DENVER – The Broncos should get out of the first round.
As “Broadway Joe” Namath famously told a disillusioned teammate when the legendary quarterback-bachelor was leaving a New York bar with a rather unremarkable companion, “Eddie, it’s 3 a.m., and Miss America ain’t walking in.”
At the 20th spot in the NFL draft, Christian McCaffrey or “The Most Interesting Man in the Football World” will not be available to the Broncos.
So they ought to trade the pick.
Broncos Boss John Elway, in his annual pre-draft media conference Monday, did not reveal his intentions. He did disclose that the Broncos would listen to “all the options of going up and going back” in the draft. He acknowledged that both offensive and defensive line areas “are weaker than in the past” and cited the positions of cornerback, tight end and wide receiver as plentiful and strong.
In regard to dropping lower in the draft, Elway emphasized that “finding a trade partner” eager to move up is critical. “Everybody’s talking,” he said, and the situation won’t be clear until and through draft day.
But, for the Broncos . . .
“It’s 9 p.m., and Mr. America is not walking in.’’
(That’s approximately when the Broncos would be on the clock. The draft begins at 6 p.m. – Denver time – and each team has 10 minutes to make a decision.)
A couple of months ago it seemed that McCaffrey, the prized hometown Swiss Army Knife, would be obtainable at No. 20. But, because of his performance at the NFL combine and the Stanford Pro Day, McCaffrey definitely will go higher – possibly to the Panthers at No. 8 and certainly to one of three teams in the teens (Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Washington).
The Broncos would love to grab a potential All-Pro left tackle (a Ryan Clady before his injuries), but the three likely first-round choices – Cam Robinson, Garett Bolles and Ryan Ramczyk – are not The Man. Having talked to Bolles in a lengthy interview, I love him and his story and his future upside. But he would be a suspect immediate starter, and Bolles is not the sexy selection. Robinson is pro-ready coming from Alabama, but he probably will be a guard or a right tackle. And Ramczyk had surgery and could be a liability in 2017.
Elway, somewhat surprisingly, praised Ty Sambraillo, who was drafted in the second round in 2015. Elway twice mentioned that Sambraillo had been the starter at left tackle as a rookie until being injured, and that he could be the No. 1 candidate again this year (after failing as a right tackle last season).
The well-respected Gil Brandt, the former Draft King of the Cowboys, says this is the worst group of offensive linemen he’s scouted in a quarter century. So, why force the pick in a desperate move?
Unless four quarterbacks are picked in the first 19, the Broncos will be just out of reach for an exceptional offensive player – or maybe even a starting defensive player.
In his previous six drafts Elway has traded up in the first round, and he has traded down to the second round.
The Broncos have 10 picks (because of trades and compensatory additions).
Why not lucky 13? The more the merrier, and the more the prospect of getting the likes of Nate Irving (a No. 3), Julius Thomas (4), Malik Jackson (5), Danny Trevathan (6) and Trevor Siemian (7).
Starting center Matt Paradis was selected in the sixth round, and Derek Wolfe was a second-round pick.
Two of the viable teams the Broncos could deal with are the 49ers and the Rams.
The San Francisco general manager, John Lynch, was mentored by Elway, and personnel director Adam Peters previously worked for Elway as the director of college scouting.
The 49ers have one pick in the first round – the second overall – but could use another high choice to help the team’s reputation and rebuilding with new coach Kyle Shanahan.
The other “trade partner” could be the Rams, who don’t possess a first-round pick after trading for the No. 1 choice last year (Jared Goff).
The draft player evaluation chart suggests the No. 20 pick is worth 850 points.
If the Broncos gave up their first-round pick, they would have to receive the 49ers’ second-round selection (560 points), third (260) and sixth (32). From the Rams, they would acquire a second (530), third (245) and fourth (70).
With the 49ers deal, they would have no-first round choices, two in the second round (including the second), three in the third, one fourth, one fifth, two sixth and the three sevenths. The difference with a Rams trade would give the Broncos the fifth pick in the second round and two fourth-rounders.
The Broncos could end up with a haul of players by trading out of the first round.