ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —There comes a point in every draft where many a player would prefer to not hear his name called. As this year's draft slogged toward its conclusion, after three days and seven rounds, tight end Henry Krieger-Coble had reached it.
To be drafted in the seventh round would have meant a greater signing bonus, but perhaps a lesser opportunity. Maybe he would have gone to a team chock full of tight ends, or perhaps he would have landed on one that didn't emphasize the position the way others do.
"By the mid-to-late seventh round, you're sitting there and watching, and you're like, 'You might as well try to find a great fit for what you do,'" Krieger-Coble recalled. "Fortunately, they showed interest here in Denver, and it all worked out."
And because of Virgil Green's finger injury and Jeff Heuerman's sore hamstring, it worked out for something he couldn't have expected so soon: an opportunity to take first-team repetitions barely one month after he agreed to terms to join the Broncos.
In the previous week's OTAs, Krieger-Coble displayed a knack for catching anything thrown his way. His secure hands and precise routes led to plenty of targets from the Broncos' three quarterbacks.
He's shown why the Broncos placed a high priority on scouting and acquiring him. They even brought him in for a pre-draft visit, from which he emerged knowing he could be a good fit in the scheme.
"I came out here and visited during the process and talked to the coaches, and I could see that this was the pro-style, Iowa-style [offense]; that's kind of how we ran it," Krieger-Coble said. "It was a little more comfortable than read-option-type stuff for my skill set."
That ensured his learning curve would not be as steep as it is for many rookies.
"He's an undersized guy, but he knows what he's doing," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. "He played in an offense similar [to ours]. I think you're seeing him stepping out and doing some good things."
None of that would have been possible without proper preparation.
In the spring sunshine, the Broncos continued their OTA work Tuesday. (photos by Ben Swanson)
"You've got to get in there, and you've got to know what you're doing," Krieger-Coble said. "That's something that comes from trying to prepare the best that you can outside of the building — and even during meetings and stuff like that.
"I just try to keep continue learning — and learning as fast as possible — and then getting thrown into it a little bit helps out and makes it a little quicker."
But his on-field work — even on the first team — will only take him so far.
"The big thing for him is going to be getting bigger and stronger," Kubiak said. "I don't know how much ground you can make up between now and training camp, but that's going to be the key for him in his career. Can he get a little bit bigger?"
And it has to be the right kind of size.
Krieger-Coble said the Broncos want him at 245 pounds, which is five pounds below what he said was his heaviest weight at Iowa. The goal is to build lean muscle and trim body fat.
"You go in there and do what they tell you, because they know exactly what's right for you," he said, "and then go in and work your hardest the whole time."
If he does that, he could find a professional home that is exactly what he hoped for when the draft arrived — even though it meant sitting impatiently as 253 other names were called.
"I wanted to come to a place where it had a great history and a great coaching staff that was able to utilize a two-way tight end," Krieger-Coble said. "I think that this is a really good fit."