2017 Broncos Season, the Draft's Opening Round


The NFL draft began on Thursday night, with the first round. Over the course of nearly four hours, the first 32 picks came off the board. And there was plenty of intrigue.

The Cleveland Browns didn't draft a quarterback, but the Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans all paid a King's Ransom to move up and draft the quarterback of the future. Mitchell Trubisky for the Bears, Patrick Mahomes for the Chiefs, and DeShaun Watson for the Texans. Of the three, only the Texans seemed truly desperate, but all paid steep prices.

As for the Broncos, it was a day of a lot of rumors and wonder that ultimately ended up in a kind of safe pick that has fans and analysts split. Early in the day the rumor was the Broncos were in serious talks with the Tennessee Titans to move from No. 20 to No. 5 in the first round to grab Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey.

McCaffrey was a top draft target for the Broncos, which is no surprise. But the move likely would have cost at least a first, second and third round pick. (The Bears, to move from three to two, gave up a first, third and fourth in 2017, and a third in 2018.) The cost likely would have been too high.

Instead, McCaffrey went at No. 8 to the Carolina Panthers, another team in need of speed and playmakers.

The day also featured a number of rumors about the Broncos making a deal with the Cleveland Browns for left tackle Joe Thomas, a pro bowler at the Broncos' biggest position of need. Thomas has been a trade target for the Broncos for the past three seasons, and nothing has ever come of it. So, unsurprisingly, the Broncos didn't pull the trigger on that deal.

They also came tantalizingly close to O.J. Howard, the tight end from Alabama who would have been a great get at pick 20. Instead, he was taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at pick 19, sniped just before John Elway got on the clock.

So, at No. 20, with sliding defenders like Reuben Foster still on the board, the Broncos took an offensive tackle. It is undoubtedly the Broncos' biggest area of need. Currently Menelik Watson is penciled in a right tackle and Donald Stephenson is penciled in at left tackle, with Ty Sambraillo waiting in the wings. But this wasn't a great draft for offensive lineman, and Garrett Bolles, the Broncos' pick, wasn't universally viewed as the best choice or a quality NFL starter.

At first I was blown away and a bit upset. It seemed like a waste. A 25-year-old rookie who had issues in his one year starting at Utah and a checkered past isn't anyone's dream pick. But then you read stories about him, his struggles, and how he pulled himself together, and you can't help but be inspired.

I don't know if Bolles will be the starter on September 11, or even a reliable player. But I do know the Broncos need offensive line help, and Bolles is the kind of man who's gone through the valley and emerged on the other side. Character counts, and his is a story worth investing in.

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