View Full Version : Shanahan's Strategy nets us...

12-02-2005, 01:48 PM
As we hope for the best for the Broncos with the upcoming draft and speculate about how they will answer their needs, we can't just look at talent and need, or even value among prospects because Shanahan, like any coach, but probably more than most coaches has his very own, and very original drafting strategy.

For instance, I believe strongly that Shanny absolutely will look to upgrade the passing game early in the draft. The question has been raised, should we go TE since Jeb has not turned into a gamebreaker, yet?

This is very tempting for a couple reasons, one, between Vernon Davis, Marcedes Lewis and Leonard Pope there are some enticing options at the position. Plus the fact that Shanny has a good relationship with Karl Dorrell of UCLA, and may have an inside track on the true potential of Marcedes Lewis, something to watch.

But, not only does Denver have the obvious like Putz and Alexander at TE, they have also used a roster spot this year just to keep Wesley Duke around, showing that they clearly believe in his potential.

This proves towards some of Shanny's strategy. While many teams will simply draft on value, with need playing a role, Shanny weights his value board heavily not based on need as most do, but on position.

Shanahan for the most part likes to grab a few positions late, as he sees that he can maximize those spots better, like, RB obviously, O-line very often except for Foster. Just look at Nalen, Lepsis, Hamilton, Myers, etc. He also looks for TE's late rather than early. He knows Shannon Sharpe, not by his selection however, came out late round, Putz was a 6th rounder, Byron Chamberlain was later on, and Wesley Duke was undrafted.

However, if you look at WR, it is much more likely to Shanahan make this selection in the first round. In the first round he has drafted Marcus Nash, Ashley Lelie, tried desperately two years ago to land Michael Clayton, last year Matt Jones and Mark Clayton topped his first round list for their draft range.

The conclusion I'm coming to, is that we can look at these patterns of positional value at different stages in the draft that Shanny has and get a much better read on where he will look with the picks, barring that is a total GEM falling in his lap where they should not, i.e. Clinton Portis at pick 51.


Shanny's patterns tend to show that there are a couple positions he will most likely go for in round 1. WR, LB, CB. Of those, LB and CB are not concerns at all for the first round of this draft. And it brings about the likelihood that Shanahan will probably not draft a TE, but WILL take a WR with one of his first two picks.

With the other first rounder, there is a lot more question seeing as both Shanahan's more likely early round positional targets are not early needs. It will probably come down to one thing, where their FA money goes. If Denver keeps Matt Lepsis and Tom Nalen around, look for them to sacrifice d-lineman (Pryce, Brown) to FA and draft for d-line. If Shanny tries to keep the d-line, mostly intact, and sacrifices Lepsis and possibly Nalen, we will probably see him go all offensive and take someone like Eric Winston or Joe Thomas.

So as of now, I'd BET WR with the early pick, probably Santonio Holmes,even though the talent and value doesn't seem to merit it. And I'd expect the late round pick to be spent on Joe Thomas. The only problem with this is, Holmes is the only WR projected top 20 for most, and he does not fit Shanahan's prototype WR. But, the league is changing in that regard, just as Steve Smith and Santana Moss.

But, as of now, I'd WANT DE with the early pick, and a WR with the late pick. My preference now would be to end up with Elvis Dumervil and Chad Jackson.

Mat'hir Uth Gan
12-02-2005, 03:08 PM
Solid logic, but lets take it further.

In terms of a WR, it pretty evident that Lelie is a career #2 type WR, but a solid one. This shows with Shanahan trying to target slower, possession types such as Mark Clayton, Mike Clayton, and Darius Watts as well as picking up David Terrell.

Well, this draft has a fair amount of slower possession types led by Jason Avant, Hank Baskett, Derek Hagan, Maurice Stovall, and Martin Nance (who is the one I like).

And Nance, Baskett, and Stovall are all 6'4" + which suggests red zone targets, which is probably why Matt Jones was appealing last draft.

So, there are our guys Shanahan probably has targeted: Baskett, Nance, and Stovall.

Nance may get passed by due to a bad taste left by the last small school WR drafted, Darius Watts. That would leave Baskett and Stovall as first round options, which I think sounds about right.

My personal philosophy is never ever never ever never draft a WR on the first day of the draft, simply focus on that position in FA with proven talent, such as Reggie Wayne, David Givens, Joey Galloway, or even you know who.

So, I won't be too thrilled with us taking a WR in round 1, but I think its about a 75% probability unless a FA happens that Shanahan goes for a WR.

12-02-2005, 03:41 PM
You raise good points about Shanahan's history of drafting certain positions late...TE's, OL's, RB's etc.

However, I don't see Nalen nor Lepsis going anywhere next year. Nalen is playing lights-out right now. Lepsis is playing possibly beyond what anyone expected him to (including yours truly). But one thing you forgot to mention is that while we did take Foster in the first round, we didn't play him at all the first year. So, in essence we groom our OL for a year, so drafting a tackle now would be to conceivably take over for Lepsis/Nalen in 2007. Most expect Hamilton to take over for Nalen if/when he retires in 2007-08, so we would actually need a guard, not a center. I would bet that Chris Myers is the person to fill that role, unless he's doing poorly.

I doubt we will put Myers in as a tackle, and I don't think Big George moves over to the left side. Therefore, we need to invest in a LT. This draft is deeper at LT than probably any for the next 5 years. With the talent that is available, and two first round picks, I would not be surprised for Shanahan to pull the trigger on a LT with one of the first two picks, in the same manner he did with Foster. But again, Shanahan has to feel like whoever is on the board is a good bet to do very well in the NFL, AND fit into the Broncos lineman prototype.

All of our starting linemen are between 6'3" and 6'5" tall. Green is the only one on the roster any taller than that at 6'6," and is just a backup. Also, all of our starters are between 286 pounds and 300 pounds, except for George Foster who tips the scales at 338 lbs (which is exactly why he won't be moving over to the left side).

Of the prospects at OT in this draft, here are the ones that fit that general description (in a general order of "ranking):

D'Brickashaw Ferguson................6'5" 296
Joe Thomas..................................6'4" 295
Daryn Colledge............................ 6'5" 296
Rob Warren..................................6'5" 300
Josh House...................................6'5" 295
E.J. Whitley...................................6'5" 295
Chris McGee..................................6'4" 295
Darrin Johnson..............................6'5" 290

Now, obviously guys can lean up a bit, too, so weight can be worked with. Also, maybe an inch isn't going to be that big of a difference, especially if the guy is really gifted, so here are the "close" ones in terms of stature:

Eric Winston...................................6'6" 310
Winston Justice..............................6'6" 300
Joe Toledo......................................6'6" 310
Travis Leffew..................................6'4" 305
Mark LeVoir.....................................6'6" 310
Jimmy Martin...................................6'5" 305
Jeromey Clary.................................6'6" 300
Na'Shon Goddard ...........................6'5" 305

Based on the above factors, I'd say that Denver's OT selection is probably 65% sure to be in the first list, and 95% sure that he's in either first or second.

Who knows, maybe they will go with some freakishly big guy, but with Foster already on the line, I really doubt it.

I agree with you that we need to spend the first pick on a DE. However, I don't think that with the OT and TE talent in this draft, and the realatively weak class of WRs, that we should go with a WR anywhere before our 2nd round pick. With the emergence of Charlie Adams and Todd Devoe, and the high level of play from Rod Smith, I think our biggest, most blatent need in the passing game is a dominant Tight End. I think this position alone is the cure for our 3rd-down woes. Not only an ability to get open, but the ability to block in the running game that won't keep setting us up with 3rd-and-long situations. Therefore, I think our next pressing need is TE, and we should use the second pick (#30) on either Lewis, Davis, or Pope (providing they are available AND worth all the hype). Of these, I see Davis as the most likely candidate.

I know Duke is on the roster and has all kinds of upside, but I'd like to think by now they would be working him into the game plan if he really did have game-breaking potential. Perhaps it's his blocking ability that is keeping him out. I think Putzier, Alexander and Jackson are all stop-gap kind of guys.

The top 3 TE's measureables:

Marcedes Lewis (http://uclabruins.collegesports.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/lewis_marcedes00.html) ..............................6'6" 255 lbs
Vernon Davis (http://umterps.collegesports.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/davis_vernon00.html).............................. ....6'3" 253 lbs
Leonard Pope (http://georgiadogs.collegesports.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/pope_leonard00.html).............................. ....6'7" 255 lbs

Davis is still a Junior, and it's not sure if he'll come out, but with 4.4 speed, school strength records at the TE position, and good blocking ability, he sounds like a good fit in our system.

If we go DE with our first pick, Davis and Pope have a decent chance to still be on the boards. It's possible that Lewis would be there for our first pick if there is a run on DEs early.

Due to the depth at OT in this draft, I think we can get a really good value pick with our second rounder. I think that's where we need to spend it.

As far as WR goes, I think we can do well in the third, especially if fiesty playmaker Sinorice Moss is still there. Again, with the skill sets of this draft (OT, DL, TE), I think that's where we have to go...and look for a gem of a WR later on, as well as possibly a long snapper/guard/center that we can develop.

And of course, we'll draft a running back! =p

My best hopes for the draft (which change as I learn more about players, mind you) are:

1a: Mathais Kiwanuka
1b: Vernon Davis
2: Daryn Colledge (http://www.idahostatesman.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20041111/NEWS0301/411110370/1037/NEWS0402)
3: Sinorice Moss

*Edit* Added a link about Colledge

12-02-2005, 04:06 PM
I know Shanahan's draft history seems to point and say "WR," but if you look at the past few drafts Shanny has looked toward the D-line as well. In fact, in '04 Tommie Harris was his #1 guy. They thought it was doubtful that he would drop to #17, and rightly so, but he was even higher ranked on Denver's board than Clayton. Last year Marcus Spears was in Shanahan's four name list. It isn't as if he has ignored the D-line in the first round, but rather that we haven't had the opportunity to select them.

If the Redskins pick keeps moving up this year expect Shanahan to have the 3 top D-lineman pegged in his four name list. If Houston holds on to the #1 slot they may not take Ferguson as people think and just go for Reggie Bush. No one else in the top 10 really, really needs a tackle, so I think Ferguson might be on that four name list as well.

Denver 1a:
Mario Williams
Haloti Ngata
D'Brickashaw Ferguson
Mathias Kiwanuka

The second pick is a little trickier since there is still a lot that could change before the draft, but I'll just take a stab in the dark and say...

Denver 1b:
Claude Wroten (Trevor Pryce II)
Vernon Davis
Hank Baskett
Ray Edwards

The rest of our first day picks can be spent in all sorts of ways. Players like Babatunde Oshinowo, Victor Adeyanju, Jovon Bouknight, Greg Eslinger, Dontrell Moore, Ron Harper, and Darryn Colledge are all possible targets.

The main point is that we need offensive playmakers, offensive line depth, defensive line depth, and perhaps a playmaking safety.

12-02-2005, 05:17 PM
Thanks for the great responses guys, good reads.

Let's see, MUG, I totally agree with you that the wideouts we can probably expect Shanahan to go after would be one's like you mentioned, especially IMO Baskett and Nance. I still feel Stovall will be a little further down in the draft, unless of course he has incredible workouts to elevate his stock back to where it once was in terms of potential. And actually, Baskett and Nance might be perfect Shanahan type picks at say #29 or #30 because both are probably pegged right now as borderline 1st/2nd round guys.

Perry, under your scenario, I would LOVE as I hope most would if the Broncos landed Kiwanuka and Vernon Davis. But I just don't think they'll be able to grab both, if either. Davis' stock seems to be soaring, and Kiwanuka will probably go up and down a lot between now and draft time.

I still feel that between the contract we gave Putz and the roster spot for development we gave Duke (remember he hadn't played football in 4 years), Gates didn't produce in his rookie year, that between those two commitments it would be hard to invest a first round pick at the position, although very tempting with players such as V. Davis and M. Lewis, very tempting.

I agree with you about the o-line, that Lepsis and Nalen shouldn't be leaving. BOTH, have had pro bowl years, and have been pillars to our success. But before the season it was widely and seriously speculated that this would be Nalen's last season in Denver, he would either retire or move on for a year or two to another team.

With Lepsis, he re-negotiated his contract in the offseason with the stipulation put into it that virtually guarantees him a chance at the FA market this year. He has played well enough that hopefully we can find a way to keep him, need to find a way to keep him, but, ol' Shanny has done crazier things before. An OT in the first round wouldn't bother me at all, for development or playing right away because it is important that we keep this a strength of the team. But if we go o-line at all, I think we also have to make sure that we acquire a playmaker, just as MileHigh alluded to.

Good point BTW MileHigh, that despite WR's being on his lists, that Dlineman have been there too. Not only players like Tommie Harris and Marcus Spears though, but in years prior it was widely reported at Shanahan's efforts to go up and try to grab Dwight Freeney and Terrell Suggs.

Hopefully this year he'll get one of those D-lineman he targets, I really wouldn't mind seeing Dumervil in here as a speed rusher. I know he gets compared most with Freeney, but perhaps he's somewhere in between Freeney and the even smaller Robert Mathis. Either way, Dumervil looks to have what it takes to be a playmaker type.

And yes, we do need to add a playmaking safety. But I'm still not forgetting the name Brandon Browner on our IR, a guy who was originally pegged as a 1st round corner until he proved he didn't have corner speed. But as a safety.... remains to be seen I suppose, but at camp he did bust up several plays while learning the position and showed very good potential.

I can't imagine that even if D'brick doesn't go to Houston, that he isn't snagged up by Cleveland or Miami, two teams who were hoping he would have come out last year.

Another thing I guess we should watch out for on the OT front... Cornell Green has taken half the snaps away from George Foster, so Shanny is taking a liking to Green who he might just rely on if he can't find a way to give Lepsis the kind of money he deserves when he tests the market.

If we can't, don't be surprised to see Houston pursue Lepsis HEAVILY at OT if they don't draft Ferguson. Especially if Kubiak ends up with the Houston gig, he'll definitely be in the running if Capers is let go. Houston runs a zone scheme, and they desperately need line help, especially on the left side. So keep watching Cornell Green, he might have something to say in Shanny's eyes at least about how early we draft OT.

12-02-2005, 11:39 PM
If we do draft a WR in the the first couple rounds I would hope that Mike Haas or Derek Hagan. Haas should be a second round pick and I think Hagan is the best wr in the draft (JMO). Either guys gives us a tough guy to go over the middle and move the chains. The knock on Hagan is he isn't blazing fast but Boldin isn't blazing fast but he gets it down as well. I like Hagan because he fits that Boldin/Dre Johnson mold which can cause problems in coverage.

We still have Lelie to strectch the field and if Watts remember how to catch again our WR core is in great shape should we land one of two guys I brought up.

Other options would have to be Holmes (smaller Lelie) or Chad Johnson. Someone else brought up Jovon Bouknight. I don't know anything about him but his stats look good. I live in Billings you would think I would know something about Cowboys football. :goofy:

12-03-2005, 11:12 AM
All of us GM wannabe's have our theories and ideas, but there is really no way to tell what Shanny is going to do until February. There are many questions with the Oline, Dline, Safety TE and WR. All of these positions will be addressed, it is just how Shanny will do it.

Offensive Line

Tom Nalen - This guy is the heart and soul of the oline. There has been tons of talk on these boards of him retiring, which I personally think is hog wash. He is playing at pro bowl level and he is reminding me of Bruce Mathews. Solid as a rock and just keeps going. He has always been one of Shanahans favorites and I believe Shanny will resign him.

Matt Lepsis - Lepsis has an interesting situation. He restructured his contract so he can be a FA this year. He will have Atlanta and Houston throwing tons of money his way so I can see him leaving for the $$$. Personally I like Lepsis' play and think he should be resigned because the oline is what is so critical to this offense. They keep playing well and my opinion is, if it aint broke don't fix it. The rotation of Cornell Green also makes me think that he is preping Green to be a possible starter next year.

This years draft is very deep at OT and I won't be surprised if Shanny grabs one with one of the first three picks. I hope that Lepsis can be resigned but most signs are pointing to him leaving.

Defensive Line

I am not sure exactly what the contract situations are for all of them, but I do know that Warren will be a FA and that Brown, Ekuban, Pryce will have to restructure to stay with the team.

Gerrard Warren - He is playing very well this season and has rejuvenated (sp) his career which Shanny had hoped for. He is getting a lot of attention around the NFL, so this off season he will see some big offers. He will be probably the best FA DT prospect available and with the nickname "big money" I think that Warren is pretty much gone after the season. Having Myers and Veal as the other two DT's I see Shanny drafting at least one DT with the first three picks. I would love to see Ngata, but I don't think he will be around by our first pick and that's why I love Claude Wroten with the first pick.

Ebenezer Ekuban - He will be the cheapest of the DE's to resign and has played pretty well, so I see him being resigned.

Trevor Pryce - With the $$$ he is making, with his age, health issues and the fact Shanny tried to trade him last year makes me think he is gone, either released or if Shanny can work out a trade. Call Washington, they seem like good suckers. :D Pryce is gone after the season.

Courtney Brown - Brown's play is improving every week and he is starting to dominate the line. The last three games against Oakland, Dallas and NYJ he has stopped the run and pressured the QB very well. He is finally getting healthy and getting a rhythm with Coyer's scheme and his teammates. Being a #1 pick he has all the physical tools and has the most talent of all of the current lineman. Also that he is the youngest DE of the three, I see Shanny keeping him.


Our problems at safety have been well documented through these boards, with Lynch aging and the lack of a true ball hawk. This draft is loaded with safety's and we will surely be grabing one on the first day. I personally like Bing, Landry and Huff and hopefully we can grab one of these guys with the second first rounder. Other than Lynch we have a bunch of journeymen and Browner with good "potential."

Tight Ends

We spent a lot of money on Putz and Shanny has a little project with Duke for next year. Alexander has played well so he should be here next year. I don't really think we should be drafting a TE with one of the first three picks, but with Shanny I won't be surprised. Jlet showing Shanny's ties with Dorrell make this interesting. Vernon Davis reminds me of Sharpe so he could be a choice. Last year Miller was a great TE prospect and Shanny passed up on him and I think Shanny is happy with the TE's and will hopefully have Duke be one of the starters in 2006.


Our WR's is an ugly situation. We have had bad luck over the past few years drafting WR's with Nash :sick: Lelie and Watts. Lelie is a poor mans Alvin Harper, a decent #2 deep threat and that's it. Adams and Devoe are decent but nothing special. We need someone to replace Rod in the next few years. There are no stand out WR's in this draft, so I don't see wasting a pick on one when there will be some good ones in FA. With the mess going on in Detroit it looks like Charlie Rogers will be released this off season and I would make a big push for this guy. He has great tools and will be good next season if he stays healthy.

My first three picks as of now would be

1A. Claude Wroten - I love this guy and he has a great motor and attitude, and he is always making plays.

1B. Bing, Huff or Landry in this order. Whoever is available.

2. Manny Lawson, if he drops, he is a great athlete and playmaker. He just needs to add about 15 lb's.

My 2 cents... :coffee:

12-03-2005, 11:21 AM
I actually see Courtney Brown leaving and Warren staying. I think Warren is simply having too much fun in Denver. Make no mistake, the nickname "Big Money" was probably given to him by an uncle in his youth describing his NFL potential, not given to himself because he is greedy. I know a 6 year old kid here, who's a freakin' monster, and his name is Donnie. The family already calls him "Defense." Hehe.