ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **Executive Vice President/General Manager John Elway spoke for 23 minutes at his pre-draft press conference Thursday, and while he didn't tip his hand regarding the Broncos' plans, he did touch on the Broncos' draft philosophy and where he thinks the strength of the draft lies, among other topics.
Here are five key draft-centric points from Elway's question-and-answer session.
- THE MOVES OF THE LAST MONTH GAVE THE BRONCOS FLEXIBILITY TO TAKE THE BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE.**
None of the Broncos' signings -- or in the case of center Gino Gradkowski, a trade acquisition -- made nationwide headlines. But the Broncos gave themselves experienced options at every position where competition will exist, and can now draft for value and quality, rather than need.
"It's hard to go into the draft with a big need, and that's the last thing you want to do, because that's when you end up chasing," Elway said.
"We always try to be solid at all positions going into the draft, with some veteran presence … to be able to go into the draft, and then when you get into the draft, take that player -- as I say -- that you think is the best player available and has a chance to have a good NFL career, and that's the key thing -- whether it be a position of need or not, the players that you pick, you want them to be able to compete and be successful in the NFL."
Going into the draft without needs also affords the Broncos flexibility if a prospect they like drops into their lap at the 28th pick -- or falls into range of a reasonable trade up.
"As much as we go in with a plan, that plan always changes because of different things that go on during the draft," Elway said. "So what we try to do is cover all situations, and, again, really try to find football players that are going to make our football team, and make us better -- regardless of what the position is."
At all positions, the Broncos want athletes.
"You're looking for athletes, period. Athletes are the ones that make this game go around," Elway said. "The more athletic you are at any position, the better off you're going to be."
But, he added later, he wants athletes fast and quick and effective in full pads and a helmet as in workouts.
"You can turn on the tape and a 4.7 guy will play faster than a 4.3 guy. You can see a lot of times on tape exactly how fast they play, and sometimes they don't play to their timed speed. Some guys don't play well when they put pads on; they don't play nearly as fast."
- ELWAY EXPECTS BRANDON MARSHALL AND DANNY TREVATHAN TO BE READY FOR TRAINING CAMP, BUT ILB IS STILL ON THE RADAR.**
The two top veteran options at inside linebacker are coming off injuries, but Elway expects both to be ready at the end of July.
"Obviously, it's not going to help them missing the OTAs, but that is what it is, but they should be healthy by training camp," Elway said.
But their availability -- and the presence of three 2014 rookies on the depth chart -- does not take inside linebacker off the table next week.
"We've got some good young linebackers, and we feel good about that," Elway said. "But you can never have enough of those, either.
"If there's a good one available, we'll take one."
- TRADING UP IS A POSSIBILITY.**
Just six of the Broncos' 10 picks can be dealt, but that volume opens the potential for deals up the board.
"Obviously, we've got a week to go, so we'll look at the different scenarios and possibilities. We do have some ammunition, which is good," Elway said. "But you can never have enough of them (draft picks) either. Sometimes the more bullets you have, the more chances you have to be successful. So there's two theories of thought there.
"It's always expensive going up, though."
And the notion of trading up requires another team willing to make a reasonable deal.
"It's not as easy to move picks and move around," Elway said. "Everybody thinks, 'Well, okay, they ought to just move back.' It's not that easy. You've got to find a partner that wants to move [up], and it depends on what the compensation is moving back. There's a lot of scenarios to that."
"The hardest thing about the draft that nobody realizes is that you can't move when you want to move," Elway said, "Everyone says, 'Aw, move down.' It's like, 'Really?' You need someone to move down with. Or move up."
The Broncos considered trading up in the first round last year before standing pat and taking Bradley Roby. Going up was a possibility -- but at a steep price.
"We tried to move up last year with a team. They wanted my three first grandchildren, and I'm not going to do that," Elway said, smiling.
"So that's why those types of things don't just happen. That's why the draft's intriguing, because so many things have to work the right way."
- THE STRENGTH OF THE DRAFT IS ON OFFENSE.**
And the depth of prospects might come into play as teams select, particularly at running back and wide receiver. They might view the glut of prospects at those positions as a reason to wait on adding them until the third day.
"There's a lot of wide receivers. I think running backs definitely are deeper this year. There are some corner(backs)," Elway said. "I think the offensive side is probably a little bit deeper than the defensive side. But there's still a lot of good football players available."
Offensive tackle is also strong, with quality at the top of the class.
"Well, there's a lot of good tackles in the draft. I think that's one area of the draft that does have some depth -- especially at the top. So there is a possibility for that," Elway said.
- GAUGING QB PROSPECTS IS TOUGH WITH THE PROLIFERATION OF SPREAD OFFENSES.**
As NFL offensive schemes evolve, some incorporate elements of spread-option attacks into their playbooks. But the general style of NFL offenses -- and the snaps under center dictated at the pro level -- makes the evaluation of prospects like Baylor's Bryce Petty a tricky task.
"It's more difficult, there's no question," Elway said. "(Oregon's Marcus) Mariota's in the same situation (as Petty) the fact that he hasn't been under center very much.
There hasn't been a lot of success of guys that have been in a shotgun offense all the time, that have had a lot of success. I think (Carolina's) Cam (Newton) is one guy that you can point to that has had success doing that, but there's a lot more guys that haven't made the transition than have made the transition.
"So it's always tough. But I think that is part of the projection that you have to make these days. That's what college offenses are doing.
Colorado State's Garrett Grayson saw more work with traditional pro-style looks, although he had plenty of shotgun work, and that leaves him "probably more ready" for the NFL, Elway said.
On the flip side, the prevalence of spread offenses and the passing associated with them aids the preparation of wide receivers.
"I also think that contributes to why there are so many wide receivers coming out every year -- because of the fact that they're getting trained so well in college right now with the offenses being wide open."
Elway would not commit to drafting a quarterback, but "we are wide open to everything," he said.