Broncos open up their fourth day of training camp at UCHealth Training Center.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport visited UCHealth Training Center on Monday and we sat down with him for a brief conversation on how the Broncos have prepared for the coming season.
It was a big offseason for the Broncos with free agency decisions, their draft and even a trade or two. How did you think they did?
I think they handled it pretty well. It got a little contentious, it got a little tense but I think the most important thing is all the Broncos' really good players all showed up on time for camp, ready to play and ready to try to win. There's a lot of, when you have situations like Demaryius Thomas' contract situation or with Peyton accepting a pay cut, it's always going to be hard. The process is always difficult but in the end the only thing you can hope for is that both sides ended ready to work, and I think that's what happened here. Peyton seems to be in a pretty good spot. I know Demaryius is and it all worked out for the Broncos.
Demaryius Thomas' contract situation was resolved with a new five-year contract, and it's clear the Broncos are intent on keeping their young talent. With that in mind, what do you make of Von Miller's upcoming season?
I think this is a big year for Von Miller. Unless they step in and do a deal from now, which would be a little surprising. I think the best thing he could possibly do is force the Broncos to have to pay him a lot of money, because that means he's doing great on the field, he's doing great off the field. It will mean that he's emerged into the big, dependable start that the Broncos have thought he is for years.
Whether it's a franchise tag, whether it's a new contract, if in a year from now or nine months from now we're talking about how are the Broncos going to be able to pay Von Miller, that's the best case scenario because it means his performance will be such that you have to pay him a lot of money.
On draft night the Broncos moved up a couple spots to get Shane Ray, who was considered a top-10 or top-15 talent. What was your impression of the value they were able to get in the first round?
I was surprised, and it's interesting what happens in the draft process. Besides the off-the-field incident, he also had a toe injury and everyone was kind of wondering 'How bad is it, does it need surgery?' and those things are huge during draft time.
But now, he's practicing, he—from what it sounds like—looks good, just rehabbed the injury and all the sudden, that's not that big of a deal. So you get a guy who probably should have been a top-10 or top-15 talent, you get him at a place where the Broncos should never be able to get him and then you just add to your talent level. You get just a little more talent than you probably should have gotten at that spot. It's helpful.
In each of the past 11 years, the Broncos have signed a college free agent to the active roster, with Chris Harris Jr. as probably the most notable of those. How important is it for them to be able to find impact players there?
It's just stealing, basically. We look out at this field now, there's going to be numbers that even you don't know the names that belong to them and one of these guys is going to make the team. The Broncos had a guy for years, Wes Welker, who was undrafted, nobody wanted him, was cut and then became a superstar. It's going to happen. Someone on this field is going to be that guy, too.
If you just have one of those guys every year who contributes, that's great. If you have a guy who becomes what Chris Harris has become, then it's just a testament to the scouting and also development because you find a guy like that, but then you take years to turn him into the kind of player he's become, which is really the heir to Champ Bailey.