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Mile High Morning: Russell Wilson, Nathaniel Hackett detail their roles in Broncos' collaborative draft process


The Lead

For many players, the day they were drafted is one they'll never forget.

Many can probably recite the exact date of their draft day, as Russell Wilson did Monday.

"[T]hat's always an exciting time," Wilson said. "I remember going back to April 27, 2012, when I was drafted, which was such a blessing."

Now, as the Broncos' franchise quarterback, he's helping bestow a blessing on the next group of draft picks, as he's served as an extra pair of eyes for General Manager George Paton.

"I talk to Russ daily and I kind of tell him our plan, what we're looking for and our needs," Paton said Friday. "Russ is a football junkie. He'll want to know what players we're looking at, and I'll tell him. He'll watch them and give me his opinion. He's a great resource. It's good having him around."

Wilson said that in his unofficial role, he takes note of the "talent level" that appears on film.

"If it's a receiver, if you throw it to him, does he catch it? Does he get open? Is he tough? Can he block? Can he do all those different things?" Wilson said. "But I think just that — Does the guy make the team better? — at the end of the day, I think that's a big part of it."

Paton said Friday that the team's predraft process is highly collaborative, as he asks for opinions from every member of the front office. And even though it's only been about six weeks since Wilson officially joined the team, Paton has built that same kind of bond with him.

"I think George and I have developed a great relationship over the past couple weeks," Wilson said. "I think that first of all, he's got a brilliant mind, knows what he wants to do. He has a great plan and everything else, and just his energy, his focus. Just the whole building, it's really exciting how everybody works together, and George is the leader of that. …

"So, I think going through the draft process, obviously playing 10 years in the league and playing a lot of football, you kind of know what it takes, a little bit. George is always giving me ideas — 'Hey, what do you think about this guy? Hey, check this guy out,' and everything else. It's great. I love football. I'm passionate about it. I'm passionate about the game. I'm passionate about trying to do everything I can to help this team win, so that's the focus right now."

By doing that, Wilson may help make April 28, 29 or 30 become a date one or more prospects remember for the rest of their lives, and when they get to Denver, his advice could be even more meaningful.

"What I would say to any young player coming in is take advantage of your opportunity," Wilson said. "I always say dreams come true when you capitalize on opportunities, so take advantage of it. I was fortunate to be able to take advantage of mine. And I've still got more to do. Still got some more opportunities to take advantage of."

Below the Fold

Naturally, Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett is also taking part in the Broncos' predraft process. As the weight-room and on-field work ramps up, Hackett's busier than he was, but he still makes time to help scout prospects.

"I try to put in as much as I possibly can," Hackett said Monday. "There's so much to be done, and it's just about the organization of your time. You're not going to be able to get to everything that those guys do right now because there's so much we have to do out on this field and get ready for the season. So whenever I can — and sometimes they'll specify certain people to kind of concentrate a little bit more, different groups and stuff like that, to kind of get a feel for each of those guys. So I'm just working for those guys, trying to support them as much as possible."

Being in the room during the draft process has also been valuable for Hackett, he said, as he and Paton build the kind of communication that helps shape successful teams.

"I want to be there for [Paton]," Hackett said. "He's done an amazing job just evaluating everybody, setting the board, all that stuff. It's been great to be part of that, and any questions that he has or anything that I've been to be a part of, I've done; it's been great communication between the two of us. And that whole group, that whole scouting group, has been awesome. Just hearing them talk, hearing them read their reports, they're so detailed. They're very convicted, which is great, and that open dialogue is what you're looking for so we're all on the same page. I feel great about where we are right now."

The Unclassifieds

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