ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** Not only are the Broncos' second day picks outstanding football players, but they're also outstanding winter sports athletes with offensive lineman Ty Sambrailo as a ski racer and Jeff Heuerman as a hockey player.
As if an NFL-sized lineman plowing through the mountainside or a 6'5" tight end firing slapshots wouldn't make prospects stand out enough, the two also stood out to the Broncos' scouting staff for reasons beyond their ability on ice or snow.
"We always like athletic guys," Elway began. "When they're athletic like that, it makes them better players. Usually guys that are athletic are competitive. The reason that they are competitive is because they do have that ability to play a lot of different sports. As you said, with Ty being a skier and Jeff being a former hockey player, they do have that athletic background. You're always looking for those types. They've got the athleticism, but are also very good players."
Sambrailo a quick learner
"[We like] his athleticism and the way he can the play the game. He plays with a chip on his shoulder and he's tough," Elway replied when asked about what made Sambrailo stand out in a sea of offensive linemen. "As I said, he's got versatility. He's our kind of guy. I think that there were a lot of good tackles on there, but we're happy that we were able to get select him in the second round. We were hoping he was going to make it to us, and we were fortunate that he did."
With the lineman playing just up the road in Fort Collins, the Broncos had plenty chances to look at Sambrailo—including a chance to watch him on their own turf at Sports Authority Field at Mile High during the Rocky Mountain Showdown between CSU and Colorado.
"Just adding to what John just said, we think he's a quick study, too. That's one of the things that was very important," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. "We don't see a big transition for him from a mental standpoint from what he's been doing in college and what we're going to ask him to do for us. We think this kid will be in position to compete really, really quickly."
Kubiak said they'll look to begin with Sambrailo out on the right with open competition for the right tackle spot. Sambrailo said he's played every position on the line except center, so that shouldn't be a tough adjustment from left tackle as a senior.
Heuerman boasts diverse skill set
Heuerman, meanwhile, was a target for the Broncos for his versatility as a receiving threat and for his blocking ability.
"...he can play the 'Y,' but has the ability to play the 'H' and will also be a guy that can block and also be involved in the passing game," Elway said. "I really think that he has a high ceiling. He's just scratching the surface of what he can do. We were happy to get him the bottom of the third."
Take a look back at TE Jeff Heuerman's collegiate career at Ohio State.
Kubiak later agreed, saying he sees Heuerman's diverse skill set opening opportunities for him.
"I like the way he plays. I think he's got the ability to do both [block and catch passes]," Kubiak said. "We obviously like his size. I think he can probably get a little bigger. He can probably put on a little weight. I think he has the ability to do both. He's a very smart player. Anytime you have those types of players, you're versatile offensively, you can do a lot of things and they are special teams players, too.
"This guy is a leader. I did a lot of homework on him. He's a leader on a national championship football team. That says a lot right there. I love his passion," Kubiak concluded.
Ultimately, some of the main things that made the Broncos' two second-day picks were intangibles.
"They're all really tough guys," as Elway said of Sambrailo and Heuerman. "They play with the right mentality, they compete well and they're all three going to help us.