Broncos 2016 draft wrap-up: Needs addressed

Posted at 8:32 PM, Apr 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-30 23:37:52-04

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — John Elway leaned against a wall outside the team meeting room adorned with images from the Denver Broncos' Super Bowl season and declared, "The plan is to keep picking at the bottom of the round — and there is no Plan B!"

That last part was a playful nod to Peyton Manning's arrival in 2012 when Denver's general manager explained he had no fallback plan at quarterback.

For much of the last four years, he didn't need one.

Then, Brock Osweiler's exit in free agency 48 hours after Manning's retirement two months ago left Elway scrambling like he did when he guided the Broncos' fortunes from the line of scrimmage and not the front office.

Elway took some vicious hits, too, as the team's fan base and media corps dissected and debated his prolonged search for Manning's long-term successor.

Elway's patience paid off as he emerged from draft weekend with his presumed long-term answer in Paxton Lynch, a restocked roster and the financial flexibility to re-sign stars Von Miller, Emmanuel Sanders and Brandon Marshall in the months ahead.

"Those three are the ones," he'd love to ink to long-term deals, starting with Miller, the Super Bowl MVP, Elway said at the end of what he deemed was a terrific draft weekend for the Broncos.

Beginning with Osweiler's high price tag, Elway steadfastly refused to overpay for a quarterback, passing on the high demands of the 49ers for Colin Kaepernick and the Eagles for Sam Bradford.

Instead, he grabbed Manning's heir in the draft in Lynch, the mobile Memphis quarterback who's the crown jewel of a 2016 class loaded with promise and projects.

With a big frame and strong arm, Lynch is tailor-made for Gary Kubiak's offense, but he could use some seasoning and Elway has been saying all spring he'd be fine going with Mark Sanchez under center when the Broncos begin defense of their title against Carolina on Sept. 8.

"Because he's been in playoffs, he's been in championship games," Elway said. "He's proven he can do that. He hasn't done it in a while. I don't know that he's ever been in a great offensive system that takes advantage of what he can do. And I can't tell you I've gone and studied him when he was with the Jets. I know with the Eagles last year ... he played OK when he did play. He made a couple of mistakes.

"So, I think sometimes you get quarterbacks in the right situations, you get the right people around him, then you have a chance to take advantage of what they can do."

Elway doesn't plan on bringing in another veteran quarterback anytime soon because the Broncos need Sanchez, Lynch and Trevor Siemian to get plenty of snaps.

So, Sanchez continues to inch closer to being a full-time starter for the first time since 2012.

At $5 million this season, he's also a big bargain.

So is Lynch, who will get slightly more than $9 million over four years — less than the $11.9 million Kaepernick is slated to earn in 2016 alone and about half of what Bradford's salary calls for this upcoming season.

Osweiler's deal with the Texans was for $72 million over four years with a whopping $37 million guaranteed for a player who's started just seven more games in the NFL than Lynch has.

Elway also reloaded his dominant defense on Day 2. He replaced lineman Malik Jackson with athletic Australian Adam Gotsis of Georgia Tech in Round 2. Then, he filled the void left by David Bruton Jr.'s exit with Boston College safety Justin Simmons.

On Saturday, Elway was back on the offensive, selecting Utah running back Devonte Booker in the fourth round, Missouri guard Connor McGovern in the fifth and Nebraska fullback/special teamer Andy Janovich with his first of two sixth-round picks.

He wrapped it up by selecting Arizona safety Will Parks in the sixth round and Syracuse punter Riley Dixon in the seventh. Dixon's selection could be bad news for eight-year pro Britton Colquitt, who carries a $4 million cap hit and $3.25 million salary for next season. The Broncos also signed punter Will Johnson over the winter.

Notes: With a price tag of $6.75 million for 2017, it's unlikely the Broncos will exercise their fifth-year option on NT Sylvester Williams by Sunday's deadline.


AP NFL website: and