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Seven takeaways from John Elway's pre-draft press conference

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --With the quarterback situation still unsettled and the Broncos looking to add to the position via free agency, trade, the draft or some combination thereof, Executive Vice President/General Manager John Elway stepped up to the microphone Thursday to answer questions about that and other positions heading into the 2016 NFL Draft.

What were the primary takeaways from Elway?

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  1. Patience at quarterback.**

Elway has been able to take his time because Sanchez has used his experience and presence to settle in and establish himself in a position of leadership in the locker room.

"What's helped is having Mark," Elway said. "[He's] a guy that we feel like has got the experience in the league and can play in this league. That's why we've been patient."

It can be easy to pull the trigger too quickly, but in the last few weeks, Elway hasn't, and as of right now, he has the option of seeing how the draft falls before deciding whether to pursue another veteran or not.

"To really have to rush into a decision, we didn't want to have to do that," Elway said. "Because if you run into one and all of a sudden here falls another one, another apple over there that you kind of like -- I just didn't want to get us to where we were going down one road and didn't have the option to look at all of the others."

2. Continuing to explore all options at QB.

Elway found time to meet with former Houston starter Brian Hoyer on Thursday morning, but Hoyer left without a deal, and could be in line for other team visits after meeting with the Jets and Broncos this week.

"He's a possibility. He's a good football player," Elway said. "We wanted to have him in to get a chance to meet him and get to know him a little bit. Nothing to report there."

If added, Hoyer would not be named the starter, and would provide "competition" for Sanchez.

"We talked about it from the very [beginning]," Elway said. "Earlier in the year I talked about the fact that we're going to bring in and have somebody compete with Mark. He's one of those possibilities."

Forty Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick remains a possibility after meeting with Broncos officials earlier this month, but that deal is "dormant" at this time, Elway said.

"It's never been [dismissed]," Elway added. "Everything is right there. So that's kind of where it is."

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  1. Moving up to the top of the draft for a quarterback was not a viable option.**

Los Angeles and Philadelphia made bold gambits to move up to the No. 1 and No. 2 selections, sacrificing a king's ransom of current and future picks for the privilege of likely selecting North Dakota State's Carson Wentz and California's Jared Goff.

The Rams moved up 14 selections; the Eagles jumped six spots. For the Broncos to move up 29 or 30 positions, "it might have taken four of our drafts," Elway quipped.

Because there are so many picks and variables between those selections and the Broncos' choice at No. 31, Elway acknowledged that the trades likely won't affect the Broncos' selection.

"We didn't think they [Wentz and Goff] were in the ballgame for us anyway," Elway said. "You never know how it's going to fall, especially being [at pick No.] 31. We love being there. It's a good place to be."

4. Patience with Von Miller's contract situation.

Outside linebacker Von Miller's franchise tender remains unsigned, and as he bypasses team-organized conditioning work, the team and his agent have exchanged proposals for a long-term deal.

"You would like to be a little bit closer but that's where you start," Elway said. "We'll continue to work on it and hopefully be able to get something done."

Elway expects the dialogue to increase once the Broncos are through the draft; in recent weeks, draft meetings and evaluation has chewed up eight hours of his day.

The Broncos have until July 15 to work out a long-term contract with Miller, and Elway was more optimistic about the status of negotiations than some observers.

"I think that it's not nearly as bad as people have it portrayed at being out there," Elway said. "I know what I think of Von Miller and I know what this organization thinks of Von Miller. He is very important to us, and we're going to work our tails off to try and get something done with him."

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  1. It's all about taking the best player available.**

If you look at the Broncos' moves in recent weeks, they have been about shoring up spots where there was a lack of experienced depth.

"Try not to go in [to the draft] with a big need," Elway said. "That's when you kind of reach a little bit. We don't want to do that."

On the defensive line, they added Jared Crick. In the secondary, they picked up Shiloh Keo and Brandian Ross. At running back, Ronnie Hillman returned. For wide receivers and on special teams, Jordan Norwood is back in the fold.

Those moves helped ensure that the Broncos have a viable starting 22, along with having key reserve positions covered. They have three trustworthy options at defensive end, and if Kenny Anunike stays healthy, a fourth end who could be explosive in the pass rush. They have three options at inside linebacker next to Brandon Marshall: Todd Davis, who has starting experience, Corey Nelson and Zaire Anderson. Keo and Ross have started nearly an entire season each in the NFL.

If and when the Broncos add another experienced quarterback, they will have two players with extensive first-team resumes. In other words, there is not one position they have to target to fill an immediate need.

"That's what we try to go into the draft with. We try to go in not having to have some place that we really have to have somebody," Elway said.

"I think the most important thing is to hit on your draft picks. A lot of times when you get in trouble is when you reach. As long as you take what we feel is the best player available at the time -- now if it falls into a position of need, then it's all the better. Our thought process is to make sure that we're drafting people that are going to have good careers in the NFL."

6. Much of this draft's strength is in the trenches.

At the NFL Combine in February, Elway said he felt the draft was strong in the depth of offensive linemen -- but added that he hadn't had a chance to study defenders extensively at that point.

Two months later, he also sees the draft looking strong on the defensive line and in the secondary.

"There are a lot of good football players in the draft," Elway said.

Safety is a position where the Broncos need to cultivate short-term depth and long-term potential starters. Although the draft lacks a sure-fire first-round safety, it is filled with Day 2 possibilities, including West Virginia's Karl Joseph, Florida's Keanu Neal and Duke's Jeremy Cash.

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  1. Character concerns are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but a strong team helps.**

Not every team has the freedom the Broncos have to roll the dice on players with character issues, because not every team has the kind of locker room that can police itself as well as Denver's has in recent years.

"I think one of the best things that we do have is our locker room. We have a lot of good guys with the right mentality," Elway said. "That locker room is a real good locker room right now. We want to continue to add good people to that locker room."

A key to that is discerning the difference between isolated incidents and a pattern of behavior. The 30 in-person visits in the weeks leading up to the draft are often key to this process.

"Those 30 visits that are available are always very important," Elway said. "A lot of times there are a lot of things out there about different kids that aren't true. When you get in here, you kind of find out what is true, what's not true and get to know them.

"Those are always good visits to have because you can clear a lot of things up."

Broncos EVP/GM John Elway answered questions from the media on Thursday about the upcoming NFL Draft and the team's progress in free agency.

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