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When the Denver Broncos selected Von Miller with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the team knew a dynamic, explosive talent was joining their team. The Texas A&M product racked up 27.5 sacks in his last two seasons with the Aggies and steadily rose in the draft during the offseason, becoming the Broncos main target by February.
How exactly Miller will fit in with the defense head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Dennis Allen implement remains the looking question. But he'll likely be a force in whatever role(s) he plays. According to some projections done by Football Outsiders that were done based on SackSEER (for more on SackSEER click here), Miller should be the top pass rusher from the 2011 draft. It projects 36.4 sacks for Miller through the first five years of his career. Noting that Miller always finds a way to stay involved in the play, Doug Farrar goes on to write:
Miller reminded me of Clay Matthews on tape because he could use his quickness to loop inside to slip through gaps, just as Matthews did for Pete Carroll at USC in 2009.
Matthews emerged in 2010 as a force to be feared with his 13.5 sacks, building on the 10 he had in 2009. Will Miller have that kind of impact in his first two years?
Coming in second is a player the Broncos will need to defend against twice: the Kansas City Chiefs' Justin Houston. Houston was a third-round pick this year and how he'll play with Tamba Hali will likely define his success.
Real Clear Sports is always great at compiling information from around the sports world, and they've done it again with 2011 NFL Draft grades. They took eight of the more popular mock drafts out there (Mel Kiper, CBS Sports, SI, Sporting News, etc.) and averaged them together for one final score.
The Detroit Lions had the highest average GPA with a 3.68, not having any grade lower than a 'B+". The Carolina Panthers and the Seattle Seahawks had the worst grades, 2.06 and 2.05, respectively. Even as lows as those grades are, grades in the 'B' range can be found.
The Broncos received a 2.88 GPA, so somewhere between a 'B-' and a 'B'. The highest, an 'A', came from Sports Illustrated, which believes the Broncos filled all their glaring holes. Overall, the Broncos finished first in the AFC West, ahead of the Chargers (2.79), the Chiefs (2.71) and the Raiders (2.36).
Now if these guys can just get on the field soon to prove or disprove these grades.
As we make some final rounds around 2011 NFL Draft grades, SB Nation has its own out. Breaking down the AFC West, Brian Galliford gives the Denver Broncos a 'B-' for their efforts last week. Galliford likes the Von Miller pick, but wonders about the pass-rusher's transition to a 4-3 defense. Here's his bottom line:
It's tough to get overly excited, however, knowing that the Broncos have a dearth of talent at defensive tackle, one of the deepest positions of this draft class.
That's going to be the question that surrounds this draft class for some time: did John Elway, John Fox and Brian Xanders make the correct decision in not taking a defensive tackle at any point in the draft? The triumvirate is certainly showing a ton of confidence in Kevin Vickerson, as well hoping for a good find on the free agent market.
Elsewhere, Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post gave the Broncos a 'B' for sticking with defense and not making reaches. That was the best grade out of the AFC West teams, as the Chiefs had a 'C-' for taking questionable character guys, the Raiders a 'C' for having no first-round pick and the Chargers a 'B-' after reaching on Jonas Mouton is the second round.
SI.com's Kerry J. Byrne has given perhaps the highest praise for the Denver Broncos draft:
John Elway's first draft has the potential to be a great one that addressed all the team's most glaring needs. Grade: A
Except for defensive tackle. I'm not sure what blinders Byrne has on, but the team's most glaring need really was on the defensive tackle, at tackle, specifically.
Questionable move: Passing on Marcell Dareus to take Von Miller is questionable with their big hole inside on their defense.
But talent is talent, no matter how you look at. Dareus was considered a safe pick, but Miller could be the type of player who can change the entire tempo of a defense. He seems to be a big fan of Rahim Moore because he has the range to help against the passing game. Overall, he gives the draft a 'B-' and likes John Elway's draft.
It's becoming clear that most evaluations on this draft class (without any player having been on an NFL field for a down) are coming in with solid, but not spectacular grades. The Chargers receive a 'B+' for draft picks that were used "wisely." Time will tell, or something. . . .
The Denver Broncos have won the AFC West--at least on first glance in the 2011 NFL Draft, according to CBS Sports' Rob Rang. Actually, the Broncos and the Chargers both received a 'B-' grade, but Rang seems a bit higher on the Broncos.
Rang knocks the Broncos' down for not addressing their needs at defensive tackle:
Had the Denver Broncos not been lacking defensive tackles on their roster and their draft class, their efforts over the three days of the 2011 Draft would rank higher.
But he finds that the team's first three picks were all of great value and will likely provide immediate help. He also believes fourth-round pick Julius Thomas could be an interesting player to watch, given his basketball background.
Rang likes the Chargers' selection of Corey Liuget and finds that most of the other players are good fits for the team's scheme, though not necessarily the best value for where they were drafted. The Raiders received a 'C+' for taking a legacy pick and drafting speed, as usual. The Chiefs take the low spot with a 'C-' after selecting two questionable character guys in Jon Baldwin and Justin Houston, but the later-round selections will make this look better a few years down the line.
The New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens each drafted a Colorado Buffaloes player in the first round, Nos. 17 and 27, respectively. Mel Kiper loved both picks in his 2011 NFL Draft grades, but was not enthused overall with one of those teams' drafts.
At No. 17, the Patriots selected offensive tackle Nate Solder and sees him as an immediate starter to protect Tom Brady's blind side. But he gives the Patriots a 'C+' overall, but notes that the team is loaded with picks in 2012 (provided there is a 2012 draft).
The Ravens took cornerback Jimmy Smith 10 picks later to fill a major need in their secondary. That was a great value selection and then the team drafted a few receivers. Overall Kiper graded the class a 'B+', right above the Broncos' 'B'.
The Denver Broncos continue to receive good reviews for their 2011 NFL Draft class. When picking No. 2 overall, any team is going to receive a boost in their grade, because they will have one of the top overall players. And Von Miller was exactly that for the Broncos. A dynamic pass-rusher, he alone can make this draft a winner in the long-term.
Here's what the Sporting News had to say about the Broncos' draft:
Broncos: B +
That covers the team's first three selections, but that leaves one to wonder what is thought of their later picks. Either way it is a solid grade.
Five teams received an 'A-' or above, the Lions and the Patriots both receiving an 'A+'. Among the other AFC West teams, the Chiefs received a 'B-' while the Chargers had a 'C+'. There's some doubt over how successful the Chargers' other picks after Corey Liuget will pan out.
The Raiders receive a 'D', a grade given out to three other teams. The Sporting News sees the first three picks as reaches, but hopes the speed will help out in some way.
Mel Kiper Jr. has released (Insider required) his 2011 NFL Draft grades and the Denver Broncos received high marks for their nine selections. Denver is in Kiper's third-level with a 'B' grade. No team received an 'B," but the Detroit Lions and the Cincinnati Bengals each received an 'A-' for finding value throughout the draft. The San Diego Chargers are in the second tier with a 'B+' because they selected players who should play immediately. However, he is down on the Jonas Mouton selection in the third round.
Why does Kiper give the Broncos a 'B'? He sees the addition of Von Miller as a no-brainer because he can be the defensive rookie of the year; Rahim Moore, the first safety off the board, was great value; and Nate Irving "could be a steal." However, he does have concerns over the lack of defensive line help. So Kiper gives a 'C+" for addressing team needs, but a "B+" for getting value.
How well do the AFC West teams stack up with their respective draft classes just a day after the 2011 NFL Draft ended? Dan Kadar of Mocking the Draft is already out with his winners and losers in this year's draft. Where do the four teams fall?
Kadar has the Kansas City Chiefs as the only clear winner among the AFC West teams. He believes, "The Chiefs did a good job filling needs with high upside." However, he also points out that four of their draft picks have work ethic questions surrounding them. High-risk, high-reward, but will it pay off?
In the losers category, he puts both the Chargers and the Raiders. While the Corey Liuget selection was a good one, Kadar finds that "the Chargers had plenty of picks that were odd reaches." As for the Raiders, they went with more speed and a few offensive linemen.
So apparently that leaves the Broncos somewhere in between. As more NFL Draft grades are released, we'll see plenty of praise for the Broncos' selection of Von Miller, but also questions on why the team didn't take any defensive tackles.
The NFL is a win-now league, so with the 2011 NFL Draft entering its last day everyone wants to figure out how right now these players fit in with the team and how well a team did at helping itself out. But then there's always that voice that says, "Wait, wait, wait. We can't really judge a draft class for another year or two or three from now." There isn't enough historical perspective for people to take because too often those "lessons of history" are poorly understood.
But how do the Broncos' Day 2 picks look right now? Well, safety Rahim Moore helps secure an aging secondary. He'll receive tutelage from Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins, two of his favorite defensive backs. The selection of Orlando Franklin might make some scratch their heads, but Franklin, who considers himself the "nasty" offensive lineman in the draft, will play right tackle for the team, indicating that Ryan Harris is as good as gone. In the third round, the teams took linebacker Nate Irving. He's a good bet to play in the middle of Von Miller (strong side) and D.J. Williams (weak side). But that is the optimistic approach.
Others will look at the draft picks so far and say, "Well, Miller is a great pick up, but they didn't draft a defensive tackle." That's a good point, but it would appear that the Broncos actually stuck with their "best player available" mantra and decided not to reach for one. Free agency will be where the team improves in that area.
But if one does want a draft grade so far: B/B+. I would have preferred a "reach" or "risk" pick, but it's a solid effort by John Fox so far.
The Colorado Buffaloes had two first-round selections in the 2011 NFL Draft on Thursday evening. Offensive tackle Nate Solder went the to the New England Patriots with the 17th overall pick, while cornerback Jimmy Smith went 27th overall to the Baltimore Ravens. Both went in the general area they were expected to go.
According to SB Nation's 2011 NFL Draft Grades by Brian Galliford, both the Patriots and the Ravens made great pickups in the first round. The Patriots received an "A-minus" for getting a tackle who could potentially be the best one a few years down the line. Though, that grade also comes from trading out of their second first-round pick to acquire a second-round pick in 2011 and a 2012 first-rounder from the Saints. Solder will be protecting Tom Brady's blindside in no time.
The Ravens received a "B-plus" for selecting Smith, who had some talent evaluators calling him the best corner in the draft. But character concerns dropped him a bit. But the Ravens are in need of a top-flight cornerback and Smith has the potential to be one.
Jalil Brown figures to be the next Buffalo off the board.
Round 1 of the NFL Draft finished late on Thursday night, but there are six more rounds over Friday and Saturday before we can start giving out extremely reactionary grades to the 2011 draft classes. But how did the Broncos do with their one selection in the first round?
The Broncos selected Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller with the No. 2 overall pick. John Elway, John Fox and Brian Xanders could have gone a number of routes including defensive tackle (Marcell Dareus) or cornerback (Patrick Peterson), but they went with a dynamic playmaker who found his way to the quarterback 27.5 times for a sack.
Woody Paige of the Denver Post isn't a huge fan, but his fellow writer Mark Kiszla is enthused over the selection. I'll side with SB Nation's Brian Galliford who gave the pick a "B-plus" in his 2011 NFL Draft Grades. It's a slight knockdown because he doesn't have a clearly-defined position in the defense, but it's hard to dent the talent.
But I'll wait three years before making any real grades on this draft.
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