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Showing posts from May, 2015

2015 Broncos Season — We Have a Problem

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So, the Broncos have only had a couple of practices so far this season — a rookie mini camp and OTAs, which began on Wednesday. And so far, it's been a disaster.

During the rookie practice, tight end Jeff Heuerman, the team's third round draft pick, who was lost for the season. That was a set back, of sorts, and the Broncos saw Heuerman as a key piece of the tight end puzzle. But with Owen Daniels and Virgil Green, it could be worse.

Worse happened during the OTAs, as left tackle Ryan Clady tore his ACL and was also lost for the season. Ugh. It was hard not to think that, post injury, the Broncos' Super Bowl hopes are over. Some might say that's panic talk since it's still May, but consider the depth of the problems with the Denver Broncos offensive line.

Heading into OTAs, the team only had two starters locked in. Clady was set to play Left Tackle and Louis Vasquez is set at Right Guard. Both are Pro Bowlers, so on paper that's a good start. But there are fiv…

Now Playing

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Here's a look at the new movie I saw this week.

Tomorrowland
Starring: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie, Raffey Cassidy, and Tim McGraw
Synopsis: Summer movies used to be a place of wonder. In some ways they still are, but they’re also a place of blockbusters and franchises. Blockbusters and franchises can be full of wonder, but they also have to service the fabric of a larger world. I enjoyed “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” and its emblematic of what summer is all about, but it’s the 11th film in an ongoing set of mythology that not only has to honor what has come before but also has to set up the next act. That’s a heavy burden on a film that’s meant to be an entertainment piece. “Tomorrowland,” by contrast, doesn’t require any homework viewing. It’s a new story about a new world that’s meant to stand on its own. Some might quibble about the way it goes about that, but “Tomorrowland” is at least unique in a sea of sameness. “Tomorrowland” is a rich and unique film world bui…

Summer Binge Watch — Vacation Films

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We've reached summer, which means the days are long, the heat is ramping up, and there's plenty of time for binge watches. Each week I'll pick a topic and rank some options. It could be a set of films, the work of a single director, or a TV series. It's summer, it's time to broaden some horizons.

This week's binge watch focuses on the "Vacation" films. There are four in all — released from 1983 to 1997 — all starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo. Since a new "Vacation" movie, this time featuring Ed Helms as Rusty, will be released in July, it's time to catch up.

Below is my ranking of the films in order of how good I think they are.

1. Christmas Vacation (1989)
About: This is actually the third entry in the franchise, but it's probably the one most people have seen. That's because it's a Christmas movie classic that is constantly in rotation on cable in November and December each year. This is probably the most family-…

Summer TV Roundup, Week Two

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Summer is in full swing for TV, and that means plenty of reality shows, and the fun's just starting. In these weekly posts I review the pilot and second episode of new shows. If you don't see a new show listed below, please check previous weeks.

Monday Nights:
The Island, Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC (Premiered May 25)
About: This is the latest summer reality series from Bear Grylls. It takes 14 ordinary men and drops them on an island with a day's worth of water and asks them to survive for a month. Grylls has done this series for the U.K., and now we get an America version. I had a number of thoughts during the pilot. First was, hasn't anyone seen "Lord of the Flies." If so, they might realize this isn't a great idea. Second, would this show appeal in any way to women? If so, why? And finally, I sadly realized I wouldn't make it when I saw the cesspool of water they wanted to drink from then ate a snake for dinner. That's not my cup of tea. The pil…

A World of Trouble

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"What will we find when we strip away your finery? A young man came to us, not long ago; broken in body and spirit. He had so much to strip away, so much weighing him down. But piece by piece he unburdened himself. Let go of vanity, pride, sin. Now his soul is so light, he will float through the seven heavens like a bird. And he has much to say about you." — High Sparrow, "Game of Thrones"

We've reached the deep, dark middle of this season of "Game of Thrones." After the trauma of last week's episode, things didn't get a lot better on Sunday night. The pieces continue to move into place for what should be a fascinating final three episodes.

This week's big turn was that Cersei (Lena Heady) became a victim of her own scheming. Sure, we could see it coming, but she couldn't. The final sequence between the once powerful queen and the High Sparrow was fascinating to watch. And it reminded me of other instances where characters have made m…

Cancelled Too Soon?

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"Wow. Battle Creek has changed you, Milt. Before you know if you're going to be a bitter, cynical guy. You better get out while you still can." — Russ, "Battle Creek"

It's been a rough Spring for new shows. When the networks announced their new fall schedules earlier this month, most of the new shows from the 2014-2015 season had been shed like an unwanted sweater. The truth is, I think it's harder to get a new show to stick than it was in year's past.

Think about it. "Seinfeld" is considered, by many, the greatest sitcom of all time. But it didn't really find an audience until its third season. I can't help but wonder how many potential "Seinfelds" have been cancelled before they even get to 10 episodes.

Each year there are cancelled shows that I find justified, and some that are a bummer. One of those for this season is "Battle Creek," the CBS drama that wrapped up its first and only season on Sunday night. T…

19 Kids and a Big Controversy

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Last Tuesday, "19 Kids and Counting," the TLC reality show that follows the Duggar family, wrapped up its season. My wife loves the show, so I've seen it occasionally, including watching the finale. Most of the finale — which ran two hours — was asking the Duggars — including three married children — about their values, their lifestyle, and their approach.

The Duggars have long been targets. I can't say I totally agree with their take on everything, but I appreciate their attempt to raise their family with a certain set of values, and their work to share that approach with the world via their show. It's not always my cup of tea, but it's certainly not the worst thing on TV. In fact, one could argue it offers some constructive advice to most of our society.

Of course late in the week a scandal broke. It turns out the oldest Duggar child — Josh, whose now married and has three kids of his own plus one on the way — wasn't a great teenager. He did something …

Now Playing

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Here's a look at the new movie I saw this week.

Pitch Perfect 2
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Hailee Steinfeld, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, and Skylar Astin
Synopsis: When Mickey Rapkin, a senior editor at GQ, wrote the non-fiction book “Pitch Perfect” he probably didn’t anticipate what that work would spawn. In October 2012 “Pitch Perfect” the movie became a sleeper hit. It didn’t tear up the Box Office charts, but it was a hit with everyone that saw it. The film gained more of a following on DVD and Blu-Ray, and became a national sensation after star Anna Kendrick’s rendition of “Cups” topped the Billboard charts. Inevitably, that inspired the little movie that could to become a film franchise. The highly anticipated sequel — this time directed by producer and co-star Elizabeth Banks — opened on May 15, in the heart of the first month of the summer movie season. In one weekend it made more money than the original at the Box Office, and it domin…

Fight the Future

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"And they say that a hero could save us; I'm not gonna stand here and wait." — Nickleback, "Hero"

"The Flash" ended its first season on Tuesday night. It's been a boon to the CW, helping it to one of its highest season ratings on record, and I think it's been one of the best new shows of the season. I love the way the characters have come together, the way its told stories, and the heart of the series — which is lighter than "Arrow."

In the finale, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) was offered a choice. He could go back in time and save his mother, but it would change the timeline forever. Since the series began, all Barry has wanted is to be able to save his mother and to free his father from an unjust prison sentence. But at what cost?

That is what Barry weighed. The process was not without its risks — not the least of which would be erasing his life up to that point and re-writing it. It was a a hard question, but one which Barry  — at …

Bystander to Victim?

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"Terrible things happen to your family and you weep. You sit alone in a darkened room mourning their fates. You've been a bystander to tragedy from the day they executed your father. Stop being a bystander, do you hear me? Stop running. There's no justice in the world. Not unless we make it. You loved your family, avenge them." — Littlefinger, "Game of Thrones"

Some have complained that "Game of Thrones" keeps killing off its best villains. Joffrey is dead. So, too, is Tywin Lannister. But in a world as bent and broken as Westeros, there's never a shortage of villains. That was made clear again last night.

The middle of each season of "Game of Thrones" tends to drag a bit. We've been back in the world for weeks, so merely seeing each character isn't enough. But we're not at the end of the novel, so there's work to be done. It's mostly about moving characters into place and setting up the climaxes to come.

Season …

The fifth appendage

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I am on vacation this week. I officially began vacation when I left work on Friday, and since then I feel like I'm in an episode of "Punked."

I began vacation with a Friday evening appointment with the eye doctor, who proceeded to make me paranoid about having a detached retina. (I don't, but she planted a seed that I can't get past. She hit my paranoia button and ramped it up…)

I should have known then that I was in a mini-funk. Well that continued Saturday as I got to security at Denver International Airport only to realize I left my iPhone in my mom's car when she dropped us off. Yes, I am now on vacation in San Diego until Wednesday night with no cell phone. I feel like I've lost a part of myself. I spent most of yesterday thinking I needed to check something on my phone every two minutes, only to sadly realize that I didn't have it.

Cell phones to my generation are like an extension of our being, or a fifth appendage. It is said the average pers…

A meditation on forgiveness and loss

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"Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves." — Confucius

The history of the world has taught us much about the fate of those who can't forgive. The quote above from Confucius speaks to that wisdom. His meaning is, if you seek vengeance, be prepared to see yourself destroyed in the process.

Hate and anger burn deep in our souls and rob us of our lives, taking our joy and our chance at happiness. That's what makes forgiveness so powerful and so necessary.

One of my favorite movies from the past few years is "Devil." It's based on a script by M. Night Shymalan, but was directed by someone else. There is a supernatural element to the film that many focus on, but for me I thought it was a beautiful meditation on forgiveness. A central cop in the film lost his wife and child at the hands of a driver who then fled the scene. He was robbed of his family, and his quest for vengeance robbed him of his appreciation for life.

At the end of the film…

Upfronts Week — Highs and Lows

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Over a furious five days, executives unveiled the fall schedules and touted new shows for the five broadcast networks. We haven't seen the new shows — only trailers and synopsis of each series — but you can already get a feel for what's exciting and what's not. The five networks will air 22 new shows in the fall. Below, see the five I think will be the best and the five that are the biggest dogs, based solely on trailer and feel. This is scientific, people.

The Best:
Blindspot, Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC
Why: This might be too high concept to really work, and if that's the case then I won't be shocked. But "Blindspot" looked to have a good cast, had a slick trailer, and offered at least something different. I liked Jamie Alexander in the "Thor" films, and I'm curious to see what she does in a lead role on her own series. Can this hold up for the long haul? I'm not sure. But I'm excited to see the full pilot and to see how it develops.

Su…

Upfronts Week — CW

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Today begins a week where hope springs eternal for all the major networks as they unveil the trailers for new shows and set their schedule for the fall. Each day I'll take a look at the network's presentation and offer some thoughts.

CW:
The 2014-2015 season was a boon to the CW, and it was their highest rated season in years. It was also remarkably successful. The CW launched four new shows and three of them — "The Flash," "Jane the Virgin," and "iZombie" — got new seasons. The CW also broke into the legitimate realm when Gina Rodriguez won a Golden Globe for her work on "Jane the Virgin." Now, with so much of their schedule renewed, The CW only ordered three new shows for the 2015-2016 season, and only one is debuting in the Fall. The network is hoping to capture on the strength of this season and build momentum for next season. And a lot of that comes from the wealth of D.C. Comics properties — "The Flash," "Arrow,"…

Now Playing

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Here's a look at the new movie I saw this week.

Hot Pursuit
Starring: Sofia Vergara, Reese Witherspoon, and John Carol Lynch
Synopsis: One of the staples of the past few summers has been female fronted comedies. Since “Bridesmaids” broke out in 2011, female fronted comedies have become a summer staple. They provide good counter-programming to the typically male-driven comic book films and blockbusters, and they provide a chance to cut loose and laugh. Of course, not all comedies were created equal. On paper, it seems like a good idea to pair Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara, a pair of talented female performers with typically contrasting styles. But attracting talent to a project isn’t enough — you need chemistry, a story and jokes to make a comedy. That is simply lacking in “Hot Pursuit,” the second big release of the summer season and the first of an onslaught of comedies. The film is one big swing and a miss that will likely have you wishing you’d paid to see something else …

Upfronts Week — CBS

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Today begins a week where hope springs eternal for all the major networks as they unveil the trailers for new shows and set their schedule for the fall. Each day I'll take a look at the network's presentation and offer some thoughts.

CBS:
Everyone wants to be CBS — at least they have this century. The network again leads in total viewers, and is a close second to NBC in the 18-49 demographic for the season. And in the 2015-2016 season they're almost guaranteed to win that demographic, too, as they have the NFL for eight Thursday nights in September and will have the Super Bowl in February. Not to mention they have the highest rated comedy, "The Big Bang Theory," and most of the most-watched programming. But that programming is getting long in the tooth. "NCIS" is on to year 13 in the fall, and "CSI," which wrapped its 15th season in February, is ending with a two-hour movie in September. CBS, like all networks, is seeking to attract younger vi…

Upfronts Week — ABC

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Today begins a week where hope springs eternal for all the major networks as they unveil the trailers for new shows and set their schedule for the fall. Each day I'll take a look at the network's presentation and offer some thoughts.

ABC:
ABC started with a flourish. The network's Thursday night lineup — featuring three shows by Shonda Rhimes — was gangbusters in the fall, helping the network pile up wins among the 18-49 demographic. The Spring hasn't been as kind. The vaunted Thursday night lineup has slipped, and ABC has struggled to get new shows going. Still, the network is a close third in the key demographic and doing strong in total viewers. ABC arguably had the most buzzed about shows, which gives them something to build on. And this schedule reflects the fact that ABC has some stability. They have perhaps the most static schedule of the networks to unveil their schedules so far, and they're the only one of the big four that doesn't get a boost from the…

Summer TV Roundup, Week One

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For the most part the regular season is over and the shows of summer are beginning to debut. In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episodes of new shows.

Thursday Nights:
Wayward Pines, Thursdays at 9 p.m. on FOX (Premiered May 14)
About: This long-gestating series finally debuts on Thursday after being part of the last two FOX Upfront presentations. This limited series — it has just 10 episodes — is based on the novel "Pines" by Blake Crouch. It has a good cast, including Matt Dillion, Juliette Lewis, Terrence Howard, and Melissa Leo, and a creepy vibe. FOX made the pilot available early, and it sets the stage for what's to come. This series has drawn comparisons to "Twin Peaks," and it definitely has the weird, culty vibe. I was fascinated by the pilot, even though I wasn't totally sure what was going on. This seems like the kind of interesting gamble that is perfect for FOX this summer, and as a bonus it gets four weeks of regular season &…

Upfronts Week — FOX

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Today begins a week where hope springs eternal for all the major networks as they unveil the trailers for new shows and set their schedule for the fall. Each day I'll take a look at the network's presentation and offer some thoughts.

FOX
The 2014-2015 broadcast season wasn't kind to FOX. All its new fall shows fell flat (save for "Gotham"), as did its veteran series. That led to the ouster of network president Kevin Reilly. FOX finishes the season in fourth place in the key demographic (18-49 year old adults) and not much better in total viewers. And that's even after "Empire" arrived in January to breathe life into the carcass known as FOX. That actually started something of a mini-revival during the winter/spring. Between "Empire" and "Last Man on Earth," FOX appeared to get some mojo going. But it's not all roses heading into the 2015-2016 season. "Gotham," the lone spark in the fall, has plunged as the year wane…

Heavy is the Head That Wears the Crown

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"You will find little joy in your command, but with luck you will the strength to do what needs to be done. Kill the boy Jon Snow. Winter is almost upon us. Kill the boy, and let the man be born." — Maester Aemon, "Game of Thrones"

One of my favorite movies is "Gettysburg," the docudrama about the pivotal battle in the Civil War. The film is nearly five hours long, which gives plenty of time to explore who the men that fought the war were — what they believed, what they struggled with, and what they sought to gain.

There is a moment in the film when Gen. Robert E. Lee (Martin Sheen), commander of the Confederate Army, is riding near the front and talks about the "great trap" for men of his ilk, those who lead men into battle. He says, "To be a great soldier you have to love the Army, but to be a great commander, you have to be willing to order the death of the thing you love." It was the struggle he wrestled with each day when he orde…

Upfronts Week — NBC

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Today begins a week where hope springs eternal for all the major networks as they unveil the trailers for new shows and set their schedule for the fall. Each day I'll take a look at the network's presentation and offer some thoughts.

NBC
For all the panic about the state of NBC — the fact it can't find comedies to stick and cancelled almost all its new shows — it's easy to forget it's not in all that bad of shape. Thanks to "The Voice," the fall airings of "The Blacklist," and NFL Football, the Peacock was the belle of the ball in the prized 18-49 viewers. CBS led in overall viewers, but NBC had the crown in the category that matters most to advertisers. So for as bad as people perceive the network to have been in the 2014-2015 season, they actually are operating from a place of strength — at least on paper. The Spring hasn't been kind to NBC, or any other network. "The Voice" has posted series lows as has "The Blacklist,"…

The End of an Era

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"Yup, these are my readers." — Bill Simmons

I'm a creature of habit. I like what I like, and that's what I typically stick to. My favorite Sports Writer and Personality, by far, is Bill Simmons. Hired in 2001, Simmons has defined a unique brand for ESPN. In 2011, he took that a step further by creating Grantland, a sub site of the worldwide leader in sports, that has attracted top talent and turned out incredible content. It is one of my favorite sites and favorite places to get sports and entertainment news.

On Friday, ESPN announced that it was ending its relationship with Simmons effective when his contract is up in September. To some it wasn't a surprise, but I still felt it was sad news, especially when you consider where it leaves ESPN and Grantland.

ESPN says its committed to Grantland, but even if that's true, the site will never be the same. Simmons, his columns, his influence, and the B.S. Report are a big part of the site's draw. And his perso…

Looking for an Exit Ramp

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We are in that golden time of year when Networks make decisions about the future. They renew or cancel veteran shows, green light new shows, and set the schedule for the fall. It's a time when hope spring eternal and networks are prone to look past all flaws save for cost and ratings.

That doesn't mean there aren't veteran shows that need to plan their exit strategy, stat. Below are veteran shows that need to come up with an end date.

Bones
Status: Finishing its 10th Season on FOX; status for season 11 not announced.
Why: This show has lasted a lot longer than many would have thought, and it's done a lot of fan service. But now, it feels like the show is just going through the motions. After 10 seasons and 200 episodes, there's not a lot of new ground to cover. This show is likely renewed for an 11th season, but that should be a farewell tour.

Grey's Anatomy
Status: Completing its 11th season on ABC; renewed last night for Season 12
Why: This show has jumped the…

Now Playing

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Here's a look at the new movie I saw this week.

Avengers: Age of Ultron
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, James Spader, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson, and Cobie Smulders
Synopsis: Back in May 2008, Robert Downey, Jr. first appeared as “Iron Man.” At the time it felt like a good superhero film, something that was in plentiful supply. But “Iron Man” was different. It was part of a larger vision. Seven years and 10 movies later, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is well established, incredibly popular and a stale of popular culture. What began with “Iron Man” has become a global phenomenon. The latest entry in that universe is “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the second superhero team up film, and a story that is built upon the worlds established and grown throughout 10 previous movies and two seasons of a weekly series on ABC. It’s a titanic accomplishment, and one that’s bringing people to t…

Ranking Marvel's first two phases

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With the release of "Avengers: Age of Ultron," Marvel's Phase Two is nearly complete. Technically "Ant Man" in July will close it out as the 12th in an inter-connected set of films. But with two "Avengers" films and plenty of stand alone stories, it's a good time to rank the 11 Marvel universe films.

Below is the order I would place them (in ascending order).

11. "The Incredible Hulk" (2008)
If your dream was to see Edward Norton portray a superhero in a pensive, at times boring, film, this is your dream. But seeing as how this was a marginal movie and Norton was quickly replaced as The Hulk by the time "The Avengers" rolled out, it's easy to dismiss this movie as a rare Marvel misstep.

10. "Iron Man 3" (2013)
I love Robert Downey, Jr., and I love the way he portrays Iron Man, but I didn't love this film. The first post-"Avengers" release was a bit of a downer. Shane Black is good at crafting a certai…

Spring TV Roundup, Week Five

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Spring is sliding away and summer is almost here on the small screen. But before we get to that, here's a look at the new shows of Spring available to watched. I review the pilot and second episodes of new shows. If you don't see a new show listed below, check previous weeks.

Monday Nights:
Star Talk, Mondays at 11 p.m. on National Geographic Channel (Premiered April 20)
About: This new talk series, hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, is based on his radio show of the same name. It's about getting people excited about science and pop culture. The second episode featured an interview with Christopher Nolan about the science in his film "Interstellar." Tyson is a good host and the idea behind the show is sound. That being said, it is a bit of a dry watch. Visually, it looks like watching people film a radio show. And unless you're fascinated by the content, it's hard to imagine tuning in each week.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C-

Sunday Nights:
Happyish, Sunda…

Shades of Grey

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"Terrible things happen to your family and you weep. You sit alone in a darkened room mourning their fates. You've been a bystander to tragedy from the day they executed your father. Stop being a bystander, do you hear me? Stop running. There's no justice in the world. Not unless we make it. You loved your family, avenge them." — Littlefinger, "Game of Thrones"

A few years ago the movie "Watchmen" came out. It wasn't an easy movie to watch, and some were critical of how much it appeared to be a live-action version of the Graphic Novel. That's possibly true, but it was still fascinating to watch and somewhat moving.

It was meant as a deconstruction of our idea of heroes. There weren't good and evil, everyone was a variation of both. The heroes were flawed. The Comedian fought for the Army and seemed to fight evil, but he was, himself, evil. He raped a woman. He killed people. He was ill-tempered and seemed to care little for humanity.

2015 Broncos Offseason: NFL Draft Recap

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The Denver Broncos completed an interesting 2015 NFL draft, putting some pieces together as they seek to compete for a World Championship. Below are my thoughts on this year's draft.

Shane Ray, OLB/DE, Missouri — Ray could be a great signing and an impact player. But he's a risk. Ray was cited for Marijuana possession just days before the NFL Draft and is now in the NFL's Substance Abuse Program. Prior to that, he was an incredibly highly rated prospect. So, naturally, the Broncos jumped at the chance to draft him. They traded up with the Lions — offering a first round pick, two fifth round picks, and C/G Manny Ramirez  — for the Lions' pick and the right to draft Ray. Ray, if he pans out, could be a big defensive weapon on the outside with Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. But that's an if right now, and the Broncos had to sacrifice plenty to get him. Not to mention, it feels like the team had other needs.

Offensive Line Help — The Broncos did address an area of need t…