And then the Broncos got another look at how much attention they will get because of Tebow. Tebow's jersey checked in as the No. 1 seller among all NFL jerseys in April. That's amazing considering Tebow was not drafted by Denver until April 22. Tebow isn't even assured of a regular role with the Broncos this season. He will probably work in some special packages, but is behind Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn at quarterback. Still, fans are interested in him -- and want to buy his jersey. "Tim has had a large following throughout his college career, so it's not surprising to see his fans continue to support him as he makes the transition to the NFL," Broncos spokesman Patrick Smyth said.
Although the immediacy of Tebow's popularity is a surprise, the Broncos knew he would get a lot of attention. The night he was drafted, he was the top story on every major sports site, even though he was just the 25th pick.
After he was drafted, Tebow said he was aware of the hoopla surrounding his pick. He said he was watching ESPN like most others on draft night, so he could sense the attention he was getting. Yet, he is quite used to the attention from college, and it didn't affect him much.
"To be honest, I don't pay too much attention to it," Tebow said. "I'm just excited and consider myself blessed to be a Denver Bronco, to be selected to come here. I am truly blessed and excited about it and I consider it a great honor."
--In 2009, the Denver Broncos had a strong need on the defensive line. They surprised everyone by not selecting any defensive linemen with 10 picks.
This year the Broncos didn't draft any help for the front seven until the seventh round, even though coach Josh McDaniels identified defensive line and linebacker as two positions the Broncos could address during the draft.
Denver stays true to its board, and will not reach on players based on need, something it reiterated during McDaniels' second draft.
"I don't think that was the intent but I don't think you can predict necessarily how it will fall," McDaniels said about not drafting a player for the front seven in the first six rounds. "We tried to pick the players that we felt could increase the depth at certain areas and compete to play early in certain cases. We had some defensive players that we liked, but when we selected ... the offensive side ended up being deeper for us in terms of our evaluations."
The Broncos finally did add to the defense on the third day of the draft. Cornerback Perrish Cox was selected in the fifth round. Then the Broncos traded a 2011 fifth-round pick for two seventh-round selections, which they used on defensive players. Cornerback Syd'quan Thompson and defensive lineman Jammie Kirlew, who will likely end up at outside linebacker, were the picks. While they could help, it's tough to depend on any seventh-round pick to contribute.
The Broncos did some things to address the defense in free agency, especially on the defensive line. Signing Justin Bannan, Jarvis Green and Jamal Williams made the defensive line less of a pressing need during the draft, but the Broncos eventually need to invest in some young talent on the line.
At linebacker, the team added to its depth by signing Akin Ayodele after the draft. Ayodele is not being brought in as a starter, however. Mario Haggan, a favorite of the coaching staff, is set to start on the inside next to D.J. Williams.
McDaniels said the signing of Ayodele wasn't a reaction to not selecting many defensive players in the draft, rather, just another way for the team to build its roster.
"I think there are always two things going on at the same time," McDaniels said. "Free agency doesn't stop just because the draft starts. We have a number of options and I think some of those options you say 'If we don't address this, we will address it with other alternatives.'"
--Broncos coach Josh McDaniels kept to his philosophy of not discussing injuries when he was asked about offensive tackle Ryan Clady. Clady has a knee injury and will be out three-to-four months.
"I'm not going to talk about injuries, but any player who has had an offseason procedure ... we'll be hopeful that they can come back as soon as they possibly can," McDaniels said.
--The Broncos signed inside linebacker Nick Greisen. Greisen can provide some depth on the inside. He was expected to have a role last year, but tore his anterior cruciate ligament in training camp and missed the season. He was in the last year of his contract, but after being on the free-agent market for a couple of months, decided to return to the Broncos.
--The Broncos wrapped up their rookie minicamp the weekend after the draft. They will have a passing camp in mid-May. The mandatory minicamp for the team is in June, then the team will come together for training camp in late July.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We have a lot of people here who play those spots and more than one player who has had an offseason procedure and we'll make do." -- Broncos coach Josh McDaniels when asked about offensive tackle Ryan Clady's injury.
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.
--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.
--LB Nick Greisen: UFA; 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.
--OL Maurice Williams: FA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--RB J.J. Arrington: FA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LB Akin Ayodele: FA Dolphins; terms unknown.
--DT Justin Bannan: UFA Ravens; $22M/5 yrs, $6.3M SB.
--DE Jarvis Green: UFA Patriots; $20M/4 yrs.
--CB Nate Jones: UFA Dolphins; $4.33M/4 yrs.
--QB Brady Quinn (trade Browns).
--NT Jamal Williams: FA Chargers; $16M/3 yrs, $7M guaranteed.
--OT Maurice Williams: FA; terms unknown.
--LB Andra Davis (released).
--OG Mitch Erickson (released).
--OG Ben Hamilton: UFA Seahawks; terms unknown.
--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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