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Versatile Picks Comprise Day Two

Posted Apr 26, 2009

The second day of the 2009 NFL Draft saw another five players join the Broncos -- a safety, two offensive linemen, a receiver and a quarterback. The common theme was an ability to contribute to several phases of the team.

Head Coach Josh McDaniels spoke with the media at the conclusion of the Broncos' 2009 draft. 
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- After a Saturday that saw the Broncos trade back into the second round twice, some believed that the second day of the draft would be a bit calmer.

Not exactly.

Denver made two more trades that left them with two fourth-rounders along with one pick in each of the final three rounds on Sunday.

"At certain points in the draft I think you ask yourself, 'If we wait, is he going to be there?'" Head Coach Josh McDaniels said. "And there were a few times where we felt like there's no way -- if we wait we're not going to be able to attain a player that we'd like to get."

That was the M.O. for McDaniels and the Denver front office -- get the players they wanted while they were still available. Why wait?

And the strategy seemed to pay off on the second day of the draft, at least at first glance. The team snagged one of the speediest and most athletic safeties in college football, two young offensive linemen, the leading receiver in South Carolina history and a 6-foot-5 quarterback that finished his career at Fresno State seventh in school history with more than 7,000 yards of total offense.

In other words, even with just looking at the second day of the draft, the team added depth at four different positions. That kind of versatility in a draft can come in handy when training camp rolls around.

"We are not looking to draft players and cut them, especially early on," McDaniels said. "If the player is not going to come in and compete with someone on our roster, then we are going to go in a different direction at another position, and that is what we did the entire draft."

Another exciting piece of news for Broncos fans is that even with all the trading, the team came into this weekend's draft with so much firepower that Denver still has a pick in every round in the 2010 draft.

The first pick of second day of this year's draft didn't come until the 14th slot in the fourth round, and it came in the form of Notre Dame safety David Bruton. The two-year starter amassed 176 tackles and seven interceptions between his junior and senior years, adding 4.5 tackles for loss as a junior and two forced fumbles as a senior.

But it's Bruton's athleticism -- among safeties at the Combine, he finished second in the 40-yard dash, seventh in bench press repetitions, tied for first in vertical jump, first in broad jump, tied for second in the three-cone drill and first in the 60-yard shuttle -- and his ability on special teams that inspired the Broncos to pick him.

"He's one of the finest special teams players in the draft, period," McDaniels said. "He was a great gunner for the punt team, getting down there and getting to the returner before the ball was caught, many times forcing a lot of fair catches. He's got great speed -- I think he's the fastest safety in the draft. He could really impact us on three or four teams: punt, punt return, kickoff and kickoff return."

Being able to contribute at several positions was another theme for Sunday's selections -- the team chose offensive linemen Seth Olsen and Blake Schlueter in the fourth and seventh round, respectively, and McDaniels said the key is that they both can play either guard position or center. Olsen spent some time at both right and left tackle in college, as well.

Both linemen garnered plenty of attention at the collegiate level -- Olsen left Iowa as a first-team All-Big Ten selection and Schlueter made the watch list for the Rimington Trophy, awarded to the nation's top center, as a junior. McDaniels said he believes both players will fit well with the Broncos' zone-blocking scheme at any position.

"They use a little bit of an undersized, quicker-type lineman to get into the second level," Schlueter said. "I thought I always fit in well with that, and apparently they did, too."

But the linemen weren't the only players drafted Sunday that can contribute at more than one spot.

After trading for the fifth pick in the fifth round, the Broncos selected wide receiver Kenny McKinley from the University of South Carolina. He left school as the Gamecocks' record-holder for receptions and receiving yards, also finishing second on the school's all-time touchdown catches list.

His 207 career receptions are third in SEC history, and he became just the 12th player in the prestigious conference’s history to record more than 2,700 receiving yards.

South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier even called McKinley the best receiver he has ever coached.

"I am a guy that likes to learn and know my playbook," the receiver said. "I think that being smart with a little ability and a good work ethic will go a long way. I am excited to get in there with all the rookies and get a chance to play."

McDaniels said he expects McKinley, who averaged 8.9 yards per punt return as a sophomore, to contribute on special teams as well, especially with his sub-4.4 40-yard dash time.

"I think anytime you add a skill player with that kind of speed, it's a good thing," he said.

The Broncos also added a third quarterback on Sunday -- Fresno State's Tom Brandstater -- after trading for the first pick of the sixth round. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound signal caller closed out his career ranking fifth in the school record books in pass completions and fourth in pass attempts, while ranking sixth all-time with 6,857 yards passing and 7,006 yards in total offense. His 47 touchdown passes placed him seventh in Bulldogs history.

McDaniels has said in the past that you typically like to go into training camp with more than two quarterbacks, and he's excited about Brandstater's prospects as an NFL player.

"In terms of the mold of a quarterback, the arm strength, the height ... he is bright and smart, and I like that a lot," he said. "He has above average feet that he can maneuver a little bit in the pocket. I think he also has a passion for football, and for being the best player that he can be. He has got a long way to go, as most quarterbacks coming into the league do, but he has a great attitude and a great approach, and I am looking forward to getting him in here and beginning to teach him."

After picking up five players in the first two rounds of the draft, the Broncos picked up five more in the final five, and all 10 are expected to compete for positions when training camp rolls around.

McDaniels said he and the front office are happy with the way both days of the draft went, especially because of the caliber of players -- on and off the field -- that the Broncos added.

"I love the attitude that every one of these guys is going to approach our organization and our team with, which is that they are going to come in and work hard," he said. "They know they have good competition ahead of them. They know they have good veteran players to learn from. They're going to try in any way they can to help us improve.

"If that means starting one of them, or five of them, or all ten of them at some point, then I hope our team is better for it."