BEST PICK: Wide receiver Eric Decker: He should have gone much higher in the draft, but a season-ending foot injury set him back. If he gets healthy -- and he said he hopes to be fully ready by training camp -- the Broncos might have got a steal in the third round. COULD SURPRISE: Cornerback Perrish Cox: Cox is a talented player who fell after he was suspended for his final college game for curfew violations. Cox can play right away, especially as a kickoff and punt returner.
A closer look at the Broncos' picks:
Round 1/22 -- Demaryius Thomas, WR, 6-3, 224, Georgia Tech
Thomas was ranked higher on the Broncos' board than Dez Bryant. He impressed the staff with his intelligence, and he physically resembles Brandon Marshall, who was a big part of the offense last year. Thomas is also a good deep threat.
Round 1/25 -- Tim Tebow, QB, 6-3, 236, Florida
The Broncos wanted Tebow in a bad way. Josh McDaniels fell in love with him through the pre-draft process and made it a priority to get him. Tebow will need some time to be a pocket quarterback, but he will contribute right away in certain packages.
Beadles started at left tackle his last three years, but probably has a future inside for the Broncos. However, he can provide tackle depth as well.
Walton could immediately start. The Broncos need a center and had only Maurkice Pouncey higher on their board at the position.
Round 3/78 -- Eric Decker, WR, 6-3, 217, Minnesota
Decker is big, smart, can make plays and has fantastic hands. Once he recovers from a foot injury, he could be a good player for the Broncos.
Round 5/137 -- Perrish Cox, CB, 5-11, 195, Oklahoma State
Cox was a good value pick, one of the rare picks in which the Broncos didn't take a guy with impeccable character. Cox was suspended for the Cotton Bowl, but is a good player who can also return kicks.
Although Olsen was Notre Dame's center last year, the Broncos figure he'll start his career at guard but can also compete at the open starting center position.
Round 7/225 -- Syd'quan Thompson, CB, 5-9, 186, California
Thompson isn't big, but pretty tough, and can return punts. That could help him stick on the roster.
Although he was a defensive lineman in college, his size and pass-rush ability means he'll probably be a better fit at outside linebacker.
--The Denver Broncos shook up the draft on Thursday night with four trades and two of the most controversial picks of the first round.
Denver selected Georgia Tech wide receiver Demaryius Thomas ahead of Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant with the 22nd pick. That was quickly forgotten three picks later when the Broncos made what will be the most talked about pick of the draft, selecting Florida quarterback Tim Tebow with the 25th overall pick.
The Broncos traded second-, third- and fourth-round picks to get the 25th pick from Baltimore to select Tebow, who many believe can't develop into a top-flight NFL quarterback.
Coach Josh McDaniels has always shown he is willing to do things his way, and he did exactly that in the first round.
"We were fortunate to have the opportunity to get two players we coveted, who we think can fit in here," McDaniels said. "We know what we're going to get from them: hard work, and they're both talented players."
McDaniels called Kyle Orton his starting quarterback, which will take some pressure off of Tebow. He won't have to play right away, but McDaniels did say he could contribute immediately in packages that take advantage of his athleticism and skills running and throwing.
Tebow, who has been dissected for the months leading up to the draft, said he felt grateful for the chance.
"I want to repay Josh McDaniels for the faith he showed in me," Tebow said. "I want to be a great quarterback." Thomas has big-play ability and similar size to Brandon Marshall, whom the Broncos traded last week. He said a foot injury he suffered before the combine, in which he broke his fifth metatarsal and had surgery, is about 90 percent healed. Thomas said he and Marshall had some things in common.
"We're both big guys, probably the same speed, very complete receivers," Thomas said.
--Tim Tebow wanted to stay in Denver and learn the playbook, but said NFL rules kept him from staying in town. It did show that Tebow wants to get right to improving as a NFL quarterback, something that critics say will take a lot of work.
"I want to work and try to be great at that," Tebow said. "That is my goal; I want to be a great pocket passer."
--Although Broncos coach Josh McDaniels will be judged by many who are saying his legacy is tied to the success of controversial pick Tim Tebow, McDaniels dismissed that quickly.
"I'm not really concerned about a legacy," McDaniels said. "We're concerned about winning and, if we win, I think we'll all be very pleased with the outcome."
--The Broncos' decision to take Demaryius Thomas over Dez Bryant was overshadowed almost immediately when the team selected Tim Tebow three picks later, but it was a somewhat surprising move. Bryant was regarded as the top receiver by many pundits. Thomas even figured Bryant would go first.
"I actually thought Dez Bryant too," Thomas said. "He played in a different type of offense, he made a lot of plays. He's good."
--The picks of J.D. Walton and Eric Olsen give the Broncos some options at center. Russ Hochstein is an option to start as well, as is futures contract signee Dustin Fry. Walton seems to be a logical candidate, but the Broncos will wait to see who takes hold of the spot.
"We're going to give everybody an opportunity to compete," McDaniels said. ... I think what we did that's really improved the competition at that spot is that we got bigger. I think that was a goal for us, both to assist us and protect us in the pocket, and then also being able to run the football."
--Before the reports that the Broncos signed former Miami linebacker Akin Ayodele, Josh McDaniels said he was pleased with his linebacking corps even without a draftee who could step in right away. Elvis Dumervil and D.J. Williams are obvious starters, Mario Haggan has moved from outside to inside, and second-year player Robert Ayers is expected to start on the outside.
"We have a pretty solid group there in terms of our four linebackers," McDaniels said.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Excited, very excited. We feel like we've added a lot of depth in a lot of areas." -- Broncos coach Josh McDaniels on his team after the draft.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--P Mitch Berger was a midseason signee who had an up-and-down year. With the late-season addition of Britton Colquitt, don't expect Berger back.
--S Vernon Fox added some depth on special teams late in the year. He could return for camp.
--OT Brandon Gorin gave the Broncos some experience at tackle but was not the primary backup at the position. Denver could look elsewhere.
--LB Nick Greisen missed all of last season with a knee injury, and his health could determine his future.
--DE Vonnie Holliday was a pleasant surprise as an addition right before the season started and would seem like a good bet to return for another year.
--CB Ty Law played well after being picked up during the season but did deal with some injuries and is near the end of his career. If he is re-signed, it's a sign the Broncos don't have much faith in 2009 second-round pick Alphonso Smith.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (*indicates restricted because of uncapped year)
--*OLB Elvis Dumervil (tendered at $3.168M with first- and third-round picks as compensation) should be a high priority for the Broncos after leading the NFL in sacks.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
--S Josh Barrett: ERFA; terms unknown.
--G Russ Hochstein: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--*G Chris Kuper: RFA; (tendered at $2.521M with first-round pick as compensation); $2.521M/1 yr.
--WR Brandon Lloyd: UFA; terms unknown.
--*QB Kyle Orton: RFA; (tendered at $2.621M with first-round pick as compensation); $2.621M/1 yr.
--K Matt Prater: ERFA; terms unknown.
--*TE Tony Scheffler: RFA; (tendered at $1.176M with second-round pick as compensation); $1.176M/1 yr.
--*DE Le Kevin Smith: Not tendered as RFA; terms unknown.
--RB J.J. Arrington: FA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DT Justin Bannan: UFA Ravens; $22M/5 yrs, $6.3M SB.
--DE Jarvis Green: UFA Patriots; $20M/4 yrs.
--G Ben Hamilton: UFA Seahawks; terms unknown.
--CB Nate Jones: UFA Dolphins; $4.33M/4 yrs.
--QB Brady Quinn (trade Browns).
--NT Jamal Williams: FA Chargers; $16M/3 yrs, $7M guaranteed.
--LB Andra Davis (released).
--OG Mitch Erickson (released).
--FB Peyton Hillis (traded Browns).
--RB LaMont Jordan (released).
--WR Brandon Marshall (traded Dolphins).
--DL J'Vonne Parker (released).
--DE Kenny Peterson (released).
--TE Tony Scheffler (trade Lions).
--QB Chris Simms (released).
--C Casey Wiegmann (released).
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