Woody Paige: Dominant Broncos’ performance against Chargers shows good draft could be great | Subscriber content


You young Broncos fanatics may remember the franchise’s 100th anniversary in 2060 and say to your grandchildren, “Listen to that old man. Our team have had some really good drafts over the years, but I’m here to say that none compare to this Broncos squad at the time. ”

I won’t be there then, so let me now list the names of the class of 2021:

Patrick Surtain II.

Javonte Williams.

Quinn Meinerz.

Baron Browning.

Caden Sterns.

Jonathan Cooper.

Most people thought George Paton had a good draft, but not a good draft, in his first year as general manager of the Broncos. It has been universally classified as a “B”, a “B-plus”.

Nonetheless, Paton has been criticized and even condemned for not choosing quarterback Justin Fields in the first round, but trading to get a questionable running back in the second round, selecting safe but not special back-to-back safeties. and grabbing an edge rusher in the seventh round that was hit with health / heart issues.

By George, the GM had a syrupy smile on Sunday night that you could pour over waffles.

Six of his top draft picks have become starters for these ’21 Broncos. Two are in the race for Defensive Rookie of the Year and Offensive Rookie of the Year.

If the draft score was redone after the dominant performance against the Chargers when all six rookies contributed significantly, the Broncos and Paton would receive an “A-plus” for this distinctive collection.

Think of it as an upgrade.

The 1975 draft by general manager-coach John Ralston was received with mixed responses as he bypassed the No.1 cornerback and picked a young man who seemed more fit to be an Olympic track star, a A running back who was considered too small for the NFL, a big middle guard and college quarterback Ralston were intent on turning into a defensive back.

Louis Wright, who was the Broncos ‘first-round pick 46 years ago, is a member of the Professional Football Hall of Fame, and he and receiver-returner Rick Upchurch are members of the Broncos’ elite. Steve Foley, a QB also run from Tulane in the eighth round, became a longtime starting cornerback for the Broncos, then the safety who set the team’s record for interceptions, and Rubin Carter was a solid starter on the defensive line that joined the other three in the franchise’s first Super Bowl two years later. Ralston had the 17 pick advantage.

John Elway’s first draft as executive vice president of football operations in 2011 will be remembered by Von Miller, who would be the Super Bowl 50 MVP and one day a Hall of Famer. Elway also found himself with six other players who would end up starting games for the Broncos.

The Broncos have had other respectable draft draws producing starters, Pro Bowlers and members of the Ring of Fame.

But the last draft, and the first with Paton in charge, yielded Denver Surtain, who found himself in the opposing end zones on Sunday with interceptions. He saved a touchdown with an interception, ran 70 yards with the other interception for a touchdown. He could become another Louis Wright. Williams could become the Broncos’ best running back pick since Terrell Davis, Sterns could be the Steve Atwater type; Cooper could end up being a great successor to Miller; Browning could become one of the best inside linebackers the Broncos have drafted in the past half-century, and Meinerz, in his jersey or jersey, is a fierce offensive lineman who has already played eight games and started two in his first year.

It’s been a season of uncertainty for the Broncos – due to serious injuries, COVID issues, and the roller coaster ride that looks like the Mind Eraser, Brain Drain, Sidewinder, and old wooden Twister 2 at the park. Elitch Gardens attractions within sight of @Mile Haut stadium. The Broncos open the season 3-0, then lose four games in a row, win in back-to-back games (including a blowout against the Cowboys in Texas), unleash a stink at home against the Eagles, and, in Game 11, decimate the rival of Chargeurs division.

Go figure it out.

If they somehow beat the Chiefs on Sunday night in Kansas City, the bizarre Broncos will be tied for first in the AFC West and a conference contender for the playoffs.

Surtain, Williams and the others grew up quickly. The pro game is not too big.

Anything can have an impact and be important to the Broncos for years to come.

Paton must find six more choices to join them in 2022.

And, finally, a quarterback also for the young people of the Broncos.


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