It is that time of year again. A time filled with new hope, joy, excitement and cheer, a time of new beginnings and high expectations. I'm not talking about spring or Administrative Professionals Day (that was yesterday). I'm talking about the NFL Draft. Every year the draft continues to be a larger and larger spectacle, a prime-time NFL reality show, with high hopes, disappointments and an abundance of speculation. Who will they pick? Is he another Ryan Leaf? For any serious football fan, it is a chance to get a taste of what September may bring. Conversely, as Dan Patrick recently pointed out, on his nationally broadcast TV and radio show, if the NFL wanted to be efficient, they could easily have all seven rounds of the draft completed within a few hours online, instead of over the course of three days. But where is the pageantry in that?While this year's draft class is being billed by many experts as a class that lacks some of the flash and star power of years past, there is considered to be good depth in the later rounds and a wealth of storylines. The pageantry kicks off tonight at 6 with round one on both ESPN and NFL Network.
It is often said that the NFL is a quarterback-driven league. This year's quarterback class can most aptly be described as a riddle wrapped in an enigma smothered in secret sauce. There is no Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, but teams are still likely to reach for QBs in round 1. West Virginia's Geno Smith leads the pack. The agile skipper will likely be in the top 10, but some experts have questioned his consistency. He could be a good fit for former Oregon coach Chip Kelly's new system in Philadelphia, which would make Smith the potential successor to Michael Vick. The Eagles pick at No. 4. Others have speculated that Smith's stock could drop to late in the first round. USC's Matt Barkley and Ryan Nassib of Syracuse round out the top three QBs in the class. Considered a second-round talent, Nassib could potentially be selected by his former college head coach, Doug Marrone, who is now with the Buffalo Bills. The Bills pick at No. 8 would be a reach, but they may decide they do not want to take the chance that he will be gone by the time they pick again in the second round. They may also look to trade their early second-round pick with a team like Denver at 28 to get a second first-round pick. Once a clear first-round pick, Barkley's shoulder injury last year could see him drop out of the first round all together. One quarterback that could be rising up draft boards is 6 foot, 5 inch, 237 lbs. Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel, who has been compared to Ben Roethlisberger and Daunte Culpepper. Another intriguing storyline is what effect the story of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's fake cyber girlfriend may have on his draft stock.
As for the Broncos, Mark Kisla, from The Denver Post, wrote that he is predicting the Broncos will go for a cornerback when they pick at No. 28. To be fair, he also qualified the statement as a guess. Other experts are predicting the Broncos will be looking to replace Elvis Dumervil at defensive end. With aging running back Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno both coming off of injuries, running back could be a position of some concern, but maybe not until the later rounds. Either Alabama's Eddie Lacy or Wisconsin's Montee Ball could make a good McGahee replacement. But with Lance Ball and Ronnie Hillman still on the roster, running back may not be a high priority. Quarterback also seems to be a low priority, as apparently John Elway has plenty of faith in Brock Osweiler to backup Peyton Manning.