After what John Elway described as "a very productive meeting," Brian Xanders is out as the Denver Broncos' general manager. I was trying to picture what a productive meeting in which one person loses their job would actually look like. What I imagined was the scene from Office Space where the consultants, The Bobs, were interviewing the high-strung guy.
John Elway: "So you decide who we're going to take in the draft?"
Brian Xanders: "Well, no, you and John Fox do that. But then I tell Roger Goodell..."
Elway: "Do you make the free agent decisions?"
Xanders: "No, I mean, you were the one who got Peyton Manning here--"
Elway: "What would you say ... you do here?"
I can't say I'm necessarily surprised that Xanders is gone, in reading both his and Elway's post-draft remarks I got the feeling that Xanders was being kept out of the loop a little on personnel decisions. Elway spoke at length regarding the players drafted and the Broncos' strategy for trading picks they way they did. Xanders' comments can basically be summarized as, "The draft is when you pick players who weren't on your football team to play on your football team for the next season, which starts in September."
The Broncos won their first division title and playoff game in six years last year, so naturally that means it's time to swap out the quarterback and general manager. To be fair, Peyton Manning isn't available most offseasons. Listen, I love Tim Tebow's drive and those comeback wins last year were a lot of fun. But going from Tim Tebow to Peyton Manning is like going from the Little Engine That Could to, well, Peyton Manning.
It's not a move that isn't completely without risk: Manning is coming off a missed season due to neck surgery. John Fox said he talked with Manning when they were watching him work out and he asked, "Will you be 100% when the season starts?" Manning said absolutely, he would. Which is all well and good, but I kind of feel like Manning's doctor had the best opinion on that matter.
So the Broncos made their biggest offseason move even before the draft started. Speaking of the draft:
Remember that scene in Star Wars where Luke Skywalker and his uncle Owen meet the Jawas to see what droids they want to get? That scene is essentially what the NFL Draft is. The teams take a look at what's available and consider what needs they have to fill: "We need a linebacker who can play in a 3-4 defense" really isn't any different from when Uncle Owen said, "I need a droid that understands the binary language of moisture vaporators." Then they make their selection and tell the little guy who, for some reason, makes noises like a Chihuahua. (OK, the comparison isn't 100 percent accurate, but still.)
I would actually watch the NFL Draft if it took on this theme every year, with all of the draft eligible players brought in on a huge Jawa sandcrawler and all the GMs wore tunics like Luke's.
They wouldn't even have to always do the Star Wars theme. They could have a lot of fun with rotating different themes. Maybe one year they could do "Let's Make a Deal" where Roger Goodell would say "Alright Colts, you can take Andrew Luck, and he might be great. Or, in my pocket I have three crisp hundred dollar bills that you can have right now." Sure, a lot of people think Andrew Luck is the next great NFL quarterback, but $300 is $300.
One strange thing about the draft is all of the articles leading up to it. Several of these are counting down "The Ten Biggest Draft Busts of All Time" (Should've taken the $300) or conversely, the "Ten Best Undrafted Players of All Time." Look, I understand the need to fill column inches but when trying to build hype, it's a little odd to write articles where you basically say, "You know that thing we keep telling you is super duper important? Well here are some reasons why maybe it isn't so important after all."
Then at the end of the draft you see a bunch of articles passing out draft "grades." I know you need to sum up how each team did in filling their needs, but handing out grades after the draft is pretty much like your high school giving you a report card immediately after you registered for your classes.
And don't get me started on the fans that actually attend the draft. I have no idea what compels people to say, "I can't wait to be there to see who my team picks and watch him ... put on a hat."
Anyway, long story short, I don't pay a whole ton of attention to the NFL Draft. But enough people have asked me how I think the Broncos did, so let me give you a quick rundown of who the Broncos picked, and what their value to the team might be. Fair warning, I don't know a lot of anything:
Derek Wolfe, Defensive Tackle:
Pros: Excellent interior pass rusher who will take pressure off of the already strong pass rushers the Broncos have on the outside of the line.
Cons: May be a bit undersized to be a top-level run-stopper; doesn't understand the binary language of moisture vaporators.
Brock Osweiler, Quarterback:
Pros: Very good arm strength; has all the physical tools to be a top level NFL quarterback.
Cons: Mechanical flaws will take some work to correct; doesn't understand the binary language of moisture vaporators.
Ronnie Hillman, Running Back:
Pros: Very fast, excellent open field running capability.
Cons: Lacks the size necessary to be an effective interior runner; doesn't understand the binary language of moisture vaporators.
Omar Bolden, Cornerback:
Pros: Superb cover corner; has the ability to be a shutdown corner.
Cons: Coming off of a serious knee injury; thinks the moisture vaporators joke is pretty well run into the ground by now.
Philip Blake, Offensive Lineman:
Pros: Thinks Omar Bolden is wrong, and that the moisture vaporators joke is still going strong.
Cons: I really can't think of any.
Malik Jackson, Defensive Lineman:
Pros: Has the design plans of a lethal space station stored in his memory.
Cons: Hardheaded; prone to wandering off.
Danny Trevathan, Linebacker:
Pros: Understands the binary language of moisture vaporators.
Cons: Is so stinking pompous about it that no one wants to listen to him.
Derek Wolfe was the first player the Broncos picked. However, they had traded away their first round pick for more picks later. Whenever a team trades down in the draft I wonder if it makes for an awkward first meeting.
Elway: "Hey Derek, great to meet you. We're so excited to have you join our team!"
Derek Wolfe: "Well if you were really so excited why did you trade out of the first round before picking me?"
Elway: "Hey, have you met Peyton Manning yet?"
One last change of note the Broncos made this offseason: Each player will receive an iPad in which the entire playbook is stored. Which sounds pretty cool. It will also mean that most of the offensive formations will look like various levels of Angry Birds.
I think that was the impetus behind the Broncos signing Peyton Manning and trading Tim Tebow. Elway was studying the playbook and said, "You know, Tebow is like the red bird. He just goes straight at the pigs and can't do anything else. Sure, sometimes you get the perfect shot with him and you get lucky, but most of the time he just knocks into things and falls over. Peyton Manning is like every other bird. Sometimes his passes go really fast. Sometimes they split into three smaller balls and all the receivers catch them. And sometimes his passes explode and blow up all the pigs."
Then Xanders came in and said, "Everything alright, John?"
Elway said "Yeah, everything's great. We still on for that meeting the week after the draft? It will be very productive."
So how would I rate the Broncos offseason? I give it a 1. Which doesn't sound like much, but in the binary language of moisture vaporators, it's actually really good.