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John Elway evaluates next crop of NFL players at 2020 Senior Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. — On Wednesday afternoon at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway looked out at the next crop of NFL players.

Elway, who attended the Senior Bowl practice with Director of Player Personnel Matt Russell, occasionally stole glances away from the practice to chat with 49ers GM John Lynch or Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino.

Largely, though, he watched as a group of college all-stars tried to leave the best possible impression upon the NFL decision makers in attendance.

Over the coming months, the Broncos' draft preparations will ramp up. Denver is slated to pick five times in the first three rounds and holds seven picks in the first four rounds. Elway said Wednesday he expects the Broncos to receive three compensatory picks, as well.

The Senior Bowl, though, is a starting point. And it's been good to the Broncos over the past couple of years. In 2018, the Broncos drafted DaeSean Hamilton, Isaac Yiadom and Troy Fumagalli, all three of whom were Senior Bowl participants.

"If you look at this game, there are a couple of first-rounders here," Elway told and the Denver Post on Wednesday in Mobile, "but for the most part, you're going to see there are a lot of good players here for the middle rounds."

The Broncos also may have found a couple of stars from the event. This past draft, the Broncos' second-round picks — Dalton Risner and Drew Lock — both played in the 2019 Senior Bowl.

Elway, Russell, the scouting staff and the coaching staff could find another group of players from this year's game.

The Broncos' have already evaluated the prospects in the Senior Bowl, but seeing them in person offers another point of reference.

"Obviously, we get them all on tape and watch them on tape, but you get to see them moving around," Elway said. "It's a benefit."


The Broncos have until May 30 to decide whether they want to pick up the fifth-year option on tackle Garett Bolles' rookie contract.

If the team does so, Bolles would add another year to his rookie contract and be under contract through 2021. If the team chooses to decline the option, Bolles would become an unrestricted free agent after 2020.

At this early point of the offseason, Elway said the team has no imminent plans to make a decision.

"We'll wait," Elway said. "There's no sense doing it early. We're not going to do it until May. We'll see when we get there where we are."

Elway said he saw improvement in Bolles' technique and confidence over the final few weeks of 2019.

"I think [Offensive Line Coach] Mike [Munchak] helped him a lot — and [Assistant Offensive Line Coach Chris] Kuper — as far as coaching him what he did, trying to get him to understand the reasoning for different things," Elway said. "If you understand it then you're better able to work within the system. I think he did a better job … of getting the technique right. He gets in trouble. When he got in trouble, that's when he'd hold and … I think he started realizing he's going to get caught if he continues to hold. So he did much better, but still. ... He's got to continue to get better, because we can't afford to have those holding penalties."


Elway provided a handful of other updates on injured Broncos: 

  • Tackle Ja'Wuan James does not appear to need surgery on his knee. James played in two games in 2019 after suffering an injury in a Week 1 game in Oakland.
  • Running back Phillip Lindsay is expected to be ready for OTAs after undergoing "cleanup" surgery on his wrist.
  • Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb could be ready to return from a torn ACL as early as the beginning of the offseason program.

"He looks great," Elway said. "I asked him about five weeks left in the season if he was ready to go. He should be ready to go for OTAs or even the offseason program."

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