ENGLEWEOOD — John Elway stepped to the podium Tuesday and began what he called "the most irrelevant press conference of the year." Pre-draft media sessions, affectionately called Liar's Lunch in Sports Illustrated, remain an exercise in mobility.
Reporters fired off questions, and Elway darted and dodged, and said a lot without saying anything. It makes no sense to reveal a team's plans in these events — as much I would love a revelation. Everyone is watching. And by everyone I mean all 31 other teams who are building their draft boards and preparing for their mock sessions prior to Thursday's first round, which begins at 6 p.m. on Thursday and will be broadcast on Denver7 and ABC.
Elway provided a memorable moment as he typically does. It involved his opinion of Joe Flacco, the team's fifth starting starting quarterback since Peyton Manning retired. Flacco made it clear last week he preferred the Broncos not take a quarterback with the 10th overall pick. Why? “I believe I am guy,” Flacco said.
Elway appreciated the response, saying, “I like that.” He experienced something similar in 1992 when the Broncos selected Tommy Maddox when Tennessee receiver Carl Pickens was on the board.
“I was at the baggage claim at D.I.A., we needed a wideout. I thought, ‘Pickens must be gone.' He didn’t go until the 2nd round!" Asked if he was mad, he said, “Yeah … how’d that work out!”
It didn’t. Maddox had a life as an NFL starter, but not in Denver. That moment aside, Elway allowed little in his thinking about this year’s quarterbacks. He acknowledged that they have looked at next year’s class when assessing this year, but wouldn’t provide any hints about taking Missouri’s Drew Lock (the idea of moving up into the late first round to get him is one possible scenario) and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins.
Remember, the Broncos acquired Flacco for a reason.
“Joe’s 34 years old. We made that move because we thought he had a chance to fit what we do offensively,” Elway said. “At 34 years old, that’s young at that position.” In general terms, Elway added, “I would like to see us have some consistency in what we are doing offensively. That's more important than who we put in there.”
Let’s assume the Broncos don’t take a quarterback at 10. Where do they go? There remains strong buzz that the Broncos will take Michigan inside linebacker Devin Bush. Elway was asked about Bush and declined to go into it, declining to talk about specific players. Elway admitted that coach Vic Fangio’s expertise will play a role in the defensive players they select. And Fangio knows Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, whom he worked for in San Francisco. The wildcard remains LSU linebacker Devin White. If he’s available at 10, it would not be a surprise if the Broncos take him over Bush.
Elway addressed a number of subjects. Here are the bullet points:
--He has yet to address the Chris Harris Jr. extension talks because doesn’t have time until after the draft. He said would revisit the situation, but made no guarantees about getting a deal done. He added that he “hasn’t thought” about trading Harris. He indicated that he has no problem with Harris, a star cornerback, missing voluntary workouts as he angles for a new contract.
--The strategy of picking captains and three and four-year starters paid off in last year’s draft. The Broncos will look, in part, to continue this trend because those players came in “ready to contribute” and should form the leadership core of the locker room moving forward.
--Adding offensive line help is a priority. And new coach Mike Munchak’s insight will influence the type of linemen they look at in the draft. “We’ll be looking to do something there.” One player to keep an eye on, based on sources, is local kid Dalton Risner. If he falls to the second round, he could be a fit because he can play all five line positions, and shows the type of versatility that Munchak has coached to excellence in the past.
--There is a need to add a receiver or two. Elway, however, told me he believes veteran Emmanuel Sanders is on the right track in his recovery from Achilles surgery. “Emmanuel says he feels good. If there’s anyone who can come back, it’s him,” Elway said. “But we are looking to find some gems there (in the draft).”