ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- This year's draft was almost a repeat of last season's event.
Holding onto a late first-round pick, the Broncos had an opportunity to trade back and accumulate extra assets for the second consecutive draft. But the player in front of them was too good to pass up.
“Once Sylvester (Williams) was there we said, ‘No, this is the guy we want, we're going to stay here,'" Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway said. "We did have an option to go back, but we didn’t want to. We were thrilled that Sylvester was there and we didn’t want to move.”
In fact, the Broncos entertained the idea of moving up in the draft to grab their coveted defensive tackle. But as the first round played out, "it started to look like we were going to get a pretty darn good football player at 28," Elway said.
What the Broncos got was a defensive tackle that excelled at bursting into opponents' backfields as a senior in 2012. According to ESPN Stats and Info, he led all defensive tackles in automatic-qualifier BCS conferences with 25 quarterback pressures. He finished his senior campaign at North Carolina with 13.5 tackles for loss, part of a career that included 20.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks.
Elway pointed to Williams' size, quickness and ability to penetrate as traits that stood out to the Broncos throughout their evaluation of the lineman.
"He’s got all the physical tools that you hope carries over to production," Head Coach John Fox said.
The club even invited Williams to Dove Valley for a pre-draft visit, and came away even more impressed.
"This kid was great at the Senior Bowl," Fox said. "We had some coaches that coached him there at that setting. He took a leadership role right away during that week in preparation. So not only was he an excellent athlete in a need position, a position we have been looking for, for a while now, he’s a fine young man.”
At 6-foot-3, 313 pounds, Williams adds plenty of size to an an interior defensive line that already includes 330-pound
That type of size is what Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio looks for in his defensive tackles, and Fox said it's "fair to say that he was very excited."
In preparing for the draft with numerous mocks, Elway said Williams never made it past Minnesota's two first-round picks to get to the Broncos. So when the draft played out as it did, the team was understandably ecstatic.
"You never know these rounds are going to fall, but we were extremely pleased that he was there when we got there," Elway said. "We had him very high on our board, so we were thrilled to get him.”
As for day two of the draft, the Broncos are comfortable with where they stand -- holding onto the 58th and 90th overall selections.
“We are looking forward to it," Elway said. "We feel good about where the board is. It’s about being patient. We’ll have to see -- again, we are going to stick to the same philosophy we have been and that is to get the best player we can when we get to the second and third pick.
"We’ll see how everything falls.”