The NFL Draft is filled with side stories and human interest pieces and now that it is in the books, I thought I’d share something interesting about the Denver Broncos. The first goal of the draft is to bring in talent that will help the team win football games, but John Elway has also stressed combining talent with good guys.
There’s no way to completely avoid some of the issues that are bound to creep up when you are dealing with a regular season roster of 53, but the Broncos do whatever they can to bring in players who are as good off the field as they are on it.
The story I heard over the weekend was about one of the tools they use to get an idea of a potential player’s character. They rely on their staff. Not their football staff, their support staff.
When a player like first-round pick Sylvester Williams came in for his pre-draft visit, the Broncos put him through the car wash, so to speak. Williams was picked up at the airport by a driver sent by the Broncos and when he arrived at Dove Valley, Williams met everyone from the people at the front desk to secretaries, to the equipment staff.
For all we know, Williams even met the people who take care of the field.
The Broncos obviously want Williams to know these people so there’s a level of comfort if the Broncos did draft him, but there’s a more important reason. The Broncos want to know how Williams, or any other player they bring in, will treat everyone in the organization.
After Williams left, Elway and the rest of the football staff talk to all of the people that he interacted with to get a better idea of what kind of person Williams is off the field. The thinking is that if Williams treats a secretary with respect, then chances are decent that they are getting a good person in addition to a good player.
Someone asked me during the draft if I thought the Broncos had an interest in Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu was probably the most talented cornerback in the draft, but wasn’t selected until the third-round because of numerous off the field issues.
My answer was no, and my reasoning was simple — Elway will not draft players that he knows have already been in trouble one way or the other. There’s no way to guarantee that a player the Broncos draft or sign via free agency won’t run into trouble after arriving in Denver, but Elway will not knowingly bring in a guy that has character questions.
I’m sure most teams do something like this, and while some teams like the Arizona Cardinals are willing to take chances on a talent like Mathieu, but the Broncos value the person as much as the player.
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