Denver Broncos: 2012 Draft Grades
Denver Broncos: 2012 Draft Grades
When John Elway took over the Denver Broncos in January of 2011, he talked about a lot of things that had to get better if they were going to be contenders. One of the main things he talked about was doing a much better job in the draft. In the years before Elway took over as the Vice-President of Football Operations, the Broncos were always going for the quick fix through free agency.
At the time of those signings, it was exciting and it gave fans immediate hope but in the end it set the franchise back years. The fans of the Broncos will always be indebted to Mike Shanahan for the two Super Bowl Titles but in the end, he was a victim of his own success. He took short cuts in an effort to prove he could win without Elway at quarterback. Shanahan signed so many free agents that were either past their prime, had questionable character or both. A lot of those free agents were signed to big bonuses that put the Broncos way over the salary cap, and that led to Shanahan’s demise. The salary cap in now under control thanks to Elway, and the focus is now on the draft.
With all of that said and the 2012 season in the books, it is time to grade the 2012 draft class. Overall it was an above average class with plenty of room for growth. Most of the class contributed in one way or another, and all of them should be a part of the nucleus for years to come. Here’s a look back at their first season. The grade is based on their performance in relation to where they were drafted.
Derak Wolfe: A-
The Broncos got everything out of Derek Wolfe that they could have wanted and more. Wolfe started every game at defensive end and played multiple positions on the defensive line. He provided a push up the middle on passing downs and ended the season with six sacks. That sack number should increase in his second season. Don’t be surprised if the Broncos move Wolfe to defensive tackle, his natural position, in an effort to improve the interior pass rush. Wolfe will be a mainstay on the defensive line for many seasons.
Ronnie Hillman: C
Before the playoff game versus the Baltimore Ravens, Ronnie Hillman probably would have received a D but he showed the flashes that everyone has been waiting for in that game. Up until that point, Hillman had been a bit of a disappointment. His inability to pick up the blitz kept him off of the field in many situations and the game often looked too big for him. However after Knowshon Moreno left the Ravens game injured, Hillman stepped in and did admirable job. It is also important to remember that Hillman was the youngest player in the league last season, and will get better. His potential is limitless and the Broncos have big plans for him.
Brock Osweiler: Incomplete
Brock Osweiler did not play any meaningful snaps in the regular season, but both Elway and the coaching staff are happy with his development. Osweiler will get a lot of time in the preseason.
Omar Bolden: C+
The casual fan may not have noticed but Omar Bolden had a good rookie season, especially on special teams. The cornerback played some on defense but was one of the best players on all of the special team units. He was often the first player in on the tackle and was relentless. The Broncos love Bolden’s potential as a cornerback and his prowess on special teams is a huge bonus.
Phillip Blake: Incomplete
Phillip Blake spent the season on injured reserve. The Broncos are hoping his return will add depth to the interior of the offensive line. Blake will have to pick it up in training camp; the coaches were a little disappointed with what they saw.
Danny Trevathan: B
Maybe the two most impressive draft picks were the last two, with linebacker Danny Trevathan being one of them. The linebacker out of Kentucky played a ton of defensive snaps and got better as the season progressed. Trevathan is the primary reason why DJ Williams got limited playing time after returning from his suspension, the coaches could not get Trevathan off of the field. Expect Trevathan the compete for even more playing time in 2013, and he will be a starter at some point in the next two seasons.
Malik Jackson: B
Malik Jackson worked his way up from late round draft pick to being a part of the regular rotation on the defensive line. Jackson’s stats do not tell the story; the Broncos could play him and not worry about a drop off. That kept everyone on the line fresh and they were a big reason for the Broncos success on defense. Jackson, like Trevathan, is only going to improve and will be a part of the defensive line rotation.
It is true that none of the draft picks are going to blow anyone away but not everyone has to be a star. Great teams are built with two or three stars and a lot of very good players. The 2012 draft provided the Broncos with some of those very good players.
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