft analysis, the Denver Broncos barely got a mention. There wasn't much to talk about.

The Broncos stuck to their plan, targeting players that filled needs, and were pleasantly surprised when many of them fell. There was no need to pull off complicated trades when the players Denver wanted were available to them.

Offensive tackle Ryan Clady was the first-round target. Receiver Eddie Royal was the player Denver hoped would fall to them in the second round. They each showed off their new Broncos jerseys the day after they were selected.
"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," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said.

The Broncos didn't get every player they wanted, but had plenty of fortune on the second day of the draft, as well. Arizona State running back Ryan Torain was one pick in particular that fell into place. Torain fits what Denver likes in its running backs but fell in the draft because of a foot injury.

Denver also has high hopes for many of its other second-day picks. Almost all of them fit some kind of need.

Denver didn't trade any of its nine picks, which was a mild surprise. Usually the Broncos pull off multiple deals, or at least one big one. They had plenty of offers but Shanahan was content to stay put.

"You don't move just to move," Shanahan said. "If the guy that you want is there, then you stay with the pick."

NOTES, QUOTES
--The Broncos signed a handful of undrafted free agents. Among the most interesting were a kicker and a punter, because Denver has a wide open competition at each position. Denver signed kicker Garrett Hartley of Oklahoma and punter Brett Kern of Toledo. Because the Broncos have virtually no experience at either of their positions, they will have a chance to make the Broncos.

--One free agent signee to watch for the Broncos might be Colorado offensive lineman Tyler Polumbus. Polumbus is a good athlete who posted intriguing workout numbers leading up to the draft. He should fit well in Denver's scheme.

--Among the Broncos' cuts were veteran fullback Paul Smith. Smith was a good special-teams player, but the team drafted Arkansas fullback Peyton Hillis in the seventh round.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I really didn't think he was going to be there." -- Broncos coach Mike Shanahan on first-round pick Ryan Clady, an offensive tackle from Boise State.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--TE Stephen Alexander is very unlikely to be back, he will probably retire.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED
--LB Boss Bailey: UFA Lions; $17.5M/5 yrs, $4.35M SB.
--WR Keary Colbert: UFA Panthers: $7.3M/3 yrs, SB unknown.
--WR Darrell Jackson: FA 49ers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LB Niko Koutouvides: UFA Seahawks; $7.5M/3 yrs, SB unknown.
--S Marquand Manuel: UFA Panthers; $4.5M/3 yrs, $500,000 guaranteed.
--S Marlon McCree: FA Chargers; terms unknown.
--WR Samie Parker: UFA Chiefs; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DT Dewayne Robertson (trade Jets).
--C Casey Wiegmann: UFA Chiefs; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED
--S Hamza Abdullah: RFA; $972,000/1 yr.
--DE Ebenezer Ekuban: UFA; 1 YR, terms unknown.
--DE John Engelberger: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--CB Domonique Foxworth: Potential RFA; $972,000/1 yr.
--TE Nate Jackson: UFA; $2M/2 yrs, SB unknown.
--CB Karl Paymah: Potential RFA; $972,000/1 yr.
--OT Erik Pears: Potential ERFA; terms unknown.
--FB Cecil Sapp: UFA; $645,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB; 2008 cap: $485,000.

PLAYERS LOST
--K Jason Elam: UFA Falcons; $9M/4 yrs, $3.3M SB.
--S Nick Ferguson: UFA Texans; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LB Ian Gold (released).
--LB Warrick Holdman (released).
--OT Matt Lepsis (retired).
--C Chris Myers: RFA; traded Texans.
--FB Paul Smith (released).
--WR Javon Walker (released).



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