ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Three of the nine second-round mock drafts that we profiled on DenverBroncos.com projected the team to select a running back with the 58th overall pick in the 2013 Draft.
But none pegged that back as Wisconsin's Montee Ball, who Denver drafted on Friday evening.
Five of those mocks had Ball going in round two, and all five thought he'd be off the board by the time pick No. 58 hit the clock. The average slot Ball's selection in those mocks was 51.6. The four other mock drafts had Ball falling out of the second round.
Below is a summary of what some national press had to say about the selection of Ball:
Friday night picks I loved: Denver drafting Wisconsin running back Montee Ball late in the second round. He's going to help the Broncos move the chains, and the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision all-time leading touchdown scorer knows where the end zone is.
What he brings: Ball shouldered a heavy workload in college, and backs tend to tail off quickly when that is the case. Still, he is a tough runner who fights through contact and shows good vision between the tackles. Ball's top-end speed isn't elite, but he is quick enough to get around the corner and can make the first defender miss. He is also an underrated receiver who didn't get much chance in that area. He can catch the ball well and transition upfield quickly.
How he fits: In the past couple years, this usually dependable Broncos run game hasn't been very productive. Because of inconsistent personnel and injuries, Demaryius Thomas was forced to run an almost one-dimensional pass offense. Veterans Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno are solid when healthy, but durability and age are question marks. Backup Ronnie Hillman doesn't have enough size to be an every-down back. Denver has really needed a back it can count on. Ball has a chance to be a physical, between-the tackles runner with a heavy workload, and that can lead to offensive balance, a much more effective play-action package and the ability to close out a game. This pick should please Manning.
Pick Analysis: "Interesting, interesting, interesting. When you play with Peyton Manning, your first priority is pass protection. But he catches the ball better than people think." -- Charles Davis
Analysis:The Broncos struggled to close out the Ravens in their divisional playoff loss with Willis McGahee out and Knowshon Moreno hurt. Ball is durable and will find the end zone after scoring an NCAA career-record 83 TDs. One concern: He put a lot of miles on the odometer for the Badgers.
The Broncos were looking for a backfield upgrade, even with Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno on the depth chart. Ball finished runs well and scored a lot in Wisconsin, which is exactly what Denver will want from him at the end of long Peyton Manning-led drives.
The Broncos could use more help at running back and they got a good one in Ball. The Wisconsin product can rough tough between the tackles and has a nose for the end zone.
Grade: C - I know Denver needs a back, but there were better options. Don't like it much.