ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – A lot can happen before pick No. 25.
In 2011, Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway's first year in his position, Denver had the No. 2 overall choice – which it used to select the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year Von Miller.
This year's draft will play out very differently for the team's front office, with the Broncos having to wait until the 25th choice to make their pick.
"We had the whole draft (to choose from) last year," Elway said. "Now you know you have 24 guys that are going to go in front of you, so (now we're) trying to figure out who might be there at 25 and looking at our needs and the ability to find that guy that is going to be an impact guy at 25. It's a big difference."
With it being harder to predict the players that will be available when the Broncos are on the clock Thursday night, the front office will run through several mock drafts before round one.
Elway, who had just finished the personnel staff's first mock draft prior to meeting the media, said that as of Friday the team's draft board is set. Up until Thursday evening — the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft -- they'll conduct mock drafts that run two or three rounds to get an idea of who might be on the board for Denver's picks.
"We can't predict who those … guys are going to be by the time we get to No. 25," he said. "We just try to do as many mocks as we can to be able to discuss as many different situations and the different players that might be there."
With so many elements subject to change ahead of that 25th pick, the team won't target a specific position ahead of time. Instead, the Broncos will look to add the player who can help the team immediately.
"That's why we have the mock drafts," Elway said. "We go through there and they change all the time. What we can do is compare different people that if this guy is to fall at that slot and he's there, then we'll take this guy. If not, we have these three guys left and we'll compare them and talk about each one of them. By the time we get to the draft and No. 25 comes around, we have pretty much covered all our bases as far as comparing different players and situations that we would take at No. 25. It's so fluid, it's hard to tell you exactly who we would take because we don't know."
Elway said that the team is open to trading its pick, and while it would prefer to move back, is open to making any deals that would help the team.
Wherever the team ends up making its selection, Elway says that the goal is to find a player that can contribute immediately.
"Any time you go into a draft, you think your first and second picks – even into the third round – are going to come in and be an impact on your football team," he said.
"We're talking about now," he continued. "Impact doesn't necessarily mean a starter, but one that can come in and help us win. I think that's kind of where we are right now. I think with the way the league is set up, that is the expectation of those guys early in the draft to come in and have an impact and be able to play."
Drafting later in the first round means that the team has to have some flexibility when it comes to players that the front office would like to add. There are prospects that the team likes on both sides of the ball, and depending on how the first 24 picks go, the Broncos could address offense or defense with their first pick.
"We don't have a mindset of exactly what we're going to do," Elway explained. "We're going to have to wait and see until we get close to that pick at No. 25 and see how the board falls, we'll never know. It's a mindset that we want to find the guy that is going to come in and have an impact, whether it is offensively or defensively."
With so much fluidity to the whole process, Elway emphasized the importance of not tipping the team's hand and keeping other teams guessing the direction that the Broncos will go with their pick.
"The bottom line is that we're going to take the best player on the board at that point in time when it comes to us," Elway said. "That's why I don't want to get into what our needs are. We'll let other people figure that out. Going into the draft, it's important that other teams are guessing where you're going to go. We'll continue to do that."
When the Broncos come on the clock Thursday night, everybody in the team's draft room will be working together toward the common goal of drafting a player that will help the team win in 2012 and beyond. There will be opinions from Head Coach John Fox, Director of Player Personnel Matt Russell, the team's position coaches and the other front office members, but in the end they'll come together and make a decision as a group.
"The bottom line is we're on the same page as far as we want to be able to win," Elway said. "With that discussion, you're able to come out with a decision that's going to help us win football games. Obviously my mindset is going to be a little bit different than John (Fox's) — he's coming from a defensive mindset, I come from an offensive mindset. You have differences of opinion there, but that's never stopped us from coming out with the best decision."
"We're going to work as a team and come up with a consensus as to what we all believe is the best direction for the Broncos."